Thursday, November 1, 2012

TPT: How Much Flexibility Should Public Schools Have?

The Tampa Bay Times Gradebook Blog posted the question of "How Much Flexibility Should Public Schools Have?" in response to Governor Rick Scott's plans to ask for more school flexibility in the next legislative session.

In announcing his education plan for the coming year, Gov. Rick Scott made clear his support for giving public schools more flexibility to meet parent choice desires:
"Like other public schools, charter schools are held to assessment and accountability standards to reinforce student achievement.  Unlike traditional schools, however, charter schools have flexibility to determine their own curriculum, instructional strategies and educational focus. To increase and incentivize more competition and choice options for students and parents, districts that currently sponsor a charter school should be given the ability to open District Charter Innovation Schools that could be operated by the district with the same funding levels. This increased competition and choice for students and parents will drive continued success for our students."
The idea of giving districts back some degree of local control won praise from Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Boards Association, among others. It brought to mind the long forsaken idea of giving Florida school districts charter status of their own, so they can operate free of much of the red tape and bureacracy that the state ties them to right now.
It's interesting how Scott says that districts should be able to open their own charter schools. Why not allow districts to do what is best for their populations with existing schools? Tallahassee could accomplish this by immediately halting new regulations on schools. That is what Scott wants to do with  businesses, right? 

As far as the newspaper's question is concerned, I believe that public schools should have the same kinds of flexibility that charter schools and the McKay Scholarship private schools enjoy. This includes flexibility in curriculum, textbook selection, remediation techniques, teaching techniques, evaluation systems, allowing schools to require uniforms rather than just encourage them, opening up more technical/career training options in high schools for students who are not college bound, etc. Once public schools are able to do those things, I believe there will be a significant increase in student outcomes. 

One flexibility option I believe existing public schools will not be able to employ is the selectivity of private schools and the ability by both private and charter schools to remove students who cannot or will not perform academically and/or behaviorally. This is a necessary component of a public school system. However, that will continue to give traditional public schools a slight disadvantage. However, if the state grants public schools with some or all of the aforementioned  freedoms, then perhaps some of those challenging students will be able to be placed on a pathway that will allow them to be more successful. 

No comments:

Post a Comment