Earlier today Bob wrote about the NC School Board Association’s jamboree of scare words. For-profit! Unelected! Out of state! Corporations! Surely we don’t want that kind of folk educating our children?
The gist of their complaint seems to boil down to accountability. Charter school leadership is exempt from this and that requirement, and doesn’t answer to the public. But just how does a school board member see himself as more “accountable” than the board of a charter school? Is it because he comes up for vote every so many years? That he is, as I put it in a previous post, “approved by at least 50% of the population for at least one instant in time, making decisions for everybody, for a period of several years, regardless of continued approval”?
In addition, the people to whom the school board is accountable have, at best, a very indirect interest in education. According to a recent Civitas poll (q. 17), 68% of North Carolinians do not have and do not plan on having children in the school system. Is it a benefit that the majority that votes for school leadership has no direct interest in the school system?
The question we have to ask is, first, to whom is the leadership accountable, and then, how are they accountable. Elected school board officials are inadequately accountable on both counts.
Charter schools are, of course, not perfect on this account either. But their leadership is primarily accountable to the parents sending their children there, and much more directly than election every few years. Choice works. That is the accountability of the charter school, which the traditional public school lacks entirely. Charter schools are not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction.