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Americans Flee Public Schools

Something very strange is happening around the country: students are disappearing from America’s public schools.

The New York Times reports that many of the country’s largest school districts are rapidly losing students as parents lucky enough to have the choice switch their kids to private and charter schools. In the country’s largest school districts, public school enrollment is down by about 10 percent while charter school enrollment is up by more than 60 percent. This mass flight by newly empowered families is forcing tough choices on school districts:

Because school financing is often allocated on a per-pupil basis, plummeting enrollment can mean fewer teachers will be needed. But it can also affect the depth of a district’s curriculum, jeopardizing programs in foreign languages, music or art. […]

Before the Mesa district closed Brimhall Junior High School this year, the school lost teachers in art, music and technology in part because of a declining student head count. That made it harder for the school, which faces competition from many charter schools, to attract students.

“Education has gotten to be almost a sales job,” said Susan Chard, who taught seventh grade math at Brimhall for 18 years. “You want to provide reasons for parents to bring their children to your school.”

Although the Times laments the fact that an increasingly competitive education environment is hurting traditional public schools, Via Meadia is more inclined to see this as a positive development. Competition is good. The pressure to compete for students (and their parents) by providing a higher quality education at a lower price is how you light a fire under people to improve the schools.

Of course, the bureaucracies want to respond by cutting services rather than administrative bloat and high overhead. Via Meadia suggestion: Try reinventing management as a way of saving money before cutting services. Don’t cut foreign language teachers and art class; cut cumbersome work rules, sweetheart purchase agreements, and thin out the layers of patronage appointees who divert resources away from teaching into paper pushing.

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  • Kenny

    No only are the academics generally much, much higher in private & parochial schools, but the the escape from moral relativism and socialistic brainwashing that is endemic in public education is a godsend to the kids that escape it.

  • Andrew Allison

    The last paragraph applies equally well to all bureaucratic institutions, including government at all levels. I’m not sure that there’s a solution other than starvation, but a good start would be to require prominent publication of the administrative overhead in any publicly funded agency.

  • vanderleun

    But one group may be convinced to hang in there because of very special treatment:

    Obama creating African-American education office

  • cacrucil

    People aren’t fleeing good suburban public schools.

  • John Barker

    Charter schools are public schools and should be helped with capital expenses like being allowed to occupy abandoned normal schools.

    In the long run, I think that districts will come to see that their best option is to charter all of their schools and allow parental and student choice to dictate which schools will thrive and which will decline.

  • Mrs. Davis

    The public schools cannot be fixed. They can only be replaced.

  • Richard Treitel

    “thin out the layers of patronage appointees”

    As long as the MSM judge politicians’ desire for good education by how much money they’re willing to throw at it, this can never happen. Hiring more chair-warmers pleases both their friends and, indirectly, the voters, so what’s not to like?

  • Luke Lea

    Aren’t charter schools public?

  • alex scipio

    “You want to provide reasons for parents to bring their children to your school.”


    Once that “reason” was education. Lacking that nowadays, evidently this teacher thinks her job is marketing or sales rather than an exciting educational offering. I guess she agrees with the former Genl Counsel of the NEA that it isn’t about the kids.

    Years ago I managed a several-million-dollar services project for IBM at Los Angeles Unified to automate their Student Information System. It took LAUSD 6 WEEKS to tell us how many students they had. 6 WEEKS. Turns out they had 660,000. They also had 85,000 FT faculty & staff, for a student-to-salaried professional ratio of 7:1. Classrooms, meanwhile were over 35:1 (no bloated overhead obviously), some schools began the year with no desks (seriously) in some classrooms, hundreds (650 as I recall) of computers they bought from our sales team sat in a warehouse until they were obsolete (true story – 80286 computers that, by the time they would have been used required 80386 for Windows…), never having been opened, and it took two YEARS for them to agree on a set of Requirements the system needed to be designed to deliver (why the computers were obsolete).

