This is an opinion piece by Janra, the Engineer of Civil Politics
So I’ve been thinking about this charter school question for a minute, and here’s an analogy that might work: water.
For a long time we had just municipal water, the stuff that came out of the tap. We put public money into it to try to keep it as clean as possible, and everyone paid the same amount for it. There was bottled water but that was really something for the wealthy. Remember all the jokes about rock stars yelling about not having their Perrier?
Recently (relatively…like in the past 30 years) companies started selling more and more bottled water. You didn’t have to find a water fountain. You could be absolutely sure it tasted good, and some people wanted to avoid the fluoride additives in the public stuff. But it REALLY took off – so much so that protecting public water and keeping it safe wasn’t a huge issue anymore, and cities and towns (especially those strapped for cash) put their money in other places.
So we still have city water, but it’s not as good as it was. There is flora in there, the pipes are decaying, and we have disasters like Flint where water safety is ignored so much that people get sick by looking at a glass of it funny. So we buy more bottled water. And that bottled water? The companies buy it from the city or town, filter it *themselves* and then sell it to us at a markup.
So we need water. We require it to survive. Just like education.
We have a great system, but it is being attacked from all sides – over testing, lack of funding, people moving out of certain areas which causes lack of funding, etc. and we have charter schools – privately run education that is funded by the state. A company taking the resource and saying “we can manage it better.”
Charter schools are great… two of them around here (PVPA and the Chinese Immersion school) are good ideas. Charter schools that educate children differently or have a focus are important because not everyone is suited for the standard school experience. But they do take public money (a finite resource) and don’t have the same kind of oversight in general. We already have a ton of them in this state, but they don’t benefit everyone in the same way (most of them are in or around the Boston area). Just like not everyone can afford to buy bottled water regularly, and are forced to drink tap water that hasn’t been treated correctly for years.
So keeping as much money in public schools is best for everyone. All of our children benefit from it, instead of the ones that get into these special schools, and we stop the march towards a time when most people put their kids into a privately run charter school because the public school is crappy… when all we need to do is put more money into actual public education.
Vote no on #2. Pay teachers enough to entice more people to go into the profession, improve the quality of the buildings, give schools enough money to buy the books and supplies they need, and pay for more research on how to educate better so we don’t need as much goddamn testing.
The system is flawed, of course. We need to figure out how to use our money better and how to decide where to put additional funding where it would help the general public the most. But just saying “well the pubic system sucks, let’s just take this money and build more schools for fewer kids” isn’t the answer. Let’s improve our water quality for everyone and not just the people who can buy it from a store.