Here is my main concern about this legislation being rushed through in these last few days of the legislative session. The reliance on Rttt funds to help balance a budget is foolish and shortsighted. As we know, the current budget calls for cuts in education up to 100 million dollars with no discernible revenue being brought in or proposed to offset those cuts. The question now becomes, how do we fund charter schools as well as fund all the exsiting public schools so that EVERY student has access to a quality education. Certainly the prize of Rttt funding would help do that, but those funds are not limitless. So what will happen when those funds run out and there is no other pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Here's where the PTA stands on Charter Schools:
The National PTA acknowledges charter schools as one avenue to school reform and supports the concept of charter schools only if the schools reflect the positions and principles of the National PTA.
The National PTA will support legislation or policy decisions relating to charter schools that adhere to and comply with applicable laws and guidelines set forth for other public elementary and secondary educational institutions.
The key questions to ask are: will this bill do this for our children? Will the charter schools created as a result of this bill do this for our children?
As I stated, my concern is that there is no funding, for anything, for textbooks, for prek/early childhood, for gifted and talented, for professional development...my concern is about providing every tool available to our teachers and schools and PARENTS so that we can partner with one another to provide the very best for our children is being limited by the current state budget and that we haven't seen the damaging outcome yet of this thinking.
I encourage parents to be active and involved in their child's education, whether that child attends a public, private, homeschool, or charter school. That parents show up at parent teacher conferences, speak at school board meetings, ask questions and demand answers about their child's school successes...or, sadly, failures. That parents join committees that shape policy in regards to their child's education. That when asked to be present, they do more than just send in a "present" during teacher appreciation week. That charters can make a difference is duly noted, but there are an equal amount of charters that have failed to make the grade.
I was nervous when they pushed through the original legislation in regards to the first Rttt application. Note then that all thought the application had a strong chance without charter schools. That is why the charter school bill did not go thru then. Now, in a panic or last ditch effort, charter schools are in the mix. Will it ultimately help gain the funding that 48 other states also are desperately seeking? Will it make the points needed...to offset the points we will no doubt lose due to the budget that deeply damages education?
To me, this is one bad episode of The Bachelor and Survivor combined. All the states get dolled up and step out of the limo, vying for Dept. of Ed Arne Duncan. We try to outwit, outplay, and outlast, one another in the competition, figuring out every angle...what did Ohio have that we didn't? Why was Tennesse's application a winner? Where did they lack points? Sure, the competition may bring out the best in some...but doesn't everyone always second guess the bachelor's final choice, and isn't the winner of survivor the one that used everyone to get to the million dollar prize?