Thursday, September 15, 2016

Charter Schools & The EPISD Bond

I'll get more into a rant about charter schools and why they are bad for public education and tax payers in a later post, but for now watch this video if you haven't seen it already.

Here's the bottom line that I think is important for people to understand about the EPISD Bond. The very same people that are trying to pave the way for more charter schools into El Paso are the same people behind the bond. That should at the very least, be cause for concern.

CREEED, which is an education PAC that is a love child of Texas for Education Reform, essentially the same people behind Texans for Lawsuit Reform, put a bunch of money behind candidates in the last round of school board elections at both EPISD and YISD.

Their candidates at EPISD all won, their candidates at YISD all lost.

And now EPISD has a bond going out to voters. Board President Dori Fenenbock has taken a position of participating in the PAC, which isn't something that has normally been done in the past, was a CREEED candidate.

There have been some blog posts and news stories about teachers' union support of the bond being conditional on a few things, one of which was the prohibition of charter schools going into the empty buildings that would be a consequence of school consolidation.

That defeats the purpose of the bond to begin with because central to the argument in favor of the bond is the fact that EPISD is shrinking in population. Regardless of whether or not you think charter schools are a good thing, one thing for sure is that they take students away from public schools. And less students means less money, which therefore increases the costs on tax payers.

Charter schools like to go into existing structures so that their budget isn't eaten up in construction. So rather than a former nightclub, zumba palace, or generic office suite in a strip mall, what could be more ideal than an existing empty school?

Hell Zavala Elementary could become Zavala Charter School over night. Hell the surrounding communities of the closed down schools would probably then turn around and WELCOME a charter school to open in the old facilities. Frankly, that would be a brilliant move.

The district really hasn't ruled that out as a possibility either because the only thing in writing in terms of assurances against charter schools weaseling their way in to old buildings is a resolution. For those of you that don't know, A RESOLUTION DOESN'T MEAN SHIT.

Its non-binding and almost always ceremonial. It doesn't have the power of policy. Its just flowery language no on reads all the way through but the person getting one.

The bottom line is simple, there is nothing legally preventing charter schools from occupying real estate in ideally located spots left vacant by a bond passed with the support of the PAC that wanted more charter schools in El Paso.

Thus Woody Hunts guy, Mark Smith, being involved in the bond at the behest of ...EPISD School Board President Dori Fenenbock.

Don't just blindly follow the "for the kids" argument. Ask questions.

And vote accordingly.

UPDATE: Let me make a correction here. I was told that the resolution contains language called a Contract With The Voters that allegedly is legally binding. Meaning after the fact, theoretically the district could be sued if they don't keep their word on the bond. So the district, which has legal staff would have to fight a lawsuit from Joe Citizen, who likely doesn't have a legal team and a huge budget to fight in court. Doesn't make me feel any better, but in the interest of being accurate, I wanted to correct what I erroneously said earlier in the event that this new information gives any of you a warm and fuzzy. 

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