What makes a public school public?
In a House Education Committee meeting last week, Representative Bob Behning insisted that charter schools are public schools. The topic was proposed legislation--House Bill 1641—that would send a proportional cut of any money raised by public school districts through referenda to charter schools located within district boundaries.
Here's an excerpt from his exchange with Representative Ed Delaney (video clip is below):
Delaney: You have to get to end of the bill to understand what’s going to happen. The proceeds of a referendum last fall would go to the traditional public schools...
Behning: Last fall, yes. But under the provision of this bill, they would have to coordinate with charters. They would have to make the referendum adequate to meet the needs of both charters and traditional publics...
Delaney: To be very specific, in the case of Indianapolis Public Schools, almost 1/4 of referendum money would have to go to non-public (in the sense of traditional public schools), to charter schools.
Behning: They [charters] are public schools, so I don’t know what percentage…
Delaney: Well, it's right here on the chart from LSA, that the head count is 25% of IPS. They said 25% of the levy would go to charter schools. The voters would have been asked to not merely fund the schools owned by the district, but also to fund the schools that are actually owned by separate corporations, is that right?
Behning: They would be asked to fund the public schools whether they are charter or traditional public—kind of agnostic—making sure that the public is funded at a fairly equal level.
Delaney: But this would be the first time [charters] would have access to property taxes, is that correct?
Behning: That’s correct.
* * *
This insistence that charters are public schools is a willful one.
Charters are publicly funded, but though they are called “public” by the state, they lack essential requirements and oversight. We invite you to use our chart, below, in conversations with your legislators.
If you object to sending local property taxes raised by your public school district to unaccountable entities in direct competition with it, contact the House Education Committee and your own legislators. Calling may be best. They pay attention to calls: (800) 382-9842.
If you can't call, email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
—and please send your letter to your local paper or share on social media.
House Education Committee members are Robert Behning, Anthony Cook, Woody Burton, Edward Clere, Dale DeVon, Chuck Goodrich, Jack Jordan, Jim Lucas, Jeffrey Thompson, Vernon Smith, Edward DeLaney, Sheila Klinker, and Tonya Pfaff.
—Keri Miksza and Jenny Robinson
P.S. For information about charter licenses, read the Indiana Department of Education information here.
License information for individuals can be found at the Indiana Educator License Lookup.
Here's the exchange between Delaney and Behning:
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