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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: North Bay / Marin | Education & Student Activism
Community opposes proposed West Marin charter school
Walmart backed proposed charter school faces widespread opposition
DURING the Trojan War, King Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to appease the goddess Artemis and get wind for his ships. He literally sacrificed everything for his victory. His wife killed him when he returned home with his lover.
Turning our beloved Waldorf program into a charter school would also sacrifice everything for victory. It would drain money from the district, duplicate administrative costs, reduce funding for our own Waldorf students, and undermine the Waldorf curriculum.
The charter school's spokesman wants us to believe that going charter would be a "win/win" for everyone in the district ("A charter school in Lagunitas?," Marin IJ, April 27). But that claim is disputed by the facts in their own petition — and the school district's own May 8 initial analysis.
If going charter is such a good idea why weren't we Waldorf parents given an opportunity to read, discuss and debate the merits of the 225-page charter petition before we were pushed to sign it a mere four days before it was delivered to the district?
A few of us refused the strong arm tactics, fearmongering, and the complete lack of democracy and transparency.
We should be concerned that not only does the charter drop the word "Waldorf" from the school name but it almost entirely drops the Waldorf method as well.
Class sizes will increase as much as 48 percent. New teachers will not have to be certified in Waldorf and will receive no support to get training. Teachers and staff would also be stripped of all seniority and collective bargaining rights.
Beginning in the second grade, students will be required to spend months prepping for and taking standardized tests that are incompatible with Waldorf methods. If test scores are too low the school would be shut down.
The charter does not plan to provide subsidized lunches for low income students, will not offer tutoring, has no plan to promote racial and ethnic diversity, and has a flawed plan to provide special education.
Surprisingly, although the charter would spend more on a duplicated and wasteful administrator, secretary, lawyers and consultants — 19 percent of the budget — than on all the instructional aides combined the district warns that it may not even be enough.
To top it off, the charter would demand an annual $1,300 tuition for each student under the guise of a "donation." Because such "donations" would comprise 15 percent of the budget we parents will face more pressure to pay or leave.
The charter would drain money, facilities and resources from the rest of the district, forcing more layoffs. This would pay for a 40 percent increase in charter enrollment driven by out-of-district transfer students who would come with at least $2,000 less money than currently spent on resident students.
The larger the enrollment, the more money squeezed out of the rest of the district. In total, the charter is demanding the district give it at least $464,000 more money in its first three years than it now spends on the Waldorf program.
Contrary to the charter petitioners' claims, there is no savings. There are only huge costs.
According to its budget, if it doesn't get the money it demands, the charter would slash half of the Waldorf instructional aides. Cutting half the curriculum would undermine its claim to provide a quality Waldorf education to our children.
To add insult to injury, the charter would use taxpayer money to pay its membership fee for the Walmart-funded charter school lobbyist group that works to privatize our public schools. It would also continue paying a law firm that works with these lobbyists to sue districts that stand up to charter school demands.
We already have a public Waldorf school. We don't need a charter school.
Robert Ovetz is a Lagunitas Waldorf Inspired Program parent, member of Concerned Citizens for Public Education and a social sciences instructor at College of Marin. He blogs at Lagunitas School District Watch.