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Charter Schools Unfairly Maligned


schoolchoiceOur local entertainment weekly, Creative Loafing, in their typical leftist style, denigrates Charter Schools. Pretending to be unbiased, saying she thought about sending her children to one, Erin Tracy-Blackwood tells all.

She begins by telling us she has seen too many unmotivated teachers in the public school system so she decided to send her children to a charter school.  But then she finds out Charter Schools don’t provide “free” transportation. By this she means “paid for by other people”. Generally this is described as taxes and transfer payments.  Her statement tells us she has not been paying attention and only recently received her charter school education, as it is widely known Charter Schools don’t have to provide transportation. Where has she been?

Thus she begins.

After a description of how Charter Schools came to North Carolina, she tells us that only 50% of Charter Schools teachers must be certified. Ok! Now we’re on to something. Obviously certification is important to her, but we’re not told why or what it accomplishes. Then she tells us of required criminal background checks but that “….charters can employ teachers and workers temporarily while awaiting the results of the check – potentially just enough time for a predator to pose as a teacher.”

Now that’s an interesting statement. Potentially Ms. Blackwood is a prostitute, she is probably equipped to be one. How do we know she is not? Potentially the sun won’t come up tomorrow.

Then she attacks ALEC. (American Legislative Exchange Council) This is a volunteer organization whose purpose is to influence law making. Join if you like. She tells us the price is $2500 per year where one can “….handcraft these “model policies,” which are pre-written bills that lawmakers file in their home states.” One begins to wonder if Ms. Blackwood is on the payroll of MeckED, because this statement is entirely misleading. I can write a bill for a legislator just as well, but as Parks Helms said years ago, and I paraphrase, “People on advisory boards don’t have a vote in the legislature.” The fact is ALEC would have to find a legislator who supported the bill, get them to bring it up and then still get enough votes to pass the legislation. Maybe Ms. Blackwood knows as much about that process as she did about Charter Schools before thinking she would send her children to one. Not so curiously, she left out any reference to the Moral Monday crowd even though they’re trying to influence legislation as well. Is it OK for them but not the members of ALEC????

Moving along she says: “…but there is big money to be made in the charter school business. And where there is money, there is often corruption.” Ms. Blackwood jumps headfirst in the deep end with this statement. There is money in the public schools too, much more money than in charter schools. There is money in banks, the Arts and Science Council, United Way (remember that little scandal), government, businesses and in Ms. Blackwood’s checking account. There is corruption everywhere. Some would describe it as original sin. What would Ms. Blackwood have us do to avoid it? But her purpose seems to be to attack the idea of charter schools when, in fact, they have a lot less money per student than the public schools. Which then, has the greatest opportunity for corruption? But she’s attacking charter schools so…..

And what about the fact that charter schools can be operated as a for profit business? While trying to twist the reader around to believe in some imaginary wrong, what Ms. Blackwood actually tells us is that charter schools, despite receiving less money per child than public schools, and not getting their facilities paid for by taxes, are still able to operate as a profitable business. This tells me that public schools are wasteful and over-funded. Is Ms. Blackwood blind to this or just obtuse? But let me return to this attack on the profit motive. Exactly, please tell us, EXACTLY what is wrong with making a profit? Why is it wrong for a charter school to be profitable? If there is so much money available to operate a school, pay the staff, fund the building, still provide the service of education and the children do well enough their parents continue to send them there, then what is the problem if the operation makes a profit?

MeckED, those purveyors of the CMS only mantra (it makes one think they’re funded by CMS) has a great big problem with profit, but not with spending money. Is Ms. Blackwood on their payroll?

Being consistent in her attack mode, Ms. Blackwood tells us Rep. Alan Hawkes of Greensboro in making a statement about the purposes of charter schools: “…let it slip…”. Was he hiding some secret formula or what? No, just stating the obvious, but he “let it slip” as if it was some secret.

In her pretense at objectivity, which she proved long ago she lacks, Ms. Blackwood says “Charters aren’t all bad.” I reply: and neither are reporters, writers for Creative Loafing, or public schools. What she shows here is she is out to do a hatchet job on charter schools. Why doesn’t she start her story off that way? She could say: Charter schools aren’t all bad, but look at the slips, model policies, ALEC, potential predators, profits and, worst of all, good performance.

Finally she tells us charters get on average 17% less funding per student than public schools but if they close or don’t open the public school has to take the students with no extra money. Here Ms. Blackwood needs to do her homework. Charter schools get their money on a per pupil basis from the local public school system. If the charter school is not there, the money can’t go to them, so the public school system keeps it.

Ms. Blackwood distorts that process. But then her whole piece is a distortion. Personally, I feel sorry for her children, if she really has any.

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