The past couple of days I have blogged about recapture funding, the tax ratification election (TRE), and charter schools – what is the solution to the funding conundrum? It goes without saying that the outdated Texas school finance laws must be addressed in the 2019 legislative session. It is also time to act on the recommendations made by the NAACP, the Network for Public Education (NPE), and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and call for an immediate M-O-R-A-T-O-R-I-U-M on charter schools.
We're currently funding a two-tiered system that is not necessary or sustainable. Charter schools are private entities that operate with public funding. (Read how recapture dollars fund charter schools). With independent school districts consistently outperforming charter schools, why do we continue to fund and expand them? We shouldn't. If it’s choice you’re looking for it should be a better choice, and after 23 years of charters in Texas they are not.
To be clear, charter expansion is not about choice. Rather it is about privatization, because public education is a $600 billion dollar a year industry.
We recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level.
Until that time, we support all legislation and regulation that will make charters better learning environments for students and more accountable to the taxpayers who fund them. Such legislation would include the following:
An immediate moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, including no replication or expansion of existing charter schools
The transformation of for-profit charters to non-profit charters
The transformation of for-profit management organizations to non-profit management organizations
All due process rights for charter students that are afforded public school students, in all matters of discipline
Required certification of all school teaching and administrative staff
Complete transparency in all expenditures and income
Requirements that student bodies reflect the demographics of the served community
Open meetings of the board of directors, posted at least 2 weeks prior on the charter’s website
Annual audits available to the public
Requirements to follow bidding laws and regulations
Requirements that all properties owned by the charter school become the property of the local public school if the charter closes
Requirements that all charter facilities meet building codes
Requirements that charters offer free or reduced priced lunch programs for students
Full compensation from the state for all expenditures incurred when a student leaves the public school to attend a charter
Authorization, oversight and renewal of charters transferred to the local district in which they are located
A rejection of all ALEC legislation regarding charter schools that advocates for less transparency, less accountability, and the removal of requirements for teacher certification.