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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Parents and students win with school choice

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, February 10, 2017 05:01 am
Retired English teacher Phyllis Bush’s Feb. 2 guest column, “A gift to private schools with no accountability” accuses charter and voucher school “takeover artists” of hypnotizing parents with their “quasi-infomercials about their miraculous successes.” She writes, “Vouchers drain state tax dollars from the entire education funding pot. This often causes district budgeting deficits and/or the need for tax increases, referendums and the like. That loss of revenue to public schools increases class sizes and diminishes student resources such as counselors, support personnel, supplemental materials and buses.”

She does not mention they also take the students and educate them. http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/tag/school-vouchers reads, “School vouchers allow a student to take state money — normally distributed only to public schools on a per-pupil basis — to a private school of his or her choice. (Additional funds allocated for students enrolled in free and reduced lunch programs are non-transferrable.)”

Charter schools must be authorized and have public hearings (http://in.gov/icsb/2545.htm). Charter and voucher schools must do the same ISTEP-type tests as public schools (http://www.doe.in.gov/standards).

Bush says choice schools have “no accountability.” I challenge anyone to read the 40 pages of the Indiana Charter School Board’s handbook (http://in.gov/icsb/files/ICSB_StartUp_Manual.pdf) and say charter schools have “no accountability.”

Pages 5 and 6: Board members must have background checks, and obey the Open Meeting Law; Page 7: 90 percent of teachers must have teacher’s licenses and the rest must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 in their teaching subject and be acquiring their teaching license; Page 8: Each certificated employee must have an annual performance evaluation; Page 9: Citing Indiana Code 20-24-5-1, charter schools must be open to any student who resides in Indiana and may not limit admissions on the basis of test scores, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity or a variety of other factors. A Lottery selects from an excess of applicants; Page 11: Suspensions and Expulsions Pages 11 to 13: Special Education – ... charter school must meet the requirements of Article 7, IDEA, Section 504, and Title II and are thus required to make a free appropriate public education available to all students with disabilities; Pages 13-15: Homeless students, English language learners, high ability students, and CTE – Career and Technology Education. Page 21: Charter schools receive $5,088 per student for Fiscal Year 2017. (Extra funding for Special Ed, first year construction, English Language Learners, FDA breakfast/lunch subsidies, technology funding, textbook/school fee reimbursement, and more may be applied for from the federal government and private foundations, similar to what is available to public schools.); Pages 34 to 36: Indiana State Assessments and Accountability (ISTEP, IREAD-3); Accountability Choice schools must purchase insurance minimum requirements, which are listed at http://in.gov/icsb/files/ICSB_Insurance_Requirements.pdf : Workers Comp., Commercial General Liability of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 for bodily injury. ... expressly cover sexual abuse/molestation, ... Educators’ Legal Liability, Automobile Liability, Umbrella/Excess Liability, Property Insurance, Student Accident Coverage for All Indiana High School Athletic Assoc. (IHSAA) schools, optional Cyber Liability, and optional Foreign Travel/Field Trip Liability.

There is much more in Indiana Code Title 20, Article 24: Charter Schools, and IC 20-51: Vouchers.

I’m sorry this dry list of citations doesn’t have the delightfully colorful vocabulary of Ms. Bush. Her final questions: “Perhaps the fundamental question is what does society stand to lose in the name of ‘school choice’? Whose choice is it, anyway?”

My answer: Society loses the public school monopoly, and parents gain choices among competing, improving, schools, which obviously are held accountable.

Jeannette Jaquish is a playwright and videographer, and Vice Chair of the Allen County Libertarian Party. 

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