I turned my column space this week over to Paul Hewitt, recently retired as superintendnet of the Fayetteville School District and an emeritus associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas.
Hewitt, who’s written for us before about some shortcomings he perceives in the push for charter schools, has an idea:
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If charter schools are so good, let’s make every school in the current school district a charter school. Let’s dissolve the traditional school board and have them become trustees of school facilities. Let’s take all the existing school facilities and have charter school groups nationwide bid through proposals to take over and run that school. State law may need to be altered a little for this grand experiment. For example, no student living in the current school boundaries could transfer to a school in another neighboring school district. This would ensure that the charters serve all students in the community including the special education, English language learners, and at-risk children to ensure that no child could be “pushed out.”
No, Hewitt is not talking about Little Rock, which the Walton billionaires have madly been trying to charterize. He thinks charity should begin at home. Run this experiment in Bentonville, home of the Walton fortune, by making a charter of every single school there.
Since the Waltons want a charter school system in Little Rock, Washington, D.C. and many other cities, why not have that system right in their home town? Instead of promoting their ideology in faraway cities they could use their own community as the model for what public education should, according to them, look like. The Waltons should be thrilled with this idea. Imagine the drawing card this would be for Walmart as they bring new executives from around the nation and world into their corporate office.
Surely the Walton-subsidized staff in their propaganda unit at the University of Arkansas could get the plans drawn up speedily.