Ohio

Eye on Education

David Brennan Says Parents Are the Best Judges of School Quality

Two weeks ago, Fordham Institute President Chester Finn Jr. wrote a nice letter to the Columbus Dispatch explaining why Ohio children should be grateful to White Hat Management founder David Brennan for “rebutting those who would keep them trapped in crummy district school.”

White Hat is one of Ohio’s largest charter school operators and has been a leader in lobbying to expand charter schools in Ohio.

But after giving Brennan credit for “brightening” Ohio children’s educational prospects, Finn said that the state needs to do more to sort out bad charter schools from the good:

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.

Now Brennan responds in a Sunday letter to the editor. He says parents’ opinion of a school should take precedence over the state’s opinion:

Also, while Finn and I agree that disclosure of vital information is important in assisting parents and students in making their choices, once that information is known, we differ as to whose choice is supreme. I’ve never believed that parents’ satisfaction and student performance are trumped by the government’s own very rigid standards of performance, which is a pressure seldom exerted on traditional public schools.

Taken to the extreme, would that mean that it’s OK to keep open a public school where no students pass state standardized tests as long as parents are happy enough with the school to keep sending their children there?

(Bonus note: Can you spot the public radio namecheck in Brennan’s letter?)

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