Diane Ravitch reports on the Southern Poverty Law Center's lawsui
t attacking a Mississippi law
that forces local school districts to give some of their local property tax money to charter schools.
Interesting. And though it is not directly relevant in Arkansas, it is perhaps closer to relevancy than it might appear.
For now, it's clear Arkansas charter schools may not tap local property taxes. Charter school advocates complain bitterly about this. The Arkansas legislature, however, has forced Arkansas school districts to turn over surplus buildings built by local tax dollars to charter schools whether they want to or not. Does this break legally from the requirement that the property tax go
only to the school district for which it was voted? That might be a stretch for old buildings long paid for, I grant you.
But what if, for example, the Walton forces succeed in a past plan to allow privatization of the entire Little Rock school district, its schools all privately operated with public money in buildings on which bonded debt is still being repaid by school district taxpayers? What if this happens in a district without democratic representation, which is currently the case in the state-run district?
For the record, the relevant portion of the Arkansas Constitution is virtually identical to the Mississippi constitutional provision the Southern Poverty Law Center is invoking.
No tax levied pursuant to subsection (c)(1) of this section shall be appropriated to any other district than that for which it is levied.
Words to think about as the charter school forces continue their attack on the Little Rock School District.
The charter schools already are harming districts by taking students, legal or not.
Charter schools across the nation are diverting funds from local district schools, whose boards have no authority over the charters, which are independent of the district.
Why should 90% of children suffer budget cuts so that 10% of the children may attend a charter school?
That is why this case might have national implications and encourage activists to fight to keep their taxes devoted to their district schools.