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Sunday, August 26, 2012

John Thrasher says charter schools should stay out of St. Johns county, they are for poor districts

From scathing Purple Musings, by Bob Sykes

Well, it’s because they like to cherry-pick students, Senator. And they think they can do so because they dropped $100,000 into choice-privatization zealot, John Kirtley’s PAC before the primary earlier this month. .

But John Thrasher’s puzzlement is still a bit of a surprise. Reports St. Augustine Record reporter Marcia Lane:

The district would lose about $12.8 million yearly in state funds and need 200 fewer teachers based on the peak number of students that could go to the new charters.

Each student going to a charter pulls the Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) funding away from the district’s traditional public schools. Fewer students also mean fewer teachers would be required in the traditional school system.

State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, expressed surprise when told of the charter requests and wasn’t sure why they wanted to come to a successful district such as St. Johns County.

“Why fix or try to fix something that’s not broken?” Thrasher said, noting people are “happy with the schools, they’re performing well and they do a good job.”

Thrasher has been a proponent of charter schools and said he did vote for districts to give more consideration to charter schools with a proven track record. But, he said, the schools are primarily intended to go into areas where there is the most need, usually urban districts.

“I’m not sure why a charter school would necessarily want to come to St. Johns County. Frankly I think public schools there are doing a superb job — Superintendent Joyner, the teachers, the parents, the students,” Thrasher said.

What did Thrasher think was going to happen when the legislature - under his leadership -was passing legislation that greased the slides for leeches like Academica’s Zulueta brothers with high-performing charter school legislation? Does he remember he his party gave charter school lackeys on the state board of education the right to overrule St Johns schools if they turn down Academica?

Of course Thrasher knows. And this smells like pretend outrage. He may realize that for-profit charter schools like Academica are a political hot potato right now. Perhaps he’s worried about his own political hide the first Tuesday in November.

The St. Johns episode is not new as school boards across the state are having to defend saying no to big for-profit charter schools like Academica and Charter Schools USA. The state’s public school advocates have learned to not trust Thrasher. But his “I’m not sure why a charter school would necessarily want to come to St. Johns County, ” gives pause. Is this a signal for for-profit charter schools to stay out of districts who clearly don’t want them? Perhaps this is where the “choice” at all costs mantra hits the wall.

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