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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student


MCCSC debates charter school proposal

Community members discussed the possibility of a new charter school in Bloomington Tuesday night.

Presentations were given at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship to help people understand charter schools and how they will affect the Monroe County Community School Corporation.

Former MCCSC school board member Valerie Merriam and IU Associate Professor and Attorney Suzanne Eckes presented information.

Charter schools are public schools with more freedom to experiment, Eckes said. In return, they are held accountable for achievement.

There are currently 71 charter schools in Indiana, and most are located in Indianapolis and Gary, Eckes said.

“They receive high praise in some states, and in some states they’ve been shut down,” Eckes said. “Some do an excellent job, and some should have been shut down yesterday.”

Eckes said according to a study, charter schools are generally more segregated than traditional public schools. This segregation is apparent in niche charter schools, which focus on a particular population of students.

Examples of niche charter schools are ones who serve special needs students or gifted and talented students, Eckes said.

Eckes also said many charter schools have a Christian emphasis.They are often accused of blurring the line between the church and state entanglement, Eckes said.

“Absolutely there are simple things that could be done to assist with improving traditional public schools and keep them (students) within the school systems,” Eckes said.

Merriam discussed the problems she saw at the Green Meadows Charter School public hearing and her discussion with Robert Marra, executive director of the Office of Charter Schools for Ball State University.

Merriam said she noticed a lack of diversity in the audience, and she said she thought the avid individuals talking about the Charter did not let the public know they were connected with it, which was misleading, she said.

“I was concerned with what I was hearing in the meeting and what I was reading,” Merriam said.

First, the proposed school location was out of city limits, which means the city bus could not reach there, and she said did not have faith in a carpool system.

Merriam said she lined up what Green Meadows Charter School proposed to do and what MCCSC already does. She said MCCSC does so much of what Green Meadows Charter School wants to do and more.

“We don’t need duplication when there’s already limited resources,” Merriam said.

The monies MCCSC will lose if another charter school comes will not only offset programs for the MCCSC children, but ultimately the students who come from the other schools and join MCCSC in middle school or high school, Merriam said.

Merriam said Green Meadows Charter School will focus on sustainability and the arts, which are focuses already in place in MCCSC.

“This would dilute or destroy some of our most successful programs,” Merriam said.

After the presentation, people in attendance were invited join MCCSC board members at tables to further discuss charter schools.

“What is so different or spectacular about this charter application?” Merriam said. “Does it really warrant the adverse effects it would have on the MCCSC curriculum?”

Follow reporter Mary Hauber on Twitter @mary_hauber.

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