Home Voorhees News Letter: Charter schools pose huge problems for Voorhees

Letter: Charter schools pose huge problems for Voorhees

As someone who has followed the development of charter schools for more than a decade, I have to admire the ingenuity of many state governors and legislatures to destroy and eventually privatize the public schools. The states have learned from Grover Norquist: “Starve the Beast,” the “Beast” being government and schools. First, transfer public money to “private” schools, under the ruse that legally they’re “public” charter schools. Complement this with voucher plans, allowing parents to divert even more money from public schools to all kinds of private schools, including religious ones. Make sure that public schools are so strapped for money that they’re forced to shortchange children: no music, no art, no drama, no sports, no enrichment, no recess, no early intervention, no small classes, no libraries, no librarians, no counseling, no extra help, no remediation, no teacher supports, no, no, no……………….. The goals: Enrage parents, engage taxpayers, defeat budget after budget, make the public demand charter and other private school placements.

Clearly, this is just a nasty fantasy, a Machiavellian nightmare, the verbal meanderings of a paranoid political mind. No it’s not. It’s in the works. It’s quietly hitting Voorhees. In a month or two, it will explode.

Here are a few figures from the Voorhees Township Board of Education: Voorhees must give $727,472 to the Regis Academy Charter School, a school over which Voorhees taxpayers have no control, a school they never voted for, a school they must pay for. Similarly, if in January the state approves the Creative Studies Charter School, Voorhees will have to give it some $1,911,598. (Given the political climate in Trenton, I suspect charters will get every consideration.) This means that in 2012–2013, the Voorhees schools will not have $2,639,070 to educate your children, but the two unproven charters will. And in the next few years, as the Voorhees Township Public Schools become economically and thus educationally unfit, children will suffer, teachers will be vilified, parents will become enraged, more charters will arise, profits will be made (as unproven management companies enter the picture), and Grover Norquist and his political ilk will win: They’ll have “Starved the Beast.”

And the collateral damage? Your children and your property values. The winners? “Follow the money.”

Is this farfetched? Is this paranoid? Ask yourself: How can the Voorhees Township Public Schools maintain excellence if it loses $2,639,070 for the 2012–13 school year, more for 2013–14, and even more for 2014–15? Each year, will you support taxes to pay for a district of diminishing ability and for charter schools?

Howard Margolis, Ed.D.

Professor Emeritus, Reading Disabilities & Special Education, City University of New York


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