Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chartering a Course for Success through Failure: Charter Schools

Charter Schools are nine times more likely to fail than Public Schools in Florida. This proves two things:  1)  Public Schools should be supported, and 2)  Charter Schools, despite their increased mainstream role, are doing their job.

That's right--I EXPECT Charters to fail many times more often than Public Schools. That's because a Charter is designed to take risks and to offer incentive for private-sector educators to try out new educational strategies. The original purpose of Charters was not to provide a tea-party solution to killing the education bureaucracy. Rather, one of the more salient roles was to provide public schools with state-of-the-art feedback on what works (and doesn't work) in education. And it's been doing this since 1992.

Without the hassle of School Board supervision, Charters take on the educational risks of innovation with real-life students. Charters are encouraged to try new strategies for success, and have every business incentive for doing so. If they are successful, parents will wait in line to send their children to that Charter school.

But if they fail, Charters, at the very least, provide Florida's public schools with verifiable proof that they should not engage in a particular educational strategy. And, given the fact that Charters are nine times more likely to fail just proves the me that Charters are trying new things, and failing.

But lest we forget, the Sunshine State has placed many more resources in this oft-failing initiative in an ill-advised attempt to reform Florida's "failing" education. I can't help but notice the irony here--Florida is betting on a horse that fails at nine times the rate of the horse Florida used to back. Go figure.

In sum, we Floridians should think twice before supporting more Charter Schools. There are already 400+, 15 of which failed last year (compared to 16/3629 public). Charter Schools certainly deserve a role in Florida's education, but a shift to the mainstream is a colossal mistake.