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Web letter by Michael Schmid: Election results made clear public’s charter opposition

After reading a letter concerning our legislature and what they are doing to education, specifically in regard to charter schools (“Paper’s anti-voucher bias shows in reporting,” Feb. 3), I felt a need to respond.

The writer claimed the people of Indiana overwhelmingly confirmed their support for charter schools by electing the current legislature. He seems to forget that the congressional districts in Indiana have been gerrymandered to favor the Republicans. The actual popular vote in Indiana clearly demonstrated the voters’ opposition of the current educational reforms, including charter schools, by electing Glenda Ritz. She received more votes than any other person running for public office – more votes than Mike Pence received.

If the last election said anything about education reform in Indiana, it said the people of Indiana are not happy with what our officials are doing with it. And who can blame them? When you look at the overall results of charters, they are underwhelming.

In an article from an earlier edition of the paper, a teacher from one of the charters in Fort Wayne suggested that it would be a huge loss to the students in the school, which I am sure it will be, but not for the reasons she cited. One of the issues she cited was the teachers in her school did so because they love what they do. They don’t do it for a paycheck. As a teacher in a public school in the area, I take exception to this comment.

To suggest that I do this for a paycheck and that I don’t love what I do is a huge misrepresentation of me personally as well as the teachers I work with. If I worked only for a paycheck there are many things I could do that would be easier and would afford me a far greater paycheck. I do what I do because I love what I do. I look at my fellow teachers in the buildings I have worked in and I see amazing people there for the kids, not the paycheck. I could cite example after example of this.

What I have to ask is, if the teachers in the charters love it so much and aren’t there for the paycheck, why is it the turnover rate for teachers seems to be pretty high in the charters? As soon as they can get a job in a public school or even in a private school, they leave. The national turnover rate for charter schools is twice that of public schools – in some places three times as high. Losing 25 percent of their staff in a year is not unusual. It’s not surprising the results of charters are not what were promised by the charter school promoters. The teachers may be there because they love what they do, but they leave because the schools are there for the money, not the students. It’s all about the bottom line.

When I look at what our legislature has been doing, I am amazed they don’t see their mistake. Top-down micromanagement is the least effective type of management that dooms any company or organization to a stifling of creativity, growth and improvement. Our legislature needs to get out of education and let teachers teach. Just let us teach.