Saturday, December 12, 2015

Boomtown Rats

The lead in this story is my daughter's school. She doesn't attend the high school in the former GlaxoSmithKline building, though. She attends a Renaissance School in our neighborhood - formerly our local public elementary school, now run by String Theory as a Charter School.

To be fair, I love the educational program offered by String Theory, and so does my daughter. She has ballet, creative writing, vocal and instrumental instruction (violin), art, a science lab, and French instruction as "specials", part of an extended day schedule. Or, she had French until last week. Last week one of the two French teachers moved out of town and resigned. It was announced she would not be replaced and instead the students in my daughter's French class would double up on science lab. Other classes will double up on one of the other specials to fill the empty hour per week.

I can't help but think that if they weren't paying nearly four thousand dollars per student on the rent, (vs. about $800 dollars per student for the School District) they could afford to hire a new French teacher.

My youngest is starting kindergarten next year, and he'll most likely attend String Theory with his big sister. But I'd prefer to not be on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop, as "special" after "special" goes away as more and more operating dollars go to pay off an ill-advised facility purchase instead of going towards what should be the primary goal of any school: educating students.

I've always felt, even though my daughter is attending one, that charter schools are a scam intended to funnel public dollars in to private pockets. I think the folks that run String Theory really do have the best interests of the student's at heart, but they've been caught up in the cash grab consultancy surrounding the charter boom. Like every boom, the charter movement is on the cusp of a bust and it looks like my kids will be collateral damage.

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