- The charter school movement in this country was originally started by educators who wanted to use them as a laboratory for positive changes in education. Unfortunately the movement has been hijacked by tycoons of wall street and the business world who are creating private schools with public money. By creating the illusion that charter schools will finally provide poor children with a superior education that will result in a college education for all who attend, charter organizers have succeeded in getting support from both liberal and conservative lawmakers.
- Huge salaries are being paid to the “entrepreneurs” who manage these charters while cheap short term teachers are used to do the work.
- Recent studies show that only a small percentage of charter schools outperform regular public schools while a larger percentage under-perform compared to traditional schools. We see many examples of this in Louisiana schools. It is interesting that some of the most successful charter schools were set up by local school boards, very much like the successful magnet schools that are run by local boards.
- Unfortunately many charter schools (just like magnet schools) perform better by attracting the better, more motivated students leaving the remaining students in under-performing schools.
- Once charter schools are formed and thereby create a special interest group of parents and school operators, most politicians are reluctant to convert their schools back to publicly operated schools. This point was made by a New Orleans school board member who attended the forum. He said that even though the New Orleans school board now has the third highest performing school system in the state and excellent audit reports, the political forces in the state are working to keep Recovery District charters independent of the elected school board. The law setting up the Recovery District envisioned a possible return of schools to the local board after 5 years.
One of the most interesting points made by Ravitch and participants of the New Orleans forum is that a person cannot perform effectively as an education leader by bashing and attacking the very people he/she is attempting to lead. This point is being demonstrated today at the very top of Louisiana's education establishment.