Adam Meredith’s letter to the editor (“Charter schools will lead reform,” April 26 edition) made some very interesting points — most especially the flexibility offered to charter schools to increase the pay for outstanding teaching professionals. Unfortunately, as noted by Meredith, Maryland “received an ‘F,’ worst in the nation, when it comes to charter-school-law rankings” — in fact, Maryland rates 43 out of 43 in its measure. (See www.publiccharters.org/get-the-facts/law-database.)
Research consistently proves that individual teachers have the biggest influence on a child’s performance, not the school as a whole. Speaking in terms of “good” or “bad” schools generally has very little actual meaning. On average, schools don’t perform much differently from one another, as the results between the most and least effective teachers tend to wash each other out.
Charter schools were formed in part to address that problem. By giving charter school operators the ability to manage their own staff, they have the ability to retain and promote their high-performing teachers. Unfortunately, union rules inhibit the ability of public schools to either address poor teaching or promote excellence in this profession.
The inflexibility and draconian nature of the union rules surrounding teacher pay and performance measures (coupled with the manifold central administration and mid-management costs) ensures little to no change will occur. Charter schools offer an alternative to this continuous state of affairs, yet Maryland bureaucrats remain steadfast in opposing any such alternatives.
In most every other state where charter schools exist, such schools have the ability to hire the best teachers and pay them accordingly. We need to hold our teacher unions accountable for these actions, which harm both teachers and students.
During this most interesting political season where the status quo and one-size-fits-all government is being brought into question, we need to focus upon current and future generations. Now is the time to allow greater choice and more flexibility in our public school system and demand our elected officials break down the wall of the good ol’ boy school system by allowing more charter schools with more local control, flexibility and authority.