The state of Virginia has almost no charter schools. The reason is that their opening is dependent on approval by local county school boards. Of course, no public body such as this would allow for one second an alternative to their monopoly over how kids are taught.
So now some charter enthusiasts are jumping for joy that a bill may reach Governor ‘s desk that would permit the Virginia Board of Education to form new regional public charter school divisions that could approve charters in localities with low performing schools. The legislation is crafted so that charter schools could not be started n extremely small districts so the existing educational institutions in these areas are not harmed. In addition, in all jurisdictions no money for charters would be taken from existing traditional public schools.
It’s a really bad idea. The bedrock of school choice is the competition for students. Where good charter laws exist, like in the District of Columbia, the money follows the child. Where is the strong incentive for the regular schools to improve if their budgets are not negatively impacted when a family decides to send their kids somewhere else? I can see it now. The teachers and administrators of neighborhood schools, faced with the loss of pupils, will justify the situation by claiming that the charter offers something they do not such as a robotics class or a chess club. It will just be another day at the office.
If we as a society really want to jump-start an end to the status quo then the consequences of a scholar moving from one classroom to another needs to be extreme. This is not a party where everyone gets along to get along so that feelings are not hurt. This is a war against the dark stubborn mediocrity that has ensured that every country on the face of the earth is preparing their next generation to be more globally competitive than those living in the United States. The situation is especially acute for kids in America living in poverty who today, right now, are performing academically two, three, four or more years below grade level.
We need to stop apologizing for asking politicians for school choice by crafting weak laws that create charter schools in name only. Philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand pointed out that a thing is not a thing because it has a name. An object is what it is because of its unique recognizable characteristics. It is much better to junk the proposed law in Virginia and start over with a bill that has guts and teeth. You would think that it would be easier for legislators to be brave when it comes to the future of our children.