Shortchanging the Charter Option

Published October 13, 2008

Dear Editor:

You draw reassurance from the two major-party Presidential candidates’ agreeing on a handful of education issues, such as the need to recruit more first-rate K-12 teachers. (“Make education our nation’s edge,” Oct. 12.) However, strangely, your editorial fails to mention the most striking area of agreement – both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama support charter schools, which are independently run public schools that give parents and teachers a greater degree of choice.

Perhaps because Iowa has the second weakest charter-school law among the 41 states that have passed enabling legislation, you don’t have nearby working models of what these innovative schools can accomplish. Or perhaps, since you bash McCain’s support of private-school scholarships (“vouchers”) for needy children not well served by public schools, you simply have an ideological aversion to choice and competition. Your high praise for the laundry list of new government education programs proposed by Obama would suggest as much.

Robert Holland ([email protected]) is Senior Fellow for Education Policy at The Heartland Institute.