Montgomery Newspaper Raises Charter Concerns

The Montgomery Advertiser has questions about the recent legislation approved allowing charter schools in Alabama.

“The Pandora’s box the Alabama Legislature created when it approved flawed legislation for a charter school pilot in March is opening.

“School boards have until Sept. 1 to decide whether they’ll become charter school authorizers or punt and let the new Alabama State Charter School Commission play that role” stated the paper in an August 10 editorial.

“The decision by local school boards to authorize or not is freighted with complex risk calculations.  Alabama’s law allows charters to hire uncertified teachers. What happens if for-profit charter school operators put unqualified cronies in classrooms, poor achievement results show up in yearly standardized tests and the charter is closed?

“What happens if charters are shut down due to fiscal misconduct, unsafe conditions or discrimination against children with disabilities?

“Districts could be held liable for damages, with little chance to get back dollars siphoned to for-profit companies. They could be forced to shuffle hundreds of students back to regular schools mid-year, disrupting learning for all.”

Then the editorial raises an issues that is often thought about in the legislative climate of today, but seldom mentioned out loud.

“How do we know that Alabama politicians and money-men aren’t pushing charter schools to improve education, but simply to line their pockets?

“Consider that one of the 23 felony indictments against Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard relates to payments from a virtual school company that stands to profit from charter schools.”

Given that instances like this involving charters are all too common, the newspaper’s concern is warranted.



4 Responses to Montgomery Newspaper Raises Charter Concerns

  1. Please stop bashing charter schools. If you would spend some time reviewing more of the positive information on the idea you would be pleasantly surprised and appreciate the chance to offer that option in our great state.

    • Charter schools always injure those children already underprivileged by slow destruction of the public school system. Only the wealthy and “indiders” gain. Chater schools, with their contingent of untrained teachers, virtually always provide inferior education.

    • Actually I have spent a great deal of time researching charters. And one can only conclude that there is little difference in public schools and charters. Some are great, most are average and some are bad. And there is nothing magic about a charter school. For instance, the highest concentration of charters students is in Washington, DC. 40% of their students attend charters. But compare their NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores to Alabama’s. The black-white achievement gap in DC is DOUBLE the one here.

      Or look at the Recovery School District in New Orleans. Louisiana gives all schools a letter grade. NONE of the many charters in RSD are an A and there are more with F’s than B’s.

      Back in the spring when the Alabama legislature was handling charter legislation, you could hardly get around at the statehouse without running into a charter lobbyist. And someone hired all these folks for the simple reason they want better schools in Alabama? Governor Bentley’s former education policy person now runs a group in Birmingham to promote charters. Who is paying her? Bob Riley’s former chief of staff signed on with the country’s largest online charter company several years ago as their lobbyist here.

      So we now have a law that says charter teachers don’t have to be certified. We have created a politically-appointed commission that can overrule a local school board about whether or not a community gets a charter. We have set up a brand new bureaucracy at the state department of education to deal with charters. We have told local school boards that if they want to convert one of their existing public schools to a charter, they have to contract with a management company to run it. And we’re going to take the money a local school system receives and divide it into smaller shares for all schools.

      And what about all of this is positive?

  2. Michigan is a great example

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