I wrote earlier today about how disappointed the chair of the Senate Committee on Education in Arizona was when the charter school in her district was graded F. She felt sure this couldn’t be right. As chair of the Senate Committee on Education, she must have approved the wacky idea of giving letter grades to schools. Yet now this ALEC-Jeb Bush strategy has blighted the charter she insisted upon.

You should know more about Sylvia Allen.

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

Linda Lyon, President-elect of the Arizona School Boards Association, writes:

“Yes, the AZ Republic called Senator Sylvia Allen “one of the best-known lightning rods in the AZ Legislature.” Her stated belief that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and her suggestion that church attendance be mandated as a way to “get back to a moral rebirth in this country” are just two of the reasons for her notoriety. I was shocked when I heard of her appointment as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, but it shouldn’t have surprised me.

“After all, I doubt her religious fervency is the reason AZ Senate President Biggs selected Allen to be the person who will control what education proposals make it out of the AZ Senate. Rather, I suspect it is her support of charter schools like the George Washington Academy she helped found in Snowflake. Listed as the “Administrative Program Manager” on their “GWA Teachers and Staff” page, Senator Allen’s employment with this school makes me wary of her ability to be impartial when it comes to legislation that favors charter schools over public district schools.

“Please know that I am not a charter “hater.” I recognize there are charter schools that fill critical needs. What I am, is realistic about the impact the diversion of tax payer dollars to privately managed charter and private schools is having on our public school districts and their students. Make no mistake; this is a zero sum game. When charter schools win, public district schools, often the hub of small communities, lose.

“Senator Allen’s George Washington Academy may be located in the community of Snowflake, but it is managed by Education Management Organization (EMO) EdKey Inc., a for-profit management company that operates 18 schools in Arizona. Although its schools are technically “public” there are numerous differences between them (and all charters) and your average community district schools.

“For starters, the requirements for accountability and transparency are very different. Public district schools have locally elected governing board members that are accountable to the public. Not so with charter schools. In looking at the George Washington Academy website, they had no information about the school board on their school board page, and under school board agendas, only a statement that says: “Sorry, but that directory is empty.” I had to go to the corporate website (sequoiaschools.org) to see the names of their six governing board members, but there was no access to board agendas or minutes.“