When I was in New Zealand in 2012 and 2013 I often asked people why would New Zealand need charter schools? New Zealand already had a system that included community voices in their local schools. I was able to see a few different kinds of schools, everything from single sex schools, non-traditional schools and Maori schools. There was no need for the charter school model in New Zealand. Oddly enough, I found myself debating one of the founders of KIPP charter schools. Going with the KIPP model of charter schools would be a step backwards for New Zealand.
As you might imagine, I am often asked why I’m against charter schools. Such questions are posed in ways that range from the genial to the downright combative, yet it always pays to listen and draw out what people feel they are supporting.
More often than not, what people are sold on is the promise of charter schools. I don’t blame them – I am sold on the promise, too. But, as I point out, it’s wise to learn from what history and experience has taught us and, no matter how beautiful it is, we must meet the dream with facts.
The original vision for charter schools, as laid out by Albert Shanker, was for places where innovation would be encouraged in staff and students, where teachers would have a huge say in how the school was set up, what was taught and how, and where students from all manner of backgrounds would be educated alongside each…
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