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posted: 4/30/2014 1:01 AM

Charter schools play with a stacked deck

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Thomas Stonis's April 24th letter uses the phrase "high-quality public school options" synonymously with charter schools. Nothing is further from the truth.

This is what I found. Charters tout "academic excellence," i.e., performance superior to district schools. Yet charters must conform to the same state standards, teach the same basic curriculum, purchase similar textbooks, meet similar performance standards, hire the same locally available teachers, and have similar class sizes.

So what's the differentiator? Charters claim to be "innovative." Some tout environmental studies. Yet district schools teach environmental and natural sciences.

Charters do "looping." Yet so do district schools.

Indeed, Woodland District 50 did it before Prairie Crossing CS, so who's the innovator?

I found that charters cannot or do not service special needs children as district schools must. At PCCS, several parents returned their children to district schools for just this reason. I found this the case in most charters.

Thus the need for the HB4527.

But this doesn't totally explain the disparity. To submit their child in the charter "lottery," every potential charter student's parent must take the time and effort to personally travel to the school to obtain entry forms, return the completed forms and attend orientations. Charter advocates claim this is the "only fair way" to do admissions.

Yet, this process irrefutably neglects those with uninvolved parents, e.g., the homeless, infirm, drug addicted, and downright lazy.

And there it is. Charter schools have virtually 100 percent parent-involved student bodies devoid of special needs students.

Numerous studies demonstrate that parent-involved students vastly outperform the non-parent-involved. It's absolutely disingenuous for charters to flaunt "superior" performance when they are playing with a stacked deck. And as a direct result district classrooms are left with a higher percentage of "problem-students."

Thus the need for SB2627/HB3754 and SB3303.

John Kauck


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