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    Cato Institute Podcast, Roadblocks to Reform

    The Cato Institute recently aired a podcast called “A Charter School That Works.” Caleb Brown interviewed Ben Chavis about American Indian Public Charter School’s model as well as replicating successful charter school models on a larger scale.

    Ben pointed out some of the roadblocks to reform. One problem is that underperforming public schools get monetarily rewarded. He said, “You get paid to be a failure…Failing schools get more money than successful schools, so public schools have a vested financial interest in not being successful.” School districts’ resistance to opening more charter schools is another common obstacle to reform. Ben explained how Oakland Unified School District is against opening more American Indian Model charter schools, so there is a need to circumvent the district and look to the state for approval.

    Another issue Ben points out is space. It’s difficult to find building facilities for charter schools. One suggestion he makes is for there to be a policy in which districts hand over or sell their vacant regular public schools to charter schools. In the interview, Dr. Chavis also addresses the need for stronger school leaders and for a system that allows smart people to make a difference. He says, “Most people are smart enough not to get involved in the quagmire called public education…There’s not a shortage of teachers. There’s a shortage of teachers who will put up with nonsense. They’re not going to be in a school system where they cannot succeed.” (Click on the November 5, 2009 podcast)

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