You’ve heard plenty from me on this topic. Now it’s time for you to hear from other parents, some leading experts in the field of education and the investigative journalists who — unlike me — actually get paid to find out the truth and report it.
— First, perhaps appropriately, I’d like to share this parent’s testimony on her public school experience and the very real threat that charter schools are posing to her Daughter’s elementary education: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/opinion/how-charter-schools-can-hurt.html?_r=1&ref=charterschools
— From The Arkansas Times, University of Arkansas Educational Leadership Professor Dr. Paul Hewitt discusses the dark side-effects of the charter school movement: http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/charter-schools-who-chooses/Content?oid=1013170
— More from Hewitt on the fable of charter superiority: http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/charter-schools-hidden-agenda/Content?oid=1646635
— While charters certainly have a stronger case in union-controlled states than they do here in Mississippi, their harmful effects on local tax bases are no less apparent. One of these effects is the fact that charters, while required to undergo a renewal process every 2-5 years, are pretty much renewed again and again and again — regardless of performance. From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/opinion/shuttering-bad-charter-schools.html?ref=charterschools
— If charters become a reality in Mississippi, local school districts face the possibility of being in the same dire financial straits as this Pennsylvania school district: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/education/pennsylvania-schools-funding-fight-pits-district-against-charter.html?ref=charterschools
— While the “virtual schooling” language was removed from the Mississippi Senate Bill creating charters, the push from leading charter advocates to restore that language before passage is as strong as ever. This is puzzling, because virtual schooling is a proven failure: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/opinion/troubled-online-charter-schools.html?ref=charterschools
— If you are a practicing Scientologist, I have no problem with that. We live in a country in which people may worship as they please. But when it comes to using my tax dollars to promote Scientology, well — then we have a problem. Legalizing charter schools in Mississippi makes such a thing a possibility. See Florida: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/charter-school-linked-to-scientology/2012/02/26/gIQA1ecsdR_blog.html
— Former George H.W. Bush Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch is, arguably, the preeminent scholar on the American education system. In addition to that, she’s one of the country’s preeminent opponents of charter schools. Here’s why: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/ravitch-why-states-should-say-no-thanks-to-charter-schools/2012/02/12/gIQAdA3b9Q_blog.html
— Dateline Philadelphia, PA; 19 charter schools are under investigation for a plethora of illegal activity. This is what happens when you give organizations public money, yet essentially remove them from the purview of the law(i.e., this is what happens when you legalize charter schools): http://www.npr.org/2011/06/27/137444337/what-happens-when-charter-schools-fail
— About twenty years ago, Michigan went down the same path that charter proponents in Mississippi want to go down today. The results from the Wolverine State are in, and they can be described as what my First Grader would call an “epic fail”(his Father would add “an epic fail of taxpayer resources”): http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/03/in_michigan_charters_results_n.html#cmpid=v2modk_be_smoref_twitt
— I really, really hate to use the word segregation when it comes to charter schools. Therefore, I’m just gonna be a big ol’ chicken and let the scholars from Western Michigan University use it. Read their summary and come up with your own words describing what charter schools do to communities: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/schools-without-diversity
— This one is especially for the most ardent supporters of charters and the most entrenched detractors of public education in Mississippi. If you are reading this, please go to this link, read these words, look at these pictures and watch these videos. Keep in mind that the school in the article — Meridian High School in Meridian, Mississippi — is an urban, 6A public school. If you still think that traditional public education is a dismal failure after watching these videos, I’ll legally change my name from “Michael” to “Moron” and parade down Main Street in nothing but Meridian High Wildcat Blue**: https://mississippi123.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/what-happens-when-you-drop-by-mhs-unannounced-shocking-video-included/
— More from yours truly, 6 reasons to say “NO” to charters: http://meridianstar.com/columns/x606743628/Six-reasons-to-say-No-to-charter-schools
— Another from yours truly, debunking the elaborately manipulative “Stone’s Throw” film that charter proponents in Mississippi recently created: https://mississippi123.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/a-stones-throw-the-charter-school-myth/
— And, finally, the effect of charter schools on the progress we’ve made as a nation and, especially, as Mississippians: http://meridianstar.com/columns/x579803122/Schools-A-Call-to-Return
Friends, I urge you to contact your legislators and speak out against charter schools.
Is a fundamental change needed in the way we educate our children in this state? Unequivocally, emphatically, YES. And it starts with each and every one of us getting involved in the vision and operation of our local public schools. Creating separate school districts is NOT the way to go.
Mississippi is often last. Well, we now have an opportunity to be first in proving to the country and to the world that we believe in the power of communities to transform their public schools.
**just kidding about the name change and the streaking.