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Charter schools the answer to better education

'Waiting For Superman' is a movie documentary addressing the broken educational system in our public schools and what we need to do to fix or reform public education in America.

Our public schools are falling behind academically to other countries, by not preparing our students for college so America will be able to compete in the global economy.

This movie takes a hard look at and points out the many obstructions that prevent a child from succeeding in a failing public school system. 'Waiting For Superman' has helped launch a movement to achieve a real and lasting change in education. The answer to a failing public school system is 'charter schools.'

Your child's academic potential and future is determined by your neighborhood public school that your student is forced to attend. Although most elementary schools do well, students are pushed through the system, forced into a failing junior high and then fed into a failing high school. Some of these schools have been labeled dropout factories. These dropout factories damage the whole community. These kids with no diploma or skills have no vested interest or aspiration to make the community better.

Before the 1970s America was leading the world in education, and even if you were born in a bad neighborhood, public education was your ticket out of a failing community. Since 1971 the United States has doubled the amount spent on public education. But reading and math scores have flatlined.

In the past, failing schools have been blamed on the failing communities they are in. After a John Hopkins University study, the reverse has been identified, suggesting that a failing community has been blamed on the failing school system in the community. And if you have no choice and your child is forced to attend a dropout factory, the community will suffer.

Many presidents prior to George W. Bush promised to change and reform education. But in 1999, George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy banded together to improve and reform the public education system in America by creating the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB was designed to be an academic measurement in math and reading so that no child was left behind.

The resistance to reform in public education nationally has been by the National Educational Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Teachers unions in the last 20 years have contributed over $50 million to political candidates. The teachers unions have donated more money than all other unions combined, 90 percent of the money going to Democratic candidates.

Teachers unions are being blamed as a menace and impediment to school reform. Teachers unions don't want to identify differences between good and bad teachers. If your child is lucky and has a good teacher, the student will learn three times as much in a year than with a bad teacher, where the student will only learn half of the required curriculum.

At the end of the year, bad teachers are moved to other positions - this is called passing the trash, turkey trot or the lemon dance - in the hope that, somehow, they will do better. Because of collective bargaining and tenure, teachers can't be fired. Tenure guarantees bad teachers jobs. It's hard to get rid of a bad teacher.

The federal government makes rules and sends money to the states. The states make rules and send money to the schools. The schools also make rules and policy, creating mounds of red tape. School boards and superintendents are referred to as 'The Blob.' The school central offices are overly staffed and screw everything up with no accountability. Their job should be producing results from our kids.

Charter schools were created because of the antiquated dysfunctional school systems, with bad teachers, tenure, teachers unions, collective bargaining, red tape, bad school boards and superintendents with their own agenda.

Parents are struggling to find alternative choices in education for their children. Academics were determined to be a higher priority than athletics and the arts. If America is going to compete successfully in the global economy, a different approach to education is charter schools that have higher expectations, good teachers, merit pay, longer days and are on track to college. 'Waiting For Superman' will leave a lasting and powerful impression that you will want to share with your friends and family.

Charters schools in Estacada

Twice in the last five years the Estacada School District has been rated the number one dropout school in the state, and has been put on a 'Plan of Improvement' by the Oregon Department of Education.

In 2005, in my opinion, the Estacada School Board, the ESD teacher's union president, superintendent, and former high school principal, now director of the Estacada Web Academy, thwarted efforts to establish a superior autonomous charter school called the Arthur Academy in Estacada.

Several years later, the Estacada School District made a deal with educator Tim King to create the Estacada Web Academy and called it a charter school. This faux charter school has produced low test-score results and, in my opinion, seems to have very little concern for educating students in the community. Tim King's charter school was later closed and the ESD chose to continue providing services for charter school students. However, the Oregon Department of Education and the Department of Justice is investigating King, his charter school and other parties involved.

- Dora Morgan is an Estacada resident and has, in the past, petitioned the Estacada School District to establish the Arthur Academy charter school.