Here’s a way some people have been criticising charter schools lately: that because they’re so successful, they’re dragging back into the taxpayer-funded school system students who would otherwise have gone to private fee-paying schools.
It’s not really a criticism, is it. It’s an endorsement. And it appeared in the LA Times, which reported a study that found “more than 190,000 students nationwide had left a private school for a charter by the end of the 2008 school year, the most recent year for which data was available. And charter schools have exploded in number since that time.”
Students are leaving fee-paying American private schools for public charter schools in such numbers because their parents like what they’re seeing. The growth of charter schools, a charter school advocate told The Times,
i a testament to their academic success and popularity with families, and the movement should be nurtured and emulated.
Hard to argue with that.
Sure, it can be rough on some private schools when the government’s factory schools are made better. And there is certainly going to be firestorm of rent-seekers looking to pull down big bundles of taxpayers’ money to run a school. But as the Practice Good Theory blog argues:
The solution, of course, is to privatize the entire system. Short of that, one has to decide who should be sacrificed: the owner of the private school, or the kid who is forced to attend a school that's so bad that parents would rather have him in a private school.
Schools should be privately-funded. I think the criticism from private school owners is valid. Nevertheless, if schools are going to remain largely tax-funded, charter schools are one way of getting better quality.