Thank you to the editors of The Free Press for bringing our educational system to the front of the news. I, too, think it is critical that we seriously look at this most important issue.
In the Minnesota Constitution we find the short clause that establishes our public schools. “The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools.”
The Mainstream Science on Intelligence defines intelligence as, “A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings — catching on, making sense of things or figuring out what to do.
Without mincing words about definitions of intelligence it seems to me that even the Minnesota Constitution desires that schools should be about much more than test taking, for a very good reason.
The Free Press editors also call for more accountability for charter schools. This may be necessary, but we should first look at the current levels of accountability.
Please realize that charter schools are a choice. Every student at a charter school has the power of two feet to vote on the quality of the school. This is powerful.
Every charter school has an authorizer who monitors not only the educational program, but also governance, finances, and legal compliance. Authorizers assess charter schools every year and perform an intensive renewal process every three years. All charter schools that remain open have proven they provide a valuable service to the public.
Every charter school must complete an annual report showing performance on goals, finances, and academics. These reports are available to the public.
It could be that we need more accountability for charter schools, but as we consider more accountability let us keep in mind that our students and schools are far more than a number.
Please be critical of our educational system — the very future of our society depends on an intelligent population — but there is no need to legislate a monopoly on one style of learning.
Executive Director, EdVisions Schools