Friday, August 18, 2006

Post doesn't like Janey's plan, Times talks about hope

The Post editorial board is none too keen on Superintendent Janey's call for a moratorium on new charters.
THE CALL by D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey for a moratorium on new charter schools in the District is one part reasonable and one part self-serving. Taking the latter first, it's clear that charter schools have developed into a threat to the traditional school system since they were authorized by Congress 10 years ago. As Post reporter Lori Montgomery has reported, more than 17,500 students enrolled last year in charter schools. Meanwhile, enrollment in the traditional public school system has taken a nose dive, from about 80,000 students to about 58,000. The movement represents the action of parents starved for quality education who are voting on the traditional school system with their feet. If Mr. Janey's schools are unable to compete successfully with charters, whose fault is that? The proper response to fleeing families is not a moratorium but for the traditional system to start delivering on quality education.

Mr. Janey, however, is on stronger ground when he asks whether charter schools are offering a high-quality alternative. He apparently has concluded that charters don't have a handle on measuring quality and that it would be a mistake and a disservice to children to allow the creation of additional schools without having a sound method for evaluating the 51 charter schools operating in the District. His concern about the track record of charter schools is well placed, based on the experience with the 17 charters authorized and overseen by the D.C. Board of Education. Several of the school board's charters have encountered trouble, and the board -- concerned about its ability to provide proper oversight -- has imposed a moratorium on applications. A federal probe into possible misuse of charter school funds is also underway.
Meanwhile, over at the Times op-ed columnist Gary J. Andres is singing the praises of the District's federally funded voucher program.

No comments: