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.