Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Supra-succinct sum up on school reform

Comes from the column, "For-profit 'charter' schools," by the syndicated columnist Susan Estrich.

In discussing an announcement from Andre Agassi and others to create a 75 school chain of for profit charter schools, she writes:

... If you’re serious about real education reform, the name of the game is transforming public schools, not allowing a few extra children the advantages of charter schools. I understand that every kid we help matters. But we can’t build enough charter schools to deal with the problems millions of kids are facing.

The argument for charter schools has never been that they are the answer to the failings of public education. They were intended to serve as laboratories and models, figuring out what works and why, experimenting with new systems of decentralized control and school autonomy so that public schools could learn from the experience. That is why some of us who have been involved in charter work for years have formed a new organization (nonprofit, of course) called “Future Is Now Schools” (FIN Schools), led by nationally known reformer Steve Barr. The goal is to transform failing public schools in major cities by forming local partnerships.

While I used to be in favor of charter schools for the reason that she outlines, eventually I came to believe that the energy and momentum of charter schools became internally focused, and ended up being a distraction and diversion from the real need to improve the overall public school system.

After all, as she writes:

Public education isn’t failing because it’s easy; it’s failing because it’s hard.

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