The U.S. House is currently debating H.R.10, a potentially important Charter school bill. Previously I wrote:
I am not of the ilk that charters are all bad news (See all of Cloaking Inequity’s post on charter schools here). As I have mentioned previously, I am a charter school parent, currently serve on a charter school board, and was an instructor at an Aspire charter school. I realize that I have prominent friends and allies that are 100% anti-charter. I am okay with those feelings because I have serious concerns with equity in the charter movement.
In honor of National Charter School Week, the U.S. House has taken up H.R. 10: Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act. Today I received via email NEA’s statement on H.R. 10.
May 8, 2014
On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), and the students they serve, we offer our views on select amendments to the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10) scheduled for votes Friday. While the underlying bill includes some improvements to existing law, it falls short of what is needed to ensure greater accountability and transparency. Votes associated with amendments to H.R. 10 may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.
NEA supports high-quality charter schools that operate in a manner that is transparent and accountable to parents and taxpayers; ensures equity and access; and solicits and benefits from input from parents, educators, and the communities they serve. We caution, however, that charter schools are not a panacea for solving all education challenges.
Some provisions of the underlying bill represent improvements, such as requiring greater charter authorizer accountability, and including weighted lotteries to address under-enrollment of disadvantaged students. However, the underlying bill falls short in key areas: including no mandatory disclosure and reporting on key data including funding from private sources, no independent audit requirements, no open meetings requirements and no conflict of interest guidelines. Please refer to NEA’s full letter on the underlying bill for more details.
NEA’s views on specific amendments are listed below.
The following are amendments strongly supported by NEA:
- #3 by Rep. Castor – Requires the Secretary of Education to develop and enforce conflict of interest guidelines for all charter schools receiving federal assistance. Guidelines must include disclosures from anyone affiliated with the charter school that has a financial interest in the school.
- #4 by Rep. Moore – This amendment would establish a two percent set-aside of funds to assist with state oversight of their charter schools, and ensure disclosure of private sources of funding in audits.
- #7 by Reps. Grayson / Clarke / Wilson – This amendment ensures that an application by a state entity to receive grants through the Charter School Program contains an assurance that charter schools will also measure student retention rates in their annual performance assessments – as well as graduation rates and student academic growth, as currently required by this bill.
- #8 by Rep. Jackson Lee – This amendment ensures that charter schools make certain information publicly available on their website including student recruitment, enrollment criteria, student discipline policies, behavior codes, and any parent contract requirements or financial obligations.
- #9 by Reps. Wilson / R. Davis / Duckworth / Grayson / McKinley / Fudge – This amendment will ensure collection and public dissemination of information that will help parents make informed decisions about education options for their children, including disaggregated data on student outcomes, suspensions, and expulsions.
- #12 by Rep. Loretta Sanchez. – This amendment requires states to report how they have worked with their charter schools to foster community involvement.
NEA is also supportive of these amendments to H.R. 10:
- #5 by Reps. Bass / Marino / McDermott / Bachmann – This amendment ensures there are no unnecessary barriers for foster youth in charter school enrollment and ensures the inclusion and retention of all students no matter the involvement or lack of involvement of parents.
- # 10 by Reps. Langevin / G. Thompson – This amendment would add comprehensive career counseling to the criteria that the Secretary of Education will take into account when prioritizing grants to school districts.
- #11 by Rep. Bonamici – This amendment would clarify the reporting requirements of State entities to include the sharing of best practices by charters and traditional public schools.
We thank you for your consideration of our views on these select amendments and urge your support for them.
Director, Government Relations
I have written extensively on charters here at Cloaking Inequity. I believe the amendments deal with many of the issues that charters have with access and equity noted in the empirical literature.
What do you think? If you agree with the NEA.. email, tweet, call your congressperson ASAP.
p.s. NEA didn’t ask me to do this, I do it of my own volition.
UPDATE 4/8/2014: Sadly my “progressive” credentials were just revoked. Because I posted this post in the Progressive Education Coalition Facebook group. Richard Sugarman, author of The Frustrated Teacher website, told me to “take my charter lovin” elsewhere. huh?! Does that mean I am officially a conservative now? 🙂
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