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Constitutional Thinking: Understanding charter schools

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William Horning

bill@constitutionalsolutions.org

It’s back to school time, and according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, "the charter movement is absolutely one of the most profound changes in American education." Last year he gave a stern warning to state which basically said to embrace charters or risk losing stimulus dollars and talked of the need for more accountability in states like Texas.

As the former head of Chicago’s public school system, Duncan started 70 charter schools. Scary thoughts – Obama likes charter schools and the top guy is from Chicago.

What is a charter school? Supposedly it is a public school designed by educators, parents or civic leaders that is chosen by parents to be the educational vehicle for their children. Generally they are free from many of the rules and regulations governing conventional public school, but are supposed to be accountable for results.

According the Texas Educational Agency (TEA), charter schools are supposed to improve student learning, increase choices, attract new teachers to the system, be accountable and encourage innovative learning methods.

Some charter schools have become so popular around the country that they have long waiting lists to get in. Why are they popular? Many parents realize the traditional public schools are failing and are desperate for answers. Constitutionalists see public schools as taxation without representation. "School choice" sounds like competition, and isn’t competition good? There are other reasons also.

Charters usually have some distinct advantages over public schools which may include: a controlled enrollment, performance-based pay, a higher percentage of certified teachers, a higher percentage of the staff in the classroom, extended school hours/days, a tighter discipline policy, fewer special education/needs children and the ability to kick out low performing students.

Do they work? Critics of the charters, claim the system allows them to "cream" the best students since only the most motivated students and engages parents apply for the spots. With budgets tightening due to the current economic downturn, charter and traditional schools are often fighting for the same money. Charter schools usually get on average 61 percent of the funding of conventional schools (72 percent in Texas).

According to the New York Daily News, charter schools have participated in the federal testing programs since 2003 and have never outperformed students in regular public schools except in isolated instances. The Center for Education Reform (the charter school mouthpiece) says charter students overall are "5 percent more likely to be proficient in reading and 3 percent more likely to be proficient in math." Results vary of course.

Parents considering charter schools need to be aware of what is really going on. First, our schools did not fail. Everything has worked out as planned. Until the mid 1960s we had the finest system in the world, but the Elementary and Secondary Education Act put our educational Titanic on course for disaster.

Governors, legislators, educators all lusted after the Federal dollars which were used to implement programs designed by elite planners. We were fooled into believing most change and innovation was good.

Charter schools are all part of the plan to prepare students for our global economy and society and the carrot they hold out for us looks so good.

Do you believe Obama would want to set up a way to escape dumbed down or dangerous schools? No, but he is for change. Charter schools are still public schools, and the government can never create true competition since it has the authority to tax. If you think you’re getting a "private school" with the government paying for it, think again.

Since charter schools are exempt from mandates and regulations for regular government schools, the jurisdiction of elected school officials is diminished. Charter schools will in time probably destroy local school districts so district lines can be eliminated and merged into regional and later national systems. Forget having any say about education.

There is in reality no guesswork about the direction the elite’s are taking your children. The Common Core Standards initiative from the National Governors Association Center in 2009 shows the intent is to nationalize/internationalize education "so all students are prepared to succeed in our Global economy and Society".

Globalization has been going on for years. President Reagan may have been a "B" movie star, but he gets an "A" for his acting job as a "conservative" where as President he signed the deal to merge the U.S and Soviet Union educational systems – see the documentation www.deliberatedumbing down.com.You will be thrilled to know Obama’s Secretary of Education has just recently signed an agreement with China.

Just think what the future may hold! Your child could be sitting in front of his computer communicating with his instructor in China or Russia for Distance Learning. I can’t wait for the Constitution class! Our educational Titanic is going down unless we get rid of the Department of Education and a bunch of crazy laws. It does not matter whether you are up on the charter deck or down on the traditional deck. (To be continued)


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