an educational system. We cannot put them back, melt them down, and build them better the next time.
If educational entities--public, private, home-school, charter, or the next variation--can learn from one another and become strong through amalgamation, everyone will benefit. If any innovation is seen as "the one best way to educate our youth," we will find ourselves with another lock- step system that allows little individuality or creativity.
As educational institutions continue to develop new programs, including choice and areas of concentration, the system that some would have dismantled will make the necessary adaptations based on sound research and good practice. The transformation will come, not in a sudden revolution but as a well-planned evolution. Traditional educational systems will continually be poked and prodded by innovations such as charter schools. If these innovations can be seen as a benefit instead of an attack, the process of collaboration can begin much sooner and the students will benefit more quickly from the creativity generated by the entire community. Of course, such collaborations could come more quickly, if it were not for foes of public education who espouse what I call the "tobacco road" of school innovation: blow it up and start all over again.
I believe that in part because of the Sturm und Drang brought on by the charter movement in Arizona, the agenda for school reform and sensible innovation has a new look. Now is the time for critics and pundits to participate in meaningful discussions with students, parents, and professional educators, or else get out of the way of true reform. Within the charter movement or the traditional educational setting, programs must be fluid and flexible and offer choice. The charter school movement in Arizona has brought about a transformation for traditional public education that no member of a think tank, writing articles and critiques, could have ever engineered. Some of the charter schools will be successful and thrive, and many will not. However, public education in Arizona has been permanently impacted by this catalyst for reform.
Bryk Anthony S., Valerie E. Lee, and Peter Holland. 1993. Catholic Schools and the Common Good. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.