Perceived Enemy Turns Ally

Perceived Enemy Turns Ally

( – For nearly a decade, traditional K-12 school districts have been at war with charter schools they see as a threat to the traditional educational establishment. As schools across America closed to contain the spread of COVID-19, online charter schools have been demonstrating their flexibility to provide a seamless education during a crisis — something traditional schools struggle with.

Instead of looking out for the best interest of students, traditional schools have been clinging to an expensive model that puts the needs of adults over kids. If they’re not careful, those schools risk making themselves outdated at their own expense. Around the country, public schools were woefully unprepared to transition to online schooling after being shut down mid-March.

It’s widely accepted that teachers’ unions oppose charter schools because charter schools do not have unions that fight for higher pay and massive taxpayer-supported benefits. What they really want is the eradication of competition for public tax dollars to educate children. Doing so would maintain their expensive monopolies and secure their jobs.

It’s basic economics. Competition in a free market drives down prices and increases results. Public education is not a free market. It’s a government instituted bureaucracy that behaves like any other — protection at all costs.

It’s About the Money — Not the Kids

In the real world, when demand for service drops, so does the price. Yet, in school districts all over the country, it doesn’t work that way. According to the Center for Education Reform, school districts in Ohio saw a 2.04% drop in student enrollment. Yet, per-pupil spending increased 19.53% and employee spending went up 19.83%. In what world does that make sense?

When parents enroll their kids in online charter schools, it takes away from attendance at traditional public schools. Lower student attendance should mean both income and expenses go down. Yet, that’s not what’s happening.

Here’s the real kicker… it’s taxpayers paying for education as required by law. The money doesn’t belong to the school district. But, because public schools never had to compete for the money, they’ve existed as if it’s theirs by default. If taxpayers are paying the bill, why shouldn’t they be able to choose what’s best for their child’s education?

COVID-19 Exposes the Major Flaw in Public Education

Because online charter schools are not location or building-dependent, they’re not affected by a national crisis the same way traditional public schools are. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed this difference. Across the nation, parents have taken notice of online charter schools as they look for other ways to ensure their children get a quality education.

School districts in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania were shut down in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, legislatures in those states also shut down online charter schools that were clearly meeting the requirements of the CDC and orders by their respective governors. Why was it necessary to shut down online charter schools?

If it’s possible and safe to do, isn’t education as “essential” as any other essential business?

In fact, online education is safer than going to the grocery store.

School districts expressed concerns to lawmakers that parents would pull their kids out of public schools and put them in online charter schools while they were closed. Again, it all comes down to money for adults instead of education for the kids. A ready-made alternative educational system was in place. However, the forces of the educational status quo wanted to hoard kids for money instead of help ensure they were getting an education.

Kids shouldn’t be a tool for funding or career paths for career educational bureaucrats. Online charter schools are not the bad guys. In fact, during this crisis, they should be viewed as saviors.

Fortunately, in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, the legislatures reversed course and allowed charter schools to continue educating their existing students. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to enroll new ones whose parents wanted to ensure an ongoing education.

Technology Should Be Welcome Change

Technology is changing education and traditional schools risk becoming as obsolete as Blockbuster Video if they are not careful. Competition drives innovation, improves performance, and reduces costs to taxpayers.

The public school system seems to be more concerned about its bottom line than investing in America’s future. It’s time to stop seeing kids as tools for adults and see them as the future of America. They’re an investment, not an income or expense to be maintained or increased.

~Here’s to Your Prosperity!

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