President Lincoln famously said "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
Ironically, the proposed "Lincoln Academy" intends to divide our public dollars and resources in their business venture to create their own K-12 charter school. As a parent, a school board member, and a tax payer, I am incensed.
A private group of business people has decided to subsidize their privately run charter school with our tax dollars. They claim to want to create school choice to benefit the children. They recite stories of parents desperate for other options. Our school board and district have the same goals and it is going to take collaboration - not competition - to properly serve our students. That is what this board intends to do.
When Beloit 200, a group who largely resides outside of Beloit who has only one member with children in our district, proposes to help the community, I have to ask, how is it helping all children when they want to gut the public school district of the funding necessary to solve these problems? If we ask ourselves what is best for our kids, the clear answer is to put all resources into responding to their needs with transparency, accountability, and collaboration with the community. Beloit 200's plan will leave our kids in buildings that cannot afford repair and without the necessary resources to properly serve them.
Our district collaborates with important community initiatives like the Fresh Start program. This Beloit 200 plan hurts our partners, too. Beloit 200 won't even share who is in their group. How can there be transparency? When they say they met with two board members and our Superintendent, they did so out of the public eye and without the entity that actually could decide to work on an in-district charter: the full board at a publicly noticed meeting.
This group is happy to take our public dollars but refuses to discuss their plans in a public meeting with your publicly elected school board. Remember, we are accountable to you. Beloit 200 is not technically accountable to anyone.
Surely what is not best for kids is to create a parallel school serving only some students that leaves both entities with less. Is this about creating choice for kids or about privatizing public education? Don't you deserve a voice in the management of the use of your tax dollars? A voice in your children's education?
I ask Beloit 200: If this is about choice to better education for all children, why not work within the district, keep all school funds for all children, and retain autonomy in your operations, mission, and curriculum? I am highly in favor of creating public, in district charters to better meet the needs of a diverse group of learners. School choice is important but not at the expense of resources for all children.
As a parent and a board member, I'm tired of talking about what's best for adults. What's best for kids is keeping all school funding in the public school district. There is work to do and it is ours to do together as a community.<
Megan Miller is a member of the School District of Beloit Board of Education.