Monday, February 7, 2011

State-mandated ignorance

If you were a school board member considering how to vote on a charter school application, you would weigh the financial impact on your public schools, wouldn't you? Nope, not in Pennsylvania you wouldn't.

In its infinite wisdom, Harrisburg does not allow finances to enter into the equation despite the existence of an imperfect funding formula which pulls money from the public schools within a district even though its costs may not decrease with each student who attends a charter school. And if your school board revokes a charter school application based on the financial impact, the Pennsylvania Charter School Appeal Board will reverse the decision.

I shook my head in disbelief when I heard this, so I contacted the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) who confirmed what I was told is absolutely correct.

It doesn't make sense to me that when we consider expanding (or even saving) programs in our district, we must weigh the educational benefits against the costs. Yet when it comes to voting on a charter school, the state says we must enter into the debate with one eye closed.

Note to self: Stay away from Harrisburg . . . ignorance is contagious, and they're a carrier.

1 comment:

KClarinet said...

"Note to self: Stay away from Harrisburg . . . ignorance is contagious, and they're a carrier."

Certainly, where education is concerned, it's the same at the Federal level as well.

This practice is, in my opinion, consistent with many other policies at the state and Federal levels that basically try to "fix" the public schools by punishing them with reduction of funds. While it's certainly true that "throwing money" at the problems of public education doesn't automatically improve things, deliberately starving the system of needed money is a sure way to destroy it. Again, in my opinion most people who support charter schools in general at the political level do so because they're convinced the regular public school system can't be repaired or improved and are, therefore, out to destroy it so it can be rebuilt from scratch. The policy you're describing is completely in line with this approach.