xml:space="preserve">

It may be worth asking teachers in Baltimore City charter schools how they feel about Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed charter expansion legislation ("Senate panel rewrites Hogan's charter school law," March 26).

The majority of charter school teachers I know are opposed to Mr. Hogan's package. Maryland purportedly has the "most restrictive charter law" in the country — as if that's a bad thing.

Advertisement

Many of us beg to differ.

Originally, charter schools were the brainchild of American Federation of Teachers leader Albert Shanker, who saw charters as laboratories, designed and run by teachers, to serve as grounds for innovation that could be generalized to school districts.

Currently, the majority of Baltimore's 30-plus charters can be classified as "mom and pop," or grass-roots charters, started by parents, community members and teachers committed to the idea of small, local schools with specialized focuses, such as environmental studies, Montessori, arts integration, project based learning, etc.

House Bill 486/Senate Bill 595 opens the door for out-of-state charter management organizations to come in and take over existing schools — without any input from school administrators, parents or community members — and to create what are known as "conversion" schools.

The proliferation of CMOs and for-profit charters, which often receive funding from corporate foundations, creates a vision of charters that compete with district schools rather than serve as partners in collaboration.

Funneling public education money to for-profit charter operators threatens the sustainability of all schools in Baltimore City and Maryland. The privatization of public education is also a serious threat to our democracy.

Based on what we have seen happen in Chicago and in Michigan, where 80 percent of charter schools are now operated by for-profit entities, this proliferation of corporate, for-profit charters has the potential to annihilate small, innovative, grass-roots charters with fewer resources.

I was a founding teacher at one of the first grass-roots charter high schools in Chicago. Not long after I moved to Baltimore 11 years ago, I saw that school crushed. Smaller "mom and pop" charters are at a serious disadvantage when compared to CMOs with greater funding and economies of scale similar to a large district.

Kristine Sieloff, Baltimore

The writer teaches 9th-grade English at City Neighbors High School.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement