Similarly, when I asked Madison School Board member T.J. Mertz — a critic of nontraditional public education models — about the bill, he framed it as a question of “local control.”
“The big issue in this bill is the loss of local control,” he said. “It allows for the authorizing of charters without any role for elected boards and mandates the approval of replicant charters, regardless of the needs of the community.”
It’s a funny notion, this “local control.”
Used by tea partiers to object to the new “common core” standards and by liberals to object to charter and voucher schools, the principle of “local control” tends to be so dependent on circumstance as to be not much of a principle at all.
True local control would dictate that if a state university is to refrain from authorizing charter schools, it should refrain from authorizing many of their affiliated centers and institutes because they use public money but lack direct public oversight, too.
True local control would mean electing Madison School Board members by geographic districts, not by randomly assigned at-large “seats.”
The state’s most recent school report cards show the Milwaukee school district scoring 14 points lower than 10 of the 11 charters authorized as of last year by UW-Milwaukee (one wasn’t rated). This despite very similar student poverty levels — 82.3 percent for Milwaukee and 75.96 percent for the charters.
Related: A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. I am somewhat surprised that the Madison Prep rejection has not been challenged via legal venues.