Kicking off this week’s legislative action, two bills from Colorado House Republicans today pertaining to education our readers should be aware of–we talked a couple of weeks ago about proposals from the right-leaning Independence Institute to “shore up” the budget, a major component of which was a new tax credit voucher-like system to shift resources away from public schools into private schools. A version of this proposal is up today as Rep. Spencer Swalm’s HB11-1048. We’ve already discussed the odd prescription of further cutting funding for public schools at a time when they already face cuts, which this bill would do, with harm disproportionate to the “relief” of moving kids out of the system–and we expect Swalm’s bill to die quickly.
Another bill we’re watching today is Rep. Don Beezley’s HB11-1055, “Concerning use of facilities by charter schools.” If you remember Beezley from the campaign trail, you’ve already gotten a taste of his strident (that’s the nice way of putting it) views on, well, just about everything. Apropos, here’s what citizen Beezley said about public education back in 2005:
We may not be socialist, but we actually have communist models within the system (public education, for example). [Pols emphasis] With indirect governement control of almost every level of our lives to varying degrees (taxes, regulations, prosecutions, various direct and indirect price controls, etc.), and ownership of significant sectors: roads; money; education; spending on defense, “quasi-fascist” seems somewhat more applicable than “capitalist…”
Now, Beezley’s “communist model” bluster is actually more relevant, irony wise, to his proposed bill than meets the eye. HB-1055 would set up a procedure where charter schools could “request” any public school facility or district-owned land, or for that manner any facility owned by a state agency, for their use, with an expedited appeal process if denied. If the request is approved, the charter school gets to use the publicly-owned facility rent free.
We’re certainly aware that rent-free agreements between school districts and charter schools to use public facilities exist, but what Beezley wants to do here is strip away local control, mandate rent-free charter schools, and create a system that charter schools (and for-profit management companies) could exploit to increase their bottom line at the public’s expense: both local school districts and the state. It’s basically a free-for-all for charter schools to raid public property, for which the public would still be responsible. And since that’s not really, surprise surprise, a very good deal, the bill also streamlines the selling off of said public property to the charter school.
To employ Beezley’s imagery: aren’t you reminded of the movie Doctor Zhivago, when the commissars arrive and declare how many families could really fit in his house? Or maybe this is more like the post-USSR tycoons dismantling the state for big profits? Either way, we don’t see such a radical proposal going anywhere, but it’s worth reminding everybody that this kind of storm-the-barricades nuttiness is exactly what Beezley said he would do with his office.