Straw that broke the camel’s back

Editor:

I’ve tried, with some success, to be impartial regarding political parties, candidates, and politicians. In such a polarized nation and in a state like Arizona staying “neutral” is not the same as staying on the sidelines.

The recent revelation that the owners of a charter school have been lavishly spending money on sporting event tickets, concerts, travel and on an array of other non-school-related items has pushed me over the edge. I’m incredulous that nothing can be done to punish and/or stop this kind of larceny of our public money.

While I still feel I can support and vote for some Republican candidates on the federal, county and city levels, I can no longer tolerate GOP politicians running our state. Why? Because they have refused and are still refusing to stop having the fox guard the henhouse. To wit, our charter school laws, rules and regulations are so weak that even our GOP attorney general has called for them to be strengthened.

However, since too many of our GOP legislators are charter school owners and/or benefit from their relationship with charter schools, no charter school reform laws can be heard or passed in our Legislature due to this blatant case of self-interest.

Until such a time when GOP lawmakers take seriously the notion that charter schools aren’t their own personal “cash cows,” I’ll be voting a straight non-GOP ticket in up and coming Arizona legislative and governorship elections.

Richard Meszar, Whispering Pines

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(4) comments

Phil Mason

Jack, it is important to clarify the factual difference between Charter vs District outcomes rather than simply parroting hackneyed talking points. As sources, we should look to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely known as The Nation's Report Card and the AZMerit results. * NAEP results show significant gains over the last eight years, with public charter students outperforming their district and private school peers in every grade level and on every subject tested. ** When separated and measured as if they were their own state, Arizona charter students rank first in the nation in eighth-grade math, and second for eighth-grade reading. *** The AzMERIT results show public charter school students scored better than the state average in nearly every grade level and subject area for the fourth straight year. **** In an area generally promoted by District schools as an excuse for adverse results, public charter students in all racial and ethnic groups outperformed the state average on AzMERIT for their group in Math and English. ***** Finally, Charter Schools as a group outperform District Schools as a group with significantly less money. District schools in AZ average $9,474 per pupil in funding from all sources while Charter schools average $8,523 per pupil in funding from all sources. *Source: Joint Legislative Budget Committee, June 2018. Finally NO property owner has a tax lien on their property (Override or Bond) for Charter School operations while EVERY property has a tax lien on their property (Override and Bond) for District school operations. NO unsourced talking point, just the facts, Jack

Jack Hastings

Audits Of AZ Charter Schools 'Woefully Below' Standards,Arizona charters schools: More than 100 in danger of closing, Arizona Charter Schools 'Fail' in Diversity Report ,American Leadership Academy founder nets millions on deals ,Disgusting lack of oversight of charter schools,A first time look at Arizona charter school spending reveals massive waste, fraud and corruption,charter schools are fraud factories,All of this is part of the bigger scandal that is Arizona’s charter school system: The lack of transparency. The way charters slyly screen students they don’t want. The ability of charter owners to enrich themselves on taxpayer money that would get officials at other public schools tossed into jail.CHARTER SCHOOLS IN ARIZONA PERFORM SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW THEIR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL PEERS.

Phil Mason

I thought your article was about wasting taxpayer dollars. Now, since that dog won't hunt, you want to change the subject. We know that Arizona public school leaders have consistently violated voter approved initiatives. I know this will be a stretch for you, but nearly every one of the 220 districts have violated the supplement not supplant fiscal mandates. Again, your off-course perspectives fail the laugh test. For example, according to the PUSD Finance Office SAFR report for FY2018, (Yep, I actually cite facts, not unsourced statements) 59.46% of their total taxpayer revenues comes from a source that Charter Schools get 0.00%. That means that means that Charter Schools must build or lease a site (no tax funds thru either bonds or School Facilities), educate their students, pay for their staff, and actually pay taxes on 40% of the money district schools receive. I am waiting for your slippery deflection to another issue, but when we talk waste of taxpayer funds in education, the world class winners are district schools. The study you cite was paid for by the district school industry. Same as every other study, when the subject pays for it, the study comes to the conclusion acceptable by the funding source. The Arizona Auditor General [which does not have a dog in the fight], reports that PUSD, for example, has reduced the allocation of revenues to the classroom from 61,5% of revenues to 49.7%. The largest DECREASE in that expenditure this century - which pays for teacher and teacher aide salaries and benefits - came just last year, when they were decrying low teacher salaries. Your friends take the money from the classroom teacher line item in the budget, then tell the taxpayers the teachers are underpaid. Crying wolf seems to work when all 220 districts and the media sing from the same misleading song as trained in their annual taxpayer funded conferences.

Phil Mason

Charter schools receive much less taxpayer dollars than any public district school and overall achieve better outcomes. If you are concerned about "larceny" or wasting of taxpayer dollars, you should start with the public district schools. District Schools have all their lands and buildings paid for by taxpayers while charter schools get $0.00 taxpayer dollars for those items. District schools do not pay any income OR property taxes while Charter schools are liable for both of those. Your home or business has a lien (loan) on the property for district school bonds - many times not even needed - while your home or business has NO lien (loan) for charter schools. Do you ever wonder why district schools cost so much more, give parents no choice and achieve worse outcomes? If not, you should. And do not use the old false argument re district schools having to take special needs students either. District schools receive up to ten times more money (up to $75,000.00) for each special needs student. One last did you ever wonder why there is an ever increasing diagnosis of ADHD and ADD? Could it be that for every student so diagnosed by the school, they receive additional funds? STOP parroting the district school talking points without researching and recognizing the real funding/revenue facts. PS: these figures are all available in reports that are required to be prepared by the school district finance office. Watch out - the straw in the charter schools that you are complaining about is a redwood tree in the district schools.

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