Bates said he is concerned charter schools and Education Savings Accounts could dominate discussion in the special session.
“Charter schools and ESAs failed in the House and now, it appears that they’re coming,” Bates said. “If we couldn’t do education reform in 60 days, how can we do this in two days, if the plan is for the special session to coincide with the May interims?”
Bates said he would rather see legislation reflecting themes he has heard from education forums, including more support services in classrooms.
“Although we are still waiting to see a final report from those forums, I’ve heard consistent themes,” Bates said. “I’ve heard about the need for social workers, counselors, wraparound student services, the desire for more flexibility, to untie teachers’ hands, and to move away from more testing to more teaching. I have not heard a rallying cry for charter schools or ESAs.”
Bates encourages more time, study, and deliberation with education reform.
“If we are going to do reform, we must take a meaningful effort to study school funding, especially in counties losing population,” Bates said. “The whole financial picture needs to be studied in great detail, especially in assisting counties that struggle to pass levies or have no or a declining property tax base. This is where work needs to be done instead of looking into charter schools and ESAs.”
“It is my humble but educated opinion we should not be here in May. ‘Betterment’ is better done in the fall or not at all,” Bates said. “Let’s not do a bad job of education ‘betterment’ just because we can’t do meaningful and needed reform. “