(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Mike Petrilli published a piece on charter school authorizing and oversight in response to Jason and Jay. Before the fun starts, let’s just note the following:
- State authorities are going to occasionally close charter schools whether I, Mike, Jay, Jason or anyone likes it or not. Let’s therefore not worry about whether or not we should close a charter school caught having students sacrifice goats to Baal out on the playground- it’s going to happen.
- Whether or not this is going to happen or even should happen is not terribly relevant. Mike cites a 3% estimate for charters closed by authorities over academics. I’m personally comfortable with a far higher closure rate. So long as parents take the lead, I’m not going to sweat some authority jumping in front of the parade to close the Baal school.
- Ultimately therefore the debate should be about how to get to a policy environment where parents are taking the lead on quality control.
The reasons for this are ultimately very practical. Technocrats make mistakes and many do not develop the close relationships and sweat the details behind test scores the way Mike describes. More to the point all of these schools have access to the legal system, can lawyer up, engage in delaying tactics, get their parents riled up to resist closure etc. It is genuinely worth asking whether the juice is worth the squeeze in many cases.
Meanwhile, when parents close a school there is no resistance, no lawsuits, no delaying tactics. This is the most potent and brutally efficient form of accountability by a very wide margin. Now…breather deeply…
…close your eyes…
…channel your inner Rick Hess and think broadly about what sorts of policies and practices can get you there…
…do you see it?…yes….
Now…you are back on the green…nicely done….yes and now you are doing it again…
Good…very good…yes both of those states scored a 9/33 on NACSA’s ratings but rocked the 2015 NAEP like an 80s hair band trashing a hotel room suite that had it coming. Breathe even deeper…do you see a role for an all-powerful command and control technocrat in this vision?
No? Good-me neither. Light touch stuff inevitable, heavy-handed stuff risky and counterproductive, parent lead highly desirable. I don’t think there is a whole lot to argue about.
Okay open your eyes now. I think we have this all sorted out!