Just had an interesting conversation about Charter schools with new WHAS84 anchor, Mandy. Mandy wants public charter schools (like they have in Florida). Let me be clear, and this is based on what Rep. Mortrell said, there is funding for charters to be established, but funds may have to come from private sources as well. If you are the recipient of funds from private sources, then you will have to follow their rules and regulations. For any of us who have ever filled out a grant, there are often stipulations on that funding. Ie, must be used for x purpose only, not for y, etc. Hence, public in a way can become private. A charter school does not, let me repeat, does not, have to take all students who apply. A charter school can be as limited in scope as it wishes to be based on the philosophy of the creators of that charter school. Or it can be unlimited in scope. A charter school can say, sorry no ECE or ESL children "because we do not have the adequate capacity at this time to teach those students" thus creating a school population that is not a reflection of the demographics of the city in which the school has been created. Then test scores can show the school is a sucess compared to other schools, but the testing population is not the same. Using the word "public" implies that it is open to all. This is misleading. Rep. Montrell wants, in these next two days, to push thru legislation regarding the creation of charter schools to enhance the second round of applications for Race to the Top. He stated it can stand as is or be attached to another bill. There should be concern with this. The budget is currently cutting 100million from education. So whereas he states that the funding for charter schools is there, this is not true. The funding is not there because there is no funding for education. PERIOD. So in order to create a charter one would have to seek outside funding sources, which can lead to privitization. I worry that pushing thru legislation without knowing the impact of that legislation is flawed thinking, especially since there is no guarantee of Rttt funding. NO Guarantee. And if we are budgeting thinking that there is a chance for funding then we are failing our children.
Whether you like or dislike JCPS, our schools are magnets, which is the philosophy of a charter school, have SBDM, again, charter school thinking, and if you are at a failing school you can request a transfer (voucher system). Mandy stated, in her experience, charter schools have more parent involvement than public schools. Perhaps that is true in Florida. But here in JC, our parent involvement is tremendous. Parents, whether officially members of the PTA or not, are engaged with education. We clip box tops, we chaperone field trips, we run field day, we co-host or host, literacy nights, family fun nights, we advocate for better funding, better schools, we partner with teachers and administrators to create the best learning environment for our children and their classmates. We sit on SBDM councils, we sit on PTA/PTSA boards, we write letters, attend school board meetings, we call radio stations...Yes, there are schools that struggle with parent involvement, but overall we make a difference every day in the life of a child at a public school. And parents at charters, private, homeschool, do as well.
After my segment, Mandy said the PTA sounds like a union. Often times, PTA is confused with NEA. She said she didn't understand why pta is so opposed to charters. I never said pta was. PTA is opposed to funding a charter with public school funds. PTA would like to have all our schools be a success, and frankly, the current budget that has been voted on in Frankfort, cutting 100 million from education will fail to see that any school becomes a success. Just thought you'd like to know.