After the Hillsborough school board unanimously rejected a Charter Schools USA proposal to open a school on MacDill AFB, superintendent Maryellen Elia went to work on coming up with alternatives. They came up with some good one’s, but not good enough for MacDill’s base commander. From The Tampa Tribune’s Erin Kourkounis:
……Col. Scott DeThomas said the charter school still seems the best way to go for the estimated 900 students it would serve. DeThomas sees it as an alternative to traditional public schools where students would be surrounded by peers going through similar challenges — like having parent stationed overseas.
“These options were discussed in the past but never came to fruition,” he said. “I realize the school district does a really good job with their choice program and provides options for families in Tampa. But at the same time, the dynamics of being a military kid are sometimes are in disagreement with the methodology of what the school district provides.
It may be time to call Col. DeThomas on his assertions about military families and their children. If military families were howling for such “dynamics” we would have heard of it by now and we would have heard more about their desire for more base housing. We’ve heard neither. And as Elia’s new proposal gives Col. DeThomas what he wants in the expansion of a school to serve middle school kids, his continued favoritism for a charter school is puzzling. Especially when one considers the existing elementary school is an award-winning A school. One wonders what sort of “methodology” would better serve those kids.
Charter Schools USA has no special insight into military kids that the professional educators of Hillsborough schools doesn’t have, but it’s not surprise their flack plays the patriot card.
Foundation board President Ken Haiko argues that the charter application is solid and that the school board’s decision is “completely without merit.”
We are deeply committed to seeing this through to the end,” Haiko said, in a written statement. “Our military service men and women deserve our unrelenting determination to provide an educational option that makes sense for their families and we are not willing to be deterred by nonsensical political grandstanding.”
Political grandstanding? What poppycock.
Note the quote from Haiko is a written statement. Charter Schools USA doesn’t take questions from reporters, so Haiko won’t ever be taking follow-up questions. Elia say’s that CSUSA’s application “clearly doesn’t meet the law.” Haiko’s remarkable statement that the rejection is “without merit” is dangerous rhetoric. He is essentially calling one of the state’s most respected superintendents a liar on behalf of Charter Schools USA and it’s CEO Jonathan Hage.