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I-1240: Charter schools are not the answer

Letter by A.M. Solberg, Tacoma on Sep. 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm with 18 Comments »
September 5, 2012 11:51 am

This is in response to The News Tribune’s editorial board convened to address Initiative 1240, the charter school initiative.

During the debate, several references were made to school dropout rates and public school failure. A recent study done in Tacoma by the University of Washington found that “economic marginality, distressed families, and human and social capital deficits are strongly associated with poor school performance.”

The study did not find that public schools are failing, but rather that poverty has a profound effect on the ability and performance of many of our students.

It is a sad misunderstanding to suggest that public schools are the fundamental cause of dropout and attrition. If our leaders cannot see this, we are bound to continue the cycle of poverty and academic  underachievement. Even the pro-side in the debate admitted that charter schools are not the answer.

Early childhood education, on the other hand, is broadly recognized to improve cognitive development, and decreases both retention and dropout in at-risk children.

This fall, Tacoma will open five free half-day preschools for kids living in poverty. This is the kind of intervention that will ensure access to educational opportunities and improve achievement for all students. Washington will launch more Early Learner programs with Race to the Top funding.
We need to support these efforts along with adequate funding for public schools rather than add another layer of expense and bureaucracy that will come with charter schools.

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. sandblower says:

    Excellent and accurate letter! Well done.

  2. itwasntmethistime says:

    “Early childhood education, on the other hand, is broadly recognized to improve cognitive development, and decreases both retention and dropout in at-risk children.”

    In theory, not in practice. The edge preschool supposedly gives kids starts waning as early as 1st grade and is gone by 4th grade. The type of parents who don’t have the mental capacity to teach their 4 yr olds letters, numbers, and shapes are also the parents who don’t help their 1st and 2nd graders read and practice the other things they learn at school every day.

    Middle and upper class people don’t send their kids to preschool for academics, they send them to make friends and play with other kids. Poor people don’t send them for academics either, they send them for free babysitting.

  3. sandblower says:

    “…..they send them for free babysitting.”
    Source please.

  4. henderth says:

    This fall, Tacoma will open five free half-day preschools…

    No one is going to pay for it?

  5. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    What is wrong with school choice?
    What is wrong with competition?
    What is wrong with letting parents say how they tax dollars are spent?
    What is wrong with non-union schools
    What is wrong with school that have less regulations on schools
    What is so wrong with FREEDOM !!!!!!

    Yes on I-1240

  6. MyBandito says:

    What is wrong with manipulating my tax money for the sole purpose of union busting? You haven’t proven that Charter Schools are any better than public school. Yet you want to destroy public schools for your own selfish anti-union bias.

  7. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito, I’ve been paying attention to your opinion on this matter and I’m still not convinced that charter schools will destroy public education. I get that overhead is fairly static regardless of minor enrollment changes, but I don’t think that the exodus toward new charter schools will be any greater than that toward home schooling or private schooling.

    People aren’t going to leave public schools they are happy in. They will only leave if their public school is not working out for them, which would actually be a benefit to that school. If there are any schools with a mass exodus, that school could be converted to a charter. Overhead is overhead, whether the school is a charter or not.

  8. Letter writer – thank you for your thoughtful and insightful perspective. In regards to “free babysitting” I would rather have an educated population vs an uneducated population. I am happy to help pay for that “free babysitting” for the betterment of all.

  9. MyBandito says:

    itwasntmethistim- You missed the big picture, the reason why Charter Schools are even being considered. Union busting.

    Those who dislike unions, the teacher’s union, or public unions, have swallowed this Charter School initiative hook line and sinker, without question. It doesn’t matter to them whether Charter Schools have any redeeming value, as long as they provide competition, and a means to undermine the teacher’s union.

    Compare the number of comments that provide any detail at all as to what, in the charter, makes these schools any better than our public schools, with the vast number of comments bragging that these teachers will not be union members.

    The best argument for Charter Schools, beyond the union issue, is that the poorer and disruptive students will be left in our public schools.

    I see no tangible evidence that students in Charter Schools can be provided a better education than in our public schools. So it all boils down to union busting.

  10. truthbusterguy says:

    I see no downside to busting the unions in our schools and in the public secot.

    Jimmy Carter did this in 1978 for all federal workers. The Civil Service Reform Act cancelled collective bargaining for wages and benifits for ALL federal workers. It’s time for the same to be done with state and county workers before the unions and their friends they own in the democrat party break the nation’s back.

    Whats good for federal workers is good for state workers. It’s time for some real change.

    Teachers and public sector workers don’t need a union and payment of dues to thier masters. They are reperesented already by the ones they elect. They are called legislators.

  11. itwasntmethistime says:

    peep — The point was that “free babysitting” isn’t producing an educated population. Kids who go to preschool are typically ahead of kids who don’t go to preschool when they all start kindergarten, but the non-preschool kids start catching up right away and by 4th grade there is no difference.

    Bandito — My major complaint with the initiative is that it has no details as to feasibility. I think that’s because they can’t work out the details unless/until they know how much of the population is on board, but it still leaves those of us without the time to research what charter schools in other states look like in the dark. Union busting? Maybe, but what I think people are really looking for is choices. Most people are happy with their local public school but some people aren’t and they feel stuck. If there are enough of those people, they deserve our consideration in finding a solution.

  12. MyBandito says:

    They’ll pencil in all the details after it’s voted in? Hmmmmmmmm!

  13. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito — I know. That’s the part I don’t like. Waaaaay too vague, prone to abuse, fraud, and the whole thing going in a direction that the voters didn’t intend. I just wonder if they CAN work out the details before they know how many people are interested?

    What do you suggest? Throwing more money at public schools? Continuing to hamper kids with more potential because it’s not fair they excel above others? Continuing to let parents rely more and more on public schools to parent their children so they don’t have to? I’m all ears.

  14. My late aunt was a Catholic Sister in a teacher order. After their Parish School closed, she and several other Sisters applied for positions at a non-union school and found that the standard starting teacher-salary was so low that the only way they could have lived on it was to move back into the Mother House where room and board would be free.

    I also know another teacher at a charter-school who earns more over the summer break working as a substitute mail carrier than she does as a teacher at the charter school.

  15. traching order

  16. MyBandito says:

    Although public schools need more funding, the phrase “throwing more money at” gives the impression that whatever is spent is wasted. I would like to see more money invested in public education. I’d like to see smaller schools and smaller class size, more teachers and more high tech equipment like Ipads. That’s just a start.
    Parents have a choice now. They can choose to get involved in their child’s education. More involvement than just saying “go do your homework.”

  17. mahinaokeiki says:

    Is this about the need for choice?

    Choices exist for those who don’t like their public schools. They are called private schools, home schooling, and moving to another district.

    Choices exist for those who live in Tacoma. They are called public schools or move to another area of Tacoma.

    As for where you live, though, there is also the choice that makes or breaks a neighborhood school. Do you want to improve the school in your neighborhood so that it is better for all? Or do you want to allow your neighborhood school to fall apart as involved parents take their students elsewhere and the drop in enrollment takes its toll? A school is often the ‘centerpiece’ of a neighborhood, one that is valued and/or a reason why people chose to live in a particular place.

  18. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito — I’d like to see smaller class sizes and more teachers as well, but that seems to be the lowest priority for those who allocate our funds. Everybody has a different idea about what to do with available funding and smaller class sizes always loses out to new technology, fancy sports fields, and after school programs. I’m a rare breed, in favor of a solid core before any frills.

    Mahi — That’s sweet of you to risk your child’s education for the good of the neighbors, but I thnk you’ll regret it down the line.

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