Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Charter School Bill Expensive, Unnecessary

The Republican-controlled NC legislature wants to “fix” our public schools by bringing in 50 new charter schools per year with its latest education bill.  But critics note that while 17% of charter schools perform better than the average public school, a larger percentage are worse.  And starting costly new schools in the midst of the Great Recession is not fiscally prudent.
Many charter schools are designed to 'handpick' students, and their policies cater to two-parent, affluent households.  Teachers do not have to be certified, and questionable teaching or discipline practices do not have the oversight of public school administrators. While the charter bill does include a new NC Charter School Commission (to act independently of the Department of Public Instruction), it will not determine local policy. 
The expense of setting up NC’s new charter schools and commission will bleed our state’s already-shriveling public school dollars, including transportation budget, child nutrition money, and even a percentage of public school fundraisers.  This bill also gives counties new taxing authority, “up to a combined rate of one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) appraised value of property subject to taxation” to help charters build capital.
Legal challenges to the Charter Cap bill are anticipated to cost millions of dollars, further bankrupting our state and our children’s educations. 
Despite No Child Left Behind’s destructive testing standards and labels, NC’s public schools are not broken.  In fact, the recently adopted Common Core Standards should increase academic rigor, and a proposed update to NCLB will measure student progress to better illustrate successful teaching strategies.  NC does not need the ‘fix’ or expense of raising the Charter cap.
During tough economic times, fiscally conservative child advocates should work together to improve the schools we have, not throw them out and buy new ones.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

The President Responds

The White House, Washington

January 13, 2011

Dear Friend:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on education.  I appreciate hearing from you.  I am committed to providing the best possible education for our Nation's students because our children deserve it and because, today more than ever, America's prosperity rests on how well we educate them.

Across the country, we have many great schools and dedicated teachers.  We should be proud of these successes, and eager to discover and support what makes them great.  We must also realize that not all children get the education they deserve, and many schools need urgent reform to better help our students reach their full potential. 

Through the Recovery Act, my Administration has made a historic investment toward improving public education and providing greater access to a complete and competitive education for every child.  This investment will make high-quality, early learning programs available to more young children.  The Recovery Act will also help strengthen the teaching profession by recognizing talented teachers who improve learning and by encouraging them to stay in the schools that need them most.  We are committed to exploring innovative approaches that advance teaching and learning through high standards and expectations for all students, and to developing meaningful assessments.  These steps can ensure our graduates are prepared for success both in their higher education and careers. 

A child's education does not begin and end with a school bell, and responsibility must extend beyond a school's walls.  Our future success depends on a greater level of engagement between parents, communities, and schools on behalf of children.  We all share the duty to educate our students, and if we hold them to the highest standards, they will meet them.  Please join me online to read more at:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/education.


Barack Obama

Visit WhiteHouse.gov
Comment - OK, it's a form letter.  But it's nice to know what happens when you write to the president, isn't it?        ~Sharon