To the editors:
The Oklahoma State Board of Education unanimously approved a new charter school in Seminole even though the local school board said no. State bureaucrats were apparently unconcerned that charter schools are exempt from many rules that traditional public schools must follow or that they perform worse or no better than other schools.
Shockingly, charter school students represent only 2.8 percent of total enrollment in the state, but charter schools get disproportionately more in state funding. In 2016, traditional public schools were paid an average of $1,560.87 per pupil in state aid compared to an average of $3,034.60 per pupil for the average charter school — twice as much. When mid-year money was released in December 2015, charter schools got 69 percent, or $17.7 million, leaving public schools with 97.2 percent of Oklahoma students to split up the remaining 31 percent. Reports show that one virtual charter school got 25 percent of that money, $17.7 million, in spite of an ongoing investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Charter schools are supposed to be more, not less, accountable in exchange for greater flexibility in operations. Public schools must continue to be the great common denominator that allow American students who work hard enough to get ahead, which ultimately helps their families. It’s time to level the playing field rather than stacking the deck. I do not want my tax dollars siphoned off at a disproportionate level to fund elitist schools at the expense of critically needed funding for traditional public school students.
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