PAA’s new weekly “Parent Voices Weekly Education Fax” to Congress

Yesterday PAA launched our new weekly education update for legislators and anyone else who should be hearing more about education issues from the parents’ point of view. Our fax went to all the members of the U. S. House and Senate education committees. We will post them every week on our blog and link to that in our newsletter. We hope that you will also send these as faxes, e-mails, or snail mails to your Congresspersons and other elected officials.

Each week, the fax will focus on one major news story about an education issue of concern to PAA, and will conclude with PAA’s position on the subject. Here’s what our first fax said:

More charter school problems revealed

 The story: How charter schools get students they want.

A 2/15/13 report by Stephanie Simon of the Reuters news agency details the various ways that charter schools “aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.” Reuters also found that “Thousands of charter schools don’t provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty. Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing ‘volunteer’ work for the school or risk losing their child’s seat.” (Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/c2lh57r)

PAA’s position:PAA opposes efforts to privatize public education through the expansion of charters, vouchers or other privately-run programs at the expense of regular public schools. In prior communications with the education committees, PAA has shared our concern that charter schools choose their students, not the other way around. And yet, despite this “skimming” process, the most authoritative studies show that charter schools overall are no better, and many are worse, than traditional schools. Policies which encourage the rapid proliferation of charter schools could be harmful to students and communities.

PAA’s recommendations:

  • We believe in improving the schools we have, rather than shutting school down in order to expand charter schools.
  • All charter schools should have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school.
  • Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.
  • Charter schools should not require fees, charge financial penalties, or otherwise create a financial barrier for students to be in school.
  • Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable in reporting their spending, enrollment, discipline, and transfer and attrition rates, and be prevented from discriminating against special needs, homeless or low-income students, children of color or English-language learners, or any other protected class.

For more detail on PAA’s position on charter schools, please see http://tinyurl.com/bczrjqa

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