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Charter Schools Expansion: No on SB 573

April 17, 2014

If you think a statewide commission should be able to authorize the establishment of charter schools anywhere in the state – including your school district, you should love SB 573, which is due to be heard on the floor of the House this week. Since most of us prefer local control of our schools, I thought I should share the alert I received from CCOSA yesterday.

Legislative Action Alert – SB 573 STATEWIDE CHARTER SCHOOL

SB 573 by Senator Clark Jolley (R-Edmond) and Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) creates a statewide Public Charter School Commission and grants the Commission authority to authorize and oversee theestablishment of charter schools in any school district in the state.  This bill circumvents the authority of the locally elected board from exercising local control of the education of the children in your community.   This bill is eligible for a House floor vote once it is placed on the agenda which could be anytime.  Title is on the bill

Please contact your Representative immediately and ask them to vote NO on SB 573!

This is probably part of the reason why Superintendent Barresi asked for a 300 percent increase to the Charter School Incentive fund in her budget request last fall. She has publicly stated on multiple occasions that she is embarrassed we have so few charters. She has not commented, that I know of, on the fact that as a whole, their test scores are less impressive than the state as a whole.

I also haven’t heard anything from any of our state leaders about the fact that opening the door to national for-profit charter school corporations (such as Carpe Diem) will send our tax dollars out of state. Nor have I heard them discuss the problematic track record of such schools, in terms of both accounting and accountability.

Even the candidate for state superintendent with the most charter school experience opposes this expansion. She issued a statement to that effect yesterday (which I can only seem to find on her Facebook page).

I do not believe the purpose of this bill is to help Oklahoma children. I fear its purpose is to expand a national agenda to privatize schools for profit. Our children should not be used as profit centers. Inspiring and motivating children to their highest potential cannot be accomplished with a factory model of education.

Therein lies the rub. The charter school movement, going back to the 1990s in Minnesota and Arizona, sought to bring innovation to instruction by casting off the markers of assembly-line education. Where new ideas were effective, they were cloned – less effectively. The problem is that you can’t mass produce quality. You can hope to replicate average, but excellence springs from the qualities in a person, school, or community that make them unique.

Today’s charter school movement – the corporate education reform movement altogether, in fact – seeks to standardize all things.

We want schools that are accountable to local stakeholders, not out-of-state shareholders. We want schools that are a reflection of our communities. And we want teachers that know and care about our children. That’s why we should all call our legislators and oppose this bill.

  1. May 5, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Thank you for sharing with us.


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