The leftwing and their useful idiots in the media who have taken all their talking points would like us all to believe that Charter Schools are a”failed American model”.
Unfortunately for them some of us know how to look past a union press release or Sue Moroney’s nasty whining.
Here are some studies showing that charter schools do indeed work. Helen Clark and other Labour luminaries would have us follow Sweden and other Scandanavian countries in lots of areas, but for some strage reason they are silent on the success in Sweden after they reformed their school system:
The Swedish school voucher program was introduced in 1992 by the then Center-Right government. First, the Social Democrats opposed the reform, but after having returned to power in 1994 they not only accepted it but also expanded the legislated compensation level of the voucher. Today there is almost a total national political consensus—with the one and only exception from the small Left (i.e., former Communist) Party—on the foundations of school choice in Sweden.
Since the 1970s, the Swedish school system had declined regarding quality and student attainment. One reason for this was the lack of choice. Only the very rich, who could afford private schools with private tuition fees on top of our very high taxes, had a right to choose. For all the rest, the school was one monolithic organization in which all students were considered to have the same needs and to learn the same way. The lack of choice created a lack of innovation regarding pedagogical concept and ways of learning adapted to different students’ needs. Public schools, run by politicians in the local branch of government (cities and municipalities), were all there was for 99 percent of all students.
The school voucher program was designed to create a market—with competition, entrepreneurship, and innovation—based on the Swedish and Scandinavian tradition of social justice and equality: All families should be able to choose between public and private schools regardless of their economic status or wealth. This equal opportunity philosophy, taken into its full potential, created an education market!
Instead of saying the proposal is a “failed American model” how about a “successful Swedish model”?
The small independent schools have often challenged the public schools and forced them to improve. But the large chain companies, which have an estimated one-fourth to one-fifth of all independent school students, have proven to be an important force for innovative progress, regarding both educational methods and, important enough, ways to measure, compare, maintain, and improve results.
This also explains why independent schools, on an average, prove to have a smaller per pupil cost than public schools. Since 2004, the inflation-adjusted cost increase per pupil has been smaller for independent schools than that for the whole Swedish education system. And independent schools are not allowed to choose their students. Detailed analysis of cost items shows that independent schools spend a higher share of their revenues on education and teaching materials and are more efficient in managing other costs.
Whoops there goes another myth perpetrated by the ideologues of the left, that Charter Schools choose their pupils to ensure greater success. What about the teacher unions?
…in the U.S. the teacher unions seem to be strong advocates against reforms for free choice. To me this is really strange and even somewhat bizarre, because it is against the core interest of the unions’ members. Widened choice for parents and students, which leads to higher competition through the occurrence of new and different forms of organizing education, also means a widened choice for teachers, because they will no longer be automatically referred to one employer—i.e., the public school monolith!
The Swedish teacher unions never opposed the voucher reform. They did not publicly embrace it, but behind the scenes they had expectations that the teacher profession would gain from more alternatives, competition, and innovation in education.
This is also proven in teacher satisfaction surveys conducted since the introduction of the universal choice program. Last summer, the national and highly respected Swedish Quality Index presented an analysis that showed that the difference in teacher satisfaction with their employer, work environment, and teaching conditions between public and independent schools is “highly significant” in favor of the independent schools. Perhaps these higher satisfaction rates for teachers in independent schools can explain their lower rate of sickness leave?
I’m not sure we should be trialling Charter Schools, rather we should simply adopt the Swedish model holus bolus and get cracking.
Almost every complaint the teachers unions and the Labour party about Charter Schools is busted by Sweden. Maybe they should start to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.