School Information System
Newsletter Sign Up |

Subscribe to this site via RSS: | Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

March 8, 2009

Advocating More Madison Charter Schools

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial, via a kind reader's email:

Madison needs to get past its outdated phobia of charter schools.

Charter schools are not a threat to public schools here or anywhere else in Wisconsin. They are an exciting addition and asset to public schools -- a potential source of innovation, higher student achievement and millions in federal grants.

And when charter schools do succeed at something new, their formula for success can be replicated at traditional schools to help all students.

That's what's starting to happen in Madison with the success of a dual-language charter elementary school called Nuestro Mundo. Yet too many district officials, board members and the teachers union still view charters with needless suspicion.

Madison's skeptics should listen to President Barack Obama, who touts charter schools as key to engaging disadvantaged students who don't respond well to traditional school settings and curriculums. Obama has promised to double federal money for charter school grants.

But Madison school officials are ignoring this new pot of money and getting defensive, as if supporting charter schools might suggest that traditional schools can't innovate on their own.

Of course traditional schools can innovate. Yet charter schools have an easier time breaking from the mold in more dramatic ways because of their autonomy and high level of parent involvement.

Several School Board members last week spoke dismissively of a parent-driven plan to create a dual-language charter school within a portion of Sennett Middle School. Under the proposal, Nuestro Mundo would feed its bilingual students into a charter at Sennett starting in the fall of 2010.

I continue to believe that our community and schools would be better off with a far more diffused governance structure, particularly in the management of more than $415,699,322 (current 08/09 budget) for a 24,189 student district. Related: the failed Madison Studio Charter School application.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at March 8, 2009 5:55 PM
Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas