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As Long as We Remember...

April 3, 2014

Squabbling Over Charter Schools

Blaine R. Young

I have written and spoken time and again lamenting the fact that our beloved State of Maryland is increasingly being pulled to extremes by our so-called government “leaders” in Annapolis.


I have discussed things like our total tax burden being one of the highest in the United States, our forays into cutting edge, liberal, social causes such as gun control, the minimum wage, and pandering to illegals.


I have been greatly concerned with the tax-and-spend policies of the liberals in Annapolis being the primary cause that so many of our neighbors are leaving the state and crossing the border into Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Virginia to live out their retirement years. I certainly can’t blame them. This state shows no desire to keep them here.


So, I guess it was with not much surprise that I read in the March 24, 2014, issue of The Frederick News Post about another area in which Maryland trails the field. Charter Schools.


In a recent report issued by an organization called Center for Education Reform, Maryland ranked 39th out of 43 states and the District of Columbia in educational opportunities offered to our children. That’s right, only four jurisdictions cared less about the education of our children than does Maryland, when measured by the “… creation of multiple quality learning opportunities for children.”


The blame for Maryland’s dismal ranking seems to be placed by this study on the bureaucratic quagmire which a charter school must overcome to be approved. An example is given by The Frederick News Post that here in Frederick County, where we do now have three charter schools; it took four years for one particular charter school to win approval from our Board of Education.


Anyone who has had anything to do with our Board of Education can understand how the bureaucratic wheels can turn very slowly when they are asked to make a decision. I sympathize with these caring and earnest parents who want nothing more than the best educational opportunities for their children, when they have to endure a four-year delay in seeing their vision become reality.


And, why not take a look at one concrete example of how charter schooling may not only be a benefit to educating children, but can also save a bundle of taxpayer money. The Frederick Classical Charter School in the City of Frederick recently opened a newly renovated facility that serves 280 students. The total renovation cost was around $1.8 million. Compare this to the roughly $30 million cost of a brand spanking new elementary school being constructed by the government. Isn’t charter schooling maybe something we should take a closer look at?


And, it is not like Maryland officials would have to go too far to get some guidance as to how they may improve the system. A number of states were given grades of “A” for their efforts in providing educational choice. Why not check these states out and see how they do it?


I can answer that question. It’s because the local teachers’ union does not want them to. That’s right, the teachers’ unions have for years fought charter schools as an encroachment into their territory. They want nothing to do with an institution that is not 100% controlled by government. That way, they can support candidates for public office of their choosing, get them elected, and once in office dictate to them how they should make educational decisions.


Yes, I completely support a school voucher program in this county and state. The more choice we have on education, the better for the children and the parents. Of course the teachers’ union is completely against school vouchers. We also should not forget those who home school their children. Some type of tax relief should be afforded to them as they save us money. But that will never happen in this state.


This is one reason why for many years it was illegal for public employees’ unions to participate in the political process. That law has now changed, and we are reaping the results.


I think all of this political squabbling should be put aside. The only question should be what’s best for the children of the State of Maryland. We spend tons of money in this state per pupil on education, and yet it seems to not be the cause of any great improvement. How about trying something else? How about loosening up the system for approval of charter schools and let’s see if maybe our test scores improve.


What’s the harm in trying?


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