In the recent news, Success Academy Charter schools have been in a dispute with Mayor de Blasio. Bringing questions of both legal and practical proportion. During this dispute, de Blasio has brought his critical opinions on charter schools forward. As a partial justification for not providing funds for the prekindergarten school. However, while this argument is relevant to our society it appears rather irrelevant to the current situation.
Success’s unwillingness to sign a contract allowing the city oversight and some control has caused them to be denied funding. The objection was that the head of the school is, and should remain, in charge of the school’s activities as stated by the law. This seems very reasonable. Of course the school is entitled to remain in charge of its own activities and should not be bullied out of that right by the state.
On the other hand, it stands to equal reason that the state must have some oversight in the education of its children. Otherwise, why would teachers need licenses? It needs to be assured that those teaching the next generation are prepared and qualified. From what can be told, there needs to be a compromise to respect the school’s independence whilst giving the city only necessary oversight.
Lastly, de Blasio has brought forth his own critiques of charter school policy to justify the denial of funds. He argues that charter schools do nothing to help the struggling students. Therefore putting more pressure on public schools. The problem is school policy would only be grounds for denial if the school had signed the contract and denied the city’s demands, yet they haven’t signed anything. The issue is that a legally standing school is being denied funding, and that denial may cause children to be illegally denied education. A discussion of charter school policy must be saved for another time, and the issues at hand dealt with swiftly.
Wohlstetter, Wenning, and Briggs (1995) investigated government legislation regarding charter schools and their effect on the policies of the schools, focusing “on the degree of autonomy among state charter school policies.” The authors explain, “Charter schools offer a radical approach to decentralizing management in education that allows individual schools to become self-governing” (Wohlstetter, Wenning, and Briggs, 1995).
A large part of this autonomy is promoting and facilitating innovative teaching, which the authors found 9 of 11 states included in their Charter school legislation (Wohlstetter, Wenning, and Briggs, 1995). Decentralization and empowerment being a significant part of “enterprise culture”, Charter schools represent this idea by allowing for the school to operate independently with their own unique mission statement, which in turn empower teachers to develop and implement innovative teaching outside the lines of the educational guidelines of the public school system.
“Autonomous organizations are inevitably constrained by the need to be accountable to customers” (Wohlstetter, Wenning, and Briggs, 1995). This idea relates to Cameron’s idea that “To reap the full benefits of ‘better service’ it is necessary to become a ‘better customer’ (Craig and Muller, 2007, p. 412).
Autonomy creates a bubble of self-analyzing and comes mostly in the form of consumer assessment, which in this case would be the parents and students. The accountability aspect highlights the business free market origin of enterprise culture. School rankings give parents and students the opportunity to explore their options and pick the best school for their unique situation, while giving schools the incentive to innovate and constantly improve their mission and curriculum.
Charter schools offer a sense of freedom and choice by taking a business oriented approach to education. Students and their families are give opportunities to pick a particular type of charter school that fits their needs. The success of charter school vary among different states and areas, but it remains a positive that charter schools are given some authority to develop their own practices and guidelines.