    All the while the dropout rate was over 35% and the minority dropout rate over 60%, creating larger welfare rolls – and Democrat voters – at an ever-increasing rate, on funding of $4B, the same as the entire state budget of AR Bill Clinton yammered about managing so well that election year.

    I was at Crenshaw HS (South Central) for a couple of days during this period (1991-2) listening to kids without books on their way home accusing kids WITH books of “Acting White.” Why ANYONE with the option sends their kids to major metro school districts is completely beyond me. Why any STATE allows the existence of teacher unions, which seriously disadvantage their children when they get to college and compete with kids from states that take education seriously, boggles the mind.

    And anyone.. ANYONE.. who thinks that education can be reformed WITHOUT outlawing teacher unions is just plain old-fashioned IGNORANT… just as ignorant as those who think non right-to-work state politcians EVER will deal honestly with budgets and spending.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “Competition is good.”

    You got that right!

    “It’s the feedback of competition that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in the Capitalist system.” Jacksonian Libertarian

  • Anthony

    WRM,is an inferred premise of Quick Take that competition from charters and private schools will contain per student costs? Theoretically this may be so, but in imperfect markets like education delivery services subsidized costs may raise per student costs over long term.

  • Bruno Behrend


    You raise a good question, but the answer is quite simple. You tie funding to the student, and allow for personal “Education Savings Accounts.”

    As the education services diversify outside of the unworkable “district bureaucracy,” the buyer looks for the best price so as to save the maximum for later “education” services.

    For what this nation spends on public K-12 (approaching $11K per year), they could save 10s of $1000s for college / vocational / Continuing Ed.

    We can’t drain and dismantle the district system fast enough.

  • Sam L.

    The last person to be fired will be an administrator–and likely in personnel.

  • Hubbub

    Charter schools, I admit, offer a good alternative, most cases, to the present (not the traditional) school systems we have. But one should keep in mind that if we have all charter schools we will eventually transfer the problems of the public system into the charter and private system.

    Or do we propose that ‘troubled’ and ‘troublesome’ students be warehoused within the old public school system?

    Where are all the wonderful new dedicated teachers who are willing to work for a pittance going to come from? How many will be willing to take a job on speculation, knowing they can be let go the next year without cause, who don’t make enough to live and save sufficiently for retirement, and on and on?

    It all sounds good on paper, but I dare say will not work in the real world as far as the majority of students and teachers are concerned.

    What works on a small scale – with a public school fallback – may not work at all on a massive scale.

    Sounds and reads real good, though.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Hubbub: A few years ago charter critics said they wouldn’t work at all. Now they say they won’t work on a large scale. Who knows? There’s little to lose by giving it a try and the status quo is clearly a hugely expensive, horrible disaster.

  • Hubbub

    And, don’t forget the government interference that’s sure to accompany any change for ‘the better.’

  • Anthony

    @12: Bruno, the inferred premise is that competition among education providers will drive down costs thereby reducing municipality (i.e tax payer) costs. How do we monetize Education Saving Accounts and do we securitize accounts at local, state , or federal level if at all (interesting proposal).

  • Hubbub

    I certainly agree with you, WRM. I was not being condescending when I posted elsewhere that I come to VM to get my daily dose of optimism – being the optimist pessimist that I am. I am simply pointing out, to me, the obvious problems down the road. In some respects, we been here before. Take a look at the sixties and seventies to see some familiar education schemes… But we’re going to do it right this time. Right!

    School reform is very difficult to pull off when you have a powerful entity with its own priorities determining the direction that education will take. That powerful entity is the federal government, with the power of law and the purse as its disposal.

    I could regale you with tales of wayward policies advanced by the government on school systems in which I’ve taught that possibly – just possibly – would amaze you.

    I was a member of the teachers’ unions in the systems in which I taught. One in which the union was strong, and two in which the unions were weak. I agree that unions in some states and in some areas have grown too strong and self-serving and need to be curtailed. But not in all circumstances, I assure you.

    I just get upset when I read some commenters who want to punish teachers while at the same time they want the greatest education system in the world.

    Some of us love to teach, and, yes, I did other work in other fields and was successful – so I could ‘do’ as well as teach. I did not, nor do most teachers today, get paid a year’s salary for ten months’ work. I did not, nor do teachers today, get paid for holidays. Teachers get paid for the numbers of days they teach in the school year, usually 180 – 185 days. They have their money spaced out over the full year so they can better manage their expenses.

    Pardon me, for going on so long. I could add more, but I’m sure it would mean little to those who think teaching is a posh job, full of leisure time, etc. Its as though these naysayers dropped from the womb fully educated, or better yet, like Honest Abe, they struggled and educated themselves with the cast-off materials of the well to do.

    My suggestion is if you want to save education, get the federal government out of it. It’s only interested in furthering its own interests. What the government funds and supports, it controls.

  • Richard Treitel

    Hubbub@14: I see no fundamental reason why charter schools shouldn’t arise that take care of “special needs” kids. There are already private schools that do so. The tough part will be talking the school districts into letting go of the extra funding they get for such kids.

    Oh, and the school where my sons go has given its teachers a 10% raise this year. As to whether it’s a public school, I’ll give you three guesses.

  • vanderleun

    Little to lose? Well, perhaps but there is one large issue standing in the way of finding out: It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

    Not as long as the current administration of these sick wards have any sort of power and any sort of money coming in. They. Will. Not. Change. WILL. NOT. (Am I getting through the Pollyanna filter here.)

    What happens is exactly what Hubbub says happens. The more spin off into charter or magnet the more dregs are left behind and the worse it becomes. And those who are the engineers on the gravy train will continue to suck out the money as long as a sou floats down the River of Muck. Nothing will reform these schools short of the Scent of a Woman solution: a flame thrower.

    Limbaugh sees it correctly today while riffing off the same source article:

    “Now, who are we talking about here? We’re talking about inner cities. They’re abandoning the public school system. Those who can are getting out, and there is a ripple effect. Administrators, teachers and so forth are losing their jobs. And the people that remain, according to the New York Times, are the worst of the worst. This is decay. This is decay all around us. People don’t want decay. They did not vote for decay. And that’s why I refuse to believe, folks, that we’ve reached a point where a majority of people are not troubled by any of this.

    “This is stuff that people are living.

    “They don’t have to read about this in the New York Times.”

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Mrs. Davis:

    “The public schools cannot be fixed.”

    Of course they can be. Just replace bad students with good ones.

    As a thought experiment: replace pupils in the worst Detroit school with a random set of pupils from, say, Utah.

    Don’t change anything else.
    What do you think will happens to school ranking?

    Right, it suddenly becomes the best public school in Detroit.

  • Hubbub

    Mr. Mick,

    Don’t give the powers-that-be any outrageous ideas, for they will surely take you up on them. Busing has been a fiasco; we don’t need ‘airplaning.’ Please, hold off.

  • kirkeidman

    Many of our problems as a nation would be solved if we provide public finacial support for education, but delivered education through the private sector.

  • Phantomorphan

    Force the pols — like the Clintons, Gores and Obamas — to send their brats to public schools and witness a remarkable uptick in the quality of public ed. The teachers unions love to shower their Dem heroes with applause and $ even though said heroes don’t patronize their schools … indeed, many teachers don’t send their kids to public schools. Meanwhile, 70% of the kids starting New York state’s community colleges need remedial ed. How much evidence do we need that the unions’ stranglehold on public ed needs to be broken, and ASAP?

  • mcw1142

    Kids leaving the public schools even after all that money going to teacher’s pensions … gee maybe the unions have been lying to us … maybe it’s not all about the children. Ya think ?

  • Tennisman

    The free marketplace will find appropriate solutions to the ‘particular’ needs of any group of students.

    When the ‘for-profit’ people and the ‘religious institutions’ have a fair chance at attracting students (ie: The money follows the student) the necessary infrastructure needed to meet the needs of the ‘general student population’ will become available, and that includes the ‘special needs’ students as well as those will special skills and apptitudes.

