However, there are other arguments against charter schools that suggest that they really aren't much different than many districts and district schools; therefore, they aren't needed. The argument usually runs something like the following:
Our district (state, city, etc.) has magnet schools, a full SPed program, school choice, a variety of tracks (and the list can go on). So, why do we need charter schools. They are so much like our existing public schools.I'm more concerned about those who make this argument than I am about Mr. Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman isn't saying that there isn't a need for charter schools (at least not with this definitional issue). He is simply trying to get at what should charter schools be IF they are going to be publicly funded, etc.
This argument that says, "Charter schools are similar to public schools; therefore we don't need charter schools" misses the mark. It jumps from similarity to same.
Charter schools can act and react faster than traditional public schools on issues. In addition, they can be more creative with supplying teachers for class rooms. They can also experiment with pay structures more easily than a traditional public school. These are not insignificant issues.
Saying that "something is similar; therefore it's the same" is like saying that competitors to the iPhone are the iPhone. I have a touch screen phone that has been billed in some circles as an iPhone competitor. I've used a friend's iPhone. I can tell you that my phone, while it suits my needs, is NOT an iPhone. Anyone who owns and likes the iPhone can tell you that they would not go back to any other phone.
So, let's not confuse the fact that because many people are satisfied with charter school competitors that there is not a need for charter schools. Similar is not the same.