-- BOB VALIANT, Kennewick
When big money pours into an election issue, it is time to do more than kick the tires to ascertain value. I wish the Herald editorial board had looked under the hood before endorsing I-1240.
Charter schools are public schools but with a twist. Once approved, the charter board may hire for-profit management firms to provide services including instruction, with no oversight by the locally elected school board.
Are charter schools successful? Well, maybe with a small minority of children. The only long-term longitudinal study found 37 percent did worse than matched traditional schools and another 46 percent did no better.
Across the U.S., charters do skim the cream of children. Once enrolled, charters have systematically directed children back into the public schools when they don't perform to the standards of the school. No public school has that ability.
The fatal flaw in I-1240 is unmentioned in the editorial. Authors inserted "conversion schools" into the law. If 50 percent plus one of either current parents or teachers at a school want to convert to a charter, they can. Once converted, it stays a charter no matter what next year's parents or teachers want. Sort of like the today's riders on a city bus electing a new permanent driver.