Mr. Gates, Tear Down This Wall

Although the district-compact grants from the Gates Foundation don’t hurt, the 100K grants alone are probably not driving the charter-district détente. My view is that the wall dividing charter and district schools on the basis of their label alone is very much like the false divide between the people of Western and Eastern Europe toward the end of the Cold War. It has simply become all too obviously ridiculous and at odds with mutual interest. Smart district leaders know that high-performing charter schools can help them serve kids now stuck in chronically failing schools and attract entrepreneurial leaders. Smart charters know they need access to facilities and other district resources to stabilize their finances and to better support their sometimes young and inexperienced teaching staffs. Both know they need to challenge themselves constantly and seek ways to innovate and improve. As I wrote earlier this week, it remains to be seen whether district leaders entering into these deals can survive politically, but if they do, many more will likely follow. In a bizarre coincidence, the Dallas hotel where the second round of compact participants stayed displayed two slabs from the Berlin Wall.

-Robin Lake

5 thoughts on “Mr. Gates, Tear Down This Wall

  1. John Piscal

    The walls are not being torn down, but are refortified. It is not a question of political survival for supporters of public school district reform, but of state legislatures and governors.

    School Districts, at the direction of their labor union supporters, are actively engaged in sabotaging school reform efforts.

    Far from being the “end of the cold war,” this is Defcon 2 for any meaningful reform in public education.

  2. mercie hoff

    I agree…..tear it down…..charter schools in certain district are becoming a menace….the district should be able to control how many charter school are placed in an area……some areas have 1 public school and are surrounded by 5 charter schools……students are recycled between all schools….if the state has no money for public school funding….the school board should not be allowing all these charter schools to be open……we are defeating the education purpose.

  3. Dan Fleming

    It seems so simple to me. The primary reason schools fail is the lack of adequate funding. Adequate dollars can mean useable technology, reasonable salaries to attract the best staff, and after school or parent programs. So instead of using dollars to help struggling public schools, vouchers allow funding to be transferred to whatever private or charter institution the parent may deem a better alternative.
    Politically, the granting of vouchers is a smoke screen. In our state, the reimbursement to parents for the chosen school’s tuition comes from the state in the form of a tax exemption. So the low income family, for which vouchers were said to be intended in the name of fairness, must still cough up a significant percentage of their income for tuition. Then, they must hope the furnace won’t need to be replaced before spring when they can receive a probable refund. Meanwhile, the financially blessed can more easily pay the tuition and wait for the refund in the spring.

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