In today’s N.Y. Times, Douglas Harris who is a charter advocate and researcher from Tulane University, states that Betsy DeVos has easily the worst record of all the possible choices for U.S. Secretary of Education. Why is that?
LWVNM Charter School Regulation Position
Adopted by the LWVNM Board, November 12, 2016
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that every student should have access to a high quality, publicly funded education regardless of race, ethnicity, family income, or geographical location. The League believes in accountability, transparency, and equity in the use of public funds for education.
Charter schools are discretionary programs intended to fill unmet needs and/or to test innovative instructional strategies to produce quality educational outcomes. Policy makers must ensure that adequate funds are available for traditional public schools and define how charter schools fill unmet needs. Appropriate instructional and support services must be provided to meet the diverse needs of individual students in both traditional public and charter schools.
Regarding the mission of charter schools, the LWVNM believes the following:
- A charter school should not be authorized unless
its mission would serve a need the traditional schools cannot;
funds are available;
there is a demonstrated need based on student population projections.
- New Mexico should provide flexibility and supplemental funding for magnet programs and career academies within traditional public schools.
- Charter school innovations demonstrated to be effective should be disseminated to improve the traditional public education system.
- The state should establish a closure policy revoking the contract of a charter school that fails to meet minimum academic, financial, and organizational standards for two consecutive years or for two of the three most recent years.
For the sake of assuring accountability and transparency and minimizing the fiscal impact, LWVNM recommends the following:
- A charter school’s finances should be available for public scrutiny, and budget processes should be similar to those for school districts, which require the public to be provided with an opportunity for input into decision-making.
- Charter school governing council members should adhere to standards and best practices as delineated by the NM School Boards Association.
- Funding to state-chartered schools should minimize the amount allocated to for-profit management and business operations with oversight provided by state-approved auditors.
- The school funding formula should be equitable so as not to advantage charter schools over traditional public schools.
- NM should develop an effective performance-based accountability system for charter schools focused on increased proficiency, academic growth, and college/career readiness standards to ensure that charter schools demonstrate positive student outcomes. Charter schools that do not meet the established benchmarks should be put on time-limited improvement plans and not allowed to increase enrollment until they have met the benchmarks.
LWVNM believes that public funding for virtual schools should be less per student since the schools do not require brick and mortar facilities.
For more information about the League’s formal two-year comprehensive Charter School Regulation Study and how this position was determined through research and member consensus, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This position will be incorporated into LWVNM’s complete Education position available at http://lwvnm.org/positions.html#education.
Duval County has four single gender charter schools; two for boys and two for girls. Evidently, there are just not enough parents to make them viable. Total enrollment for the four schools is 349 middle and high school students. It is not enough, the schools are $333,000 in debt. Staff cuts are being made and donors are being sought.
Superintendent Vitti doubts the non-profit management company, Profectus Learning Systems, operating the schools can survive. He said that even with cuts in staff, debts are likely to grow. The schools may not be able to provide the required academic programs.
Many people like the idea of small schools. Some children simply do better with more personal attention and less distraction. Others thrive on the diversity and opportunities larger schools provide. Providing an affordable balance is difficult. Similar problems are occurring in other communities where charters and private schools siphon off students from local public schools. Soon, all schools are small and underfunded.
by Carole Hentscel
I have avoided posting all of the speculation about possible changes in education leadership and policy in the new administration. It is just plain hard on my peace of mind, especially when most of it will not happen. I firmly believe that the real changes will be through the change in leadership in the Florida legislature. As you know, I am not sanguine on those. You can see previous posts.
This morning, however, I ran across an article that helps us think more realistically about what change at the federal level would take. This Ed Week article reviews legislation that would have to be amended to redirect funding. It also points toward a likely push for school choice funding in the Congress. It is worth a read.
Subtle and direct violations of law have been documented in charter admissions policies. Empty seats are supposed to be filled by lottery. Yet, which student applications make it into the lottery is frequently questioned. For example, some parents and/or students are required to submit essays. Or, parents may be required to certify they will contribute a certain number of hours or donate money to cover school fees. If all else fails, charters may counsel parents that their child may not fit ‘the mission of the school’ and practice constant suspension for trivial offenses to discourage unwanted children.
In this article released by the ACLU in California, and reported by Education Justice, an expose of wide spread civil rights violations is reported.
A five year study (2011-2016) of federal startup charters in Florida, conducted by the Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services (CAPES) at the University of Florida, makes one wonder why Florida was given so much more federal money this year to launch new charter schools.
It may be a bitter pill for the federal government to swallow, but this study reinforces the NAACP’s decision to call for a moratorium on the expansion of charters.