Tina Bojanowski is a teacher who ran for the Kentucky legislature after the teachers’ strike and won. She is the only active teacher serving in the legislature.

Right now, the legislature is debating whether to fund new charter schools. Tina wrote the following opinion piece. It does make you wonder when the Republican Party turned against local control, which they once championed.

I can testify to the pride that Kentucky communities feel in their public schools. A few years ago, I spoke to the Kentucky School Boards Association and, while waiting to go on, I wandered around the public space outside the meeting room. In the hall outside, the walls were covered with posters made by the children in each school district. Each one reflected their love of community and schools.

Tina wrote in the Lexington Herald Leader:

Kentucky families are proud of our public schools, and we should be. Our caring public schools staffed with dedicated professional educators are also wonderful reflections of our communities, even when there are challenging differences in ideas about the details of public education.

I would hate to lose that community identity, our local control of public schools, and the ability to have a say in how our taxpayer dollars are spent on educating our children. All of those blessings would be threatened if HB 9, pending in the legislature, is passed.

We have never funded charter schools because we have never wanted to take funding from our public schools. However, HB 9 would do just that. With every child who goes to a charter, all federal, state, and, yes, local tax dollars would go with him. And with HB 9, our school districts would even have to pay all the transportation costs.

Schools would immediately feel the pain as they transferred money out of their budget with little to no, if any, savings at all. That is because stranded costs are left behind. Lights must go on. Roofs must be repaired. Administration, school nurses, bus drivers, and other staff must still be paid. Unless large numbers of students leave, you cannot even reduce staff by one teacher. But thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars would leave the school. That means either local taxes must go up or children get less as programs are cut.

Right now, only our school districts and our mayors decide where a charter school pops up. If this bill is passed, political appointees, universities, and even nonprofits that have nothing to do with education at all will be the deciders. And they will all rush to authorize charters to cash in on the 3% cut of ALL tax dollars that will go to the charter school.

It doesn’t matter where you live in Kentucky, I am sure we all agree that we should be empowered to make our own decisions about our public schools and whether we want charter schools. Our strong sense of local control integrates parents into the education process that has created a successful and thriving recipe Kentucky students benefit from each year.

But you will never have local control over a charter school. You will never be able to vote for a charter school board member. That is because they will be appointed. Even though they will spend your hard-earned tax dollars, they can have unlimited terms, never being voted in or removed from office by the taxpayers who fund their schools. And all you need to do is to look to neighboring Ohio to see how that works out. Nearly half of their charter schools are run by for-profits, often with out-of-state corporate offices that run the schools for a nonprofit board that is merely a facade. Given the financial generosity and loose regulations of HB 9, they will rush into Kentucky. We will not have a few charter schools. We will have a tsunami of charter schools. It’s clear that HB 9 was written by the charter lobby headquartered in the DC beltway.

I ask everyone to join me in opposition to this naked financial and political power grab that robs local communities of political power, local students of education-centered schools, and taxpayers of funding for our communities’ common schools. Let’s work together to improve our public schools and say “no” to HB 9. Tina Bojanowski serves District 32 of the KY House of Representatives. She is also a teacher for JCPS and is the only active K-12 teacher in the General Assembly.

Read more at: https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article259276709.html#storylink=cpy