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North Country reps need to be mindful of our needs

They may very well have had a point.

Last Friday, local teachers and parents stood outside the Glens Falls and Plattsburgh offices of New York State Sen. Elizabeth “Betty” Little to protest a pair of key issues when it comes to education funding within the state.

The first issue is easy enough: Why would anyone in the North Country care about funding for charter schools? Those who have come out in support of passing funding to the publicly paid for, but independently run, academies that, according to the state Department of Education, “create and sustain excellent educational options for New York State families on behalf of the Board of Regents through high quality charter school authorizing, fair and transparent oversight of all charter schools, and the dissemination of innovative school designs and practices.”

Sounds great, but the closest charter school for North Country students is located in Troy or Albany, a one-plus hour drive for our southern-most readers and almost three hours for those by the Canadian border.

So there are no charter schools in the district that Little represents, which makes it very easy to understand why teachers and parents are upset with Little voting in favor of bills that would shift funding away from public schools and toward charter institutions. Sen. Little, you represent a district that has no charter schools and therefore should be mindful of the needs of your constituents.

Little has been a champion for business rights within the Adirondack Park. She has brought millions in grant funding to towns in desperate need of infrastructure repairs and was on the front lines of Tropical Storm Irene relief. All these things she was praised for, but many families watching their taxes go up and their quality of education go down as teachers lose their jobs are losing their patience when they hear about the glory of charter schools they have no chance of sending their children to.

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