Charter Pulse

Selected readings on US charter schools

UTAH: Charter schools should be accountable

charter-accountabilityIn recent years, Utah charter schools have fulfilled the needs of students that otherwise might not have been met.

The Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Sciences and Tuacahn are a couple of noteworthy examples. However, when voters defeated the legislatively proposed educational vouchers in 2007, they did not expect charter schools to incrementally replace public education. But that seems to be happening.

Initially intended to augment public schools, charters were a steady, need-based alternative with strict limits on their growth. In 2011, charter schools ran 36.7 percent over budget — yet start-ups continue to expand, recently ballooning to 88 schools, with no growth caps.

In the current school year, each public education student was provided $2,848. Charter school students received this amount, plus area replacement funding of $1,673, for a total of $4,521. All of this puts a drain on the general education funding pot. Estimates put outlays to charter schools at about $229 million.

Last month, the Charter School Board approved the Winter Sports School, which ranked No. 2 on the list of applicants. Intended to run from April through November, students’ academic calendar promote the opportunity to play in the snow. All 100 of them will play at taxpayers’ expense.

After the voucher defeat, the once-compatible relationship between legislators and educators appeared to dramatically change. Seemingly charged with an agenda of retaliation, the banal politicos bit the hand that feeds the school children. Teacher tenure was eliminated, coupled with efforts to eliminate collective bargaining (as seen in the summer of 2011 in Ogden) and teacher due process. This was followed by initiatives to privatize education and the nonrestrictive growth of charter schools.

Leaving the historical adversarial role of legislators of years past, Sen. Aaron Osmond actually took the time to try and understand the dynamics of public education administration. In 2012, he took his findings and proposed Senate Bill 64, the Public Education Employment Reform.

Far from perfect, there at least appears to be a consistent, equitable way to promote competence and support of classroom instruction, as well as fairness in evaluations of teachers and administrators. Just one big flaw: Charter schools are exempt from enforcing these new-found expectations and standards.

Found on the Utah legislative website, on lines 223-226 of SB 64, it states, “The following statues governing public employees and officers do not apply to charter schools: Chapter 8, Utah Orderly School Termination Procedures Act; Chapter 10, Educator Evaluation…”

If charter schools are to be esteemed as public education alternatives and in light of their explosive growth, then they, too, must have identical accountability standards.

Otherwise, the only logical conclusion is that charter schools are the red herring to the systematic dismantling of public education.

Source: The Spectrum – by Glenn Mesa (A St. George resident)

View more articles on Utah charter schools

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2013 by in Accountability, Charter Schools, Utah.

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