The Palm Beach County School District’s war on charter schools took a shameful turn when the school district banned charter schools from their annual “Showcase of Schools.” (District Bans Charter School From Showcase, Wednesday)
Being prevented from participating in the event, which highlights a variety of specialized classes available to students, denies charter schools an equal opportunity to present their programs.
The district’s obstructive action, along with their lawsuit to prevent Florida state funds from flowing to charter schools, as well as their opposition to the opening of new charter schools, demonstrates a strategy that is tantamount to creating a monopoly.
In the business world, such actions would draw the attention of the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust division. It is a blatant attempt to stifle competition which is so necessary to offset the mediocrity sometimes found in public schools.
Having personal experience as a frequent volunteer in a charter school, I can vouch for the pervading educational professionalism, energy and enthusiasm that teachers and administrators impart to their students. It is an atmosphere not often found during my time as the parent of public school students.
Parents deserve to evaluate the school choice for their children on a level playing field. When public schools and charter schools compete, the result is a higher quality educational option available to students.
TONY ETTORE, WELLINGTON
Charter schools have
nothing to showcase
As a retired public school teacher, I commend the school officials for banning charter schools from the “Showcase of Schools.”
For six years I visited public, private and charter schools, teaching conservation using live butterflies, and what I found in many charter schools proves that charters have nothing to showcase that is unique or innovative. In fact, some were housed in storefronts in strip malls or rented buildings. They had no cafeterias, playgrounds or libraries.
They lacked many of the basic educational tools found in traditional public schools such as computers for students, televisions and attractively decorated classrooms. Since then, I have done some research which shows that students in charter schools do not perform as well as those in traditional schools. Also, it shows now that many of the charters are having to close because of this and in fact, I understand this year their attendance is down.
Perhaps parents are getting the message that charter schools are avenues for money-hungry investors to line their pockets by receiving tax credits and interest on loans they provide.
The sad thing is a big chunk of taxpayers’ money goes to help this. Traditional public schools are under the magnifying glass all the time. Charter schools should be watched more closely since they are rapidly growing in numbers.
The message is clear and it is important that parents, teachers and all citizens: Be watchdogs and participate in stopping this misuse of tax dollars.
COLLEEN WIGGINS, WEST PALM BEACH
I am a studio art major at Florida Atlantic University.
I focus primarily on visual art and it can be found in almost everything around us. Product packaging to menu design, furniture how-to manuals to a sign for a boutique, the front of a bag of dog food to the cover of a textbook. Everything is art. We see it every day, all around us.
Those things wouldn’t be the same without the geniuses behind the magic that is creation. We cannot raise our children and grandchildren as slaves to science and mathematics. Robots can learn and surpass humans, but they cannot create. Only our future innovators and artists can. Art is a way of expression, trade and a statement of a culture.
Art is important. It is vital to our survival as a nation and as a community.
Do not take away our funding. We are the creators, the innovators, the visionaries. We are the future and the future will not be bright and colorful and full of creation without proper funding.
EMILY ROYO, PORT ST. LUCIE
Charter team’s data
inconclusive at best
I just finished watching Attorney Brian Seymour’s Oct. 12 presentation to the Palm Beach Gardens Council on his charter team’s proposal and recommendations. (“Newly elected Gardens officials push for review of city charter,” May 31)
I’m questioning the data that the charter team used to arrive at their conclusions. He said the team investigated, “What is the reality of what other people live with?” So I researched their conclusions for myself (thanks to all the cities that use Municode).
The team proposed that we use plurality to determine the outcomes of our local elections. Of the 29 Florida cities equal or larger in population than Palm Beach Gardens with term limits in their charters, only 38 percent use plurality voting. Fifty-five Florida cities are equal or larger in population than Palm Beach Gardens; 36 percent use plurality voting schemes.
The charter team also recommends allowing council members to serve again after sitting out a term. Using the same data sample, only 31 percent allow term-limited elected officials to serve another term. The average number of terms allowed in the Florida cities with term limits of the same sample is 2.24 terms.
Last but not least, they also reintroduce in their recommendations an old city favorite: allowing the city manager to live outside the city. Using the 55-city sample, 48 percent allow their city manager to live outside the city. But I ask, after Hurricane Irma, does anyone really want our $225,000 manager to be a telecommuter?
DAVID PARKS, PALM BEACH GARDENS