Jerry Winters (TEA spokesman) expressed his concern about the inconsistent performance of charter schools in an article from the Knoxville News-Sentinel and further:
"Given the unproven history of these schools, I don't understand why the General Assembly is so enamored with the concept," Winters said. "I'm not totally objecting to charter schools, I just think they should serve as laboratories."
The General Assembly is 'so enamored' because American's love freedom and the public school monopoly runs counter to that independent streak.
I read his comments as very protectionist of the current system that benefits his organization's agenda and members more than it does the students in their charge. Schools have been laboratories of current educational programs for decades. My brother was the victim of one educational experiment in education and it took quite a while for him to overcome it.
The only problem with this charter experiment is that it doesn't allow the current constraints, so ably protected by Mr. Winters and his associates in the legislature, that maintain their control over the children to remain in place. Remember, these are still public schools, funded by tax dollars and required to show that they work or they can be closed. When was the last time you heard of a public school being closed for failure to educate?
The current public school system doesn't work for all children. I point to the poor graduation rate of our children, somewhere between 57 and 75%. I point to the fact that instead of funding a college education for the seniors that do manage to graduate the governor wants to take a big chunk of that money to finance a Pre-K program because 13 years under the care of the current educrats isn't enough time to teach children the basics. I point to articles in papers yesterday saying shocking things like 40% of Memphis seniors have yet to pass all three Gateway exams.
Parents, who know their children best and have their best interests at heart, are desperately needing options for their children. Why should we deny them those option? Because 'experts' don't want their expertise questioned or shown up by others not in their clique? Not good enough.
Dedrick Briggs, executive director of the Tennessee Charter School Alliance, has fought long and hard to give parents options for their children. He needs our support, as do the children of Tennessee.