  • Randall Griffin

    At a recent parent open house, they introduced the teachers and then an even larger group of support staff was introduced. The administrative staff may be twice the size it was 20 years ago, but the largest increase is in all the special support staff. I think most people would agree that we need such staff for students with autism or mental retardation. But I’m not sure whether we are really improving student performance by hiring dozens of support staff to provide a couple of hours of services to up to half the student body that has been identified as needing help in organizing their work, or to improve how they socialize with other students, etc.

    I don’t know that I have a solution, but something is wrong when there are more “other” employees than teachers. And this doesn’t even count the bureaucracy that is back at the school district or county level.

  • N_Oh

    All the things wrong with the current public education system would exhaust me should I try to enumerate them. I just want to mention one.

    Class sizes. No not the classroom sizes but the number of children in each grade at a school.

    LTC (ret) Tom Kratman posited that groups’ ideal sizing is between 100 and 200 people. That is a small enough number of people that you can identify and know each individual and care that they are part of your group bu large enough for the task. He came by this theory by way of studying sizes of military formations through history.
    He was rather happy that there has been published research, coming from a completely different direction, that stated that group sizes should average around 150.

    When you have schools with 6-7-8 hundred or more children per grade, you start losing them ‘through the cracks’. To save our public education system, once the shining example to the world, we need to look at de-consolidating these monster districts and get them down to the size where we are not losing children ‘through the cracks’ by having children per grade at that ideal number.

    To do this we have to eliminate massive amounts of bureaucracies. There is no need to have half the payroll at a school tied up in administration staff in a sane world, but that is where we at today.

  • Random man

    We need choice… vouchers… whatever it takes. In our town, a private Christian school (K-8) just closed its doors after 40 years. The terrible economy has forced many families to move away to find work, or they just can’t afford the tuition any longer. If there were vouchers in our state, this private school wouldn’t have room for the students who’d want in. The students from this school consistently find themselves far ahead of their peers when they switched to public schools. The unions will continue to fight vouchers or any form of competition because they don’t care if the kids get the best education. The unions care only about maintaining power through our tax dollars.

  • Bill Dan

    Your title and article misquotes the Times. The Times writes:
    “Enrollment in the New York City schools, the largest district in the country, was flat from 2005 to 2010, but both Chicago and Los Angeles lost students, with declining birthrates and competition from charter schools cited as among the reason”
    The article does not cite students leaving public schools going to private schools are a reason. You have not cited the Times article correctly.

    It is worth noting that 85% of households with incomes over $75K attend public schools.

  • Todd

    One thing I don’t see discussed much is the high cost of public school infrastructure. School districts inefficiently spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to build and maintain school facilities. Our local school district had originally planned to construct a new $10 million dollar high school, equipped with an indoor swimming pool, professional quality sports complex and planetarium; however, due to the down economy, they cut it back to “only” $7 million. They would have done better to lease one of the deserted strip malls in the county and convert it to school use, but that would make too much sense.

    If local governments gave just one-half of the per capita pupil cost to parents in the form of a voucher, you would see a real mass exodus from the public schools. That much competition would not only result in a better education for our children, but a reduction in these infrastructure expenses.

  • Todd

    I’m sorry, but the costs I listed in my previous e-mail were off by a factor of 10; the new high school was originally budgeted for $100 million, but was scaled back to $70 million, worse thatn I thought. Thanks to my wife for correcting me.

  • Jeff Dege

    My mother was teaching in an inner city high school, a few years back. There was a shortfall in the state budget, and K-12 took a sizable cut. I asked her what impact these cuts would have on her school.

    Answer? They were going to have to let go four of the fourteen teachers they were paying not to teach.

  • Chas

    Its about time that parents started taking back control of their kids’ education. Parents know better about their own kids than does the government; parents are finally realizing that they can’t trust the gov’t for their kids’ education any more than they can for their own health care or retirement. Public schools are a total waste of tax-payer dollars! And the NEA has long since forsaken education, and instead turned into a liberal lobbying group. Goodbye to “public” schools, and good riddance!!!!

  • Harry Bradford

    Of course, public schools are failing. Starting with Reagan, Republicans have done nothing but sabotage what once was the greatest education system in the world.

  • Mack Hall

    Did you vote in your last school board election?

  • Charles Kirtley

    I’d like to see some similar changes in colleges where costs have gone completely out of hand, freedom of speech is being limited, and education is becoming more like indoctrination.

  • David

    Public schools are incredible, they respond to their customer’s complaints by threatening to cut the most popular and effective things they do. It would be like a car company getting rid of adjustable seats, or an airline cutting flights to a popular destination. Only a true monopoly would ever get away with such rotten behavior.

  • Angry Math

    Here is my take on public education and how it has changed.

    When I was young my mother flailed against all of the monolithic public schools I attended. She tried her best to get me the best teachers during elementary and Jr High.

    THEN: The results were minimal because the school district had a monopoly.

    TODAY: I live in a very sought after school district (literally the HS is in the US NEWS top 50). But as luck would have it my child’s Jr High teachers are sub par. I as a parent go to the admin and flail at the machine to get better teachers for my kids.

    RESULT: So many years later… I am in the same boat as my mother… BUT THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT!!! I now have the power to take my tax dollars down the street to a Science Charter School.

    This Charter school is HAPPY to have my kids and HAPPY to hear my thoughts on which teachers I want.

    So the happy story is that YES public education has changed AND I believe that it has changed for the better.

    We have MORE choice as taxpayers which ultimately means LESS power for administrators and political hacks. Charter Schools and other school choices are not so much about “competition” as much as it is about being able to say “to heck with you” to an administrator who WILL NOT LISTEN.

  • Albert_II

    What is the definition of a liberal politician?
    A person who extols the virtues of a public education and makes damn sure his own kids go to private schools.

  • PhysicistDave

    We’re homeschooling via a charter school, and I agree with everything WRM and commenters have said about choice and competition, but I’d add two caveats:

    First, as operations from the Khan Academy to the Berlitz language institute have shown, the classroom model – dozens of kids in a room going through the material together under one adult’s supervision – is often not the best way to learn. We need to think “outside the box” and see that “education” does not have to equal “schooling.” An earlier commenter referred disdainfully to “Honest Abe’s” efforts at self-education: we should honor and extol such efforts, not express disdain. Everyone who truly excels does so by going beyond the mere institutional requirements.

    Second, it is going to be very difficult to turn things around as long as most kids and most adults have disdain for serious learning: for example, as long as terms of derision such as “nerd” are applied to serious students (see David Anderegg’s brilliant book Nerds). We need to ignite a real “culture war” with responsible adults publicly declaring and proclaiming their disdain and contempt for the anti-thought, anti-intelligence, anti-learning culture in which our children are immersed.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

  • Brian

    Move the information to the kid, instead of the kid to the information. This is possible now with streaming video at (no joke) 5 to 10% of the cost. Not an option for everyone, but if there is an adult at home during the day it is perhaps the best quality option out there.

  • Bill

    Homeschooling is growing as well, even better than the charter schools!

  • Life5678

    Here in Detroit, they couldn’t afford to keep many of the schools open so they were going to just close over a third of them. A Charter school company offered to take 100 of those schools off their hands. Now people are fighting to get their kids in the charter schools and Detroit may have to close more schools because a lack of students (they are all going to the Charter schools)

  • Ed Luszcz

    I’m crushed that Spanish might not be available to English-speaking kids. Not!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dr. Jim Heyman

    Wherever Jesus is an outlaw, Satan is an inlaw, and he does not care much for children!

  • Rick Rock

    Government schools are a disaster, like anything that it run by leftwingers. If you want your children to learn respect and American values, you do not send them to government schools. Government schools are where you send your kids to be indoctrinated in feminism and totalitarian socialism. Or if you don’t care.

