Letter to the Editor

Charter schools fail to deliver

Friday, February 9, 2007

To the editor:George Will recently criticized the Topeka, Kan., board of education for opposing charter schools. His opening salvo was pointing out the position of the board in Brown v. Board of Education decided by the U.S. Supreme Court over half a century ago. I know something of this case. I was taking a course in constitutional law in law school when the case was decided. Extra assignments include the briefing of current cases not appearing in the course casebooks. I was called on to recite this decision. The essence of the ruling was that separate-but-equal public schools were inherently unequal.

Will and I agree with how wrong were schools segregated by race and how right was the court decision. However, this is a rational or logical argument for charter schools. I have fought charter schools for the past eight years in Maryland. My efforts did not stop the movement, but most would agree I was successful in slowing the progression in my county and perhaps in the state as well.

Charter school are public schools that compete with traditional public schools. To the degree that charter schools are funded, traditional schools are denied funding. In theory, charter schools are freed from traditional school bureaucracy in return for better accountability and performance. The kicker is that the better evidence is that charter schools have not upheld their end of the bargain. Accountability and performance have not improved, but have actually deteriorated.

BILL D. BURLISON, Advance, Mo.