Ohio families expect ALL public schools to focus on the needs of their children and not squabble about funding. Unfortunately, the commentary that ran in the Tribune Chronicle on December 23rd, "Schools just want money back," continues to pit charters versus traditional schools, and seeks to push adult interest over student success and parental choice. It makes several misleading and inaccurate statements about charter schools that deserve correction.
First, charter schools are public schools. They are free and open to anyone who wishes to enroll, no matter a student's neighborhood, family income, ethnicity or family status. In exchange for flexibility, charter schools embrace strict accountability and maintain high standards by focusing on student needs and academic outcomes. Charter schools serve more than 100,000 Ohio students and thousands more are on waiting lists to attend.
Much of the Lakeview Superintendent's rhetoric describing public charter schools as, "for profit," "plunderers," "money grabbers" and "stealing our money" not only misses the mark, it also disrespects the choices of thousands of parents who have made informed decisions that charter schools provide the best education to fit their children's needs.
The simple reality is that charter schools exist only because parents choose them. No one is assigned to a charter school. Without parent demand, there would be no charter sector.
What the Lakeview Superintendent failed to mention is that public charter schools operate, on average, with 30 percent less funding than public district schools, making charters a great educational value to Ohio taxpayers.
If the Lakeview Local School District is losing student enrollment, rather than criticize charter schools, perhaps they should examine from within, what is driving those parents to seek other educational options for their children. When the Lakeview Superintendent refers to state funding as, "our money", it sends a terrible message. Those state funding dollars do not belong to any public charter or public district school. Those state dollars should - and do "follow the child."
No matter where one stands on school budget issues, one thing is certain. We must do more with less while continuing to provide Ohio students with a high quality education. Whether a parent chooses a charter or traditional school for their child, it is our collective responsibility to ensure there is a high quality school for every student, no matter their neighborhood.
Ron F. Adler
Ohio Coalition for