With all the failing schools in Albany, something drastic has to be done. On this, I’m apparently in agreement with President Obama’s administration for once. You see, part of his stimulus package was money for failing schools. But, like most government grants, it comes with strings attached. In this case, the strings are the kinds of things that should be considered anyways.
First, they could fire the principal. That may or may not do the trick. Honestly, the principal may or may not be the whole of the problem. But, if the problems go deeper, then it’s a futile gesture. Next, they could fire the entire staff. This, while it may be tempting, would raise the ire of the teachers unions and create all kinds of problems down the road. But there is a third option, one that’s seriously worth looking into.
That option is to convert these failing schools into charter schools.
What exactly are charter schools? Basically, they’re a hybrid of public and private schools. They are publicly funded, but use only state and federal dollars. They are autonomous, like private schools. Teachers, while paid slightly less than their public school counterparts, have much more autonomy as to how to teach their classes. Many teachers love teaching in charter schools.
With a charter school, you have some options down the road that you won’t have with a regular public school. You see, charter schools aren’t chartered indefinitely. When that charter is up, if they’re not making the grade, you don’t recharter them. You can revamp indefinitely until someone does. In fact, there are non-profits out there that just run charter schools. It’s just that simple.
Studies show that charter schools provide better education for less money. The kicker is that since charter schools don’t use local tax dollars, that money can be returned to the people by way of tax decreases, which will ultimately help increase the tax base as more people move into Dougherty County to take advantage of our lower tax rate. Well, that and the new and improved school system.
It’s just a shame it’ll never happen.
It’s safe to say that a significant number of our School Board has no interest in such a proposition. After all, they can’t control charter schools, and since they wanted a follower rather than a leader for the new superintendent, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a group of autonomous schools that they can’t control isn’t something that’ll appeal to them.
No, I suspect they’d rather our public schools flounder under their “leadership” and maintain control. But they could just pretend to actual care about public education and step up. We have an opportunity to turn the Dougherty County schools. They could prove me wrong, but I somehow doubt they will.
Written by Tom Knighton. Read his blog at SWGA Politics.com. A lifelong political junkie, Tom started out his adult life as a journalism major at Darton College before leaving school to serve his nation as a U.S. Navy Corpsman. Through the years, he has watched government from outside and inside. A former Reagan supporter, then later a Democrat, Tom now finds himself quite comfortable as a card carrying Libertarian and all around smart-elec.