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.