Sunday, April 24, 2016

Education reformers are winning the long game

"When Oklahoma and other states first authorized charter schools, charters were detested by the education establishment," The Oklahoman editorializes today. "In 1999, an official with the Oklahoma State School Board Association even compared charter school supporters to Nazi propagandists."
But the subsequent successes of charter schools, which are now undeniable, have forced a reassessment. Few things highlight this fact more than the overwhelming bipartisan support given to a new law that will allow traditional public schools to duplicate many elements of the charter model. ... 
House Bill 2720 would allow a board of education in any traditional school district to convert a school site to a “conversion” school that would operate free of many those same restrictions, making the school a charter school in all but name. 
Notably, HB 2720 was authored by Rep. Emily Virgin, a Norman Democrat who lands well on the liberal side of the political spectrum. And it's notable that HB 2720 passed without opposition in the Senate, and in the House on a bipartisan 76-19 vote. So even many Democrats who previously criticized charter schools as somehow undermining the traditional public school system are now tacitly acknowledging the success of the charter model. ... 
[T]he biggest takeaway from the easy passage of this new law is that education reformers are winning the battle, despite the long, hard slog. Some current reform proposals, such as education savings accounts, are attacked with ferocity. Yet the same thing was once true of charter schools, and now that reform is widely accepted. 
Few things are a surer sign of victory than seeing former opponents quietly stroll to your side of the aisle.

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