September 08, 2010
by Tammy Drennan, NEO Senior Writer
Charter schools are public schools that operate with less oversight than other public schools. That's supposed to be the thing that makes them work -- that and the fact that parents choose to send their children to them.
But they are not private or independent schools, and parents do not feel the stake in them that they would were they paying for them -- and, not surprisingly, parents rely on oversight groups and government to keep charters accountable.
As one might expect, schools that are not accountable directly to parents play the money and slack-off games. Some charters are good but there are problems with a lot of them, ranging from poor performance to embezzlement by operators.
Minnesota is addressing these problems the way government always does -- more laws, more regulation. In other words, their charters are becoming more like their other public schools.
"The new law requires [charter] authorizers to apply to the Department of Education under the new criteria by June 30, 2011, and demonstrate they have the staff and financial backing to perform the additional oversight," reports The Associated Press.
Only when education is independent and parents paying attention to what they're getting for their investment is excellence and honesty achievable. That's not to say there will never be problems, but the closer we keep schooling tied to parents, the better we can expect it to be for children and society.