Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Charter school alternative needed

Letter by Donald J. Fritz, Tacoma on Sep. 21, 2012 at 11:56 am with 17 Comments »
September 21, 2012 12:00 pm

“Our kids ain’t writing so good” (9-20 TNT reprint of another newspaper’s editorial) informs us that only 24 percent of the nation’s eighth- and 12th-graders were able to write an essay satisfactorily on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress writing test.

That is certainly a national disgrace, but might not be indicative of how well Washington state students can write. Many letter writers argue that this state does not need to introduce charter schools because our schools are fine, thank you. One letter (TNT, 9-20) noted that Washington students “lead the nation on SAT scores.”

I accept that the majority of our students probably don’t need the charter school option, but is there not a significant minority that is not served well by our present school system? Does Washington not have a problem of high school dropouts? And do not many of those who enter college require remedial English and math? If not with charter schools, how are these problems to be quickly rectified?

Initiative 1240 would only create a maximum of 40 new schools statewide. Charters should only be awarded on the basis of records of success elsewhere. Wherever charter schools currently exist in the U.S., they cannot meet the demand. Those Washington students who desperately need another education option, not currently existing in our state, deserve support of voters of the charter school issue.

Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. commoncents says:

    Donald –

    I think the problem that people see is that Charter Schools is not intended for those students whom you refer to. I say that because there are no built in standards in order to limit them to those who would otherwise fail in the current systems. That makes me (and I would guess many others) believe that it’s true intent is to educate those that simply want legalized segregation (economic -not racial) and wants the government to pay for it.

  2. itwasntmethistime says:

    commoncents — A lot of average-intelligence kids drop out because they don’t get the attention they need. They feel lost and disregarded. Most schools have everyone from genius to remedial under one roof. That spreads the effort out pretty thin. Maybe if the higher performing kids moved out of the traditional schools and the range of academic performance narrowed, the kids who are dropping out because they are overlooked would get more attention?

  3. Our schools are some the most underfunded in the nation. That’s the problem. You get what you pay for. Adding publicly-funded private schools, created to benefit a privileged few will make matters worse, not better. Let’s improve all of our schools for the betterment of all of our students. That starts with properly funding education in Washington State.

  4. alindasue says:

    My questions is, aside from the fact that some charter schools are not unionized (although a fair number are, what do charter schools offer that is not already being offered in the public schools?

    Right here in Tacoma Public Schools we have:
    – International Baccalaureate (prep for college) schools
    – Schools that put extra focus on the arts
    – Schools that put extra focus on science and math
    – Online schools
    – Schools that focus on vocational training
    – Jump Start high school/college partnerships
    – Montessori schools
    – Schools within schools like Lincoln Center that offer extra extra education supports
    – Schools that offer extra foreign language and culture opportunities
    – Various special ed programs
    – And even a home-school support center

    Is there anything offered by charter schools that is not already being offered right now in our public schools? What about them makes it worth diverting our public tax funds from public schools to support privately run schools?

    I’m all for choices in education… Tacoma Public Schools offers plenty of them.
    -

  5. pumpkinbread says:

    The full implication of the Supreme Court decision in January will not be realized until 2018 “…if fully funded, the reform package will remedy deficiencies in the K-12 system. The Court retained jurisdiction to help ‘facilitate progress’ in the state’s plan to fully implement the reforms by 2018″ (A citizen’s guide to WA State K-12 Finance 2012). Let’s allow the finance reforms to work before we take further steps especially ones that involve measures as unproven as charter schools.

  6. Great question Alindasue, One I’m sure won’t be answered without union bashing.

  7. “Union bashing” is no more relevant than union supporting. The fact is, the Tacoma School District serves only a fraction of students in this state. Last time I checked, I 1240 is a STATEWIDE initiative.

    That allindasue would apparently deny another choice to Tacoma students has little to do with the state of educational opportunities in Yakima.

    But you’ve articulated the only real and constant opposition to charter schools, dgraves; the WEA.

  8. MyBandito says:

    Charter Schools are all about union busting. They have no magic solution to teaching kids who won’t apply themselves and get no parental guidance. They only want to take the better students and the taxpayers money.

  9. alindasue says:

    Clamat0,
    I’m still deciding how I will vote on the initiative.

    I do believe in the concept of school choices and have taken advantage of several of them with my daughters, including a few years with the home school support center. My son went through Tacoma Schools’ excellent special ed system.

    My question above is an honest one. We are speaking of diverting public education funds – here or in Yakima – to pay for privately run schools. If those privately run schools can provide educational opportunities that are significantly different from opportunities that are available in public schools, then it might be worth the investment. So, do they? I haven’t found any yet that do, but my research through the internet is not yet complete.

    Another consideration is that towns like Yakima or smaller don’t have as many choice opportunities as Tacoma has because of the smaller population base. If the only school or two in town is replaced by a charter school, can we really call it a choice. If the charter school is created to compete with the existing school, are the local citizens willing to pay the higher taxes needed to keep both schools open and running efficiently?

    Public/private funding partnerships can lead to opportunities that neither alone can fund properly… but can a private “charter” school funded fully (or nearly fully) with public funds really be any better than public schools?

    I need to find the answers to these questions before I fully make up my mind.

  10. Read Diane Ravich before you vote yes.

  11. ‘dito, are you related to Polago?

    Seems to me he made every topic about unions as well.

  12. MyBandito says:

    One in the same. I gave up using Polago when Roncella died.

    I thought it was obvious.

  13. MyBandito says:

    Are you don james etc. etc.?

  14. Hence the “ivory tower” comment in another thread.

  15. commoncents says:

    itwasntme – aren’t the charters supposed to be the ones to provide the extra attention that the lower performers supposedly need? If my kid, as a highly capable student, wants the challenge there are multiple programs that are already efficient and proven that are designed to support him. Not so many for those that are in the middle…

    so, while I think administration is heaviliy overweighted and not altogether doing a great job I will still vote no because I know full well that this is not designed to be anything more than a method to use public monies to fund private school experiences for the children whose parents are able to but are unwilling to pay for it themselves. Put in the criteria to means test and that removes the top quartile performers from admission to any charter school and you probably would get me to change my mind.

  16. alindasue says:

    commoncents,

    First, thank you for bringing this thread back on target.

    It is the “lower performers” that need extra attention that public school programs such as Lincoln High School’s Lincoln Center were created for and, by all reports, the extra attention and extra hours in class seem to be having the desired affect.

    I’m still waiting for someone to answer my questions about what charter schools can offer that regular public schools can’t or won’t. My decision on whether to fund them with public school monies will depend on that answer.

  17. alindasue says:

    I meant “back on topic”, not “back on target.” Sorry.

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