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Charter Schools: Taxation Without Representation?

We have detailed a number of concerns with charter schools in the FAQ we published last week. However, we believe it is important to continue to dive into this important topic.

Did you know that if HB 634 passes, your local school board and fellow taxpayers will have no say whether a charter school can open within your community? That's because charter schools are governed by a private entity and district tax dollars pay for the education of the students who attend the charter school. All of this happens without any oversight by a locally-elected board. 

If taxpayers have no say whether a charter school can open and has no way to hold the charter school accountable once they are open, yet the school operates using public funds, that’s taxation without representation. 

If you believe this is wrong, please consider taking one of the following actions: 

1. Contact your local state legislators and urge them to oppose HB 634. You can access their contact information by clicking here and entering your address. 

2. E-mail your friends and family and let them know about HB 634 and what charter school expansion would mean. Click here for a sample letter that you are free to use as a template. 

3. Share information with your networks on social media. 

4. Write a letter to the editor in your local paper.

5. Urge your local school board to pass a resolution opposing charter school expansion.

6. Need a one-pager to share with your friends, family and colleagues? We've got you covered here

If you are just getting to know about charter schools, we have detailed some background information for you below: 

What are charter schools? Charter schools are classified as public schools and funded by Missouri taxpayers; however, they operate more like private schools. An unelected board governs charter schools and neither local communities nor locally elected school boards have power to oversee them or hold them accountable. 

Failure: Charter schools have been in existence since 1999 in the St. Louis and Kansas City School Districts. Since that time, 21 charter schools have failed. This failure has cost state and local taxpayers more than $620 million. Compounding the problem, when a charter school fails, students are forced to enroll in another school and that school must spend additional resources to get the students up to grade-level. 

Failure Continues: According to 2016 data, of the 39 charter school operating in the state of Missouri, 11 would be deemed provisionally accredited and six would be deemed unaccredited. Four did not receive a score because they are considered too new. In total, less than half (46%) of charter schools are meeting the minimum requirements to be accredited. 

Funding: Charter schools receive the equivalent of all federal, state, and local dollars that a school district would receive for every student that they enroll. This is accomplished by withholding the total amount per student from the local school district in which the charter school is operating. 

Draining funds: Local communities do not have a say in whether a charter school can open in their school district, therefore, taxpayers are not allowed to determine if the school is even needed in the community. As more charter schools open, expenditures increase across the community in the form of administrative and operating costs. This means less money is going into the classroom to serve students. 

Oversight: Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are not regulated by the State Board of Education. In fact, the State Board of Education is not allowed to accredit or close failing charter schools. Instead, charter schools are regulated by their sponsoring entity. In Missouri, the entities that sponsor charter schools are typically colleges, universities and the Missouri Charter School Commission. 

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