If Maryland wants to create more opportunities for excellent education, attract new business and improve teacher salaries, as proposed in Rolan Clark’s April 4 letter, “Teachers’ pay needs to improve,” then it’s time to address Maryland’s F-rated charter school law.

Currently, public charter schools in Maryland are operationally limited, poorly funded and lack the ability to hire their own principals and staff to ensure success under their model. Schools like Frederick Classical Charter School are forced to go to court to fight for their fair share of funding, despite the fact that Maryland law states that their funding must be “commensurate” and at the same level as traditional public schools.

Changes to Maryland’s charter school law proposed last year would have given charters a 98 percent match with traditional public schools on operational funds, as opposed to the less than 80 cents on the dollar for school operations that they currently receive. When Frederick Classical Charter School heard the news of potential changes to Maryland’s charter law, they planned for an across-the-board pay increase of 10 percent for their teachers. Unfortunately, the state teachers union fought hard to oppose the proposed measures. So teachers in Maryland charters are still waiting for the increased freedom and flexibility that charter schools nearly everywhere else nationwide enjoy.

After more than 16 years of studying charter school laws, we know that charter schools thrive in states that have laws that ensure equitable funding, accountability for results, flexibility and autonomy, including the choice to be operationally free from union contracts, and multiple and independent charter school authorizers. When given freedom, charter schools take hold of their own staffing and create a salary system based on skills and performance, and they reject the uniform and fixed salary levels in traditional public schools that have been comfortably adhered to and influenced by teachers unions.

In fact, the nation’s first charter school was opened in Minnesota in 1992 by a teacher who felt constrained by rules that were negotiated for her by the school district with union leadership, so she sought to provide more opportunity for educators through charter schools.

Expanded schools increase revenue to public education, from within and outside the state, allowing teachers more access to funds, not less. New schools permit teachers more opportunities to grow and learn. Research has shown that charter schools create a ripple effect on other schools, putting pressure on them to do more and to do it better. Charter schools can be part of the solution, but only when we have a law that allows them to thrive and function at their highest potential.

Michelle Tigani

is communications director for the Center for Education Reform in Washington.

(26) comments

KarinaG

Surely, teachers would look for better employments with better salaries and no wonder why many of them move to teach in charter schools. At the same time, we’re losing experienced and expertise teachers in public schools. Instead of them come inexperienced grads, who barely cope with teaching. Consequently, children don’t get necessary knowledge, including the one about essay writing which makes more students to apply for Essay Lab from United Kingdom. This essay writing company provides quality assistance and pleasant pricing.

threecents

I had a wonderful biology teacher - a Ms Tigani - back in the late 1970s. Any relation?

DickD

This is really getting old and ridiculous. There is no way private schools should be allowed to get tax money. And you are advocating for private schools in this article, even though you have them labeled "charter".

Private school are not administered by the local, state or federal government, which is what you are advocating. Yet, you want to use our tax dollars to do it. And although you maintain anyone can go to a charter school, you know and realize, as we do, not all can go because it takes someone to give them transportation and they have to apply with no guarantee of acceptance.

Students can also be disciplined and removed from the school at your whim, which is not possible in a public school. A public school must take all students, physically and mentally handicapped included. And although you maintain no religion is taught to keep separation of church and state, you resist putting that in writing. On top of that you refuse to accept the State certification of teachers, which the state insists upon for public schools. Of course, you have to right use State certified teachers now, but this is one item you are objecting to.

School vouchers are even worse, they can be used in private schools and there is no requirement for separation of church and state. Personally, it is my belief the Governor is flirting with a law suit on this issue alone.

Charter schools and vouchers are nothing more than a Republican ruse to eliminate or weaken our public school system, which is the best in the world. If they ruin this, what is next?

phydeaux994

DickD, please read this before you continue to embarrass yourself. http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/charter_schools/docs/md_charter_school_laws.html

shiftless88

The point that Dick is making, phydeaux, is that the LTE author (and others) are pushing for changes to that law such that they would be more like private schools, with little to no accountability. They just want the funds and then run things how they choose. That is not the situation today, but a situation that is advocated by people like the LTE author.

shiftless88

I should have added that this is the point I THINK Dick is making. I don't speak for him.

public-redux

That's an important addendum, shiftless. Dick has long maintained that charter schools actually are private schools. occasionally he acknowledges that he knows they aren't but he still thinks they are. His ability to manage cognitive dissonance is distressingly impressive.

