Several recent stories are highlighting the fall in support for charter schools in the USA.
Most significant is the call at the 2016 national convention of the leading civil rights group, the NAACP, for a moratorium on charter school expansion.
The resolution called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools at least until such time as:
(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools
(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system
(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and
(4) Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.
But following the November 2016 Presidential election, the NAACP was concerned that Trump’s agenda to expand the privatization of public education would put the promise of a quality education for all at risk. The Board of Directors then expanded the work of a Task Force they had created to examine charter schools to include protection of quality public education for all inner-city children and renamed it the Task Force on Quality Education.
The Task Force framed their report around five critical recommendations for regulating charter schools and strengthening the public education system.
- More equitable and adequate funding for all schools serving students of color
- School finance reform is needed.
- Invest in low-performing schools and schools with significant opportunity to close the achievement gap.
- Mandate a rigorous authoring and renewal process for charters
- Eliminate for-profit charter schools
Other key findings of the Task Force are worth highlighting:
“Charter schools were created with more flexibility because they were expected to innovate and infuse new ideas and creativity into the traditional public school system. However, this aspect of the promise never materialized.”
“Charter schools are publicly funded, but they are privately operated under a written contract (or charter) with a state, school district or other authorizers depending on the state.”
“With the expansion of charter schools and their concentration in low-income communities, concerns have been raised within the African American community about the quality, accessibility and accountability of some charters, as well as their broader effects on the funding and management of school districts that serve most students of color.”
“For some, charter schools provide the answer to persistently failing traditional public schools in their community. To others, charter schools drain their community of limited resources and harm their children because many cannot attend the charter schools in their own neighborhood.”
“There were pros and cons on charters versus traditional schools in every hearing. The Task Force heard testimony that accused charter schools of “cherry-picking” students, counseling out the difficult students, manipulating funds related to average daily attendance once students were no longer in attendance, and re-segregating the public school system. Conversely, charter school advocates criticized the traditional school system for its poor record in educating students.”
“In every hearing, many people agreed that the current education system fails too many children because of the lack of investment in people, policies and programs that support high quality educational opportunities.”
“Furthermore, while high quality, accountable and accessible charters can contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education in the communities that serve our children.”
~ Bill Courtney, SOSNZ
Source: NAACP Task Force on Quality Education Hearing Report, July 2017.