"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Charter School Industry Demanding Free Rent in South Carolina

Yep, it's a movement. A clip from an op-ed in the Charleston Post and Courier by Rev. Joseph Darby:
The Post and Courier has recently carried plenty of good news about the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. The past few months have seen exceptionally ample reminders of the invitation for applications and ample coverage of the first "lottery" to select students.

On Friday, Jan. 25, it was reported that state Rep. Chip Limehouse had filed a bill that would forbid school districts from charging charter schools rent for lease or use of a building owned by a school district, noting that his action was spurred by the decision to charge rent to the Charter School for Math & Science.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, it was reported that the Charter School had hired a principal and two administrators and that 47 percent of the initial enrollment forms returned were for minority students.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, there was editorial praise for Mr. Limehouse's bill and for school board member Gregg Meyers' statement that he is ready to vote to rescind the school board's decision to charge rent to the charter school.

The unprecedented wave of positive reporting on the Charter School for Math & Science has been admirably crafted, but I did want, in the midst of the positive media spin, to note a few other things.

It should be noted that should Mr. Limehouse's legislation passes, the result would be an unmitigated disaster for public education in South Carolina. School districts that are already stretching scare dollars to build and equip traditional public schools would be required to stretch them even farther to cater to charter schools — not just by providing available buildings, but possibly by providing everything from science labs to stadiums. My hope is that even if Mr. Limehouse wishes to cater to charter schools that will only serve a fraction of our state's children, he will also work for adequate and equitable funding for every school district in South Carolina. . . .

. . . .It should also be noted that the reported 47 percent minority enrollment in the Charter School for Math & Science is not official evidence of diversity because the school district has taken no steps whatsoever — beyond tying the building rent amount to diversity — to track diversity at the Charter School for Math & Science. The founders of the charter school have, in fact, indicated in the past that they are resistant to any objective measure of diversity being a requirement. . . .

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