Wrong on charter schools

Becky Ahearn’s column, “Not sold on charter schools,” published Jan. 13, made several incorrect claims about charter schools. She claimed that being in a separate building leads to less diversity, equivalent education options exist within the current school system, and that charter schools are contrary to American education ideals.

Studies have shown that charter school demographics generally mirror the larger community. FCCS has a greater percentage of Asian and African-American students than the average Frederick County public school. Additionally, FCCS specifically reached out to students in low-income and diverse neighborhoods across the county, passing out over 40,000 fliers.

During their contract negotiations with Frederick County Public schools, Frederick Classical tried to contract with the school system to provide bus transportation for kids from historically diverse and disadvantaged schools such as Lincoln, Hillcrest, and Waverley elementaries, but FCPS refused. FCCS also tried to locate the school in the Hillcrest neighborhood in concert with the Frederick Alliance for Youth. Unfortunately, the alliance’s main benefactor pulled out of the project and that didn’t come to fruition.

FCCS also tried to locate its school in existing FCPS buildings, but FCPS determined that there was not enough space available to do that. It is incorrect to characterize FCCS as being elitist because it is in a separate building due to logistical realities. It is disappointing that FCCS’s extensive effort to enroll an even more diverse student population by providing transportation was met with opposition from the local school system.

Ahearn is correct that there are some specialty programs available to high school students that FCPS provides transportation for. FCCS is an elementary and middle school, and FCPS does not offer a classical education option for students at those grade levels. FCCS fills a gap in the offerings provided by the regular public schools, but is unable to reach even more disadvantaged students due to lack of transportation funding.

Charter schools champion the American ideals of education, to equalize the opportunities for a wide range of kids. Without schools like Frederick Classical, only relatively affluent parents would have access to the kind of rigorous classical education that the school is providing.

I am a member of the Frederick Classical Charter School’s facility committee and also a County Councilman for District 2, but the views expressed are my own.

Tony Chmelik


(52) comments


Tony ran on the Blaine (get a lottery ticket to fund education) platform...yet wants to put more towards charter schools...all while not participating in either for his own kids? Makes you wonder doesn't it?


The results of the 20 years of Charter Schools is pretty bleak. No real improvement in achievement. The Charter School history is a way that Christian Fundamentalist brainwash kids. Public schools can implement the same programs without the propaganda!


My God you are out of touch. 87% of educators in US are members of the Democrat or parties further to the left (check public voting rolls- part of the public record in every community.) Its quid pro quo- teacher unions fund the Democrats, the Democrats vote for ever more money for teachers. You think the information delivered by teachers is unbiased by their party's propaganda? Boy you do have a lot of faith in humanity- at least those humans who happen to share your ideological biases!


It's the Democratic party, not the Democrat party. You should know better.


Didn't they change it during the Clinton administration? I thought they had, if not, my bad.


Does your statement hold true for Frederick county? Washington? Carroll? etc.

How about states like Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.

I don't believe your "brainwashing" statement would hold water.


I am for improving public education and paying teachers better. I am for Unions,absolutely, Democracy in the work place,I call it. I am NOT for Charter Schools. Propaganda has been implemented in public schools especially in Red states,which I thought you were a Red Party man. Teaching Creationism in schools instead of Evolution? RIGHT! not Left.


What you perceive to be reality and what is actually reality are very different things Vic, both in term of historical and current events.


So using your perception to critique my perception? So your perception is reality while my perception is not. Ok des21 I'll remember that,LOL. I prefer my Perceptual Reality where,"The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few". Yours is the Perception of Separation,mine is the Perception of Inclusiveness and Humanity. "Get on board the Love Train! You don't need a ticket,just get on board" my brother.


OK Vic, sometimes I forget, you were in 'Nam so you must be right[beam]


Yeah, I'm sorry sometimes I forget you are 20 years younger and you were Reaganized. Nam has nothing to with it. You trying to lay the Perception is Reality Paradigm on someone who has know that for a long time. The difference is I know that Perception is Reality,but I took the Red Pill and you took the Blue Pill.


BTW,The logic of being a Vietnam Veteran or a veteran at all doesn't work because I disagree with many Vietnam Veterans,because they have a Xenophobes Learning Disability, as in "My country right or wrong". Thank God I learned something in my Vietnam Classroom.


No, Vic is absolutely right![beam]


The teacher unions support the Democrats because the Republicans seek to destroy them, it is that simple!


