Monday, March 2, 2009

Regulatory Recapture: Fresno Unified vs. KIPP Charter

Regulations do not operate in an angelic world. More often than most people realize, politicians and bureaucrats use economic, safety, and sanitation regulations for political or personal ends. The Fresno Bee today (Mar. 2) has an excellent article on sabotage of the high-performing Fresno KIPP charter school by the local school district’s board of trustees. The local board is pointing to hiring regulations, safety rules, and the school’s strict disciplinary policy, as it blocks a grant application that is necessary for the school’s survival.

But as the Bee article points out, some KIPP supporters believe that the district (whose enrollment is falling) wants to recapture KIPP's students and the money that comes with them:

Many see it as a David-and-Goliath battle: a tiny charter school pitted against the mammoth Fresno Unified School District. Fresno Unified officials say it's not up to them whether the school stays open, but say the school has violated state and federal laws and has prompted safety concerns.

But supporters wonder whether Fresno Unified, with dropping enrollment, wants to capture KIPP's students....

The school posted an 850 on the state's testing index last year, the second-best score for a middle school in Fresno Unified. (Edison Computech scored 916.) The index ranges from 200 to 1,000, with the goal of at least 800.

For a little-known but classic account of the political use of regulations, see “Laissez-Faire and the Chinese Persecutions in San Francisco,” by Thomas Jacobsen, Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought (vol. 4, no. 3, Sept. 1968). Regulations on economics, safety, and sanitation were used by the Workingmen’s Party in San Francisco to persecute Chinese immigrants in the late 1870s.

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