This recent column in the New York Times summarizes some studies on charters, and sheds some interesting light. Apparently, the charters that do the best (and not all even do well) are those that stress the basics — longer days, more support for teachers and students and imposition of high standards.
Aside from reflecting what appears to me to be common sense, these values contrast with those present in many conventional public schools, where shorter work days and more insulation from accountability are the goals of the teachers, as expressed through collective bargaining and political action (many individual teachers put in extra time and strive for excellence, even after achieving tenure). While I understand teachers’ perceived need for some job protections, and while I believe most tenure “abuses” are caused by management that does not terminate probationary teachers who are unlikely to be successful, there still is a disconnect between the positions of advocates of traditional education and those of the best, successful charters.
If competition produces better results for all, and if charters are to fulfill their original mission as laboratories in which successful teaching methods can be developed and tested, both systems need support.