When you think of charter schools, you probably think of a community, a group of parents, or some other collective banding together to create what they hope will be a better place for children to learn. Some charter schools turn out to be exactly that, some turn out to be a worse place for children to learn, some are more or less the same, and as we’ve seen, some end up being an opportunity for an individual or a company to profit at taxpayer expense. Currently, it’s hard to conclude anything other than that the jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of charter schools.
But what you don’t hear every day is a major public school district throwing up its hands, giving up, and announcing that it’s voluntarily turning over some of its schools to charter groups.
Yet that’s exactly what Philadelphia’s public school district did recently when it announced that it will run up the white flag and turn over three of its district-operated public schools to charter school operators.
This has probably happened before, and elsewhere, and either The Curmudgeon didn’t notice it or didn’t connect the dots in his mind, but now that he’s noticed and connected those dots, he finds it hard to interpret such a decision as anything less than the surrender of a public school district: an admission by the people running that district that they give up, that the challenge before them is just too great and just too much for them.
And then he wonders how the people who run such a school district – both the paid, professional staff and, in the case of a place like Philadelphia, the appointed school board – have the audacity to stay in their jobs when they have so plainly admitted both their failure and their surrender.
And he wonders why the elected officials who oversee all of this activity – the mayor and the city council and the governor – don’t demand their resignations.
And why the newspapers don’t demand their resignations.
And why the taxpayers who are paying for the schools don’t demand their resignations.
And most of all, why the parents whose children these people are failing don’t demand their resignations.
The Curmudgeon just doesn’t understand it.