The Royal Palm Beach Village Council has asked for input from the residents, so I’d like to take this opportunity to express my comments and concerns regarding the charter high school proposal.
First, I’d like to bring attention to the two students who spoke at the Education Advisory Board meeting. These were bright and articulate young people who spoke of their good learning and extracurricular experiences at Royal Palm Beach High School. If these are representative of those coming out of our high school, rationality would suggest that there is no need for competition. Why should we even consider a charter high school to compete with the excellent educational choices currently being offered, especially now with the introduction of the International Baccalaureate and junior ROTC programs?
My second comment concerns the survey proposed by a councilman to determine residents’ opinions about a charter high school across from our public high school. From my experience as a researcher in higher education both in New York and Chicago, I can tell you that such a survey would have absolutely no statistical validity. A valid survey requires a sample representative of the population as a whole. The Internet survey proposed by Councilman David Swift would, first of all, be skewed against those who do not own or do not use a computer. How would it protect against people responding multiple times using different addresses? And I can only guess that the percentage of people responding would be pitifully small (as demonstrated in our municipal elections).
Thirdly, rather than waste time and money on a useless survey, why not take the advice of the Education Advisory Board, whose members sit on that board because of their knowledge or expertise in educational issues? Their unanimous recommendation was to reject the charter high school.
Finally, I’d like to quote from the editorial in the March 28 edition of the Palm Beach Post. After reporting that charter school graduation rates were 36.2 percent in 2014 as compared with 84.3 percent for traditional public schools, the Post concluded that, “Does that point to ‘choice’ that Royal Palm Beach parents need, or just another potential profit center for Charter Schools USA?”
Arlene Olinsky, Royal Palm Beach