DickD

You might not be speaking for me, but you did an excellent job. Thank you.[innocent]

DickD

You might be naive, I am not. The embarrassment is yours.

public-redux

Phydeaux, thanks for that link. Regarding funding, it says


"§ 9-109. Disbursement of funds.

(a) In general.- A county board shall disburse to a public charter school an amount of county, State, and federal money for elementary, middle, and secondary students that is commensurate with the amount disbursed to other public schools in the local jurisdiction."

Which to my reading argues against the 98% figure in the LTE. A lot of money spent by FCPS is not disbursed to schools but pays for systemwide expenses. Transportation, for example.

phydeaux994

Here is a link to the Maryland Charter School Program law. Everyone should read it before commenting on its content. There are a lot of false statements being made here. http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/charter_schools/docs/md_charter_school_laws.htm

ehpercy

The leadership of Frederick Classical does not want funding commensurate - they already have that - they want funding that greatly exceeds the funding allocated to a vast majority of the students in Frederick County. They have been pushing a lie for years and I wish they would stop wasting my tax dollars in continuing to advocate for this farce.

phydeaux994

So you are taking the wants of one Charter School operator and condemning all of the many Charter Schools in Maryland who are operating successfully under the law?

ehpercy

Where did I condemn other Charter Schools for operating fiscally under the law? I am specifically condemning Tom Neumark, his disciples and his network for buying or selling his snake oil. Professor Harold Hill would be proud of the song and dance they provide.

I would note that the two strongest advocates of Charter Schools in Frederick County have opted out because they did not get everything they wanted.

public-redux

I support charter schools. I support equitable funding. But the idea that 98% is equitable is laughable. There are systemwide expenses that far exceed 2% of the systemwide budget. The author of this letter and some of the local charter school advocates are either lying or deluded when they make their financial arguments.

ehpercy

"are either lying or deluded" actually they are both.

marylandmirage

"Research has shown that charter schools create a ripple effect on other schools, putting pressure on them to do more and to do it better." *********** Only when charter schools are forced to accept and educate students who have been expelled from private schools, students who are non-English speaking, students with non-committal parents, and students who are severely disabled will there ever be a level playing field comparison with public schools. The only thing charter schools force is less money for public schools which could be spent in the public system that does not have the option to pick and choose the students who attend.

phydeaux994

Charter schools can't pick and choose their students. Charter school students must apply to the Charter school of their choice and then the students who applied are selected by lottery to attend the school.

marylandmirage

So you are saying that special needs students may be accepted, regardless of their disability?

phydeaux994

Again, I would encourage you to read the Maryland Charter School Law. It's only one page and should answer your question. To paraphrase, the law says that Charter schools must accept ALL children and must follow all the Rules and Regulations that any other Public School must follow.

DickD

One of us must be hallucinating, phy, because the writer wants to be relieved of all state and County requirements, which means they would not have to accept anyone they did not want in the future.

phydeaux994

DickD, are you too proud to read the law and admit you are just plain wrong. You have railed on and on for the last year that Charter Schools are private schools. Are you really saying that Marylandmirage is right about your interpretation of the LTE? LOL I don't care what the writer "wants". People always want to change laws to their benefit. I'm simply telling you what the Maryland Charter School Law is. Peace.

gregz73

Funding for Public Schools is a zero-sum game. Every dollar committed to charter schools is a dollar taken away from the greater public school system. Bob Lewis

mikeswan1200

Only 68 cents of that dollar is committed to the Charter School and 32 cents back into to the larger school system. And you are still educating one child. Maybe the charter school system should be expanded to make the balance sheet work.

hayduke2

" F rated charter school law " - an opinion in a letter by a group communications executive who mission is to push charter schools, vouchers and union busting. Gee, I'm shocked that they would rate MD with an "F" despite having a very strong public school system. NOT!

shiftless88

[thumbup] Exactly

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