NEWS: School Choice Can Save Pennsylvania's Education System

From Chris Freind writing in The Philly Post:

As we all know, weather forecasters are wrong much of the time. But you can’t hold them responsible for that wholly unpredictable icy blast felt this week. After all, it was hell freezing over. That’s right. Seems Dante’s Inferno took a dip in the cold, not coincidentally, at the exact same time that former Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman—a 43-year fixture in the public education establishment—called for comprehensive school choice as the primary means to improve education.

Calling access to a quality education “the civil rights battle of our generation,” Ackerman penned a column in the Inquirer in which she lamented that it took her entire career to realize that true reforms would never originate from inside the system. Her words describe the problem perfectly:

“Real reform will never come from within the system because too many powers that be (the teachers’ union, politicians, consultants, vendors, etc.) have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo that is failing our children.”

Ackerman then offered the solution that, while obvious to anyone with common sense, has been thus far impossible to achieve.

“Meaningful education reform must be forced upon the system from outside by giving parents of all income levels real choices about where their children go to school. That requires giving parents comprehensive school choice … ”

Ackerman also advocates the expansion of charter schools, which, while a good idea, is but a small part of the overall solution, since the waiting list for these successful institutions is 30,000 strong.

The major reason charters are light years ahead of regular public schools, as Ackerman correctly points out, is two-fold. They are not required to follow many of the burdensome and counterproductive regulations imposed upon public schools, and, more important, teachers are hired—and fired—based on merit.

Read more here: http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2011/10/20/school-choice-save-pennsylvanias-education-system/