In a brilliant column, Bill White of the Lehigh Valley News compares Governor Tom Corbett’s education policies to carpet-bombing of Vietnam. The goal nearly half a century ago was to “bomb Vietnam back into the stone age.” White says that Corbett is doing the same with public education with his program of budget cuts, charter schools, and voucher proposals, which have thus far produced layoffs, program cuts, falling test scores, and soaring class sizes.
It seems that the Governor’s goal is to drive parents out of public education and into charters or to demand vouchers to escape the mess the Governor is creating.
Charter advocates always say that charters are truly accountable because if they fail, they are closed. That is not the case in Pennsylvania. Once charters are opened, it is expensive and difficult to close them:
The state law is a nightmare. To revoke the charter of a troubled school, the home district must potentially engage in a lengthy legal battle in which local taxpayers must pay for lawyers on both sides. Once a charter school is approved and operational, the law allows it to continue receiving tax dollars even if it loses its school building, lays off its teaching staff or is in the midst of revocation hearings.
I’m not blaming Corbett for the shortcomings of this law, which passed in 1997. I do fault him for policies and priorities that are dragging down public schools, ultimately stacking the deck for more parents to pursue charter schools and other forms of non-public education, which, if his proposals for education “reform” are enacted, will divert even more money from public schools.