Commentary: Abramson Case Evidence That Charter System Works
Revocation of school’s charter a sign of accountability
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s decision to revoke the charter of Abramson Science and Technology Charter School may appear to be black eye to the charter school system and its advocates. In fact, the Abramson case highlights one of the benefits of a charter system over its traditional counterpart, namely increased accountability.
On Wednesday, BESE voted to take the operating charter away from the Pelican Educational Foundation after allegations that school officials did not respond appropriately to an alleged sexual episode between two students. This incident comes on the heels of other allegations of attempted bribery and cheating.
While this is certainly an embarrassment to the public education system as a whole, BESE’s decision to revoke the operating charter is a refreshing one for anyone familiar with the last few decades of public education in New Orleans.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans public education was a disaster. The vast majority of schools were failing, and badly. Schools not only failed their students, but put them in danger. Worse, the Orleans Parish School Board did little to improve the lives of its students and was mired in continual scandals and allegations of corruption.
Under the old regime, it is highly unlikely that changes to Abramson would have ever been made. The ability of the charter system to hold itself accountable and close poorly performing and delinquent schools is an unequivocal positive. BESE is now working towards finding a new operator for Abramson to facilitate a quick transition for the new school year.
While the charter system has its benefits, it is not a panacea for public education. Many schools still struggle to achieve academic progress. True school choice can be attained through voucher programs, which have proved successful, as in the case in Washington D.C. True education reform will not be achieved until students are allowed to attend the school of their choice, be it private, charter, or traditional.
Jamison Beuerman is a contributing writer and policy analyst at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on twitter @jbeuerman.