THE PHOENIX What can you do now, with this bill, elaborating and going forward? What does this allow you and your administration to do? And frankly, how will it matter that one administration or another administration is here going forward with the tools that are now available?
PATRICK Well, here are a couple things that we can do with this bill, and I think they are hugely important.
First of all, for the chronically underperforming schools or districts: there are tools for much more aggressive intervention than there ever have been. And I think that's important, because we have a sense of urgency about this. The solution is not going to be the same everywhere. Teachers, in my view, are not the problem. Poverty is the problem. In the same way, I think charter schools are not the entire solution; they are part of the solution.
We need to try some different things. In some settings, for example, the fact that the kids are hungry or feel unsafe, in other words that there are other issues in their life, now we can create environments where we can bring those services, if they exist, into the school to wrap around those kids so that they're more ready to learn.
The beauty of it is the flexibility to try different solutions. If personnel is a part of the problem, then you can deal with that too, in a much more direct way. You don't have to go to the extreme at one step, and in most cases you don't — it's collaborative. I think those tools are enormously important in communities where kids have been left behind.
In all communities, there is greater latitude to try some of the innovations that have worked in charter schools in the traditional district schools. That's the part of this that gets lost in the raising of the charter cap, part of the discussion. You're smiling like you know what I mean. I've had conversations, for example, in communities where people say that so much of the emphasis on ed reform, nationally, is about reaching the kids on the bottom and not paying attention to the kids on top who need to be stretched too. But in fact, in this bill, you have latitude to do that. You can create a program or create a school that partners with the Museum of Science, or with a local university, or with a group of rocket scientists if that's what you want, if that's what you think it takes to light a fire under that school community.
So I think having that latitude is the kind of thing we have been hearing from classroom teachers, from policy makers, from administrators and so on. To be able to tailor an effective education that meets kids where they are. I think that is really exciting.