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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
May 2, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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May 2, 2018

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,| m !i,A6 Wednesday, May 2, 2018 VIEW GREGCRUEY" : /,Let's i ' i West Virginia remains a state withoht charter sch is '- though came the first state to allow publicly funded charter schools in1991 i: [state lawmakers again considered passing legislati !traauthofize and California was second a year later. Within seven years of Cali- them here before the legislative session ended at midnight March fornia bringing publicly funding charter schoo!s into the largest ed- ',' 10. ucational "market" in America, !4 of the U.S. s 15 most populous than a tool for undermining it. When charter schools get created in a school district, resources and students are drained away from the existing public schools. Veteran teachers and service personnel - cooks, custodians, bus drivers and others - lose their jobs. The i This is a good thing, i!i'/ states had laws allowing publicly funded charter school, charter school hires inexperienced novices at lower salaries than t i: When the idea of publicly funded charter schools Wa arst float- We are now 27 years into the charter school era and just six states they would have had to pay the veteran teachers and then often out- ed in education circles in the 1970s and '80s it waslMdel3/'sgen as have managed to resist the lobbying efforts and political will of sources the duties of service personnel. having at least the potential togreatly improve pul education. In the companies that promote these institutions: Montana, Nebraska, Union membership among charter school employees is dis- 1988, even Albert Shanker, president of the Ame!]lcan Federation North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. What couraged; while about 70 percent of public school teachers are of Teachers, enthusiastically endorsed the potential of the .charter makes those states special? They are all small, rural markets. The union members, only 12 percent of charter schools are unionized. ,school movement it was conceived of at the ti e. Unfortunate- 35 most populous states have publicly funded charter schools. Only It seems clear that in the last 30 years, charter schools have gone , qy, charter schoqls never lived up to their promise,Today they have nine of the 15 least populous states have them. Market. from being endorsed by teachers unions to being an anti-labor tool li orne aS rnuqh a tooifor undermining public educ on as they In a world that judges public schools based on data charts and for busting those unions. anything else. disaggregated statistics, the sticcess of charter schools is measured Charter schools were once seen as a platform for experiment- "Cla;mer sch( ois are independently operated pui)lie*schools that, and promoted with hype and anecdotal evidence. We hear stories of ing with innovation that might bring new life to all public schools. , .l ve the freed m to design classrooms that rn eir students their amazing achievements. The stories are (usually) true- but just Today it has become simple competition - private schools that use ' '~' CC " " needs, a ording 'to the National Alliance for Public Charter for that one school, one out of 20 or 25 . Hype aside, the real picture public money to turn the community's kids into corporate profit. Schools' web ite. That sounds almost altruistic -ilike the very tea- is that in stage after state, charter school performance is below the Weakening unions works to' quiet the voice of opposition to them son for the exfistence of charter schools is, well, the needs of stu- state average, and success happens at charter schools where there and makes it easier for them to acquire the workforce they need. dents. That's hisleading. is less diversity and the percentage of special education students is Weakening tree public schools makes easier for them to expand Publicly ded charter school exist for a sin on: to make lower than in the surrounding public schools, their business and grow their market share. profit for tli private charter school company nsors them. When public schools don't do well, the district and the state often At its root, the problem with charter schools has become one They are public schools only in the sense that - take public send in consultants and school improvement specialists in small of individual social responsibility. Charter schools have become a money, hordes to examine every aspect of a school's culture and practice, way for families to separate their children from the problems of the While the details of the law varies in the 44 s-tat s with charter When charter schools don't do well, the nature of their problems are masked by their own lack of transparency and accountability. Since the barent company measures success in terms of profitabil- lty, academic achievement only matters to the extent that it affects community around them: private school at the public's expense. We speak of"school choice." It's a selfish choice that in West V'lr- mrtia would drive a wedge between the haves and the have nots in our communities, increasing inequalities in our society and making schools, they generally am not managed by or ccountable to the local school district whose money they sioho -away. And while true public schools take school district moneX spend every penny of it to provide educational services, schools skim the gchool's profit margin public schools suffer. away a percentage of those funds to send ag profit to their A ,d when charter schools do succeed, their methods usually There are initiatives we could embrace