Public schools are like busy traffic circles that have stop signs, bus stops, on and off ramps, red lights, passing lanes, pot holes and all sorts of other navigational hazards. There are many different types of vehicles and many different drivers. Some ride in limos, some are in broken down jalopies, some are piled into overcrowded buses. All must agree to the rules which make it possible to proceed at all. Oh, and the rules are constantly changing. There are accidents on a road that so many people must use. In such cases, what’s notable is not that there are accidents, but that there aren’t more of them. This does not mean that you don’t improve the traffic circle or that you don’t care about the accidents on the road… you must… you care about the accidents and seek to avoid them. You improve and repair the road to address new traffic patterns and new drivers. It is the job of all the engineers and all the workers on the road to keep up with the infrastructure and insure that the roads are accessible to and safe for all.
But, if you’re on a section of the traffic circle where they’ve stopped filling potholes, let a red light burn out… closed down lanes.. piled all the traffic in… the traffic pattern falls apart. The answer of the charter school was originally meant to add a lane to the virtuous circle, to help improve the traffic patterns, but it has morphed into something else. It has been used by clever engineers to set up a whole, new separate traffic circle. Instead of maintaining the neglected road, these clever engineers make the argument that a separate circle is a better benefit to some travelers. After all, aren’t there already some subscription only traffic circles that serve their populations well through explicit agreement with other roads to be feeders to better destinations? Private roads have private means to pay for their nicer ways. Shouldn’t everyone benefit from the ability to choose? Should only those who have the toll be able to choose more exclusive roads with more exclusive travelers? Thus, the charter becomes a hybrid traffic circle that attempts to provide some exclusivity without the toll.
How do they do it? Here’s the vision: steal the stop signs and traffic lights of the original circle… all while people are still driving on it. Argue that since some travelers are using their new circle, the old circle is only giving up what should be theirs anyway. Co-locate a part of the remaining road to be made exclusive for your use. Make the new traffic circle even more affordable by refusing to pay the labor on its upkeep. Young new workers need experience in the directing of traffic. No worries if you burn through them… there’s always a new pile of young workers who needs line items. But, best of all, organize your circle so as not to accommodate all the drivers and conditions of traffic that exist on the roads from which you pilfer… the several drivers that get past your gatekeepers will enjoy a clearer road even if it doesn’t really travel through to better destinations. And the clever engineers can take pictures and write promos about the success of all preferred drivers with their smiles, hopes and identical tee shirts. And there you have it: a happy little road with happy little drivers that, like its private cousin, is a problem for almost everyone else.