Op Ed

Charter Schools Hurt Traditional Public Schools

They divert public funds to schools that are less accountable.

By - Aug 12th, 2018 05:22 pm
School Buses.

School Buses.

Wisconsin needs to fully fund and support our public schools. Unfortunately, we’re moving in the opposite direction.

Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction who is currently running for Governor has previously agreed that charters are bad for Wisconsin’s public schools. He said, “It hurts public schools by diverting tax dollars to schools with no accountability to the taxpayers. The expansion of charters furthers the devaluing of public education. The schools are privately run and not held to the same standards as our public schools.” However, that did not stop the Superintendent from excepting a 95 million dollar grant from Betsy DeVos National Secretary of Education to sustain and expand  charter schools in Wisconsin. 17.4 million is awarded for the first year of the grant and at least 4 million must go toward expanding independent charters .

Many charters are owned/affiliated with a charter maintenance organization or a religious institution. Most charter schools are only obligated to their Board. Charter schools are being billed as public schools. That is far from the truth. Most do not answer to a locally elected school board. The public is told that these schools are public schools because they receive public dollars. (FALSE)

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) is legally obligated to take all students, while independent charters are not. Some charter schools take in special education students at a 6% lower rate than their traditional public counterparts. Charters have more freedom to expel students than public schools. These facts mean that MPS is left with a disproportionately high number of special education students, as well as students who are delinquent or from troubled backgrounds. Unfortunately, charter schools have first draw when it comes to Wisconsin school funding and public schools get what’s left over. This has left many Milwaukee Public Schools in a much worse financial situation due to the prevalence of charter schools.

The education system in Milwaukee exemplifies the harm done to public schools by the aforementioned independent charters, and in doing so demonstrates why the grant Evers applied for will continue to do real harm to Wisconsin’s public schools and the students in them.

Charter schools lack the accountability expected of public schools. Many do not have the same safeguards placed on the children’s education. The lack of accountability, as well as the perpetuation of segregation has led groups such as the NAACP to call for a moratorium on charter schools.

Public schools should be the best option for every student in Wisconsin. The public school in your neighborhood should be receiving sufficient funding and there should not be obstacles for enrollment.

Gail Hicks, former special education teacher and education activist.

Categories: Education, Op-Ed, Politics

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