Here’s a thought experiment about charter schools from Mitchell Robinson, an associate professor and chair of music education at Michigan State University. Before moving to Michigan State, Robinson taught music for 10 years in the Fulton City School District in New York and held collegiate appointments at the University of Connecticut and the Eastman School of Music. This appeared on his blog.
By Mitchell Robinson
Imagine that your town established a private fire or police department, funded with your tax dollars and staffed by young, inexperienced college grads with no previous experience in firefighting or law enforcement.
Imagine that these parallel organizations were given prime locations in existing facilities (built and paid for with public money), displacing the professionals who had served your community for many years.
Imagine that these “new” fire and police forces could pick and choose which calls for their assistance they would respond to, choosing only the easiest and least dangerous cases and referring the difficult calls to the “old” departments, which were now understaffed and under-resourced. And that the “new” departments’ artificially high success rates would be trumpeted by the media as evidence of their effectiveness.
Imagine that these “new” employees only spent a year or two in their jobs as firefighters and police officers, and then moved directly into positions as fire and police department chiefs and town mayors, promoting their former colleagues into positions on their town councils, and enacting changes to town guidelines and ordinances that promoted the “new” departments while continuing to siphon off resources that had previously been dedicated to supporting the “old” departments.
Imagine that as the “new” fire and police departments became more prevalent in your community, the numbers of damaging fires and crime rates showed a steady increase, but your mayor and town council ignored the evidence and passed laws lifting the “caps” on the number of “new” fire and police departments could be established.
Imagine that these “new” departments were clustered primarily in urban centers, while the fire and police departments in the suburbs remained well-funded and staffed by experienced, well-trained professionals.
Imagine that the leaders of these “new” fire and police departments paid themselves inordinately high salaries, became wealthy and powerful, and their investors received strong returns on their initial investments.
Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if we did this to our schools?