“Gambling” on Education
As reported in today’s Providence Journal, thousands of Providence parents “gamble” on charter schools*:
That parents are looking for an alternative to traditional public schools is borne out by the numbers: this year, charter schools received 3,454 applicants for 559 openings. The Learning Community Charter School, in Central Falls, had 500 applications for 50 spaces while Highlander Academy, a Providence charter school, received 581 applications for 44 openings.
Time after time, when given the opportunity, parents are willing to “gamble” on sending their kids to alternative schools, particularly in urban areas. They feel they are trapped in the public school system that under performs and don’t have the financial ability to send their kids to private schools. So charter schools are their only other choice. Meanwhile, teacher union leaders protest the easing of current charter school laws as proposed by Governor Carcieri.
Removing those requirements, supporters including the governor say, would eliminate the red tape that can hamper classroom innovation. Such freedoms give charter schools greater control over budgets and personnel and allow them to attract and pay for top teaching talent.
But teachers union representatives vehemently object, contending it amounts to an end run around collective bargaining units, giving management an excuse to pay lower wages and do away with seniority protections.
“It’s wrong, it’s unfair, it’s unconscionable, it’s absolutely unnecessary and it wasn’t the deal that was struck when the original charter law was put into place,” James Parisi, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, told the House Finance Committee in a hearing Tuesday.
They offered similar objections to the proposed Mayoral Academies, for which the the ProJo recently professed editorial support.
The union chiefs have it backwards. Schools are not set up to assure teachers money and benefits. They are set up to serve the students. But, as Rhode Island’s longstanding financial commitment to public education should suggest, parents and the public will pay high taxes to compensate teachers handsomely if those teachers give it their all and are not afraid to be paid on the basis of how good they are.