Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Battle Over Charter School Freedoms

A Battle Over Charter School Freedoms
Jun 28, 2011.
by Emily Alpert

...Charter schools aren't bound by the rules that restrict other public schools. They get public money but are run independently by their ow boards, with limited oversight from school districts. They are free to choose their own school rules and educational methods. Most hire and fire employees as they wish.

They include some of the brightest stars among San Diego schools — and some of the dimmest.

The tradeoff for that freedom is that charters are supposed to be more accountable. If a charter school mismanages its money, falters academically or runs afoul of its own rules, it can be shut down.

The California Charter Schools Association has argued that the best way to keep charters in check is to beef up rules for shutting bad ones down. It has championed a bill that would ban school districts from letting charters with stagnant scores stay open unless the charters make a case to the state.

But some lawmakers want to seek more regulations to stop problems before schools must be shut down. Labor unions and traditional school groups such as the California School Boards Association have backed many of those bills, arguing that schools that get public money must be regulated more closely. They contend that classroom innovations can continue with the added rules, true to the charter dream.

"They may be laboratories of innovation, but that doesn't mean that employee rights have to stop," said Jim Groth, a California teachers union board member from Chula Vista.

Seven different bills have landed on watch lists for charter schools wary of losing their freedoms. Some are ideas that have been shot down before, vetoed under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But new Gov. Jerry Brown is a wild card for both sides, a Democrat who helped start up charter schools but has been dubious that they're a panacea...

No comments: