Innovation For Public Schools: How To Outflank The Choice Movement

Like any monopoly the public school system has constantly fought change, during the past decade in the form of greater school choice.
And it is losing in higher income areas like the Scottsdale School District where some 9,000 students choose charter or private schools.
This is putting enormous pressure on the system there, populated by bureaucrats who don’t know how to innovate. Monopoly and old school is their mantra. Head sanders they are.
They must be taking particular umbrage this Arizona legislative session with SB 1100. Backed by an impressive cross-section of Republican legislators ranging from Barto, Worsley and Pratt to Montenegro, Farnsworth and Yee it is the ultimate addition of insult to the public school injury.
In short SB 1100 changes law so that if a school or its buildings are vacant, or more interestingly if a school falls to less than 50% of capacity, it must lease or sell facilities to charter or private schools.
If everything that has importantly taken place over the past two decades hasn’t sounded sufficient alarm among the educrats perhaps vultures biting their limbs now will.Morgan-Freeman-The-Shawshank-Redemption
And the appropriate, creative response – if the public school cartel could only see it – is to outflank their combatants with more choice, not less. And by so doing they would not only survive but thrive, and help revolutionize local school systems.
Take, for example, Tonalea school in southern Scottsdale, one that is rumored for potential closure.
It has a great location, fields and tradition. A large gripe people have about charters and some privates is a lack of athletic opportunities and limited social interaction. Tonalea doesn’t have such limitations.
But rather than Tonalea thinking of itself as a monolithic school it should welcome the opportunities SB 1100 provides, as well as creating its own smaller schools, and essentially become a holding brand for smaller schools within it.
The public school system is no different than historic monopolies before it. It is essentially going away. It must evolve, outflank and in our opinion break into many new parts so it can in the immortal words of Morgan Freeman’s character in Shawshank Redemption, get busy living so it ain’t busy dying.