To The Editor:
Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher’s concerns that charter school expansion should be feared by Franklin County school districts are unfounded.
Charter schools arise when local school districts fail their students. Anyone who spends time reviewing the data on the MO DESE website about the performance of our local school districts will come to the same conclusion as I have that none of our districts are placing their students in jeopardy.
The Union School District made stellar progress this year increasing its APR by over 12 points. The Lonedell District has an APR of 100 points; you can’t do any better than 100 points. In my own school district, St. Clair, the district’s APR rose by six points. Do these districts have room for improvement? Certainly, but their focus on progress assures me that they have no intention of allowing the status quo to remain.
As a retired public school educator, who has written a charter, served on a charter school board for six years and worked in a charter for three years, I can point out many flaws in Dr. Fisher’s concerns but your eyes would probably glaze over at those nuances. Suffice it to say that any charter school in Missouri has to have a sponsor who sets the bar for accountability. In addition to the sponsor’s requirements, the Missouri State Board of Education reviews every charter school application and rigorously scrutinizes the renewal of a charter. I have been front and center for both of those hearings for the charter I worked with for nine years; those two experiences were exhausting, as they should be.
As to the Missouri Legislature expanding charter school operations throughout the state, all I can say is I often scratch my head about the intentions of our legislators, but if you are truly concerned about our schools, you should ask our representatives how they feel about their local district’s performance. In their regular emails, I see very little mention about education.
Here’s one thing I have learned about successful schools. Successful schools have parents who love their kids more than they love their schools. As a result, Franklin County is not a fertile ground for charter schools.