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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Charter school backers pump money into Duval’s school board races

I am just going to get right to it. Jacksonville businessman John Baker is a big donor to charter and voucher school causes. He is also a big donor to Jason Fischer and Ashley Smith Juarez.

People might not like to say it but there is a conflict of interests between public schools and voucher programs and charter schools. Voucher programs and charter schools seek to siphon away resources from public schools.

Some people say this is about choice; I believe where there may be a few true believers the vast majority instead see an opportunity. Not an opportunity to help kids but an opportunity to make money.

There are actual studies, with actual evidence that say students as a group in charter schools or who take vouchers don’t have better education out comes. Before we siphon money from our public schools shouldn’t we make sure it goes to programs that are going to do better than our public schools?

Furthermore, charter schools and private schools that accept vouchers don’t have the same accountability or oversight that public schools do. Either their student’s progress isn’t measured or their finances aren’t regulated. Take for example NorthStar charter school in Orange County, the principal at a school with 180 kids took home over 800,000 thousand dollars in 2011 and despite the fact the school closed because of poor performance is still being paid 7,500 dollars a month with public money. If the public is going to give money away to educate our kids shouldn’t we make sure the money is going to educating them and that education is occurring?

The backers of Fischer and Smith-Juarez don’t think so and since that is the case it is not a leap of faith to think those two school board candidates feel the same.    

We need school board members who want to improve our schools, who despite their problems are far from broken, not school board members who want to dismantle our public schools and send public moneys to institutions without accountability, oversight and that don’t perform better.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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