"Parenthood" has been taking a turn for the fantastic as of late. After running for mayor, Kristina decides to move toward more direct action in improving Max's education, valiantly Googling "how to start a school" at the end of Season 5 Episode 14. But after a pricey attempt at office, it felt like the show's latest shot at a feel-good plot line was just another basket of hopes / ridiculous schemes for our dogmatic, would-be mayor.
Now, Kristina is a fiercely awesome lady, and it's almost inhuman to not wish for her success, but this latest panacea seems a little beyond the scope of a show that aims to be realistic. As Max's new, chair-hating teacher Mr. Knight put it: “Charter schools are tough. There’s a lot of red tape." So, how much red tape exactly? We looked into what will be required of the bravest Braverman couple and this is what we found.
Starting a charter school takes a year or more.
It varies from state to state, but according to the California Charter Schools Association, starting a school requires developing a petition (three to 12 months), gathering signatures (must be done a year prior to opening, ideally around September), submitting said petition (which, given the appeals process, can last up to six months), as well as establishing a safe, up-to-code facility and recruiting faculty and gathering funding. That doesn't include raising interest in the school or getting families to choose to enroll. Won't almost-high-school-age Max have graduated (and disappeared into a college plot line, like Haddie) before any of this can be accomplished?
The process is almost definitely too expensive for Adam and Kristina.
If nothing else, the very process behind the charter is costly, and that is perhaps the most absurd part of the project in Kristina and Adam's case. Federal funding is available for the actual school, but an investment of time and money is necessary to get the school off the ground, and there is a severe lack of cash in the Braverman bank account. Let's remember that Adam was hesitant about whether he could afford to join Crosby in funding the Luncheonette before Kristina got breast cancer and they sent their daughter Haddie (seriously, remember Haddie?!?) to Cornell. Not to mention all of that preceded Kristina's campaign for mayor, which was specifically understood to be too expensive for the family.
In general, charter schools aren't necessarily a good fit for kids with special needs.
Kristina's goal is to work for a place where a kid like Max won't slip through the cracks. He is very bright, but his extra energy leaves him easily dismissed by mainstream teachers who maybe don't have the resources to provide him with the special attention he needs. The mission makes sense but, as HuffPost reporter Joy Resmovits explains, bigger schools actually often have more resources than charters. Though those resources would be more appropriately focused in Kristina's ideal setting, there's major cost associated with the kind of things she'd like to achieve (such as the desired "a one-to-four faculty to student ratio," which will be limited by the fact that charter school funding is provided based on the total number of students enrolled).
And, in Max's case, home schooling makes infinitely more sense.
Obviously, Adam and Kristina want Max to be social, but there are other outlets for that -- teams, extra curricular activities, bug expert clubs, what have you. California state has only moderate regulations for home school regiments and in terms of Max's education, Kristina teaming up with a couple therapists (MINKA KELLY WE MISS YOU) to create the best possible curriculum for her child is a much more reasonable undertaking than literally building a school from the ground up.
If there's a fictional super parent who can pull this completely unrealistic thing off it's Kristina (but it's still really aggressively unrealistic). There's not a lot of money to be tossed around, Max is looking at probably two years' benefit from the whole thing and charter schools aren't necessarily the best choice for special needs children in the first place ... but that Mr. Knight teacher seems pretty cool and, hey, maybe Haddie will come home and help one day soon.