Real-Life Examples Belie Charter Comparison

Published January 28, 2011

Tracy Warner’s effort to compare Gov. Mitch Daniels’ school reform proposals to a similar, fictional reform of Indiana’s police forces should be judged a clever failure (“Policing the rush to charter schools,” Jan. 16). Fact is, there are simply too many real-world examples of the school reforms Daniels seeks for Warner to dismiss or demonize easily.

Forty states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws.

Fourteen states have opportunity scholarship or tuition tax credit programs. At least three other states have some form of “parent trigger” law, which allows half of the parents at a persistently failing school to petition to have the school closed, converted to a charter or placed in turnaround. And the federal government has endorsed the equivalent of private school vouchers for 60 years – at least when it comes to higher education.

Warner’s argument really begins and ends with Indiana’s constitution. He urges lawmakers to do a better job meeting their constitutional mandate of providing a “general and uniform system of common schools.” But don’t forget the government’s duty to encourage learning and improvement “by all suitable means.” Perhaps that’s the discussion we should be having.

BEN BOYCHUK  Managing Editor, School Reform News The Heartland Institute Chicago