  • Jason

    We are finally coming to the point where we understand that there will always be academic casualties in schools, regardless of what we do. The major failure of NCLB was that it forced schools across this country to teach to the middle or lower-achieving students, and thus left the higher-achieving students drowning in mediocre learning environments. Options like charter schools will be taken by those students who actually want to learn and succeed, while the rest will continue to wallow in failing schools. The only solution I see to this societal problem is going to a two-track form of education (vocational/academic), but that is likely never to happen in this country because of our constant need to be “politically correct”–meanwhile, many students who would benefit greatly from this change continue dropping out across this country in droves.

  • James Martin

    After 15 years of undergraduate university teaching experience, I was laid off because of budget cuts AND a change in SACS qualifications. I have a BA, two MA’s, a graduate certificate in linguistics, and I am ABD in philosophy. I taught business at a university for twelve years, on an annual contract. In short, my life’s mission has been in education, and I have taught courses in philosophy, but mostly in business, as I have also twenty years in business management. I have also started three businesses, have one now, and understand both the problems of management and of teachers. I also worked for two years in an accounting firm. I have so many licenses and credentials….yet, after two years of searching for a university position, and retraining as a high school math teacher (it was my first major. I have studied and taken so many graduate courses, in business, accounting, linguistics, and philosophy, that my brother says I probably have more credits than anyone in the US (well, certainly in variety of subjects.)

    As I passed my license examinations in October, I took a job at a maximum-risk juvenile detention facility in January. First come, first served. People in general have no idea what this entails. My job was certainly beyond what we call “inner city” teaching, but it gave me many insights. The transition from a university, where students pay for their (public-supported) education and where the taxpayer pays the full bill (the juvenile detention facility,) are academically and psychologically different entities. In the university, behavioral control of the class was minimal. Motivation was a small part of teaching, although students worked mostly for grades. Did they learn? Those who wanted to, did. They were concerned about their bachelor’s degree (I taught the capstone business class: Strategic Management.)

    In the detention facility, academics were secondary, or worse. A mixture of felons, special education, and students with many psychological problems made classroom management the main issue. These students were lumped together in double classes (I taught science and history, grades 6-11) and the cost, counting their case workers, guards, a psychiatrist, and private management of all but the teachers (I was a public school employee) must have cost the State more than my salary for EACH incarcerated student. Except for the teachers and principal, the facility was privately run on contract by the largest security firm in the world. The pay for my in-room guards was $11 per hour. They had radios, no weapons of any kind, including batons, and no defensive training.

    I went from a fairly organized and culturally educated environment to the opposite.

    I may have helped successfully changed the path of 5% if these juveniles to a fairly normal life as CITIZENS. This figure comes from the security company itself…therefore, the rate of recidivism is 95%.

    Now, after all this discussion about making education essentially private (which, by the way, counters the entire notion of the initial purpose of public education…to make citizens that are educated,) you propose to embark on making education MORE private? And this from the very people who oppose multiculturalism? If you want multicultural education (which is what private, or rather corporate, education is,) then divide the districts and let anyone with a private license give a diploma to any person they deem educated. I could go on with more details but….

    I agree with the overhead argument. In short, let’s go with more TEACHERS, and fewer administrators. Teachers are the “grunts,” on the front line. AND, they are paid based on days worked, as the stated in a comment above. The salary at a detention facility is higher, because the school year is 12 months. I suggest that if anyone thinks the teachers are the “gutter,” maybe the “gutter” is where you ought to be, if you can take it! THEN you will know why there are unions….teaching is a labor of love, and not an excuse for the abuse heaped upon them by politicians and novice pundits.

  • Robert Zimmerman

    The teachers union pension and health care expense issues will not be fixed until the leadership figures out one very important thing……… the kids they have “taught” are now so “uneducated” they cannot make the money to pay the taxes to fund them!

  • N_Oh

    @Todd RE: Educational Castles.

    Here in Ohio we have had more than a few of these things built. Great looking buildings and campuses; if you are a Fortune 500 company, not a semi-rural district that is slurping funds via property, sales, and income taxes and using every last dime of that to $$ match with what the state is offering.