Kind of a chicken and egg thing right Dick. Not sure what happened first, the utter politicization of the teachers'' unions or the efforts by GOP to dismantle public sector unions. Its an interesting question.

I personally think public sector unions should be illegal. Who are they protecting their employers from, you and me? Certainly not their greedy corporate owners right? Essentially they are taking ever more money and benefits from their neighbors funded by taxes. They make very little sense. Private unions yes, public sector unions no. (Let the character assassinations begin![beam]).


No they're protecting teachers from Plutocrats like Scott Walker,supported by the Koch Brothers!


I guess you think the public sector does not negotiate or handle grievances. It is different, as most public unions cannot strike, which is the ultimate power in negotiations, on the union side. The company side, of private companies is to hire replacements. It is a question of whom is going to blink first and how far are you willing to go in your negotiations. In the public sector you are limited by budgets, but if you don't give adequate pay, you lose good qualified teachers to the surrounding counties, which is what is happening to Frederick County.


Let's say that's correct. Then the question is, why aren't more conservatives going becoming teachers? If none are, then whose fault is that? I wonder what percent of those pushing for charter schools like Tony and Tom N. are conservatives.


There is no question Tony is conservative.


I can speak only for myself but one of the reasons I never pursued teaching is the low pay relative to what I can earn elsewhere. I suspect quite a few other conservatives feel the same way.


It is a well known fact, teachers are paid poorly. Many, conservatives and liberals prefer to work for private businesses, where wages are normally higher. What you get as a teacher is a steady job, more time off than most private businesses, and personal satisfaction of educating the youth of our country.


All I know is, Vic served in 'Nam, he must be right.


This is how D.C. improved education in Charter schools. I see nothing here that cannot and should not be done in our County public schools, except for private donors.

Private donors, bankers and developers:
- money makes it possible to fund impressive facilities
- money makes it possible to expand programs
- money makes it possible to reduce class size

Freedom to Experiment:
- longer school days
- summer and Saturday classes
- parent involvement
- cohesive, disciplined culture among staff members and students.

What is not addressed here was the relative level of students prior to transferring. If you read the Pennsylvania aricle, you will find they play games to get the best students.


Tony read this before you go pushing Charter schools anymore.

What is wrong with Charter schools in Pennsylvania



We have a lot of different opinions on Charter Schools and Tony's opinion is important as he is on the County
Council. Never mind the fact that he states it is his personal opinion, how would he vote, that is the important issue.

Tony campaigned on reducing taxes, I could not find if that included MOE or not, but he does advocate home schooling. So, for Tony, public schools are not a priority, although he did support building a new school in Linganore, where he went to school growing up.

He is a Knights of Columbus member ,so he must be Catholic. This means he knows that public school money cannot be used for private schools. Yet, he is advocating it for charter schools, which in essence are private schools. Yes, the current school has a higher percentage of minorities, but this is just the first one and not likely to be representative of the ones to follow.

Tony was also on the Blaine Young ticket and voted for Kirby Delauter, for Council President ,against Bud Otis.

Tony campaigned to cut taxes, yet wants more money for charter schools and if he supports the current request of the Frederick County Charter school, a separate school board. That will not make for lower taxes.




Come on Tony. You and I both know that the Charter system is not about eduction, but about power and money.

You can see this in the mess FCCS has gotten itself in, and now wants (insists) that the public (taxpayers) will bail them out.

You are a Councilman, now lets see how you really truly represent the common good, not the good for a few.


Charter schools are for parents who feel entitled to govt. providing a private school atmosphere.


The fall of an empire happening in front of our eyes. Sad thing is that people of my generation worked so hard to put it all together and now feel hopeless to stop the slide. We may already have passed the tipping point.


johnboy,You could move to Russia,they have a more developed Plutocracy


Well Tony, let the charter schools foot their own bill, but not out of my pocket.


Tony, what you are saying is that FCCS continually screwed up, couldn't get things done correctly, yet forged ahead and set up a bad situation anyway and now wants pity and changes in rules and funding to bail them out? I don't think you did yourself any favors in this LTE, outlining all of your failures.


