House Passes Bill Supporting Charter Schools

May 12, 2014 12:32 pm

by Jon Richards · 1 comment

On Friday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act. The bill provides some funding for charters, increases the number of charter schools, and encourages the sharing of best practices with traditional public schools. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support, passing 360-45.

Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall took to the House Floor to talk about the benefits of charter schools, and to brag on two charters in his district.

It’s good to see Congress getting behind the charter school movement. It’s too bad that some in the Georgia legislature don’t think the same way.

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linuxfanatic May 12, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Charter schools are good. But
A) private schools
B) magnet schools and dual enrollment for the highest achievers
C) career/vocational academies for the middle of the pack
D) military/reform type school for the kids with disciplinary issues (and yes refusing to do work is a disciplinary issue)

are better. For all the effort that goes into starting and funding charter schools, just passing a hat around to pay for scholarships at already established quality private schools would do a lot more good a lot quicker and cheaper. Ditto with magnet schools and dual enrollment. We all know the reason why districts and states have backed away from magnet schools: accusations of segregation and discrimination. The really dumb thing is that they have tons of such schools up north and no one ever sues them. Not having them in southern states just makes it that harder to compete. Most school districts can have at least one magnet school, and many of the larger ones could have several. Creating them would totally transform education – both K-12 and higher education – in this state. And yes, one of the things that holds charter schools back is that they are forbidden by law from using true competitive merit-based standards for admission (and becoming magnet schools) because – again – of fear of segregation lawsuits.

Now you can do dual enrollment without the civil rights socialists coming after you, and why Georgia isn’t a leader in this I have no idea. I read a couple of stories over the weekend about a 16 year old lady who earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a 17 year old gentleman who the prior year earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology in dual degree programs from a state university in Florida. Now while the fellow who earned the STEM degree is more impressive (to me anyway) we can actually learn a lot more from the 16 year old: from a family of 9 who chose that particular high school and program because they were of modest means and could not afford college education for all of their kids, and oh yes she and her siblings are/were homeschooled until they reached high school age.

Georgia has too many colleges? Instead of consolidating them – especially when they are GOOD COLLEGES like SPSU – Georgia should have used that to its advantage by creating as many dual enrollment programs with high schools as possible. What keeps Florida from making this program anywhere comprehensive is that they have only 12 state universities serving a population of 19 million. And really these type of dual enrollment programs should ideally be done via vocational schools anyway: a lot more kids can get a vocational certificate or even an A.A. degree than complete a B.S. in molecular biology while technically still in high school. If Georgia could normalize this sort of thing, it would do a lot to end the student loan/indebtedness crisis, address the “access to higher education” issue that liberals claim to care so much about, and also force schools to end social promotion.

You would think that with Republicans taking over this state they would be leading the way with innovative programs like this. But Georgia is actually behind both traditionalist states that still do things like tracking and magnet schools, and innovator states that have done a lot more with dual enrollment and private sector funded private school scholarships than we have. It is like we think that simply passing enough charter school bills is enough. It isn’t, especially considering that the people with the resources, plan and experience required to run a really good charter school are in short supply. Most such people are already employed at private schools, in administrative positions at strong public schools or in the private sector, and leaving that behind to start a charter school would mean more hours for MUCH less pay. That is why some of the better charter schools are part of corporations and organizations that have backing i.e. KIPP, Urban Prep and Edison and not purely local grassroots efforts.

Bottom line: charter schools are just a small part of an innovative education reform agenda, but it is the only part that most conservatives are brave enough to do, primarily because it takes the least political capital (liberals by contrast would enact sweeping, bold reform agendas if they ever got the power to do so, or at least ever got it again). But it is the worst type of reform because it places the onus on individuals to do what the state and school districts should be doing, and even then it compounds the problem by placing restrictions on them.