Mike Bloomberg steps away from the rest of the crowd with one simple and sound approach to educational reform: he supports charter schools.
Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman, confirms that “Mike’s education plan will absolutely promote charter schools.” Finally a candidate that does not fall into herd mentality on one issue! Other candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in particular, have promised to eradicate all federal funding for charter schools. On at least this one issue, Bloomberg’s move can differentiate him from the rest of field.
The promise to expand charter schools is positive for a several reasons. Charter schools are broadly sought out, especially by low-income families who feel left behind by their government run school. They also provide choice. Imagine being told there is only one type of school available and that is where you must go—even if it causes strife and struggle. And charter schools open the door for deregulated and innovative schools to flourish.
However, the envelope must be pushed further.
Don Nielsen, program chair to ACTE says, “we need to recognize that the solution to our education crisis lies in improving our public schools, rather than adopting ideas that merely skirt the problem.”
Charter schools, more choice, private schools, religious schools, and school vouchers are all worth pursuing. Each has the potential to improve the academic opportunity for students and that makes them worth trying.
Nevertheless, these concepts apply only to a relatively small percentage of students. The focus should be to assure every child receives a high caliber education, including those in mainstream public schools.
In order for this to occur we must create and maintain quality teachers, effective leadership, improved governance, and autonomy. When this occurs, every student is given the opportunity to thrive, regardless of socio-economic status.
Charter schools are a good step. But more must be done to transform the educational system.