We have managed to have a two-tier society. We now have Lexus lanes for those who can afford to drive in uncongested roadways (and the rest of us can struggle along in packed roadways), we have doctors who now only take patients who can afford a pricey yearly stipend just to get in to see them (and the rest of us can just fall over dead, I guess), and we have "charter" schools for those who don't want their little darlings to be subjected to the great unwashed masses who attend public schools (and it has just now been established that 51% of these public school kids are in the poverty level). Apparently, we have entered the new Gilded Age. The haves are well situated and doing great financially but everyone else is falling more and more behind. Makes me sick! Jean




If you are unhappy with public schools - fix them! Your second to last paragraph sounds like a description of public schools. Public schools champion the American ideals of education, to equalize the opportunities for a wide range of kids. Without public schools only relatively affluent parents would have access to the kind of rigorous education that the school is providing. What the heck is "Classical" education? It's a shame that an intelligent woman like Stacey Van Veen didn't win in district 2.


Ok. Thanks.


My understanding is that the Chmelik children are home-schooled. Why is Tony a member of the charter school facility committee? Methinks he doesn't like public schools! Jean


If I remember correctly not liking public schools had something to do with religion for Tony


An interesting article in the Washington Post today on this subject:


For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

"Carey Wright, Mississippi’s state superintendent of education, said quality preschool is the key to helping poor children." But our county commissioners saw fit to drop the Head Start Program. A move that harmed many children's educational needs.


I truly do not understand why FCCS partisans think students who attend FCCS should receive transportation ( or transportation funding) that is not available to other similarly situated students within the FCPS system.

A student who lives in Waverly and attends an elementary school in, say, Brunswick, does not receive FCPS transportation to get to Brunswick. Nor does the elementary school in Brunswick get a bigger budget because of that student. Now suppose that same student goes to a charter school instead of the Brunswick elementary school. Why should the transportation funding rules be different?


Valid question.
Every day parents transport kids out of district.
Every day parents transport kids deemed "walkers" (but had you seen Opossomtown Pike the last few years during construction?)
Nobody gets reimbursed.


Maybe because they are paying taxes to fund public schools and want to receive something for that money (?) Just a guess.

It seems to me (and I have not studied the situation admittedly) that the charter folks are trying to devise a third pathway between public and private schools- probably because they cannot afford private schools (BTW, those families are the real elites folks.). It is an interesting legal question. If education was not a local issue (at least until Common Core was adopted nationally) I would say the Supreme Court must ultimately decide this issue but I doubt they would take it up.

On a side note, its amazing to me that my parents, both of whom graduated from public high schools in NYC in the 1940s and received no further education, Have/had (my Dad's gone) more native intelligence and intellectual curiosity than many Ph.D.s that I have worked with today. Something has gone seriously wrong here.


Students who attend FCCS are receiving exactly what every other public school student in FredCo is receiving: transportation to their districted school, if they live far enough away from it. No transportation to a non-districted school. That is (part of) what they get for their taxes.

We really can't afford to bus any kid in FredCo to any school in FredCo, in my opinion. But if the partisans of FCCS think we can, then let's see their numbers. Of course, what they are asking for is transportation for some students (theirs) but not for others.

It is their dishonesty that annoys me.


I do agree with you, but I think from their perspective, they think they deserve transportation because they would have gotten it to go to the public school of their jurisdiction. Of course, you did point out, and again I agree, we cannot afford to send any student to any school they desire. And the only way they can justify that would be on the basis of lower wages to their teachers.


I disagree that lowering teacher salaries is the only way to have more dollars to spend on buses and fuel. But I'm dubious that taxpayers are keen to see taxes go up to bus kids all over the county.


Des wrote: "It seems to me (and I have not studied the situation admittedly) that the charter folks are trying to devise a third pathway between public and private schools-..."

If that is true, then they have been lying thru their teeth for years. The local charter school folk say -- and I take them at their word -- that they are public and not private schools.


Perhaps you are right.


Interesting point you raise about school funding. By a student going to a different public school the recipient public school is burdened with the cost of teaching. As no extra teachers, supplies, or transportation are provided, there is no extra cost to the County. Yet, if that same student goes to a Charter school, there is extra funding to that Charter school because we are setting up a dual public school system.


No charter schools when I was young ,oh many years ago.We went 11 grades and got great educations too.No we pass you regardless.[beam]


It shows.


The question is...... what happened and why is the education of kids so much more difficult today than in my generation ( I am 75 years young)? Immigration?? Integration?? Poverty?? Unqualified educators?? Technology?? Money?? Diversity?? Abandoning the 3 R's concept?? Parenting?? Over population?? All of the above and more??

I am sure that the highest human I.Q. of any and all time is that of a newborn infant.


Excellent answer, Johnny![beam]

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