Friday, April 13, 2012

Choice and Charter Schools undermine quality neighborhood schools

The Arizona Republic - April 11, 2012
Work-arounds and alternatives aren’t the answer to ensuring a strong and secure future for our nation and its citizens; they leave too many children behind. So our imperative must be to not allow under performing neighborhood schools to languish, because there will be children in them.
“Choice” is a policy strategy that fails an unacceptable number of students. Some parents — those charged with making “the choice” — are simply unable to transport their child to a school outside their neighborhood or community. Other parents, tragically, are indifferent and unengaged in their child’s education.
These are factors education policy can’t change, and they provide powerful reasons why the conversation must be shifted away from choice to expecting a quality school in every neighborhood for every student. That is unity of purpose.
We need quality education for all students and that means a renewed commitment to neighborhood public schools — the schools that the vast majority of American children, including 90 percent of Arizona’s school-age children attend.
Our neighborhood public schools must be the most powerful and essential training ground for our nation’s future scientists, linguists, inventors and business leaders. If we fail to make them our top priority, we risk creating the kind of unacceptable vulnerability the task force describes.
 Tim Ogle is executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association