Tuesday, August 14, 2012

National PTA updates charter school position

 Affirms support of charter schools as one of many avenues to improve student achievement. Calls for accountability, transparency and meaningful parent engagement in authorizing, review and decision-making processes

National PTA has updated its position statement regarding charter schools.  This statement was developed in consultation with National PTA staff to make sure the association is in a strong position to help all levels of PTA be better informed and positioned to proactively address legislative and policy proposals that may surface.

Recently, Washington State PTA's board voted to oppose I-1240, an initiative that would allow up to 40 charter schools in the state. The board determined the initiative did not meet association criteria for local oversight and meaningful parent engagement. The criteria for local oversight is specific to WSPTA. (Resolution 18.9, Expenditure of Public Funds)

National PTA supports public school choice and acknowledges public charter schools as one of many avenues to improving student achievement. National PTA supports charter schools provided the authorizing bodies and schools reflect the positions and principles of National PTA in charters granted and implemented. National PTA values all PTA units within or affiliated with public charter schools.

National PTA supports legislation or policy decisions relating to charter schools that meet the following conditions:
Charter Authorizing Bodies must:
  • Meet the highest level of accountability;
  • Ensure transparent charter application, review, and decision-making processes;
  • Meaningfully engage parents (any adult who has primary responsibility for the education and welfare of a child) in transparent authorizing, review, and decision-making processes, including the involvement of at least one parent on each charter school board;
  • Engage in ongoing, comprehensive charter school data collection and evaluation processes, and make that information available to the public in a manner that complies with applicable state and federal laws; and
  • Require performance-based charter contracts.

Public Charter Schools must:
  • Be open to all students and free of both tuition charges and fees that exceed state or federal laws;
  • Be supported by specifically allocated public funds in amounts that do not exceed and do not divert funding from non-charter public schools;
  • Be legally organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization not affiliated with non-public sectarian, religious, or home-based school organizations;
  • Adhere to all federal and state laws that protect the health and safety of children, prohibit discrimination, ensure access for all children, and comply with the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Act;
  • Comply with federal and state laws governing public schools that require fiscal transparency, responsibility and accountability;
  • Provide all education stakeholders, including parents, with absolute transparency concerning both non-public funding sources and any external organization(s) with which the charter school enters into fee-for-service contract(s);
  • Ensure that professional staff is certified for the position(s) they hold;
  • Work collaboratively with parents to ensure meaningful family engagement in student learning and school success, including the presence of at least one parent on the charter school board; and
  • Adhere to mechanism(s) for periodic, independent data collection and evaluation to determine alignment with provisions of the stated charter and ability to meet or exceed expectations required of non-charter public schools.
As context to this position, members should know charter schools exist in at least 40 states plus the District of Columbia, with other states considering. There are PTA units in some of those charter schools, so part of the challenge in drafting a national statement is to make sure that those units are supported as well as recognizing the “public” nature of these schools. Each state is unique in the enabling legislation that allows/creates charter schools – so it’s challenging to craft a statement that will cover all situations and conditions.

Members may provide input to PTA's position-taking process by contacting either a National PTA Legislation Committee member, National PTA Board member or the Washington State PTA President. (Contact WSPTA board members)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, and this is what many have pointed out to WSPTA all along. Neither the charter bill nor I-1240 ever supported the National directives in order to support charters.

    I-1240 does not include parents in any real way but for parents either choosing a charter OR signing a petition for a charter to take over their school. That's it.

    I commend the WSPTA for their principled stance on this initiative. But keep in mind, the writers of I-1240 (who used a template by the way), did NOT keep parents in mind when they wrote this thing. You have to wonder why.