Education’s promise is to give students from all walks of life and every income level an opportunity to realize the American dream. Students who learn core academic skills, as well as how to be resilient, creative, and adaptable, will have a great advantage in an ever-changing job market. They’ll also be prepared to be active citizens in our democracy, ready to pursue their own dreams of happiness, and help others to pursue theirs.
|Nina Rees||President & CEO|
|National Alliance for Public Charter Schools|
Yet for too many students, this promise is unfulfilled. Educators are striving to deliver a great education for all, but three problems leave us short of the goal.
First, there is a growing divide between what parents and students want and need from schools and what the education establishment offers. In affluent communities, the system usually responds to parents’ needs. If it doesn’t, they can supplement their child’s education, move to another school district, or choose a private school. But families with less means can’t afford these options. It is precisely the students with the fewest resources who most need a good education. Giving these families good public school options should be society’s top mission.
Seemingly since the beginning of time, mankind has preached and debated issues regarding property and profit. The origin of the term profit is to advance, to gain, to benefit, and to make progress. It’s only in modern times that it’s become synonymous with being greedy or one benefiting at the expense of another, as is often the case when profitability is discussed in education. I’d argue doing so is deliberate, often intended to tarnish the work of those involved in educational endeavors that can or do fare better than the status quo.
|Jeanne Allen||Founder & CEO|
|Center for Education Reform|
Why must we consider individual progress or gain from creating a good in public education a zero-sum game, as if doing well and doing good at the same time are inherently bad? When Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, bought The Washington Post, did the quality of the highly profitable company — which is considered a public benefit — suffer?
From the philosophers whose works shaped civilizations, to our founders, to some of our nation’s most significant statesmen, we know that property and profit are necessary to advance the public good. Advancing profit and the common good are two sides of the same coin. Deploying wealth to correct deficiencies in an area that often fails — like we do with health, poverty, and countless other areas — drives results. Sadly, there is nothing inherently better or more trustworthy about a nonprofit or government enterprise. Indeed, if that were the case, there would be no charter movement, which in just 28 years has added profitability to the proverbial educational balance sheet.
A system that took 150 years to rise and nearly fall was faced with an external challenge like never before. That challenge incubated the first school-based budgeting, presented the first outcome-based accountability and performance contracts, introduced new learning and teaching approaches to millions, and gave a system entirely impervious to change a strong dose of competition that caused it to begin to respond, and to operate differently. Is charter school profitability linked to the promise of education? It’s actually irrelevant if you consider that our only concern should be true educational profitability: providing effective institutions so that students can indeed achieve. And based on that, the advances made in education from the creation of charter schools are unparalleled historically among educational initiatives.