All schools should be like charter schools. But can they?

Hugoton Learning Academy, a school of USD 210, reprints an essay called “Public schools should experiment like charter schools.” Leave aside the fact that charter schools ARE public schools, the point is valid:

Nearly two decades of experience with charter schools have yielded some lessons in what works for improving student performance. There are easily perceptible patterns among the few charter school networks — KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Democracy Prep, Achievement First, and DC Prep among others — that have systematically yielded impressive (even miraculous) results with the most challenging students. Attributes of these schools include: exceptionally high goals, rigorous standards, frequent analysis of performance data, longer school days and years, firm discipline, willingness and ability to remove ineffective teachers, and uniform adherence among students, staff, and faculty to the school’s mission and community standards.

Marcus Winters, author of the piece, says “There is nothing inherent in the concept of ‘public’ that keeps public schools from adopting successful charter-school strategies.” One would hope, but I’m not sure. Non-charter public schools can easily get caught in the crossfire of political debates, which means that everything about the schools, from curriculum to personnel policies, is affected (if not driven) by what is best for adults, not students.

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