Among mainstream newspapers, there is no better voice on education reform than the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Today the paper eyes Atlanta, where reform seems to be scorched away before it can help improve education for our kids. There only two of 17 charter school applications — those originated by the school district — have been approved. Meanwhile, the editorial notes:
To fully appreciate the lengths some districts will go to deny education choice, it’s hard to beat what happened to Nina Gilbert last month. Ms. Gilbert wants to start a college prep charter school for girls in Gwinnett County. It would serve students who now attend schools where 33% of blacks and 13% of Latinos graduated last year, and 80% qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.
The first objection from the local school board was that the school model violated Title IX gender-discrimination statutes and that the district would invite lawsuits from civil rights groups like the NAACP. So Ms. Gilbert produced a legal opinion that said single-sex charter schools do no such thing and are permitted under federal and state law. She also produced the head of the local NAACP, who supports the school and read a statement from the organization’s state and national chapters that said they take no position on charters or single-sex education and didn’t appreciate the local school board invoking them as a reason to deny Ms. Gilbert’s application.
The board finally acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, that Ms. Gilbert’s school model complied with state and federal law. But it still denied the application on grounds that an all-girls school, in its view, was “not moral” and “just not fair” to boys. The board also chided Ms. Gilbert for such petty matters as omitting from her proposal the names of the bus drivers and bus monitors she would use to transport schoolkids.