February 6, 2022

Laura Bowman: Invest in public schools instead of launching unproven charter schools

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In the Roanoke Times, Laura Bowman writes a guest op ed to explain why Governor Youngkin’s charter school proposals are bad ideas.

I’ve been chronicling the problems with charter schools across the nation since the fall of 2015 on my Facebook page, Virginia Needs Public Schools, and I believe it’s important for Virginians to be aware of those problems as there are several charter school bills under consideration in Virginia’s General Assembly

Passing these bills would be unwise considering Virginia’s public schools are consistently ranked fourth through sixth in the nation. The bills are a solution in search of a problem, and if we’re looking for problems, we need look no further than states where the floodgates have been opened to charter school expansion.

In those states, charter schools siphon funds from already financially struggling public schools.

They don’t have to hire certified teachers, so quality of instruction can suffer.

While public schools open their doors each day to all students, charter schools may practice selective enrollment and retention tactics that promote segregation and exclude or push out English language learners, students with special needs, and those with individualized education plans.

Frequent reports of charter school fraud, waste and mismanagement of funds in other states should alarm Virginians who expect accountability for their tax dollars.

Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools aren’t required to provide meals, transportation, or various special education services so in many cases, only families who can afford the time and money are able to send their children to them.

Further, charter schools can suddenly close, leaving families scrambling for other options.

Virginia’s Constitution already allows for charter schools and the process to open them is community-driven.

Virginians enjoy local control, having a voice in education policies, and ready access to their local school board members who hold public board meetings, thereby facilitating opportunities for greater understanding and community input.

Charter school bills under consideration in the General Assembly are designed to remove the authority for establishing charter schools from locally elected school boards, thereby handing over that power to the state board and/or regional boards they establish.

Read the full op ed here.

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