To the Editor:
Another consideration in the national debate on charter schools (“AFT Charter School Study Sparks Heated National Debate,” Sept. 1, 2004) should be the need to focus on the administrative training of those in charge of these schools.
I recently worked for a charter school at which both the executive director and the school director had no formal training in school administration. While both maintained visions of a particular school mission, their never having been responsible for overseeing the many facets of running a school affected staff morale, student behavior and academic performance, and parental expectations.
This lack of knowledge about how schools are run led to inconsistency in following policy and to problems with follow-through in state reporting, including inaccuracies and missed deadlines. A kind of nepotism in which different rules were in effect for staff members who were family also had a negative effect on overall school performance.
While charter schools offer an innovative approach to education, careful consideration should be given to how a lack of administrative training, experience, and ability affects the charter school “experiment.” It’s true that starting a new school is a challenge and that working through the initial start-up problems is no easy task, but administrative ability may have more to do with a school’s success than other factors.
Kelly L. Chase