OP-ED: Charter Schools Provide Needed Specialization
Former BOE member argues that denying charters amounts to saying, 'I will pay for a general practitioner but not a specialist.'
The following letter to the editor was sent by Gerald Wachs, MD, a former resident of Millburn/Short Hills.
As a former Vice-President of the Millburn Board of Education (for seven years) I think I have some insight into the question of charter schools.
The public schools, the teachers and the the Board sincerely try their best to educate the vast majority of the students in their district. But we no longer live in a one-size-fits-all society. We live in an era of specialization.
As a physician, I read some of the proposed charter school complaints with incongruity. It is the equivalent of saying I will pay for a general practitioner but not a specialist. Some students thrive in a traditional setting. Others require a totally different educational experience. They need a specialist. We readily provide that added educational experience for those who need it because of deficiencies.
It is not an economic problem — the payout to a charter school is actually less than the income from the state per pupil. Think of what is being requested. In the 21st Century, the world is rapidly changing all around us. The country has new international relationships. One of our largest trading partners speak a language 99% of Americans do not understand. What is being requested is for some students to be taught to be able to communicate with China in their own language.
It is an accepted educational philosophy that a foreign language is best learned when very young. Let us offer that opportunity to the very small number of exceptional students who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn and in the future help our country.