that would improve our parent company - sometimes at the expense 9f viding needed can t be generalized to other charter schools for precisely the same educational system. Charter schools am not one of those initia- services. If the school isn't profitable enougi,it closes (like any reason: lack of sparency means no one else knows how they fives. business) - keeping the school system's money anddeaving the stu- did it,:: - Greg Cruey is a middle school social studies teacher in Me- dents behind. Despiie, e!:" tential charter schools once seemed to hold for Dowell County. He is the moderator for the Badass Teachers As- Charter school companies view states as Minnesota be- . improving public education, today they have become little more sociations West Virginia Facebookpage JAMIE GREGORY ": ': ,:, SO ch wrong Now that the State Elections Committee cle that came out in the Spirit of Jefferson. - has unanimously ruled against them in their----Lowry quotes the article as follows: "Hefes- effort to derail Republican Jane Tabb from tay has been endorsed by the commission's a third term on the Jefferson County Com- three newest members who are all affiliated mission, I am sure that Jack Hefestay and with the county GOP tea party movement the rest of the Jefferson County Republican and are, like Hefestay, backed by the West Executive Committee would like this inci- Virginia Liberty Political Action Commit- dent to go away. However, it seems ,ii! ,! ,afar-right Republican organization that noteworthy enough to have. caught the ce: :i m, both Democrats and Republicans of the online national news sites such as I .S, don t agree with its anti-tax, an, t,i-Com- News and World Report and Ballot ACceSs fF/on Core, pro-gun rights message. News. iHere is the charge as stated in the com- Tabb is being opposed by Hefestay, a fel- low Republican. The Jefferson County Re- publican Executive Committee filed a conl- plaint to the State Elections Commission in Charleston. In a letter dated March 28, the committee accused Tabb of "several poten- plaint: "Instead of pointing out the Spirit's e oneous association of her Republican Party with the tea party and Liberty PAC, Mrs. Tabb [is] quoted later in the article that she maintains that she is staying in the Re- publican Party to send a message, 'in my tial violations of the Code of Fair Campai opinion, I'm bringing people closer to the Practices." Republican Party. I've had people tell me The Jefferson County Republican Exect -f5 i they switched parties to support me.'" rive Committee meets on the second Satur- In essence, she was accused of not re- day of each month and is open to any reg- sponding to an article that she didn't read istered Republican. Tabb has attended some until it came out in a newspaper and pos- of the meetings in the past and was in at- sibly damaging other Republicans and the tendance on March 10 when the committeev' ll?ublican Party. Does the Jefferson Coun- voted to file a complaint against her. " ty Republican Executive Committee under- Hefestay recused himself from the votqj that by accusing Tabb this way they and members Elliot Simon and Jill Upson could certainly be accused of damaging a were absent, but Keith Lowry, Melodic fellow Republican candidate and the Re- Williams, Anne Dungan, Jean Jacobs, Rob- publican Party? ert Smith, Regina Smith, Gigi Pederson and Tabb and Hefestay voluntarily signed the Peter Smith all voted unanimously to file i of Fair Campaign Practices. It is this the complaint. 6bdd that Jane Tabb was accused of break- The complaint letter, written by Lowry, ing, not an "ethics violation" as Hefestay has the chair of the Jefferson County Republi- said on the campaign trail. The hearing took can Executive Committee, included quotes place on April 24 and was streamed live by from Tabb in which she told the Herald- the Secretary of State's Office on YouTube. Mail that the 3-2 votes by the newest Re- The State Election Commission came to the publican members of the Jefferson County conclusion by a unanimous vote that Tabb Commission have "made me more deter- did not violate the Code of Fair Ethics Prac- mined to secure another term to be a voice flees. of rational, thoughtful discussion and deci- Back on March 10, the county's Republi- sion-making', and that"as a lifelong Repub- can Executive Committee had a second vote lican, I consider myself a moderate. I view - taking steps to ask the Secretary of State local decisions through the prism of local to remove the Spirit as the official "paper impacts on citizens, short and long term." of record" for Jefferson County. The coun- I assume these statements in the complaint ty government, by law, must place legal ad- were meant to discredit Tabb but they could certainly be viewed in a positive light. The letter then says the following: "On January 13th, a local Democrat activist : stated in a Facebook post that Democrats should switch their party affiliation for the vertising such as posting some government jobs, notices of public hearings and the like. All across the state, the "paper of record" in each county is authorized to do that. Why does the Jefferson County Republican Ex- ecutive Committee want to change Jeffer- primaries to Independent to support the Re- son: nnty's paper of record to a paper in publican Candidate, Jane Tabb, because we Berkeley County when the Spirit has been do not need another hate mongering com, doing this job quite well for many, m.any missioner in office Instead of han ng the Could it be because of the Spirit s comment as required by the Code of Fair watchdog role in covering county govern- Campaign Practices that she signed on Jan- ment? Like the Tabb accusations, this re- uary 8, Mrs. Tabb 'liked' the comment and quest prompts