Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Charters and Open Books

My school district's board of directors held their regular meeting two days ago and passed a tentative budget for the coming year. I could link you to the newspaper report of the meeting, but it's behind a paywall. So let me just copy out the two important paragraphs:

Now that the tentative budget has been approved, members of the general public have an opportunity to review and/or comment on the spending plan until June 26, which is the day the board is slated to vote on the budget.

Anyone who would like to see a copy of the budget can access one either at the school district's administrative building or online at

Just to be clear. For a month, any citizen in the area can look at the proposed budget. They could then attend a board meeting or call a board member or stop a board member when they encounter them out and about in the community, and that citizen could express an opinion about the budget. Any citizen, parent, voter or taxpayer can both see the budget and offer feedback on it. That's a thing that can happen here in our public school district.

This is different from the charter school business world, where budgets are proposed and passed in private and where the people who create those budgets may not even live anywhere nearby at all. It's different from the charter business world, where some charter operators fight hard, all the way to court, to keep their budgets secret, and where state regulations do not require the charter operators to reveal anything at all.

This is just one of the reasons that charter schools are not public schools. Funneling tax dollars to charter schools and private religious schools (as Trump and DeVos propose to do) is shoveling taxpayer money into a black hole. It's the very definition of taxation without representation, a policy that does away with accountability to taxpayers.

That is not how public schools in a democracy work. Push that policy if you like, but at least be honest about it. A school district with closed books and an unaccountable board in charge of those books-- that is not a public school system.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I thought the conservative cranks who love to micro-analyze local school budgets (probably more of a New England thing than a PA thing) would have turned against charters for this reason, but I guess out of sight, out of mind.