Congress does not seem to be able to agree on the proper role of the federal government in public education. They have not been able to agree on how to revise the No Child Left Behind Act, which expired in 2007. NCLB is now referred to as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), an act in search of substance.
PAA has shared our suggestions for an improved ESEA, as have many other progressive groups and individuals that support our public schools. The Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate have each passed their own versions of ESEA, with no compromise likely any time soon.
So, what’s the one thing Congress has decided it may actually do? What’s of utmost importance to our leaders right now?
Getting more money to charter schools.
Last week, the House Education Committee passed Congressman John Kline’s HR10 proposal, called “The Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act.”
Did they decide to move quickly now because people are catching on more and more every day that charter schools are mostly boondoggles that direct scarce public education dollars away from the neediest children and into the pockets of hedge funders and edu-entrepreneurs?
Is it a going-away present for retiring House Education Democratic minority leader George Miller, an original architect of NCLB and a charter cheerleader?
Or, most likely, just more kow-towing to the ongoing demands of well-funded charter school advocacy folks?
In any case, parents are not buying it.
Here’s what PAA sent to the U.S. Senate and House Education Committee members. Please copy and send it to your Senators and Congressmen, or send them this link to the document.
Parent Voices Education Fax
April 10, 2014
Parents OPPOSE HR 10,
the “Success and Opportunity Through Charter Schools” bill
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. Over the years, PAA has shared our concerns that:
- Charter schools have turned out to be no better academically overall, and many cases worse than traditional schools.
- Charter school “choice” too often lies with the charter school and not the families, as reports of skimming and push-out practices grow.
- Some franchises like Chicago’s Noble Network use regressive discipline measures, charge fees for minor infractions, and expel students at many times the district rate.
- Charter schools historically enroll fewer students with disabilities or English language learners.
- The increased proliferation of charter schools could be harmful to students and communities,and may waste scarce education dollars.
PAA OPPOSES HR10: PAA is opposed to HR10, which promotes expansion of charter schools without addressing most of the above problems, with the possible exception of the weighted lottery for special populations. At a time when so many public schools are drastically cutting their basic budgets, why would Congress provide millions more to private school management companies that have not proven they are better alternatives?
- We believe in improving the schools we have, rather than shutting schools 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 to the public.
For more detail on PAA’s position on charter schools, please see http://tinyurl.com/bczrjqa
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For more information please visit us online at www.parentsacrossamerica.org