This summer will mark the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But it also marks the start of an ambitious effort to break up New Orleans' long-beleaguered public school system and replace it with a market-based system in which charter schools compete for customers, in this case students and parents, and for top test scores.
My role as an unapologetic advocate for public education in the most affluent predominately African-American county in America often turns a trip to the park into a lesson on why large public education systems struggle, and why successful parents may be asking the wrong questions before making choices for their children.
To what extent can public charter schools can learn from some of the best ideas that undergird our nation's most outstanding, innovative private schools? It was this question that led the founding principal and executive director of a new, not-yet-opened charter school to spend a few days in the bucolic Pennsylvania countryside late last fall.
People across ideologies want our education system to work for America's children -- and that goes for many of National School Choice Week's backers as well as its critics. But let's not allow those whose real goal is the destruction of public education to cloak their agenda under the cheerful banner of "school choice."
Can public schools thrive in a school choice environment? I think so, yes. Options like charter, magnet, private, online and homeschool curricula are not meant to undermine the nation's public schools but to build them up through shared quality standards. There is room for all choices in K-12 schools and students benefit from the options.