Selected readings on US charter schools
In the effort to improve perennially struggling schools in America’s impoverished urban centers, a number of states are pooling their lowest performers in a state-run district and inviting charter school management companies to take them over.
Last week, the New York Times highlighted the latest efforts to do this in Memphis, and noted similar moves under way in Michigan and Virginia.
Could such a controversial change in governance happen in Milwaukee?
Journal Sentinel education columnist Alan Borsuk, who works for the Marquette University Law School, mused about that point a few weeks ago.
Milwaukee School Board Member Larry Miller responded by telling Borsuk to quit churning the rumor mill.
A growing number of national charter management companies are putting stakes in the ground in Milwaukee, though they are not part of any reform district. But for the most part they are recruiting students from the start — a difficult task in a city where competition for students is fierce — rather than taking over existing public schools from MPS or other charter or voucher operators.
The independent charters are controversial because they operate separately from MPS, which doesn’t get to count those students as part of its enrollment, and therefore loses state money for pupils which it might otherwise be educating. Critics say this can hurt students who remain part of the traditional school system.
Advocates of such charters argue that the freedom from the bureaucracy of the school system allows the schools to implement necessary changes for better results, like stricter discipline and longer school days. Independent charter schools are public, but they do not have to employ unionized teachers.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed ways to expand such schools beyond Milwaukee and Racine, the only places independent charters can exist now.
Source: Journal-Sentinel – by Erin Richards