The SF Chronicle recently published two op-eds on education.
The first was written by three Bay Area school board members: Judy Appel, Roseann Torres and Madeline Kronenberg.
They called for an end to the charter school appeals process. Currently, charter schools that are rejected by school boards can appeal to the county (and the state). These board members want the right to reject charter schools, with no recourse for appeal.
Their opinion is that public charter schools are harming public education.
In their own words:
Charter schools do all of this — siphon public school funds, dodge transparency requirements, limit collective bargaining of educators, cherry-pick students and turn others away — with the claim of providing a superior public education. However, study after study shows that outcomes don’t differ between students who attend traditional public schools and charters. Instead, charters simply bleed public schools of precious resources, leaving educators and administrators to do more with less.
A second op-ed was written by members of three immigrant families: Rocio Arias, Gloria Aguilar, and Leticia Molina.
They want elected officials to stop blaming public charter schools for decades of poor results from public traditional schools. And they are frustrated that government officials often exercise school choice for their own kids (either through attending private schools or public schools that are zoned to wealthy neighborhoods), but attempt to block school choice for immigrant families.
In their own words:
We chose a charter public school because the traditional public schools in Oakland were not safe and had bad results, especially for Latino children like ours. Today the traditional schools are running out of paper, and the district is making harsh budget cuts after wasting millions in new money from the state. Voters have approved millions of dollars in bonds, but the district has made almost no progress building and fixing schools, and some schools have dangerous levels of lead in the water.
They end their op-ed with a call for political officials to stop attacking charter schools and to govern their districts in a way that supports all public schools, traditional and charter alike.
I understand the desires of the school members: as locally elected officials, they want the power to control public education in their city, so that they can best fulfill their duty to children. I get it.
I understand the desire of the immigrant families: as families with children in public schools, they want the power to find the best public schools for their children, so that they can best fulfill their duty to their own children. I get it.
While I get both arguments, I find the second op-ed to be more compelling than the first.
I don’t think local elected government officials should have the power to prevent immigrant families from partnering with educators to find the right fit for their children.