It is incredible to what level of injustice that this charter school movement implementation in the East Baltimore Development 'Enterprise Zone' reaches. I won't even be able to address all the issues, but I will hit the major concerns.
1) An Enterprise Zone and the business tax credits that come with it is defined as the creation of commerce such that members of the underserved community become small business owners and employees, that their community assets are strengthened (stores, grocers, banks, schools, etc), and that community programs be implemented for developmental purposes, all meant to strengthen the existing community.
2) The charter school movement gave everyone the assurances that they would be democratic and open access and uphold all the equality and opportunity standards of public education. Politicians promoting these charters assured us this would be the case....laws would see to it. Teachers were assured that their unions would be maintained in public charters. It was all about providing choice and what can be better than that!
3) Funding for charters was to have no affect on public schools funding and would be equal so as to not give benefit of one over the other. The savings would come with efficiency.
We are seeing across the country a growing consolidation of private charters companies expanding from their home states to national destinations. California, ground zero for the 'For-Profit Career Colleges' that the Federal government accuses of fraud and poor business habits and a ciphon for public education money is the leader in this expansion. REMEMBER, IT ONLY TAKES YOUR LEGISLATURE TO PASS A SINGLE LAW ALLOWING PUBLIC CHARTERS TO BECOME PRIVATE CHARTERS.
Make no mistake, there are charters schools doing a great job for the children. We want to have charters to add to the diversity in our education choices. We want them to be the exception, not the rule and we want to restrict them from dominating one demographic over another. We were told that charters would not be given any undue advantage over a public school, which includes accepting only students they see to be high-achieving, receiving different per-student funding rates, or receive funding that was not available and equally distributed among schools. If schools are going to pass or fail, there was to be a level playing ground.
I will outline tomorrow how I see many of these requirements being ignored. If you notice below, I pulled a few of the rules from the Maryland Charter School regulations I think are relevant. You'll also see that they often say 'consistant with the plan presented in the Charter'. You and I don't see that agreement and there lies the problem with accountability.
Better Funding Draws California Charters Out of State According to EdSource Extra, the expansion of two California-based public charter school organizations, Aspire Public Schools and Rocketship Education, into Tennessee may signal a shift of charter organizations moving out of state. Aspire Public Schools, California’s largest charter school provider, with 34 schools in six cities, hopes to open ten charter schools in Memphis over the next five years. Rocketship Education, which currently runs five charter schools in San Jose, wants to open eight schools in Nashville and another eight in Memphis. “If we want to serve more kids more quickly, we have to look out of state,” said Elise Darwish, Aspire’s chief academic officer. Aspire will receive an average of $8,100 per student in Memphis, compared with California’s average of $6,300 per student. Although the growth of California charter schools seems as robust as ever, according to California Charter School Association president Jed Wallace, California’s environment as a charter school incubator is “not as attractive as elsewhere,” he said. Kate Ford, a senior Gates Foundation program officer and former California charter school principal, predicts that a greater share of charters opening in California will be small, single-school operators rather than networks operated by established charter management organizations.
Maryland Charter School Rules of Agreement
9.0 Student Recruitment and Enrollment. Enrollment in the Charter School shall be conducted consistent with the plan presented in the Charter.
9.1 The Charter School shall submit projected, current, and final student enrollment information in accordance with the Reporting Requirements incorporated herein as
9.2 Student recruitment and enrollment decisions shall be made in a nondiscriminatory manner and without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex, marital status, religion, ancestry, as an English language learner, disability or need for special education services. If more students apply than can be admitted, admission decisions will be made by a lottery process held each Spring for the following school year. If a vacant seat occurs within the school year, the seat should be filled immediately from a numerically ordered waiting list that resulted from students not selected during the lottery process.
28.0 Tuition and Fees. The Charter School shall not impose any pupil tuition, contribution or attendance fee of any kind as a condition of enrollment
30.0 Additional Funds. The Charter School, at its discretion, may pursue additional funds, whether public or private.
31.1 Any assets acquired by the Charter School are the property of the charter school for the duration of the Charter and any renewal of the Charter. If the Charter is revoked, non renewed or surrendered, or the school otherwise ceases to operate, the Charter School shall manage all assets consistent with the Dissolution Process described in Exhibit 3.
35.0 Collective Bargaining. The Charter School shall not be considered the employer of the employees at the Charter School for the purposes of collective bargaining under the Maryland Education Code Ann. §9-101, seq. et. The Charter School should be formally advised of any contractual obligations that may impact their ability to implement their program design. The local school system may advise and guide the process necessary to obtain waivers from the
collective bargaining unit on behalf of the school.
43.1 The Local School System shall disburse to the Charter School an amount of city, county, state and federal funds for elementary, middle and secondary students that are
commensurate (an in accordance with the State Board Formula) with the amount disbursed to other public schools in the county/city.