Demanding Accountability for Public Schools, None for Charters

One of the main differences between the Senate’s “Race to the Top” plan and the Assembly’s plan, both of which are better described as Race to the Bottom, is the subject of charter schools. Despite both plans probably doing more harm than good to our schools, the Assembly plan finally tries to rein back some of the faulty logic and excesses of the charter school movement.

Charter schools aren’t inherently better or worse than the public schools, they just exist in very different worlds. Charter schools in California are required to hire certified teachers, unlike in many other states, but they needn’t provide the same level of benefits and pay, clearly stated requirements and teacher protections. Quality varies wildly from charter school to charter school. Some do an excellent job of preparing children for their next step, others, well, don’t.

Given the Right’s love of “accountability” for public schools, measuring everything, testing everything, you’d figure they would love all those tests being inserted into the heart of all that is charter schools.  You’d be wrong. You see, they want to measure public schools, but charter schools, those are market based, and the market will apparently sort that all out.

The Assembly legislation, passed out of Committee last week over Arnold’s strong objections, puts new accountability standards on charter schools. It is a good first step towards figuring out what is actually going on in charter schools. Arnold’s Senate bill, doesn’t add any accountability standards, and does a pretty good job of sending love notes to the charter school business.

Supported by most public school educators, the Assembly legislation includes tighter auditing requirements on charter schools than current law, stronger tools for measuring academic progress, and prohibitions against renewing continually failing charter schools.

“We believe charters should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools since they’re on the public dime,” said Dean Vogel, vice president of the California Teachers Association. “If I believe my charter school is high-performing, I should have a measure to prove it. You’ve got to demonstrate that high achievement and they don’t want to do that.”

Schwarzenegger’s own plan, SBX5-1, shepherded through the Senate last month by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, seeks to streamline the authorizing or renewal of charter schools, bolster their ability to obtain state funding, and codify their own standards of auditing. (CoCo Times)

Apparently, in childhood education, what is good for the goose is not so good for the gander. However, we shouldn’t let Arnold’s campaign cash connections to charter schools dictate our education policy. If accountability is good for public schools, it should be good for the publicly-funded charter schools as well.

10 thoughts on “Demanding Accountability for Public Schools, None for Charters”

  1. In addition to the lack of accountability for charters, there’s no real market test of their worthiness.

    The market doesn’t drive my child to school.  That’s where the assertion of choice of charter schools is proven absurd.  Parents don’t have the option of trying every charter school available unless the charter schools come with a magic bus.

    We work, most of us parents.  We have one hour available in the morning, if that, to get these kids through the rush hour traffic and to the school.  I did this for two years, commuting from the SFV to Topanga Canyon Elementary.  Many parents need to be at work too early for this option.  I had the luxury of time and flexibility.

    If the market could support three, even two, choices of charter school or public school within walking distance for each child, then we’d see market forces at work in the charter schools.  I don’t see how that’s feasible.

    It seems to me that pilot programs within the existing public school system makes more sense.  My kids are in an excellent public school in the Desert Sands Unified School System now, and they walk there or bike in less than ten minutes.  Proximity counts.  They have a sense of community with their school.

  2. Being inundated multiple times per day by Meg Whitman ads, it is clear that she is running as an outsider, bringing an anti-Sacramento message hinged on 3 points: more jobs, less State spending and fixing education.

    Methinks that it is impossible to do all three, especially to fix education without spending more.  The best way to counter this is to have a robust, workable plan that can not be attacked as just another handout to the unions.. which is what Whitman will say about an incomplete or bad plan.  

  3. …the forty year campaign to destroy the public educational system in this nation is now bearing fruit for the ‘conservatives’ and indeed the ‘liberal’ Democrat Party has figured out it’s a good thing for them also.

    Honestly, what politician wants an educated, informed electorate?

    Business no longer cares either as they are shipping all jobs which require any education to India and points East.

    Progressive need to see this in the larger context of the political war between the haves and the rest of us.

  4. Once in a while I hear someone talking about how great private schools are, or lauding a particular private school. I ask them whether they realize that private schools are not subject to any standardized testing, unlike public schools. The other person is invariably shocked.

    I’ve got nothing against private schools. I’m not even opposed to vouchers for poor families (yeah, I know that makes me a Bad Democrat). But I think everyone should be measured by the same stick.

Comments are closed.