Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Private Charter Schools 

In order to have greater control over the charter school his board oversees Tom Nida has suggested that the DCPCSB gain the right to remove individual charter school board members. This is a level of interference that those of us seeing independence to run our insititutions would never have imagined possible.

I take a 180 degree different view. If the name of the game is to allow schools to innovate, and this is the name of the game, then charters need more freedom not less.

I believe that the charter board should set up a sliding scale of oversight. For example, when a brand-new school starts out the board should be looking over them constantly. They should require monthly reports covering a number of areas such as finances, student attendence, staff and parent satisfaction and turnover, and academic results. But as the school becomes established and demonstrates that it knows what it is doing then the reporting requirements should drop to the annual report.

Once a school has been given more latitude then the charter school board has the right to increase its oversight at any time. However, this must be done with cause such as customer complaints, high staff or student turnover, or sudden financial difficulties. Once a school has re-entered a heavy oversight phase then if the school improves it should then earn the right to again be left alone.

I believe a system such as I describe offers the carrot and stick wihch will provide for responsible monitoring of a public good while at the same time permitting schools to be truly innovative.

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