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From our readers - Reader takes issue with charter schools

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Kentucky ranks 15th from the bottom in education spending. We don’t have enough money for our public schools as it is. Sure, charter schools have led to corruption, worst test scores, and taxpayer rip-offs across the United States, but the worst outcome that HB103 will bring to Kentucky will be a loss of funding for our already-underfunded public schools. In fact, just this past week, the FBI raided charter schools in Los Angeles because of allegations of fraud and fiscal malfeasance. All of this happens because most charter schools are exempt from regulations that govern traditional schools.

HB103, proposed by state Representative Phil Moffett, brings charter schools to Kentucky - including the for-profit management companies that have led to so many scandals. These for-profit companies, called educational management organizations, have a history of skimping on students while lavishly rewarding administrators. The CEOs of New York City’s most popular charter schools make more money than the administrator in charge of all of the Big Apple’s schools, while the person in charge of the Los Angeles-based Celerity charter school chain makes $471,000 — more than the head of Los Angeles Unified School District. Why should our hard-earned tax dollars go to fat-cats instead of our kids? While this may not be the norm in all charter schools across the nation, do you want to take that chance with your state? With your county? With your child?

And, believe me, the money won’t be going to educate our children. HB103 does not even require that charter schools hire certified teachers. What kind of education will our kids get if charter schools are hiring whomever is cheapest and least experienced? Study after study shows what a difference an experience, qualified teacher can make in the life of a child.

But, while charters short-change ALL students, they’re especially hard on special-needs students, like my son. Charter schools nationally serve far fewer students with disabilities - 8 to 10 percent of their students on average, compared with public schools, which serve 13.1 percent. But that statistic doesn’t really measure the disparity. Charter schools keep only special-education students with the mildest of disabilities, sending the students that are hardest - and most expensive to educate - back to their public schools. HB103 provides that a charter school’s special-education team can deem a student to have a disability too “profound” to remain at the charter and bounce the child right back to a public school. What’s too “profound” to remain at a charter school? HB103 doesn’t say. I am very concerned that HB103 provides a green light for these schools to reject any student who will cut into profits for the education management organization.

According to HB103, they are also not required to provide Free and reduced-price meals for low-income students. They are not required to provide student learning services, including family resource and youth service centers, individual learning plans, college-level courses in high school and class size caps. So, no matter what charter school proponents say, charters aren’t public schools. Public schools serve all children, regardless of income, race, religion, disability, or their parents’ knowledge of how to work the system. We are one of the few states that have been lucky enough to keep out charter schools. Maybe Spencer County will never have to worry about charter schools invading our town, but this is not the answer for ANY other county, city or school district in Kentucky. Please ask your state representative to vote against HB103. For Spencer County, call Rep James Tipton 502-564-8100 Ext. 793, and state senator, call Jimmy Higdon 502-564-2450.

Angela Bray
Taylorsville, KY