The Future of Charter Schools
Andrew Coulson writes at Cato@Liberty about the regulation that invariably accompanies public education funding. He predicts that regulation will catch up with charter schools and halt their progress. He sums up his opinion thus:
If you want to know what charter schools will look like in a generation or so, just look at the public school status quo.
I agree that money brings state directives with it (which is why I’m surprised by this call for state funding of private schools on the Panama City Renaissance School blog) but I think charters will have a lasting effect on the U.S. education market. By the time new regulations are written, charters will have changed people’s expectations about what schools are like, and there won’t be any going back to the one-size-fits-all schoolhouse.
In districts where charter and traditional public schools compete, parents are becoming comfortable with the idea that they don’t have to send their kids to a school based on geography. They can choose a school based on academic specialty or other preferences. (And in cases where parents do want to send their children to the closest school, that school could turn out to be a charter.) Charter school parents also know that if the school disappoints them, they can go right back to the traditional district.
As choices flourish, I think we’ll see children learning from different kinds of schools in the same day. A child might attend a charter school, take an online course through a traditional district in the afternoon, and then head to a private tutoring center for homework help.
Unions may influence contracts at charter schools, but they won’t change the fact that parents choose charters, combine them with other options, and can also choose to leave — characteristics of charters that are just as important as the structure of their contracts. And online charter schools are so different from brick-and-mortar schools that traditional teachers union procedures won’t always be applicable to them. Unions won’t be able to turn online schools into traditional ones no matter how much they tinker with contracts, which is why they’d like to shut down the online schools in Oregon.