Pet peeves? I have a few. One is when our elected officials present for public consumption and belief arguments that are full of illogical reasoning. Arguments that present only one side, and that are full of half-truths. I like to shine a light on them using a light-hearted style. Let me be upfront. These guys are influential, I’m not. They have more money than me. People care what they think. You may not care enough to even finish reading this article. So, I like to make fun of them. To show them up, if I can. It gives me joy. That’s how I attempt to get my fifteen minutes of fame. I ‘m not proud. Well…. Maybe, if the attack is really good, I might be a little.
In a guest editorial in the March 25 edition of the Mobile Press Register newspaper (http://blog.al.com/press-register-commentary/2012/03/charter_schools_can_be_good_fo.html), former Rep. Jack Edwards, who is still an influential political figure in our state, extolled the virtues of a charter school in Summit, NC. Thus, providing support for the movement for charter schools in our state. Since I am a retired public school teacher, I was delighted to find many obvious fallacies in the arguments presented in support of charter schools. I hope you recognize these and that you enjoy my pointing them out.
Funding – He mentioned that Summit had to raise about $1,000 per student each year, which was done though various fundraising events. So, a school with 1,000 students needs to raise locally $1,000,000. A small community with 250 students in each of its elementary, middle and high schools would need to raise $750,000 a year. I know wealthy white-collar communities may have the wealth to give that much money, but what about poorer blue-collar communities.
That would mean a lot of Krispy Kreme donuts to sell, cars to be washed and BBQ to be cooked and sold. So, the poorer communities don’t get the charter school, if they can’t raise the funds? Since both parents may have to work to support the family, do we let the kids out of school to raise the money. Or, maybe they work at night or weekend instead of doing homework?
Parental Involvement – He mentioned that parents must sign a pledge to give a certain number of hours to the school per month. I wonder how many they must donate? This could also present a hindrance for many of the communities with the most need. In most blue-collar homes, both father and mother are likely at work during school hours, how do they meet the requirement? Does this exclude their kids for attending?
Textbooks – He mentioned that North Carolina provides textbooks to charter schools. My state provides funds to local school districts for textbooks. The amount provided is never enough to fund all the textbooks needed. Which results in our students often having outdated or no textbook at all. Would charter schools be provided adequate textbooks at the further expense of public schools? Would not just adequately funding the public school textbook appropriation be cheaper than building and funding all new schools?
Neighborhood involvement – He mentioned teaching a course for free at the charter school. Just curious, I wonder if he is currently volunteering to do the same for a public school? I am pointing out that if local community resources would volunteer to help their local schools then public schools might be better.
Class size – He said classes were usually limited to about 20. The number of teachers in public school who would love to have a class size of 20 numbers in the thousands, I am sure. I suspect the quality of education in many of these classes would increase with a lower class size.
So, in our state, some communities will be allowed to establish a charter school if they can raise $1,000 per child/per year; have parents who are able to take off work and volunteer at the school; and have qualified retired people in the community who can afford to volunteer to teach for free. Does this really sounds like the cure to our education problems to you? If it does, would not it work with public schools?