Toward Better Schools: To Charter Or Not To Charter? That is the Question!

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One extra benefit of our RE@L Blog is that you get two viewpoints for the price of one. While we both agree that RE@L is the right answer to the question, “Who’s the best creator and publisher of effective K12 EdTech Apps and Software?“, we do occasionally disagree on other issues.




Take Charter Schools, for example. Are charter schools a good option for kids and parents in lieu of a public school? Or, do they result in worse overall educational results for both the charter school and the public school?

DalePortrait1_SnapseedHere’s Dale’s viewpoint:Charter schools have an “elitist” approach to education. Our country’s public schools are built on the assumption that all students should get the same chance to learn. The Charter approach is to skim the best and leave the costly difference for the public schools. That’s OK by me…..IF the elites are paying their own way, like parochial and private schools do. But, no, Charters want to get “their share” of the per pupil allotment and let the public schools make up the difference that occurs when the total costs are spread on the thinner base – - -

And, often that base includes the students who are the most expensive to take care of.”

TomRE@LPortHere’s Tom’s response: “Charter schools, as a rule, are not more elite than public schools. Many serve the same diverse populations that our public schools do. Most get by with far less funding than other schools, and depend on outside grants and other fundraising to get by. It’s true that well-endowed private schools remain, and, by the way, that’s where most of our politicians send their kids, but they are not charter schools. Parochial schools, by and large, are disappearing  at about the same rate as church-goers.

What’s best about charter schools is that the kids and their parents want to be there and to learn there.”

What we do agree on is that both charter and public schools must find a way to use technology effectively in their teaching and learning. It makes no sense to order an iPad for every student without a sound plan to use it. Useful learning tools don’t know what kind of school they’re in. The school needs to know what to do with those tech tools, whether it is public, private, parochial or charter school.

That takes a vision, and also requires leadership and a plan to make it happen.
So, what do you, good reader, think on this issue? Do charter schools help lead us toward better schools, or do they detract from overall K12 betterment?


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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.