Charter schools and the problem of national education
December 7, 2021 6:05 PM ET
America owes Michael Bloomberg a debt of gratitude for supporting charter schools with his fortune (“Why I Support Charter Schools”, op-ed, December 2). No doubt he will have to brave the insults launched by the teachers’ unions, but those of us whose children have attended charters know he is right.
My wife and I got lucky in a charter school lottery, and our kids went to one of the best colleges on the east coast: Newark Charter School in Delaware. Beginning in grade five, NCS students significantly increased their scores in math, reading, and science. The scores of district students in the same income group fell. Since the NCS admitted students with a blind lottery, the school has offered the state a model for increasing results. Instead, every day we fought teacher unions for survival, and their political allies were happy to pile up. Many of these allies, like President Biden, sent their children to exclusive private schools.
Ass. Teacher. Phillip mink
George Mason University
I agree with Andy Kessler that many students fall behind in reading, math and the rest, but it is incorrect to blame teacher unions (“The Crumbling Pillar of Education,” Inside View , November 29). It is a very complex question.
In the 1960s, my Chicago public school had 40 students in an eighth grade classroom, a melting pot. My classmates were Asians, Greeks, Native Americans, Hispanics, Appalachians, Catholics, Jews, Protestants. Many of them went on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc.
Almost all of the kids in my class had a mom and a dad. We ate meals with our family every night (both parents worked; we were turnkey kids). We had few distractions – no 24/7 TV, the internet, cell phones, or social media – and education was important to our parents. Many of my friends were the first in their families to go to college.
Good teachers will not solve the problem. The reasons for children’s failure are multiple: family life, schools without resources, crime in the neighborhood, peer pressure, unmet need for special education, outdated teaching techniques, teachers overloaded with administrative formalities, etc. Now we can even add inline instructions to the list.
In light of all the teachers who quit during the pandemic, the problem is not bad teachers but not enough teachers. Districts across the country are experiencing unprecedented teacher shortages and fewer substitute teachers to fill.
We need to structure our schools so that teachers have more freedom and autonomy in order to attract and retain the most creative and dynamic in the field. We also need to improve working conditions by reducing class sizes and the student load. We have to increase the salaries so that more people want to enter the profession or soon we will only have bad teachers and no one wants to replace them.
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Published in the printed edition of December 8, 2021 under the title “Charters and the problem of national education”.