Scare Tactics

It's funny but that's what the Yes to 1240 side says constantly.  That people who point out the obvious outcomes of 1240 are using scare tactics.  Or "what are you scared of? It's just 40 schools." 

Okay, so in real time, in real experience, here's what's happening in other states:
  • number one on the hit parade is the state of Georgia where their charter ballot measure is about enshrining their charter commission into their constitution.  You'd think a state's constitution would be about questions for the ages but apparently not.  
What happened is they DID have a charter commission which then got ruled unconstitutional by their Supreme Court and so now there are some who feel, in order to keep charters going, they have to put it into their constitution.  The story here via Salon:

In March, the Georgia Department of Education released an in-depth report showing that students in the state’s charter schools perform worse than those in traditional schools. You might have thought such a conclusion would prompt lawmakers to at least pause on a constitutional amendment creating a new state agency specifically to create new charters. Instead, a week later, the Georgia Senate passed it with the required two-thirds majority. Voters will determine the amendment’s fate this November, deciding whether charter schools should be drastically expanded at the expense of the traditional districts.

Georgia has cut around $4 billion in funding for public schools over the last four years. The new agency would cost $430 million—money traditional school advocates say should be going to ease those budget cuts. The state would also have to give more funding per student to these charter schools than it currently gives to traditional schools; the new charter schools will not have a local tax base to draw on. That means more money siphoned away from traditional public schools every year, at a time when they’re still reeling from significant losses.

And fyi, Georgia has had charters for 17 years.  Their student scores are way below Washington State's.

The vast majority of donations in favor of the measure have come from out-of-state organizations, including a $10,000 check from the Koch brothers’ ultra-conservative organization, Americans For Prosperity. (By comparison, all but a handful of donations against the amendment have been from Georgia.)
  • Pennsylvania is having a great time what with charters creating law so that their vendors (and accountability for public dollars) is hidden away from public eyes.  Four of the biggest campaign donors in Pennsylvania elections this year? Charter school operators. 
  • How do charters get those better scores?  Well in Massachusetts the charters with the highest scores also have the highest suspension rates.  Handy.   Or have fewer high-need, high-cost students like Special Ed.  Here's a great article from the Daily Kos with a comparison of one top charter school and a traditional school in Minneapolis and how it works out between them.  The charter has half the Special Ed students AND suspends students at twice the rate of the traditional. 
  • An award-winning traditional elementary in Southern California gets closed to make room for a charter school.  

Behind the unusual outcome is a series of state laws designed specifically to empower public charter schools and guarantee them classroom space in public school districts, many of which historically have been unwelcoming and unfriendly to charter schools.
In Capistrano, however, these same state laws – including one that guarantees charter schools "reasonably equivalent facilities" – have forced the school district's hand, experts say, creating an unusual and unfortunate situation where the school board was compelled to choose an independently run charter school over a district-run school.
"The law basically creates a default position to approve a charter school," said Brian Edwards, a Mountain View-based private educational consultant. "I'm reluctant to second-guess what the district has done because the district cited Proposition 39 in its decision, and Prop. 39 says we need to make room for charter schools."

  • Increasingly, charters are charging parents fees - for behavior, for "class fees" and making big money from management and rent.  This is probably one of the most far-reaching articles  (credit to the Miami Herald),  I have read about problems stemming from charter operators in Florida.  It's a must-read.  
  •  New Hampshire has put a moratorium on any new charters.  This was via their state Board of Education which makes me wonder what ours would do in the same situation. 
Board Chairman Tom Raffio denied that and said the issue is funding.  He said the board cannot legally obligate the next Legislature to fund new schools. He said the $5 million shortfall in state tuition aid this year will be addressed by the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee and the Governor and Council. 

“We have to wait for the next Legislature to be seated before we address those (schools) in the pipeline,” Raffio said. 

Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said last week she advised the board to deny the applications because she feared approving additional charter schools without the Legislature approving more money for state aid would open the state up to litigation.
These are not "what ifs" or "maybes" or even "scare tactics".  This is real life playing out in states across our country.  In 20 years none of this is settled or sorted and yet this is what we want to bring to our state? 


Anonymous said…
Like I said before: Those who can't connect the dots are either incapable of doing so, or don't want to. As always, It's about the money, Lebowski!! WSDWG
Charlie Mas said…
AP story about financial abuses at charter schools.

Is this the accountability that charter schools brag about?
Anonymous said…
I read a recent comment from a person who challenged the CREDO studay, saying it proved that, on the contrary, that 60% of charters did as good or better than public schools, so, la-di-da, how is that not an argument in favor of charters, huh?

To that commenter, the answer is simple: 17% represents actual change and improvement. The 43% that does as good or no better, would be change simply for the sake of change, with no improvement or benefits to offset the costs and burdens of change.

To the commenter, I suggest the next time you have the oil changed in your car, drive out the back, then drive right back around and have it changed again. Why not? That oil will be equal to the brand new oil you just wasted, right? Brilliant. WSDWG

Jan said…
No, Charlie -- I am pretty sure THIS must be that vaunted "accountability" at work, this time in Florida schools!

Lately, it seems to be sort of a "story a day" (or maybe 2 or 3), a steady drumbeat of charter shenanigans that shovel taxpayer money into shady dealings and overpriced contracts.

No on Initiative 1240!
Jan said…
For those not wanting to follow the link -- the charter school "closed" with over $700,000 in its bank account, with state laws stating that those funds were to be returned to the public. No money ever came back. There is now about $10,000 in that bank account; the principal made off with about $500,000, all legal under her "contract," which the local district had no ability to prevent. Her attorney claims that this is all good -- because after "giving nearly 6 years of her life" to the school, she needed to fund her retirement! Ah, of course.

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