School reformers want democracy, just not for charter schools | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 21, 2013

School reformers want democracy, just not for charter schools

Posted By on Sat, Sep 21, 2013 at 7:32 AM

click to enlarge DEMOCRACY? There's none in governance of eStem Charter school, which operates in a building  once rented and then purchased from Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman. Note correction to original post that building was rented.
  • DEMOCRACY? There's none in governance of eStem Charter school, which operates in a building once rented and then purchased from Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman. Note correction to original post that building was rented.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page today lamented again the low turnout in school board elections. This fits hand-in-glove with the campaign by Gary Newton, a Walton-paid head of at least two pro-charter school lobby groups, to move school elections to the regular general election date. Then, more people will vote to defeat school tax increases and support Billionaire Boys Club candidates.UPDATE: Newton got High Profiled by the DOG Sunday.

Forget the pro-con on timing of school elections. The point here is hypocrisy. Wrote the DOG:

Most school boards in the state-and those who manipulate them-prefer having their elections when most of the rest of us aren’t paying attention. That way, they don’t have to deal with an overly enthusiastic public messing around with delicate matters like voting and the like. That should be left to a select few, i.e., themselves. Can’t have the public being overly involved in the public’s business. That would come dangerously close to democracy.

This from the same newspaper and same lobby groups that are trying to establish dozens of charter schools — each an independent school district operated with public money. The Billionaire Boys Club particularly thirsts to get these quasi-private schools established in Pulaski County, the better to cripple the Little Rock School District and its teachers union.

Public involved in a charter school? Good luck with that. Elections? Hah.

Charter schools have no elected school boards and precious little outside oversight except periodic reviews by the state Board of Education (its power recently diminished by the legislature at the behest of Walton lobbyists). They are often operated by profit-making private corporations, whose corporate workings are shielded from public inspection. They are, at a minimum, tightly controlled by their founders.  I can tell you from experience that many are grudging about providing the sort of transparency for their operation and records required of publicly financed entities, though the state provides the bulk of their money. I call them quasi-private because that's how they operate. They answer to a handful of patrons, not voters. People like the Waltons, D-G Publisher Walter Hussman and various Stephens and Murphy heirs call the shots at many of them.

The D-G and Gary Newton would be more credible when they invoke the "public's business" and "democracy" if they also called for a democratic process for charter school governance. Don't hold your breath. The billionaires hate messy general public involvement in school operation. They know best.

PS — A critic remarked that no school board is required because, hey, the charter school district collects o property taxes. The U.S. long ago decided property ownership wasn't a requirement of democratic participation. But, furthermore, the charter schools get a break wherever they locate because the state school formula is figured based on a base 25-mill local property tax contribution to the state financial support rate. Where there is zero contribution — as is the case at a charter school — state taxpayers pick up the whole load. If democracy is good for one, it's good for all. Let's vote on charter school oversight.

Tags: , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Now, the main event

    I write Tuesday morning, before polls close on primary and judicial election contests.
    • May 24, 2018
  • Police identify remains as those of Ebby Steppach

    KARK/Fox 16 reports that Little Rock police have identified skeletal remains found Tuesday in a west Little Rock park as those of Ebby Steppach, the 17-year-old who's been missing since her car was found in that park abandoned in 2015.
    • May 23, 2018
  • UAMS presents balanced budget

    UAMS, pressed by financial problems for several years, told the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees today that it had a $1.5 billion operating budget that doesn't call for deficit spending.
    • May 23, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas: Land of .......

    Welcome to Arkansas: Land of cowardly politicians, discriminatory laws, inhumane turkey drops and lots and lots of Trump voters.
    • Oct 8, 2016
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation