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Chris Braunlich's op-ed column on charter schools in Virginia
Charter school third-graders in New Jersey play a multiplication game using dice. Charter schools generally have some freedom to experiment with teaching methodologies.
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What to do? Some have proposed creating a state-wide chartering authority, as exists in other states. But such a proposal would raise a host of state constitutional and funding issues and, in other states where the same constitutional issues exist, the courts have rejected the idea.
Another route might be a strong binding appeals process, even if it were limited only to areas with less than fully accredited schools. Local school divisions would still be able to supervise the school, but if rejected charter applicants could appeal to a higher authority, those school divisions might just be inclined to better cooperate in developing quality proposals and encouraging innovation. And in other states, with similar state constitutional restrictions, such appeals processes have been upheld by the courts.
One thing is certain: There's unlikely to be bold innovation that will help educationally at-risk children in Virginia if innovators remain trapped in a Catch-22 of our own making. And Virginia's schoolchildren deserve better.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
Chris Braunlich is vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and a member of the Virginia State Board of Education. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Institute or its board of directors, or of the Board of Education.