Bring Down the Wall


Government has an important role to play in public education systems. Even in full charter school districts, the government will set performance standards, allocate resources, and regulate for equity.

I fully support government involvement in public schooling.

But sometimes government acts in ways that seem inapposite to its duty.

Perhaps most egregious, in my mind, is when government makes it illegal for families to gain access to high-quality schools.

In Newark, numerous government leaders have caused for a halt to expanding the charter sector, despite the fact that 50% of elementary school families tried to get into a high-performing charter school in the city.

In Boston, the state government has made it illegal for charter schools to expand, despite the fact that parents are waiting to attend schools that make up the highest-quality charter sector in the nation.

In New York, government leaders have opposed the expansion of Success Academies despite the fact that over 22,000 families applied for under 3,000 slots.

In all of these cases, high-performing public schools are willing to serve more families, thousands of families wish to attend these schools, and government – the very entity that is charged with providing educational opportunities – is the entity that is putting up a wall between families and schools.

There will always be some reason not to allow high-quality schools to expand to serve more students. Facility scarcity and financial implications are the most common justifications.

But it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to come to the conclusion that government should make it illegal for high-quality schools to expand to serve families in poverty.

Yet, in so many school districts, this is exactly what happens.

Government should not put up a wall between high-performing public schools and families in poverty.

The statement seems so obvious, but, for some reason, it is lost on so many leaders.

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