We’ve heard a lot of criticism of charter schools from teachers’ union folks and their allies recently. Not surprisingly, there is a lot more to the discussion that Kentuckians deserve to hear, but the unions are not saying.
In Parts 1, and Part 2 I talked about how teachers’ union spokespeople selectively cite only certain findings from reports and want to fool you into thinking charter schools are really private schools.
Today, let’s dispel another union rumor – the claim that we don’t need charter schools because our School Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) cut through red tape and empower our school administrations.
The truth is that many SBDM in Kentucky’s traditional public school system simply don’t ‘cut it’ at all.
In fact, ‘School Leadership Assessment Reports’ (available from links here) for the first 22 schools to be named Persistently Low-Achieving Schools in Kentucky found the SBDMs were dysfunctional in almost every case. The audits recommended replacing the SBDMs in 17 schools. One additional school had already lost its SBDM authority even before the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools program started. That makes 18 out of 22 schools – 82 percent – where SBDMs did not ‘cut red tape’ for their students.
We need to keep in mind that the SBDM concept was launched by the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Virtually all Kentucky schools have had unionized-teacher-controlled SBDMs on site for a decade and a half plus. SBDMs have had plenty of time to work.
However, the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show only dismally low proportions of our students have reached proficiency in core academic subjects. Furthermore, the rate of progress is dismal.
Bottom line: If SBDMs do empower anyone, it has not worked for our kids. It is clearly time to try something new, something where the union’s innovation-stifling control won’t hold children back.