February 26 2010
Utah May Let Colleges Charter Schools
Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D
With intensifying concern over student preparation for college (see here and here), why not cut out the middle man and let colleges operate schools? Earlier this week, the Utah House of Representatives approved a plan to do just that.
More than a half dozen states already allow colleges and universities to authorize-or charter-public charter schools. Having multiple charter authorizers, not just local traditional public-school boards, helps depoliticize the charter application process, better ensuring that as many high-quality charter schools as possible can open. (See here, here, here, and here).
Multiple authorizers also encourage innovative schools. Utah, for example, has five "early college high schools." Other charter schools are staffed by university education programs-so letting colleges actually open schools seems like a natural fit.
"We tend to see different types of charter schools authorized through different venues," said Judi Clark, executive director for Parents for Choice in Education. "We really envision universities creating charters that mirror their missions."
Utah State Representative C. Brent Wallis (R-Ogden) told the Deseret News that college-going rates among students who attend university-associated schools are higher. "The key here is doing what we can to help our children to go on to an academic university or technical college...get them working towards some type of meaningful degree rather than just waiting to come out of high school."