Allow parents and communities, not state bureaucracies, to take over failing schools
Seattle Weekly reports House budget Chairman Rep. Ross Hunter is considering a state takeover of schools that are denying children access to a quality public education. I admire Rep. Hunter’s concern for children trapped in failing public schools, and his willingness to do something about it, but I think this proposal moves in the wrong direction. Instead of shifting control over a failing public school to a larger unit of government — the state — policymakers should promote the community by letting parents take over and set up an independent charter school.
Lawmakers should remove the cap that limits the number of charter schools that can open to only eight a year, up to a total of 40. That way more local communities could consider opening a charter school, if parents assigned to a failing school feel that would be a better way for their children to access the public school system.
Removing the cap would benefit all children, because just the possibility of a parent takeover would motivate school officials to improve services for children before that option arises. That, in turn, would give parents the leverage they need to seek positive change in education.
Imagine this message from parents, “Give our kids the education you promised or we’ll look into starting our own school.” Now that’s one way to concentrate the minds of school district officials.