  • Chris

    As a former big district teacher and administrator and now the superintendent of a small, rural public school district, I find the simplicity of some of these responses very frustrating to read. Much of the blame is being pushed back onto the educational system and bloated bureaucracy. Most of the bloated bureaucracy is a direct result of federal and state mandates-not local wishes. And, while I strongly agree with advancing alternative school models (charters, magnets, vouchers, etc…) the most important reform necessary in public education is the end of tenure. End tenure and begin eliminating the poor performing teachers. But be prepared to dramatically raise salaries in the inner city schools-they don’t have anywhere near enough good teachers willing to stick it out for more than a few years as it is.

    My small district is consistently amongst the highest performing in our state on both an overall level and as compared to schools with similar demographics. Despite being a middle class, blue-collar community, we consistently outperform the wealthy, highly educated districts. This is solely due to high standards held by all employees. However, as challenging as tenure and government regulations can be, by far the greatest challenge I face is parent push-back to high expectations. I can’t recall the number of conversations I’ve had with parents over the years imploring them to allow us to enroll their low-performing child in one of our many remediation programs only to have the parent adamantly oppose these remediation efforts. You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    Anyone that believes privatizing education will solve our problem doesn’t understand how business works or has the unwarranted belief that a parent will always make the best choice for their child. Our district sponsors a charter that is run by a for-profit charter management firm. They take over 40% of the charter budget for curriculum, technology, and management. In return, they are outperformed by all public districts in the area they serve. I speak with the parents of this program and they seem to love the school. I have to ask why and the only conclusion I can come to is this charter doesn’t ask much of the parents and even less of the students. I have heard the management speak about just keeping parents happy to keep enrollment up-more enrollment means more profit. As the oversight district, we have no say in their operation-just a responsibility to oversee that they are not illegally spending public dollars. What they are currently doing is perfectly legal.
    Sorry this is so long but this isn’t simple.

  • Ken

    It should have always been the Taxpayers
    choice of where to send his child for education and it should be of any
    choice not just another Public School.

    Competition will fix the Public School
    problem or close them.

  • thibaud

    Chris #52 – “Anyone that believes privatizing education will solve our problem doesn’t understand how business works or has the unwarranted belief that a parent will always make the best choice for their child.”

    Welcome to the fun house that is the VM comments section, Chris.

    Unlike you and others who’ve actually worked inside the system and have seen charters and private schools from the inside, most of the people holding forth here at Via Meadia are imposing irrelevant notions borrowed from various libertarian ideologies.

    They don’t recognize that most parents in this country are unwilling to push their kids to read, to strive, to study hard and attain high goals.

    They’re too ignorant of the basics of the school operating budget (hint: not less than 80% of ANY brick-and-mortar school’s budget will go toward headcount) to grasp that the whole for-profit model is incompatible with quality education.

    They can’t seem to grasp that the more you push administrative control down, to smaller and smaller units of administration, the more money and resources generally will be wasted on administration.

    They don’t recognize that the charter movement is a joke, that it hemorrhages money, is riddled with incompetence, and performs no better overall and in many cases much worse than the local public schools it aims to supplant.

    And of course, no one will address the elephant in the room, which is our school population’s steady and overwhelming shift toward demographics that do not give a damn about educating their children.

    Anyway, there are parents like us who do appreciate the hero’s labor that you and so many dedicated principals and teachers are making – despite the grief you receive at the hands of so many ignorant parents, ill-informed critics, and foolish hedgefunder supporters of charters.


  • Yolande Maarsen

    The elimination of the public school system will be a huge loss to Democracy as public schools are inclusive and based on principles of equal opportunity and access to the best education (i.e. discrimination is illegal.) Charter schools use taxpayer money while subverting educational standards with no oversight. Charter schools are a front for religious or corporate-driven education which limits the freedom of education. Vouchers do not cover the full cost of these schools so the access to opportunity is more class differentiated than ever. This new system will only speed the decline of a mobile society and realign it as a neo-feudalism. Beware of what you hope for folks.

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