There’s little question there’s nothing more important than investing in the lives of our children. While Frederick County and Maryland do have some excellent public schools, there are also many schools that are second-rate. In fact, disparity in school quality isn’t unique to Frederick County or Maryland and is exactly the reason why charter schools were created in the first place.
I recently found out that, despite Maryland’s reputation for excellent public schools, the state received an “F,” worst in the nation, when it comes to charter-school-law rankings (see Center for Education Reform at www.edreform.com). Is this because we don’t need charter schools? Or is it because Maryland has many very affluent communities with good tax bases and most of the public schools are very good? However, what about those less affluent communities with lower tax bases and second-rate schools? Don’t the children in those school districts still deserve an opportunity for the highest level of education?
It seems that resting on our laurels and waving the flag of great blue ribbon schools is a bad idea and will only contribute to greater disparity. What we need is choice, competition and pay-for-performance. In life, there’s no free lunch. To attract the best talent, we have to be willing and able to pay $125,000 (look at TEP charters) to retain the best teachers and have the flexibility to get rid of those that are underperforming. There’s no more powerful agitator than excellent charter schools, and the only way to pay for the best is through charter schools. However, in order to have good charter schools we first need to have good charter school laws.
Reform? Or apathy?