Innovative public charter schools are popular in California, with about ten percent of school kids enrolled in such schools.
But the relentless opponents of charter schools can’t have that, can they?
The Daily Signal reports on the latest plan to create roadblocks for charter schools:
This summer, California policymakers reached a deal that could hamper charter schools’ ability to provide unique learning environments.
The proposal would require all charter school teachers to obtain the same credentials as district school teachers.
That would fundamentally undermine charter school autonomy in one of the areas most important to charter school leaders; namely, who teaches in their classrooms.
California already compels charter schools to hire teachers with “a state-approved credential in all core academic subjects, including English language arts, math, science, and social studies.” The new regulations would also require those who teach electives, such as music and art, to obtain state-approved credentials.
These certifications will cost physical education and music teachers nearly $300, while art teachers will have to pay more than $260. Those costs do not include the time, energy, and transportation teachers will expend to acquire the state-mandated credentials.
We’re all for making sure that school teachers are prepared to teach their young charges. But is state certification, which is often heavy on “education” courses, while overlooking actual education (you know, history, grammar, science, etc.) the best way to do this?
This has the appearance of simply satisfying teacher unions by throwing up barriers to outsiders whom the unions regard as a threat to their dominance. Think of all the people who could not teach a course under the new certification rules:
Compulsory certification also means highly qualified professionals with subject-matter expertise and experience will be barred from bringing their skills to the classroom, absent a government seal of approval.
People like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could not teach in their respective fields of computer science, music, or political science without state certification.
The Daily Signal article quotes education expert Mike McShane pointing out that powerful interests can lobby to stifle competition by getting legislatures to write new regulations that make entry into a field almost impossible.
Daily Signal reporter Jude Schwalbach compares California to Arizona, which has a robust charter school system and does not require teachers to receive the same certification other public school teachers are required to have. It seems to work quite well:
Arizona’s free and open education market forces schools to respond to families and orient their services toward family needs.
Great Hearts Academy in Arizona is a superb example of the unique niche charter schools fill. There, teachers lead students in Socratic Method Seminars (roundtable discussions) and cultivate virtue in students—one of the most important qualities parents seek in their children’s schools.
The fruits of Arizona charter school innovation were illustrated in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress results, in which fourth- and eighth-graders in charter schools consistently outperformed their district school peers in math and reading.
In fact, these charter schools, unlike their district school peers, consistently approximated the national assessment performance of students in Massachusetts, who routinely perform at the top of the pack in the nation.
About 20 percent of Arizona school kids are enrolled in charter schools.
And that—likely—is the rub for California.
Can’t risk allowing the parents of an additional ten percent of kids to decide on schools for their kids, now can we?