What Makes Charter Schools Different From Traditional Schools? Accountability

school choice

September 22, 2016—Recently in Los Angeles, the board of the El Camino Real Charter High School carried a meeting at the Woodland Hills school to “placate Los Angeles Unified School District concerns about liberal credit-card spending by school administrators and inadequate board oversight.”

This meeting was considered of extreme importance after the school’s leadership received a notice from the LAUSD alleging “fiscal mismanagement” and other open-meetings violations. The LAUSD could revoke the school’s charter if these concerns are not addressed.

Public charter schools that fail to perform according to the state’s expectations are often forced to close their doors. But when public traditional schools are accused of mismanagement and other violations, nothing happens.

While many corrupt members of traditional schools often pay for their mistakes when caught, public schools and school districts tainted by corruption are almost always left untouched.

If a high ranking official from a charter public school is found guilty of a similar crime, however, the school involved in the scandal is most likely to be forced to close its doors.

So why are anti-school choice advocates so concerned about corruption within the charter school system? Because their faith in government often speaks louder than their faith in facts.

Data shows that students who attend public charter schools perform better than they would if they attended traditional institutions. They also perform better on college entrance exams.

But special interest isn’t concerned with how well minorities and low-income students perform overall. What they are concerned with instead is job security.

Teachers unions are extremely powerful in America. Historically, these organizations were formed to boost protectionism, economist Robert Murphy contends.

He explains that, when “the link between payment and service” is severed, and schools are “[free,] … the quality of the product—education—declines.”

If parents are not concerned in making sure their investment is paying off simply because thy are not putting any money toward their child’s education, “parents are not as interested in assuring their child’s attendance.” Without their involvement, public schools become an income generator to public school teachers. Since the money is there “no matter what,” “there is no need for [teachers and students] to strive for excellence.”

So what’s the difference between a school whose leadership is held accountable and a school that exists as an income generator for protected union members? Accountability.