by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Liz Bell of EdNC had a good overview of the News & Observer/WTVD charter school panel last night. Bell wrote,
Five panelists argued over the place charter schools should occupy in the state’s educational system Monday night.
To Helen Ladd, the Susan B. King professor emerita of public policy and economics at Duke University, charter schools should be confined to the “fringe” of the system — with a few schools offering new ideas and sharing them with traditional public schools.
“If you limit them that way, you can pay attention to quality assurance,” Ladd said. “You can authorize the best charter school proposals, and then make sure they have the support they need so that they can work well.”
I have a few issues with these statements (which may make more sense in the context of the discussion). According to Ladd’s argument, the more restrictions you impose in a market, the higher the quality of the goods and services offered in that market. Clearly, this is not true.
Moreover, the idea that the best charter proposals produce the best schools is not necessarily true. The authorizer and approval/oversight agencies are capable of only so much quality control. That’s why parental choice is so important. Parent choice is a quality control mechanism of the highest order.