Juneau can't afford charter Montessori

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Juneau Board of Education should not grant the sole remaining charter school charter to the Juneau Montessori School.

My reason for not supporting the petition for Juneau's sole remaining charter being sought by the Juneau Montessori is because I believe that charter schools siphon funding away from the mainstream classrooms and dilute the opportunities for mainstream students. Juneauites should remember the now defunct Phoenix Program at the high school that siphoned the creme-de-la-creme teachers and resources away from the main student body. Students who were not part of the Phoenix Program did not have access to the excellent teachers and resources of the program. Where is the level playing field?

Are the parents of the children who currently attend the existing charter school and now the parents of current Montessori school students attempting to isolate their children from mainstream classrooms and buildings because they can do a better job? I think this is tantamount to covert segregation. If the applicants truly believe they can do it better, they should continue on as a private Montessori school but not expect to take money away from the district to enlarge a program that this community cannot afford. Attempts at diversity by such programs are usually laughable and are recognized by many among minority communities as weak lip service to diversity. Separate but equal usually ends up lopsided.

Charter schools do benefit from groups of involved parents, however, those same parents could bring much to the mainstream classrooms and buildings within the district. Those same parents could become involved in mainstream building parent groups and site councils if they want to positively make change in the Juneau School District. At last count, the district was facing a $625,000 shortfall for the 2005-2006 school year. Don't let our mainstream children down by granting this charter. I urge the Juneau Board of Education to pass on this application for a charter to avoid the perception of nurturing or encouraging elitist philosophy or programs among parents who want to garner opportunity for their children to the detriment of mainstream children.

Edith McHenry


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