Sometimes a charter school isn’t just a charter school. Sometimes it’s part of a war.
At least that seems to be the mindset of some of the folks behind the Seven Oaks Classical School, which would open next fall in Bloomington. The Indiana Charter School Board will conduct a public hearing on the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Monroe County Public Library.
Seven Oaks organizers are working closely with the Barney Charter School Initiative at Hillsdale College, according to the school’s application. As retired educator Janet Stake points out in a letter to the charter school board, the Barney Initiative casts charter schools as a tactic in a battle to overturn “100 years of progressivism” that has “corrupted” America’s classical approach to education.
“The public school is arguably among the most important battlegrounds in our war to reclaim our country from forces that have drawn so many away from first principles,” the initiative says in its statement of philosophy.
Of course, Seven Oaks Classical School, if it succeeds, will pull funds from Monroe County and Richland-Bean Blossom community schools, threatening programs that serve all students. But, as parent Jenny Robinson writes on the blog of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, the issue is bigger than that:
What is our vision of Monroe County? Should our population of children be carved up into ideological segments so that we can all receive education with like-minded families who share our values, and, quite possibly, our ethnicity and socioeconomic status? I fear a vicious cycle. If a new charter means that our public schools get larger class sizes and fewer programs, more families will want to leave the public schools, and those who are left will be the ones with the fewest resources to advocate for themselves and their education.
The mission of the Indiana Charter School Board is supposed to be to create more high-quality schools for Indiana students. The board isn’t supposed to advance a political agenda. And it shouldn’t be in the business of creating schools intended to divide Hoosiers by their political beliefs.
The democratic alternative to “school choice” is “school voice.” There are school board elections Nov. 4. If people want a better education for all our children, that’s where they should focus their attention.