I agree with the editor of this paper that on Nov. 6 voters should say no to the constitutional amendment as outlined in HR 1162, pertaining to the creation of charter schools. I support providing parents more choice in making decisions about their children’s education. However, this bill takes us down the wrong path to achieving this goal.
HR 1162 will allow the creation of a state bureaucracy that will siphon away education dollars from our local school system. The new state managed charter schools will take control away from the local school district and will duplicate the work our local school system is providing. I agree with the editor that Columbia County has some of the best schools in the state, and we certainly do not need interference from another government bureaucracy.
Something else to think about when considering the expansion of public charter schools is the potential detrimental effect this may have on our private, sectarian and religious education institutions. I believe all three should be a part of school choice for parents.
Let’s assume for a moment that charter schools do actually perform better than the traditional public school system and their expansion continues in the future. Due to the economics involved, parents now choosing to place their children in private, sectarian or religious schools might be forced to place their children into public charter schools. As the attendance of those schools decline, their already high tuitions costs will likely grow just so they can survive. Eventually, the costs for the private, sectarian and religious schools will drive them out of the business of education.
Parents should be given a choice between traditional public, public charter, private, sectarian and religious education institutions. A voucher system is the only viable method to provide true school choice to parents. In the long run, HR 1162 will provide less choice for parents in making decisions about the education of the children. Say “no” to HR 1162 on Nov. 6.