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Throgmorton: Charter schools should not yet be approved

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Soon the State Land and Investment Board (SLIB) will decide whether to authorize three new “Classical Academy” charter schools in the state. They should table the decision until a new superintendent of public instruction is elected. That person, after all, will have to live with the decision; it is only fair that he or she be involved in making the decision.

The SLIB board was invested with the authority to create charter schools for the first time on July First of this year. Prior to that, only local school boards were authorized to create charter schools. They had multiple reasons to proceed with caution before granting a charter: loss of dollars from district, ambiguous responsibility for monitoring performance, exemptions from licensing requirements to name a few.

As the “authorizer” of these three charter schools, the SLIB board must assume responsibility for monitoring all of these and more. It’s in the statute that went into effect on July First. SLIB is currently staffed with professionals in the land and investment industries. They are not experts in education but will have to either hire some or contract it out. Either way, these three charter schools will have captured school district funds and cost the state to pay for a regulatory system.

These charter schools are the dream of the appointed superintendent whose efforts to use our schools to fight an imaginary culture war was soundly rejected by voters of his own party. The elected superintendent should not have to live in his dream and there is no urgency to approving these charters.

Take a pass on this one, SLIB board. The elected superintendent may advocate for authorizing the charters or choose to proceed with more caution. Don’t play that hand for them.



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