Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness

by Pat Drago and Sue Legg

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This is not an easy walk into the woods, but you need to know where the funding for charter schools comes from and where it goes. It is your money.

There is a lot money to be made and lost with charter schools, and it is public tax dollars. As usual, independent schools tend to lose it, and large charter management chains come out on top.  This is not always to the children’s benefit.  How does this happen? We looked at the audits and found huge disparities in facility and fee expenditures. This meant that instructional parts of the budgets were reduced accordingly.

We wanted to know how these facilities were financed. If State funds were creating opportunities to make real estate venture capitalists wealthy, we wanted to know how this worked. Unfortunately, public dollars that go to private companies are hard to see. The lack of transparency for their financial records provides only vague outlines. We did find some clues by looking at how facilities are financed.

We wondered what other states were doing to ensure that state money was allocated for instruction and not for profit making ventures. We found some answers. As always, different approaches have their share of unintended consequences. As we groped in the darkness, there was a glimmer of light. The brave among you are invited to go down this path with us.

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Taking Over Public Schools in Tennessee: The Jury is Still Out

juryYou saw the post on East Nashville in Turmoil.  There is more to this story.  Parents at Inglewood fended off the takeover of their school.  The Achievement School District selected Neely’s Bend Middle School instead.  It’s children are primarily Latino. Other schools are mostly African American.  The head of ASD announced plans to take over more Nashville schools.

What is this force taking over schools?  Is it making a difference?  How would you vote?Continue reading

East Nashville in Turmoil

nashvilleby Anne-Marie Farmer, LWV Nashville

Nashville Superintendent Register announced a proposal to restructure East Nashville schools making some into charters and rezoning the entire area.  It is difficult to believe that the takeover of schools was announced with no input from parents.  An uproar ensued.  Some negotiation has occurred.

If you do not know about the KIPP charter school management company, read our post: Conflict or Collaboration.  The LWV Voter article follows.

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Is More Truly Better?

After 15 years of school choice, have we learned how to help disadvantaged children?  The achievement gap remains. A year of school produces a year’s worth of learning.  Children who lack kindergarten readiness skills must somehow learn faster just to catch up. Yes, access to high quality preschool programs is needed, but for children already in school, is more school better? Continue reading