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“If Only The Charter School Students Would Come Back”

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There are articles everyday like the one I read today in Pennsylvania’s The Morning Call.  Some district official is interviewed, claiming that traditional public school enrollment has dropped significantly due to students leaving to attend open enrollment charter schools. The official then talks about how rough the district’s financial situation is, and lays the blame on charter schools.

Russ Mayo, Superintendent of Allentown School District, echoed this sentiment on Wednesday.  “If all the charter school students came back…” says Mayo, it would bring the district $17 million more a year.  The charter and cyber schools that have been established in his district are the “biggest drain” on funding.  As the article continues, the superintendent paints a confusing picture of how he has cut staff, he has lowered administrative costs, and he still can’t make ends meet.  The tone then turns into a wishful “If only, if only” while thinking of all of the money charter schools supposedly have in their coffers.

But the superintendent just doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t get the facts about charter school funding, he doesn’t get the fact about choice and demand, and he doesn’t get the logistical flaw of vilifying charter schools. He doesn’t get the fact that 73% of Americans support charter schools.

I will start with charter school funding. Charter schools are public schools, and it follows that they should be funded at the same rate as every other public school…right?  Well, in reality, only 25% of charters schools receive anywhere near the average per pupil funding that the traditional public schools receive according to the Center for Education Reform’s (CER) 2014 Survey of America’s Charter Schools. The Survey also found that overall, charter schools are funded at 64% of their traditional counterparts. The Superintendent may dream of dollars that charter schools

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Don’t Get on Randi’s Bad Side

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If teacher union administrators ever designed a government lesson, it’s plausible to think it would look drastically different from what actually goes on in the classroom.

In fact, the lesson plan would take all of one day, replacing government structure and elections with one simple rule that applies to Democrats: Don’t cross Randi Weingarten by remotely associating with a reform supporter, or AFT will torpedo your political reputation.

It might seem narrow-minded, but it’s the only rule that seems to matter to union officials.

Clearly, Gina Raimondo, current Treasury Secretary of Rhode Island, was initially unaware of this rule.

Otherwise she may not have had the audacity to introduce fiscal reforms involving a hedge fund manager who also happens to take pride in being vilified by Weingarten.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Weingarten took the high road by threatening Raimondo’s political standing if she didn’t divest state resources from reform supporter Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund. This is by no means to condone Raimondo or Loeb, they’re simply the ones caught in Weingarten’s petty political crosshairs.

It’s all to point out the increasing distance between senior union leadership and issues that have anything to do with improving schools, and the lengths at which a union leader goes to carry out a political vendetta. Seeing as the hedge fund was by all accounts beneficial to union labor, there’s no conceivable reason someone who claims to be focused on education would be involved in an issue like this.

The fact that the head of one of the largest teacher unions in the US would be so heavily invested in political axe-grinding rather than focusing on the real issues facing schools reveals a widening disconnect, not to mention irrelevance to doing what’s best for kids.

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Accountability for Thee, But Not for Me

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The old adage dictates that events in life come in threes.

As the irreplaceable Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency points out, there are three separate ballot initiatives in California for which the state level Teachers Association is shelling out $3 million.

Not surprisingly, two out of three of these ballot initiatives have absolutely nothing to do with education. But hey, one out of three ain’t bad, and as for the third, the union at least has to look like it has a vested interest in education.

Converted into a percentage, one-third would be 33.3 percent, or slightly higher than the percentage of California fourth graders currently proficient in math.

The education-related third initiative by which the unions are terrified calls for incorporating student performance into teacher evaluations. In other words, the proposal would bring in a key indicator of job performance, to measure well, job performance. What a novel idea!

Called the “High Quality Teachers Act of 2014,” the initiative goes a step further by eliminating seniority from the teacher retention process, and is currently awaiting approval from the attorney general’s office.

This is in addition to the ongoing legal battle in which California student plaintiffs are asserting their inherent right to a quality education by attempting to strike down laws that do nothing to incentivize good teaching.

Rather than support accountability like 86% of the American public, the California Teachers Association is choosing to preserve a system that does anything but ensure the best teachers are in the classroom for California kids.

According to Antonucci, CTA members pitch in $36 per year for ballot initiatives so that union political operatives can ensure what they view as a bright, stable and secure future for the state’s educators. If only students had that same luxury.

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