questions about the Republi- posted a comment thanking the writer for can Executive Committee's motives. the support." That was the first charge, i JAMIE GREGORY The second charge was related to an at- : Charles Town We must aim for transparency Seventy-two percent of all taxes collected in Jef- with the notation, "Documentation concerning ferson County last year went to Jefferson County these items has been provided to all board mem- Schools. You should not have to be an accountant bers and the public in advance to assure an ex- to understand how your money is being spent. You tensive and thorough review." Good luck find- should not be in position to play catch us if you ing anything provided to the public in advance. It can in trying to follow the maze of board agenda does not exist on the JCS website. I did not see itetns related to spending. Specific information is any mention of it in the local newspapers, nor did not provided on the front end or on the backend, I stumble upon it on Aisle 3 at the Food Lion in after the Board has acted. In some instances, they Shepherdstown. say you can view what they have done only if you Stop me if you have heard this one before. As a come to the board office to get a copy. In other in- candidate for the Jefferson County Board of Edu- stances, they bury the information on the Jefferson cation, I promise transparency. "Yeah, right," you County Schools' website, might say. Here is how I would do it: If the public And yet there doesn't seem to be a problem with has not been provided the information in advance sharing photos of board members recognizing stu- "to assure an extensive and thorough review," I dents, signing up business partners, or even stand- would vote against board consideration at that ing in an empty field taking a victory lap for a land rime and state for the record why. I would hope deal that is a decade overdue. This is a public rela- that the other board members would remember tions plan, not a plan to use 21st century best prac- their vow of transparency and would do the same. rices to engage the community in meaningful con- If not, their contact information is public and you versations about Jefferson County Schools. should reach out to them to encourage them to A recent board agenda item ("Action on approv- keep their promise of transparency. al of Budget Supplements and Transfers") came JIM WATKINS Shepherdstown Sudduth a strong choice for school board The coming primary election will prove to be a sues facing our school system since 2006. crucial one for Jefferson County Schools. There are Although we have not always agreed on some eight candidates for three open seats. I have little specific cases, I am confident that he thorough- doubt that most of the candidates have the best in- ly understands both the strengths and weakness terest of the school system in mind and would do a of our JCS. Scott is also willing to listen to oppos- credible job if elected, ing views and, in my opinion, give them an honest I know and have talked with most of those nan- evaluation. His background in higher education has ning and am familiar with their backgrounds and po- brought a different perspective to board discussions. sitions on educational issues. As a result, I am en- His political skills are vital in dealing with the vail- dorsing Scott Sudduth from Shepherdstown District ous governmental entities that the board must deal for another term on the board. As a former member with helps to open doors which othenvise might be of the Jefferson County Board of Education and in- closed to us. I would urge each of you to consider terim Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, I Scott on Tuesday, May 8. have known and worked closely with Scott on the is- ALAN STURM Shepherds'town Skinner, Ogden, Sudduth are experienced The May 8 primary election will set up the frame- competitive and sometimes dominant (shoutout to work for the general election in November, but for Mr. Smith). Kathy, Laurie and Scott work hard, school board, this is it. The winners of this election which is most evident when you attend or watch will face many challenges such as teacher recruit- one of their board meetings. They prepare, they ment and retention, construction of new schools, do research and they talk with those with a stake and the next levy referendum. I will be supporting in any issue so that they can make the best deci- the incumbents Kathy Skinner, Laurie Ogden and sions possible. Scott Sudduth because they have the proven experi- These candidates are also courageous. Kathy, ence and the wisdom to face these challenges. Laurie and Scott stood by the teachers and service These three have recruited a dynamic school su- personnel during their work stoppage, despite the perintendent who has become one of the most re- threats of legal action contained in the many nega- spected in our state. They have successfully com- five emails and Facebook messages they received. pleted the difficult task of student redistricting and As the parent of three children, one of whom re- have continued to successfully advocate for the cently graduated from Washington High School, need of the levy to preserve education in the arts one of whom goes to WHS and the last of whom and music, plus supplemental teacher pay. attends Charles Town Middle School, I strong- Jefferson County was recently named the ly support the three incumbents for re-election to top school system in the state. Both of our high the Jefferson County Board of Education. Vote schools rank in the Top Ten. Our music depart- for Kathy Skinner, Laurie Ogden and Scott Sud- ments are second to none (shout out to Mr. Lynch duth! and Mr. Showen). Our athletic teams are always NICK ZAGLIFA Charles Town