Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Charter School Progress

The education issue may be vast, but the solution is simple: competition.

Charter schools are a great way to challenge the government's monopoly on education with competition. This article is a good story about how the status quo is being challenged in Los Angeles by Steve Barr. Coincidently the article also contained the quote of the day:

“If the district doesn’t work with me, I’ll compete with them and take their kids”

This is exactly the intended attitude. Schools should be competing for kids. The schools producing the better students will receive more students while failing schools will be driven out of business. Mr. Barr is competing head-to-head with the government monopoly and, by this account, winning.

He is winning for two reasons. First, he is tenacious, even willing to "steamroll" competition. Most people don't associate this style temperament with education but they should. It is what drives innovation in every other successful industry and education is an industry like it or not.

Secondly, he has worked with the establishment. As the article states, the charter school movement is often associated with with the anti-union movement and resisted by the establishment. Mr. Barr took a very different tact. Instead he welcomed unionization. The contracts nixed tenure but gave the teachers more flexibility in how they structure their classes. Predictably the older teachers still resisted the change, but the younger teachers have embraced it. He also involved parents and the community at-large. The charter school movement there seems to be just that, a movement, instead of an isolated school opening.

Good for him. Hopefully other charter schools will adopt Barr's unorthodox style. We will all be better off if they do.

1 comment:

BillT said...

Sounds like good news for sense and education. Maybe we could get him to relocate to Philadelphia.