As a retired teacher and concerned citizen, I wanted to speak to the upcoming vote on the charter school amendment. This amendment’s goal is to create a team appointed by the governor that will overrule local decisions about the viability of a new charter school. I thought local control was the hallmark of many in this state, yet now they are in favor of an appointed board overruling community decisions. And, if the final decision is in the hands of a governor-appointed team, how can that not lead to politics being part of the process?
When I read that almost a half-million dollars is being spent by for-profit groups in favor of the amendment, I fail to understand why that isn’t a red flag? Since when is school a for-profit business? It is in private schools. Yet, unlike public schools, private schools can decide who they want, or don’t want, in their hallways. Besides, in our state, methods through which we can start a charter school in our community already exist. So, why do you think there is so much money from the for-profit companies being funneled into this campaign? Do you really think they have the children’s best interest in mind, or their own?
And, how will these schools be paid for? There is only so much money to go around, whether it’s from the state or local funds. Money used to educate a select group of students has to impact those left out of the charter school. I have a novel idea — why not put forth our best efforts to make our local schools better? After all, isn’t it the same kids with the same parents and the same goals for all? Or is it? But, once again, those not in education want to influence how our children are educated. It’s also important to note that charter schools have not proven to be more effective when it comes to educating those who need the most help in catching up — African-Americans, Hispanics and special needs students.
I choose to listen to someone like state superintendent Dr. John Barge, who has been an educator his entire professional career, and not an armchair quarterback seeking to educate some of our kids at the expense of others. There are many wonderful charter schools in our state, and guess what, they are the product of a system already in place. We don’t need another bureaucracy that takes away local control of our schools.