Update: Charter Elementary School To Get Second Life?Sep 08, 2008
That it is more difficult to get a vote on a realistic contract for a charter school in Virginia than extracting crude oil from a banana, as happened in Richmond last week, is proof enough that the issue must be revisited by the General Assembly soon. As we commented on last week, Virginia still has no charter elementary school, although Richmond was on the verge of getting one after its school board approved the Patrick Henry Initiative last spring. All that was left to do was for the school board to approve a contract with PHI. However, the the Richmond Public Schools administration sabotaged the deal by drawing up contract terms so restrictive that it was destined to condemn the school to failure. Now, Richmond School Board member Keith West, who voted against the contract because of its untenable conditions, will bring the issue back for reconsideration. West, a founder of School Choice Virginia, can do so as one who voted on the prevailing side of the question. As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Saturday, West will offer a simpler contract, outlining "what needs to be done, not how to do it."
Of course, telling a charter school how to do its mission defeats the purpose of charter schools — which is to offer alternative methods of instruction rather than the status quo offered by the educrat establishment, that same expertise that has failed so many, especially in urban communities.
While the chances for rescuing PHI aren't great, they are still alive. Overwhelming parent and citizen involvement got the effort this far and may yet finish the mission. They will need all the wherewithal they can summon to do so. West's new proposal first will be sent to a committee by School Board Chairman George Braxton, if it's not killed outright by the board. Plus, Braxton and another previous yes vote, Vice Chairman Lisa Dawson, hinted they would vote no on West's new contract anyway.
What kind of message does scuttling a first-ever charter elementary school send the rest of the state? It should send one to the General Assembly that this alleged system of educational choice must be revisited now, because although it is ostensibly set up for change, it really protects the same old torn up, infertile turf of the educrat establishment, not the interests of parents, students and new ideas to advance education.