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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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March 11, 2004

Charters: Bring 'em on

I support charter schools, and yet I agree with much of the analysis of the opponents of charter schools.

Opponents argue, for example, that charter schools will divert resources from existing schools. Yes, they will. That may be good, because some existing schools use resources badly. A charter school might use the resources better.

Opponents argue that charter schools will establish a separate class of school. Yes, they will. We’ll have another variety of public school to choose from. Good.

Opponents argue that charter schools will circumvent the authority of elected school boards. To an extent, they will, and that is fine with me. Elected school boards got us into the mess we are in. Democracy is a good way to choose political leaders, but competition and consumer choice work much better in governing the organizations that supply goods and services to consumers.

Finally, opponents argue that charter schools will undermine the existing public schools. In some places, they will. They will undermine them only if they offer something that works substantially better, and that parents like substantially more.

The opponents say, "If it's broke, fix it." Well, we've tried that, and we can continue to try it; but now we have another way, which is: "If its broke, replace it."

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at March 11, 2004 11:35 AM



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