Letter: Brains Or Looks?

Would you rather have your child graduate with high scores — perhaps the best in the state for no money — or graduate from a pretty, nice-looking school?

That’s what it seems to be about when you look at the staggering way a number one charter school, with some of the highest scores in the state, is being treated.

Charter schools are technically a “public” school that does not get full funding, but they can have different curriculums, and this is what seems to be working. For example, the Western Academy Charter School does not receive funding for a school nurse, crossing guards or money for bus transportation. However, they have a before and after care program as well as a holiday program.

Charter schools have to take in any child (disabled, remedial, problematic or regular) the public school system sends their way. However, this is where it gets really good!

This Western Academy Charter School produces amazing results, while including music, an indoor gym and top-notch smart boards and scientific lab experiences and environment.

For 2017-18 EOC testing (Level 3+), first-time test-takers for algebra 1 and geometry were 100 percent, Palm Beach County School scores were 64 percent and 57 percent. The Florida state level was 63 percent and 57 percent.

State civics in seventh grade, where it is mandatory, received 99 percent, whereas Palm Beach County received 72 percent and the state received 71 percent.

Western Academy Charter School’s ELA results for grades 3, 4 and 5 were, 77, 73 and 77 percent. Math were 80, 84 and 81 percent. The county’s ELA and math for the same grades were 56/63, 58/63 and 59/66 percent; with the state being 57/62, 56/62 and 55/61 percent for the same categories.

The test scores for charter schools say a lot. So why aren’t the public schools following the same curriculum? Is it because they have to pay for it like the charter school does? Remember when we passed the penny tax? Palm Beach County schools will receive $2.7 billion over the next 10 years. Palm Beach County has 300 people a day moving into our county, so property tax revenues are up.

Plus, they received $88 million for the school “safety” guards, which does not force them into hiring a police officer. They do not need any more money. Charter school enrollment has grown by almost 200 percent over the last decade. The data contained in the report “Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools” is based on more than 4.3 million test scores, and shows perhaps why parents are moving toward charter schools.

Granted, not all the schools look as nice as some of the others. However, most parents will choose quality education as a priority over attending a pretty school. We all want our children to excel and succeed in life. After all, the children are our future leaders.

The school board is now trying to tax the taxpayers once more, and this tax money will not go toward charter schools. They haven’t explained what they are doing with the current influx of money, and, in fact, have stated that they will be passing another tax in four more years. This is not a temporary tax at all, and the school board will continue to add more taxes, under some disguise (teacher pay, supplies, etc.) until the taxpayers vote them out or say no to new taxes.

This is one taxpayer who will be voting no to any new tax and would like to see where our taxpayer dollars are going. There has got to be some accountability for our money when the schools are not producing exemplary results.

Laurel Bennett, Royal Palm Beach

Editor’s note: Ms. Bennett is a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives in District 86.