Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
I decided to join my new homeland.
I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
As the news about American public schools gets worse, the same question is asked over and over by thousands of worried parents:
So what are my options?They could revolt.Or they could play the system to their and their children advantage.
Even as taxpayers pour billions more dollars into public schools, performance continues to falter. Test scores remain flat, at best, while conditions worsen.
One way to improve public education is from within the system. Charter schools, which are public schools that operate independently of local systems, often succeed where conventional public schools fail.
Charter schools thrive in large part because they are free from much of the tangle of rules and regulations that burden public schools, giving teachers some latitude to innovate. In some states, charter schools are fully exempt except for health, safety, special education and civil rights regulation.
This freedom typically provides parents with greater opportunities to be involved in their children's educations. At the same time, students usually get more individual attention and a chance to focus on the subjects they excel in and enjoy the most.
Apparently freedom works. Test scores at charter schools are "rising sharply," according to Danielle Georgiou of the National Center for Policy Analysis. Students at these schools, she adds, "are more likely to be proficient in reading and math than students in neighboring conventional schools, achieving the greatest gains among African-American, Hispanic and low-income students."
And who builds those charter schools? Free market. And this is why the left hates them so much.
Charter schools are usually located in urban areas and are often launched by the efforts of churches, community centers and nonprofit organizations that receive a charter from an authorizing body. That means, yes, they are accountable. And they tend to serve large numbers of students from lower-income and needy families.
But startup costs often present a lofty hurdle for groups that dream of charter schools in their communities. Developers can bridge this gap by building new facilities or renovating old ones and turning them over to schools.
The practice makes perfect sense and is increasingly becoming a tool for commercial — and sometimes nonprofit — builders to lure young families into urban and suburban housing developments. It's the free market at work solving one of the country's most intractable problems.
Given how well charter schools perform, it's no surprise they can be a strong attraction for parents who are making decisions about moving. Chicago-area builder Cambridge Homes, for instance, says it added a charter school to a northeast Illinois housing development because it's part of a "quality of life package" that people are looking for.
From Florida, where Fernando Zulueta put a charter school in a housing development in 1997, to Aurora, Colo., where nearly a dozen developers are essentially creating a new school system from a network of charter schools, developers are meeting the needs of parents and students who want a better education than conventional public schools can deliver.