Charter Schools No Passing Fad

Published October 24, 2008

It can be a good thing when public authorities turn their back on fads and fashions in education. Examples of everything from invented spelling to fuzzy math come to mind. So the fact that Alabama education officialdom is cold-shouldering a “popular” school-reform device is not in and of itself bad. (“State denies parents a popular school option,” Oct. 14.)

You are right, however, in wondering why Alabama stands virtually alone in the South in rejecting even the possibility of education entrepreneurs starting a public charter school. If organizers with a proven track record of helping needy children elsewhere succeed at high levels wanted to charter a school in Mobile or Birmingham, they couldn’t even get a hearing.

If Alabama’s educrats are simply defying a trend, that’s one thing. But more likely, as your editorial suggests, they are afraid of something – perhaps ceding a small bit of turf, or angering the teacher union bosses.

Robert Holland
Senior Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute