We must be cautious of this Trojan Horse

Published 7:58pm Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trojan Horse! Trojan Horse!! Trojan Horse!!! The Alabama charter schools proposal is a Trojan Horse. Beware! Beware!! Beware!!!

Let me tell you why.

First, I don’t know what’s really in the charter school bill. I have not seen the proposed bill. It’s as big a secret as the combination to Fort Knox. As I understand the charter school proposal, it will only apply to “failing schools” which they refer to as “underserved schools.” That generally means predominantly African American Schools. If charter schools are so good, they need to be for all children, not just African American children.

Those pushing this Trojan Horse have not tried to help “failing (underserved) schools” in all these years. I don’t know if their even expressing a concern.

One argument is that student performance will increase because charter schools will have greater freedom from state regulations. If the charter schools proponents really want to help “underserved schools,” why not just reduce state regulations and increase responsibility for these schools (and all schools for that matter)? If less regulation is good for the goose (charter schools), it’s good for the gander (public schools). Trojan Horse!

Our schools don’t have sufficient funds as it stands. Alabama ranks 40th out of the 50 states. Now they propose to take some of the inadequate financial resources to fund more schools. We will be back at 47th or 48th. It makes no sense to divide the too little school funding pie into smaller slices in the name of helping. What it means is public schools will have less. Trojan Horse!

The best studies of charter schools establish that one of five charter schools perform better than comparable public schools. However, two of five perform worse.

We have a terrible history of African American and white children not attending the same schools. Ever since the 1880s, the schools have been separate and unequal. When the U.S. Supreme Court said that such an arrangement was unconstitutional, white children left majority black school systems in droves for private schools (academies). That situation has continued to this day in many places. With such feelings still strong in many areas, charter schools will become private schools with public funding. Trojan Horse!

In the last year, we have seen a powerful attack on the rights of teachers to associate with each other to improve education and their situations. This charter school initiative will further reduce the rights of teachers and other school employees. It will not only weaken employee rights, it will weaken employee organizations with far reaching implications. Trojan Horse!

I realize charter school proponents propose a lottery system will be utilized to select students. On the surface that appears to be fair. However, studies show that after five years, student bodies within charter schools become very segregated. After the lottery comes the interview and the weed out. Don’t look at the system of student selection, look at the result. Any system can be played and this one most certainly will be. Trojan Horse!

Consider federal programs such as special education. Federal law and regulations make school systems responsible for services to these students. Public schools will be left with all students requiring special services and charter schools will cherry pick students and teachers. Every public school within the system will be worse off. Trojan Horse!

Every charter school will be a little board of education within public education. Current school boards will be weakened. Community financial support will be weakened for regular public schools. Public education will be weakened.

Some legislators are convinced charter school legislation will pass even if we don’t vote for the proposal. Therefore, they argue that we should get involved to ensure the legislation does the least amount of damage. Believe me, if they could pass charter schools legislation without our help, they would not hesitate to ram it through just as they rammed through numerous bad bills during the last special and regular sessions. Trojan Horse!

Now is not the time to pull this Trojan Horse within the public education walls. We must leave this Trojan Horse standing outside the gates of our communities when it was paced to reduce us. We must not be fooled by the Trojan Horse.

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