Before I talk about charter schools, I want to discuss the regular type of public school. What should it be called? Neighborhood School? Government School? School Board School? They all apply so perhaps they can be used interchangeably.
Luckily in British Columbia, at the local level of the school board school, there is a way for parents to participate with their school. It is called the Parent Advisory Committee and every school has one.
Fortuitously, the PAC acronym for the parent advisory committee also works as an acronym for Public Alternative Charter schools. The dual use of PAC gives me a way to contrast the type of parental participation in a school board school to that in a charter school.
Parent participation in the neighborhood/school board/regular/public school is advisory in nature.
A parent in a public charter school has the opportunity to participate as a Director of the Board of the non-profit Society that holds the charter from the Minister of Educaiton. This is high level partnering and there are other levels of partnering available.
A charter school empowers its parents to hire their principal, one who shares their worldview. He or she hires the school's teachers who also share a similar worldview and love to practice their profession with like-minded colleagues who are unhindered by provincial bureaucracies and provincial employment federations.
For example, in a recent article
in the Times Colonist, retired superintendent Geoff Johnston lamented the fact that the recommendations of the 1988 Sullivan Report (from the 1987 Royal Commission on Education) have not yet been implemented. The hope was that the central planning solutions offered by an external process could move the internal, but also centrally planned, practices in an innovative way. But it would be much better to let innovation happen naturally as it does when the scale is smaller and the direction is bottom-up.
And innovation is one of the key advantages built into the charter school platform.
You can see how innovative practices could develop in a local charter school where the parents help manage the day-to-day events in partnership with the teachers and the principal, without having to consider worldviews external to their own judgement and lived experience.
I put these thoughts into an info-graphic which is displayed at the bottom of this message, in the Facebook section.