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I was saddened and a bit taken back when I read your statement from the last school board meeting: “This legislative body is telling us where their care is, and that’s into charter schools, and not public schools.” This statement clearly showed a lack of understanding regarding charter schools as well as a lack of compassion for the parents who choose these alternatives for their children. So please allow me to clear up a few things.
First, did you really think that charter schools are not public schools? They are totally public schools, public supported and the Levy County School Board is the official sponsor. That is why the district receives a percentage of funding based on every student who attends a charter school, including those who come from neighboring counties and from private and home school situations. You didn’t sound like you were taking much of a sponsorship role. Remember charter schools are taking just as hefty cuts in education as public schools.
Charter school students take the same state tests. Charter schools are subject to the same rigorous monitoring. In the event they perform poorly, charter schools are subject to loosing their charter as was the case a few years ago with a school in this county.
Though standards are the same for charter schools, they actually receive less public funding than the public schools. One example is the capital outlay fund which was mentioned. It is my understanding that the millage collected for the capital outlay has never been shared with the charter schools. This inequity occurs even though charter school parents pay property taxes. It is justifiable that the state should try to find someway to make up for this disparity.
Since you feel that charter schools are receiving such a “favored status” with the state, perhaps you should encourage your public schools to become charter conversion schools. Then, they could “enjoy” the same status.
Charter schools are rooted in the belief that children have different learning styles, that one learning style does not fit all, and that parents should have some choice as to where their child might attend school.
In rural counties, parents frequently have limited options. Most charter schools emphasize the vision of their founder and administrator. There is always ongoing debate as to whether students do better in charter schools or public schools. However, it has been shown consistently that many students who were having problems learning in public schools, can often do better in a smaller school setting. It has also been shown that districts which have well-established charter schools often show increases in scores across the board compared with those who do not. In other words, charter schools have a positive influence on the whole educational climate.
I would encourage all school board members to remember that all of our schools have students which you as school board members should actively support. We are in this business of education together and we are all facing the same painful shortfalls. No students are helped when we resort to infighting and contention.
If we are going to point a finger of blame regarding funding, let’s look to large publishing companies who are siphoning a huge sector of money off the educational system to rewrite tests every year, to produce and support a multi-million dollar industry of FCAT prep tests and related materials. All of this is sucking the life blood and joy of teaching as well as the funds out of our classrooms where they are really needed. There are much better accountability programs than high-stakes testing and we should be promoting them where ever we can.
Thanks for considering these thoughts. I wish all of the students a very successful and joyful school year.
Founder of Whispering Winds Charter School