Uncommon Sense

March 31, 2021

Let Them Do It How We Had To

Filed under: Business,Education — Steve Ruis @ 10:32 am
Tags: ,

In Diane Ravitch’s blog she reports that “Over the opposition of Joy Hofmeister, the state superintendent, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted 4-3 to allow charter schools to have a share in property taxes and motor vehicle taxes that previously were reserved for public schools.

State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the settlement could violate state law and have ‘seismic’ implications by redistributing school funding.

“Today’s board action circumvents the will of the people of Oklahoma and the state legislature by unilaterally determining how public education is to be funded,” Hofmeister said in a statement Thursday evening. ‘I fear this action knowingly violated Oklahoma statute and the Oklahoma Constitution.’

“The original promise of charter schools when they started thirty years ago was that they would cost less than public schools because of their lack of bureaucracy. That pledge has long been forgotten as charters fight to have equal funding–or in some states, like Texas–more funding than public schools.

“This decision will mean less money for Oklahoma’s underfunded public schools.

The Charter School Business in this country is so far off base that it is undermining public education as a whole. There is a solution, however.

Whenever school districts wanted more funding in the past, they floated a “bond issue” to pay for it and then the people decided whether or not they wanted to pay for it. Most often, they did not.

In Oklahoma, as elsewhere, public schools are massively underfunded (by their own standards, not mine) and clawing back a large segment of those funds is defensible only if what they are being used for replaces what those funds used to pay for. And, basically, they should do that task better, otherwise why make the change?

Charter schools have proven to be no better than our current public schools and in more than a few cases are much, much worse, even to the point of being total frauds.

So, here is how we fix this mess. In the past public schools made a pitch to the people or the legislators representing them to fund what they do. If a charter operator (more and more these are large organizations, far from Mom and Pop efforts) wants to open a charter school. let them float a special bond issue and see if the public is willing to pay for it. Currently legislators are making this decision and charter operators are allowed to make “campaign donations,” aka bribes, to those legislators (often using funding supplied by the state) whereas the public schools are not. And is it not obvious that those who come bearing checks to our legislators get better treatment than those who do not?

If we have a democracy, let the people decide. A special tax issue for every charter school or group of charter schools can be voted up or down and then you will know whether “the people” actually do or don’t want those schools to be created.

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