Charter Schools: Same Old Problems

The New York Times today published an article that juxtaposes charter schools and public schools as if they are differing models for education, but they are not and it should be no surprised that their results are nearly identical. Charter schools, designed and managed by independent contractors, are still publicly funded and overseen by government. This solution is doomed to have the same “spotty” results as the public school system because it doesn’t solve the core problem of public schooling: lack of motivation.

It is not the demands of parents or the needs of children that motivate the contractors and managers of charter schools; their only concern is to please the government body that provides them with funding. If they improve the quality and demand to attend increasing, they will not receive more money (and in fact will probably lose funding to under-performing schools that need it more). Certainly, this has motivated the creation of a variety of curriculums and methods of teaching, but it has not and will not provide the incentive to create schools that actually achieve results, because even if a school does improve the quality of education their efforts won’t results in increased profits. More likely, government regulators will not notice the school or give funding to under-performing schools. Even if parents are dissatisfied and remove their child from a school, it will continue to operate until some regulator recognizes a problem and cuts funding. It is the same time-consuming and inefficient model as the public educational system.

Only truly private schools, (with their survival directly dependent on the results they produce) can create the improvement in the education market that legislators hoped charter schools would. If dissatisfied parents withdrawal their children and money from a school it will not be able to remain running; this is a much faster and efficient way to rid the system of underperforming schools, rather than waiting for legislators to sue and petition to get things done. Serve the demands of the market or move over so someone else can try.