EDUCATIONAL REFORM LIKE PULLING TEETH!
in U.S. elementary schools lags behind many industrialized countries.
The U.S. comes in16th
economic competitors -- China, Japan, Canada, Germany and Korea -- are far
So why is it so hard for us to
implement new approaches that will improve our kids’ performance?
spite of a number of innovative proposals for reform put forth by concerned
legislators, my home state of Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom in every
national survey of educational achievement.
House education committee chairman Steve Carter, from Baton Rouge, has
been in the forefront of some of these proposals. In addition to other
initiatives, he’s a major proponent of charter schools.
schools are independent public schools that are not constrained by the statewide
one-size-fits-all requirements often placed on local schools. Charter schools
are able to be more innovative in developing curricula, hiring teachers, and
structuring the school day.
A key benefit of charter schools is that
parents have a choice.
They pick the
school and are not forced into making their kids attend a specific local
In just about everything else
you do, there’s a choice.
But not in
where your kid goes to school. Choice fosters competition.
For many, the lack of competition is a key
component in the weakness of the American educational system. To be successful,
schools have to compete. That’s the key to charter schools.
To be successful, they have to compete.
And the students are the beneficiaries.
saw first hand how successful charter schools can be in New York last
My oldest daughter Campbell was
honored at a dinner for her work in support of the Success Academy Charter
A thousand people turned out
for the gathering with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as the keynote
The event raised nine million
show how successful charters can be, Success Academy has opened 32 schools for
9,000 students. And get this. The student achievement is remarkable.
Students at Success Academy ranked in the
top 1 percent of all New York schools in math, and the top 7 percent in
The racial makeup always comes
up, doesn’t it?
Only 3 percent of the
kids are white.
So much for not being
able to close the racial achievement gap.
As Campbell told the crowd, “demography is not destiny.”
did not mince words to those who, in many states like Louisiana, continue to
try to put up roadblocks to stop the growth of charter schools.
“It’s a fight,” Campbell told the crowd last
“We have to fight for these
I wish we didn’t.
It amazes me that there could be anything
controversial about the achievements of these extraordinary kids.
It amazes me that anyone would dare try to choke
one of the most exciting, innovative things happening in public education.”
she answered some critics who say that all kids cannot attend charter
“No one is saying that every
public school student should be moved into a charter.
All we say is that the excellence of our
charters should be moved into every public school.”
it took a girl raised in Ferriday, Louisiana to go to the Big Apple and lead
the charge for public school reform. Yes, this is a proud papa talking. But you
cannot argue with success.
now, in the Louisiana legislature, there is an effort to curtail and limit the
growth of charter schools.
mistake this would be.
Campbell put it
“You can tell who’s on the
losing side of an issue when what they fear most is competition.
By saving children and giving them a chance,
these schools remind everyone what these kids are being saved from-an education
system that has lost its way.”
“Congress and state legislatures should not
tell teachers how to teach, any more than they should tell surgeons how to
Jim Brown’s syndicated
column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on
websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing
updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear
Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00
am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com