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06/01/2012

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Lynda Currington

Don't we have choices now with Magnet schools? Different high schools offer technology, auto mechanics, the arts, etc. Now, since the US Supreme Court decision on desegregation in JCPS the elementary and middle schools offer Magnet Programs such as Visual Art, Technology, Leadership Academy, Montessori, etc.
When you mention there should be competition, what encourages the competition? The best education of the student or money? If the entire focus of the charter schools was to promote the best education of the student, then OK, it's a good thing. That might have been its original intentions but now it seems that it is to make a profit; and/or promote certain values, such as destroying teacher unions, or encouraging christian values in some cases. I also understand that a lot of people are making a profit off of the location of these charter schools. They are buying property really cheap and then selling it to the charter schools at a large profit.

Also, has it been proven that charter schools produce a better student than public schools? It depends on the charter school and it depends on the public school that you're looking at.

Why don't we look at the public schools and make positive changes there if needed, give parents options, etc, if they're not already doing it.

There are a lot of charter schools in other states like NY and California, and I believe its because their states' legislature is not efficient enough to run good, productive public schools. Also I believe there are people out there looking to make a profit plus bust the unions, which is why they want charter schools. I don't think these are adequate reasons to start charter schools.

The teacher unions are our saving grace because if not for them we would be at the hands of principals who don't like someone just because of the way they dress or part of town they live in. I have seen principals try to fire teachers for no apparent reason at all, based on falsified charges. If it wasn't for the teachers' union, those good teachers would not have a job.

Gary Houchens

Lynda, you always make astute observations and I appreciate your insights.

Yes, magnet schools do provide some small degree of school choice for districts large enough to have them. Obviously, I think that's only a start and we should look to greatly expand beyond just the choices provided by magnets.

Many different kinds of organizations run charter schools. Some are non-profit organizations while others do, as you note, operate in order to make money. I don't have any probably with this. My doctor always makes a profit when I need medical attention. I value the service he provides me and the training and effort required to of him to provide it, and so I don't begrudge him making money off the transaction. In my own work as an educator, I am grateful to make more money than the expenses needed for my family's day-to-day needs. In this sense, we all operate "for profit."

For-profit ventures can have problems of course (though being "non-profit" or public sector doesn't shield us from this). But markets have a way of usually working out these problems. People who cut corners or lower quality to make money don't usually stay in business very long.

There's nothing to keep teachers in charter schools from unionizing. Contrary to what anti-choice advocates will tell you, working conditions in charter schools are good and teacher job satisfaction is high: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16301

Gary Houchens

One other observation, on the research on charter school performance versus traditional school performance: most of the studies that have been done on this topic have methodological flaws, but the ones that are well-designed consistently show that charter schools do as well or better than their traditional school counterparts: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2012/01/most_studies_of_charter_schools_flawed_review_finds.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2

Duane

Just a thought.

If private and charter schools are so successful why do they need vouchers and subsidies at the expense of the public system? Can't they drum up enough business based on their own performance?

That would be a true test of their capabilities, eh!

Gary Houchens

Because poor families couldn't afford the tuition needed to fund such a venture. This is why school choice has been called the civil rights issue of our era. Affluent families already have lots of school choice. The poor and middle class do not.

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