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The longer this goes on--that is, public education in America--the more states are heard from when it comes to charter schools.

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about a pretty damning report on schools in Providence, the one in Rhode Island, where the old world's shadows hang heavy in the air. "Peeling lead paint, brown water, leaking sewage pipes, broken asbestos tiles, rodents, frigid and chaotic classrooms, and student failure," were all reported.

That sounds like an environment no student deserves. But that picture isn't quite specific enough to really capture the horror. From the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy review on Providence schools:

"Teachers did not press students to become engaged with the mathematics instruction, resulting in a variety of student off-task behavior: chatting with peers, checking phones, staring into space, or, in some cases, taking phone calls and watching YouTube videos."

The report goes on to detail teachers' desks being urinated on and another teacher being choked by a student in front of the class with no discernible punishment. Is "madhouse" a strong enough word to describe this situation? And the hits to education are astounding. Between 2015 and 2017, only 5 percent of Providence eighth graders scored proficient in math.

The good news (if there is any) is that charter schools in Providence are seeing considerably more success. And yet, city leaders are supposedly wrestling with whether to pause or expand the program. How is this even a discussion? Public schools there have horrifying results, and charter schools do not.

The nightmare in Providence was caused by poor policies for (and by) unions that made it harder for principals to get rid of problem teachers and bad legislation limiting suspensions of bad kids. Any disruption free of any real threat of punishment continues unimpeded, as it would anywhere.

Eventually, we've got to stop throwing money into a black hole and get smarter about what education policy works and what doesn't.

Charter schools need to be a bigger part of the equation. We need more free market ingenuity brought to our education system. Parents need more choice to determine which school districts their children attend. And principals and school boards need some teeth back to restore order from chaos. And not just in Rhode Island.

It doesn't take a lot of observation to see that whenever a new charter school opens it's flooded with applications from desperate parents who want the best educational future for their children.

Should we allow further charter school expansion? Put another way, should we allow our children more opportunities to succeed?

Editorial on 07/12/2019

Print Headline: The easiest choice

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