David Brennan, the founder of for-profit charter school management company White Hat Management, has become a “larger-than-life target,” writes Fordham Institute President Chester Finn Jr. in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed. (The Fordham Institute works to “strengthen accountability and expand education options.” Its associated foundation also sponsors charter schools in Ohio.)
Lefty political blogs such as Plunderbund might accuse Brennan of caring more about money than about children. (Sample quote: “It’s not about political ideology for someone like David Brennan, it’s just the cost of doing business.”) But Ohio kids should really be thanking Brennan, Finn writes:
Still, Finn goes on to say that Brennan’s argument that “the market” will sort out the bad charter schools from the good ones is bogus (my word, not his):
Brennan fought the critics and enemies of choice on multiple fronts, and thousands of Buckeye State youngsters owe him thanks for brightening their educational prospects and rebutting those who would keep them trapped in crummy district schools.
Experience, alas, suggests otherwise. When it comes to education quality, the marketplace alone has proved ineffective. Schools need to satisfy parents and to deliver solid academic results — and when taxpayer dollars are involved, those paying the bills have every right, even obligation, to ensure that such results are delivered. Parents are often unfussy about academic quality, keeping their children in a school that doesn’t deliver much learning so long as they feel it is safer than their other options, that its staff is welcoming or that it is convenient to their home or workplace.
Without demeaning such considerations, charters are public schools, and too many of Ohio’s children who attend them are still at academic risk. Taxpayers deserve to invest their hard-earned dollars in schools that deliver results — gauged both by parent satisfaction and by student performance.
You can read the full op-ed here.
Do you agree with Finn? Does Brennan deserve a medal or does he a deserve a (figurative, political) target on his back? Or both?