Earlier, I pointed out that just as expansions of the right to vote and of workers' rights were opposed by people who already held power and did not want to share it, so the charter school movement has, on its own smaller scale, been opposed by an array of powerful educational groups. Despite the many committed, talented educators, our public education system often does not prize progress or reward risk takers. In fact, the system often frustrates innovative teachers and caring parents. There is too much bitterness as school boards, teachers unions, and district administrators blame each other for their frustrations. There are too few incentives for improvement in the current system. The charter school movement can help produce some critically needed changes.
This chapter explains why change often is slow and difficult. Then it illustrates how strong charter school laws have encouraged improvement.
Most changes in any field are controversial. And so it is in education: teachers, parents, administrators, and school board members who propose new approaches know that some people will resist because it generally is easier and less stressful for people to continue doing things in the same way. Ted Kolderie explains some of the resistance: “As they consider proposals for change, the superintendent, board, principal, union and teachers weigh the potential benefits to the kids against the risk of creating 'internal stress.' They want to help the kids. But upsetting people might create controversy. It might produce a grievance. It might lose an election. It might cause a strike. It might damage a career.”1 Ultimately,