December 5th, 2009

I am writing this while I take in the SEC Championship game.  (In case you were wondering, I am a born-and-bred Florida Gator.)  All season – and especially this week – I have felt the strong sense of competition that Alabamians have when it comes to our beloved sport of college football.

While we might not agree on which football team to root for, I bet we can agree that competition is a basic American value, whether it is on the football field, in the marketplace or in the classroom.

There is a conversation going on in our state regarding whether Alabama should join 39 other states in permitting charter schools.

State Superintendent of Schools Joe Morton says he supports charter schools because they provide more opportunities, increase accountability, foster educational excellence, and could help Alabama get a piece of a $4.3 billion grant program.

AEA President Paul Hubbard opposes charter schools because are a bad idea because they would divert funding from public schools and because they’re not as effective as many people believe.

The decision will ultimately be made by the Legislature, and that’s where you come in.  You can make a decision for yourself, and then tell your legislator where you come down on the matter.
Here’s a sampling of recent newspaper articles:

(MOBILE) PRESS-REGISTERThe Press-Register says Governor’s support of charter schools follows a strong record of success nationally.

EDUCATION WEEK – Charter school movement may not be capable of the dramatic expansion being asked of it.

GADSDEN TIMES – Charter schools won’t solve everything that’s wrong with Alabama’s educational system, but they could be a start.

(FLORENCE) TIMES DAILYThe Times Daily cautions legislature against establishing charter schools, suggesting that it would be better to “use some of the principles of charter schools to improve existing public schools.”

ANDALUSIA STAR-NEWS – As Alabama’s schools continue to face constricted budgets due to a weakened economy, some politicians have suggested one unique solution to the problem — charter schools.

DECATUR DAILYThe Decatur Daily urges creation of charter schools in Alabama, arguing that competition might lead to improvement in public school programs.

(MOBILE) PRESS-REGISTER – Governor says state needs charter schools in order to compete for federal funding.

LOS ANGELES TIMESThe Los Angeles Times cautions that while charter schools hold promise, they are not “a magic bullet.”

(MOBILE) PRESS-REGISTER – Performance varies for charter schools.

(MOBILE) PRESS-REGISTER – Are charter schools really better?

BIRMINGHAM NEWS – State Superintendent Joe Morton says that now is the time to try charter schools in Alabama.

And some research studies:

ALABAMA POLICY INSTITUTE: Charter Schools in Alabama

BROOKINGS INSTITUTE –  The Impact of Milwaukee Charter Schools on Student Achievement

EDUCATION SECTOR – Growing Pains: Scaling Up the Nation’s Best Charter Schools

HARVARD GOVERNMENT INNOVATORS NETWORK – The Impact of Charter Schools on Student Achievement

STANFORD CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EDUCATION OUTCOMES – Muliple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States


Where ever you come down on the issue, the real win is that we are having a substantive dialogue – and there is competition in the marketplace of ideas. That’s the American way.

Many thanks to Ron Gilbert and the folks at Arise for their daily news digest.

Posted by Kristina Scott