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Charter Schools Scrutinized, Why Not CMS?

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Charter schools are private businesses funded in part, but only in part, by tax dollars.  Since they provide educational services to children and are in competition with public schools for children, those who oppose them make every effort to destroy them. This despite, or maybe because of, the fact that charter schools often bring improved opportunities to those children who attend them. Actually it seems that the reason for opposition has to do with teacher’s unions, administrative positions in public schools, and control of building funds. All these reasons, you will notice, have nothing to do with children and their education, but have only to do with benefits certain adults get from being associated with the money which flows from the taxpayers, ostensibly to educate children. Now comes the Wilmington Star News  to join the chorus of those opposing charter schools.

This recent editorial stance is the tired one of having charter schools disclose their payroll information to the public as if they are public schools. This is a distorted viewpoint, whose basis is made up by the idea that public schools are all the same so far as taxpayer’s information is concerned. But charter schools are nowhere else equal to public schools. The most critical distinction is whether or not charter school employees are part of the local or state public employee’s retirement program. If they are then they are public employees. If they are not then why should their payroll information be public?

Let us go farther. Firemen, police, district attorneys, deputies, highway patrolmen, city clerks, garbage men, teachers and other public employees are all, ALL, part of the state and local public employee’s retirement program. Those on the payroll of companies paid to provide services to the state, under contract or otherwise, are NOT part of the public retirement system and so their employees cannot be considered public employees. These would include those who construct buildings, pave roads, move trailers, build trailers, build buses, provide groceries and paper products, deliver supplies, provide electricity and gas, and even lawn mowing services. Some of these businesses receive a large percentage, if not all of their income from their government contracts yet no one is crying out for their payroll records. Why? Because the hypocrisy of those opposing charter schools is not interested in consistency in argument. Those after charter schools to provide records are only crying because they oppose charter schools. They oppose competition to government schools.

So, it is easy to see, the cry for charter school payroll records may be seen for what it is: a misleading distortion.

I have a suggestion. If all those who pretend concern about how charter schools spend their money are so concerned with transparency of spending of taxpayer’s money, I suggest they ask for an outside audit of all public schools. A real audit; where does the money actually go? Because if you have ever looked at the information the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System puts out for public information as their budget you would realize it is impossible to know how they are really spending the money.

For example. Mecklenburg County taxpayers, through the largess of the BOCC, give $350,000,000 or more to CMS yearly. That is approximately one half of what the state gives. The seven or 8,000 teachers get a small local stipend of $6,000 or less each. Multiplied out that comes to less than $50,000,000. So what is CMS doing with the rest of the money? It’s only $300,000,000.

Then think about this. In order to buy the votes of those who supported raises for teachers, Mr. Trevor Fuller, a good Democrat, wanted to raise taxes enough to give CMS another $35,000,000. Why doesn’t he try to find out what they are doing with the money he already takes from the taxpayers now to give to CMS. How do they waste it?

What is really going on with the $300,000,000 which doesn’t go to teachers? Why do they need $35,000,000 more of taxpayer’s money when they don’t spend the money they already get for teachers? Seriously, if the entire $350,000,000 went to teachers, that would be $40,000 each for teachers on top of the money the state pays them. Teachers would be making $75,000 to $100,000 per year. That should be enough don’t you think? Where does that extra money go?

So: Why doesn’t the Star News, and others of their ilk, spend their efforts trying to find out how public schools are wasting our tax money instead of trying to incite opposition to charter schools?

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