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Charter Districts Would Let Schools Be Free to Teach

October 09, 1994

Joy Anthony's recent column ("Charter Schools Can Provide the Answers to Hard Problems," Sept. 23) is off base. Part of the message behind both the headline and the column regarding the apparent unpopularity of charter schools is traced to school boards and the difficulty of "winning school board approval."

While there is significant debate among educators regarding the viability of the charter schools, many educational leaders are in favor of the charter school concept.

Schools do not exist in isolation. They are a part of larger communities. Elementary schools feed into middle schools. Middle school students matriculate into high school. A school is not an island unto itself and, therefore may well be hesitant to completely secede from a relationship with a school district.

If the Legislature really wanted to promote true decentralization of schools and education, the subject of charter school districts should appear on the agenda. Charter school districts would allow whole school communities to be freed of the over-regulation of a 6,000-page Education Code and pursue powerful, systemwide educational improvements instead of tinkering with one isolated charter school at a time.

I don't know why the state of California hamstrings school districts with an Education Code full of complex minutiae, some of which appears to be designed to discourage or impede innovation and improved instruction. California passed legislation to permit school districts to apply for waivers to the education code for programs which improve teaching and learning. This raises the logical question: Is the Education Code so bureaucratic that waivers must be approved before meaningful reform can take place? What really needs to take place is systematic reform, starting with the Education Code itself.

Rather than bemoan the reality of so few schools entering into the charter school arena, let's do it right. Lift the burden of over-regulation on all schools and districts in California and allow us to become charter districts so that communities of schools serving the same children could exercise the same right to develop and implement creative and innovative solutions without having to turn to the voluminous and outdated Education Code every time a major decision had to be made.

Give us charter school districts and set us free.



Capistrano Unified School District

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