Monday, June 22, 2009

Taxpayers "Money Saving" Charter Schools Need... More Money. Who do they think they are, Public Schools?

I have been sounding the alarm for years that private and charter schools may seem like a bargain now, but like public schools, their prices will sharply rise once they have a foothold in education. Over the years, either the economy or Republicans have closed public schools, fired VP’s and staff, put off maintenance, increased class sizes, combined districts and eliminated some student busing. The days of bloated administrations ended six to ten years ago. For choice advocates, public schools will never cut spending enough to reduce property taxes and refrain from liberal brainwashing, and isn’t that the bottom line issue.
Kansas (has) only 36 operating public charter schools. State law says they can only be authorized by school districts. That’s like Burger King having to ask McDonald’s for permission to open down the street.
The writer of this article featured here, Paul Soutar (a charter advocate), assumes taxpayers will simply allow charters to take over public schools at will. Pick one, any one. Since charters are strongly supported by conservatives as a way to fight “big government” public schools, they will use their philosophical device of blaming others for their ideological failings. Like the following..

Chiquita Coggs, author of the charter for the Maurice R. Holman Academy of Excellence charter school says, USD 500 Kansas City is not letting the school fulfill its charter obligations … USD 500 officials are nearly doubling Holman’s enrollment for the next school year without adding any teachers.

David Smith, a spokesperson for USD 500, said “The charter school has the opportunity, through the resources it can raise, to buy additional teachers," he said. Smith faults Holman’s "site council," the advisory body, for not raising $200,000 to fund programs promised in the charter. Coggs admits fundraising is going slow. “I was the person who said to the school board that we’d raise those funds.

Gee, fundraising is down in a recession, what a surprise. It appears the promise to raise money was a hollow one. For a group of people out to destroy public schools, their reliance on public funding is…hypocritical. That’s were the “parents FEEL GOOD” about choice mumbo jumbo enters the picture.
Tom Davis, president and headmaster of Wichita Collegiate private school said things that create choice are good; vouchers, charter schools or something not invented yet. Where somebody gets a choice, that’s a good thing.” Bunny Hill, head of Collegiate’s middle school said, “Our parents have a voice here. They really are partners. They feel invested directly in their school.”
“Bunny Hill?” Anyway, feeling good is only part of the plan. It could also be the quality of the education based on a profitable bottom line. It’s here the privateers make no promises.
Davis noted that striving for quality isn’t just about more money. Quality has to be moderated by financial realities when a school operates in a free market. “We live in a market so we have to have a valuable product. Our customers get an invoice. We have to live within a budget, have to make tough choices,” Davis said. One of those choices is not seeking institutional accreditation's. The school also shuns state certification for its teachers. “Some of our greatest teachers have never been certified but they came with a passion and a genius they’re able to share with their students.” Hill said, “We hire teachers because they want to do an excellent job. We trust teachers to engage our students and teach them.”
As a parent of two elementary kids, ARE THEY KIDDING? A system based on "trust." Not with my kids. And besides the usual “facts be damned” talking point “A large body of empirical evidence consistently shows that public schools improve when exposed to vouchers,” choice business opportunists don’t want accountability. NONE.

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