Teachers must make the grade in charter schools
Speaking of New Orleans, here's a great op ed in the Washington Post that addresses the difficulty of evaluating teachers: just adopt the New Orleans relinquisher model!
But there's a way to sidestep those problems, too, or at least take them out of the hands of unwieldy bureaucracies: Just leave it to the school.
Under this model, parents would be given comparable information about a host of available schools. They could send their children to schools that are succeeding and avoid those that are failing. School leaders would be free to hire, evaluate and reward staff as they thought best, with no bureaucratic interference. But if they failed to develop and retain talented teachers, they also would fail to attract enough students, and their schools would go out of business.
This model exists. It's called charter schools. In post-Katrina New Orleans, as my colleague Jo-Ann Armao recently described on this page, more than 80 percent of students are in charters, and they are doing better than before Hurricane Katrina. In the District of Columbia, 31,562 students — 41 percent of public school children — attend one of 53 public charter schools (on 98 campuses). Enrollment has been growing 7 or 8 percent per year. On current trends, more than half of D.C. students will be in charter schools within a few years.
The District has been fortunate, since 1996, to have a law that promotes charter school quality and independence.
Editorial Page Editor