Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are Charters Free Enough? 

The folks over at my favorite think tank, the Cato Institute, have never been charter school supporters. Actually, they have never really liked private school vouchers either. The fear of their scholars is that government money always comes with strings attached, and that while regulation of schools that take per pupil funding may be limited at first, the pattern is for the state to increasingly insert their command and control ways into everything they touch. Here is this opinion expressed perfectly by Adam Schaeffer in a post on the Cato's Institute's blog the other day:
Charter schools add significantly to the disadvantages of private schools; charters get most of the higher funding that regular government schools do, but for now, at least, more autonomy and freedom to diversify. In the long term, there is no reason to believe that charter schools will not succumb to the same regulatory ratchet effect that has hamstrung the public schools. The local public schools of the late 1800s had more autonomy than charter schools do today - and look what happened to them….

Supporters of educational freedom - the freedom to choose the best option, whether public, independent, or religious - need to carefully consider the serious trade-offs involved when supporting charter school policies. If they don’t, they may be looking at a 99% government school monopoly in 20 years time, instead of the 90% monopoly that exists today.
Only time will tell if he is correct.

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