Vail Daily letter: Let’s do what works
I was excited to read the letter to the editor from Dennis Baker (a Front Range resident) in response to my column on state-driven education reforms. I think he’ll find that there is room for both of our views in the discussion. He is right —we do have an exceptional charter school in our own Eagle County Charter Academy, and I applaud the educational experience they provide.
But Mr. Baker seems to have missed the point of my article — which was critical of state-driven education reforms. One point I made is that just labeling a school a charter does not, by this act alone, make the education better.
That’s the problem with the blaring voices of many Front Range reformers: they position more charter schools as the answer to increased student performance. They claim charters will deliver better results, when the evidence just doesn’t support that claim — especially after really leveling the playing field in terms of the kinds of students they serve. Sure, you can find charters doing better than tradition schools — but the reverse is also true. I encourage Mr. Baker to read the 2013 Stanford CREDO study on this issue, which found that 75 percent of charter schools did no better or actually worse than traditional public schools in reading. That number was 71 percent for math.
The problem isn’t with charter schools, especially our own here in Eagle County — which are great schools. The problem is with the misinformation that politicos and ideologues use to justify reforms in line with their agenda and supporters. Our community’s kids pay the price for getting it wrong, so let’s set aside politics and look at what works — genuinely raising the status of the teaching profession, making sure all kids are taught to high standards, customizing learning to fit each student, and making sure every child enters school ready to learn.
Mr. Baker is mistaken in his implication that I’m against reform because I caution our community against the false promises coming from the state house and committee rooms. I believe in reforms with a strong track record of evidence to support them, and we’re making those reforms to ensure our students receive a globally competitive education.
We are benchmarking ourselves against the best in the world, not just grasping for straws. It simply doesn’t make sense for us to blindly and uncritically accept unproven education reforms that are out of sync with the practices of the best school systems in the world.
But, let’s end where we agree: The Eagle County Charter Academy is a great school! It competes on par with the same type of students at schools such as Brush Creek, Red Sandstone and Eagle Valley. All the data is at schoolview.org, so you can see for yourself.
Jason E. Glass