Jarett Fields ER Room
By Jarett Fields
This Thursday, January 9th, the Urban Education Committee is holding a public hearing on Assembly Bill 549 in Madison.
This proposal would expand charter schools around the state under the direction of the University of Wisconsin System Chancellors and the collection of Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges.
Conversation around the bill has reawakened old myths about charter schools and their policies. Here are five:
Myth #1: Charter schools “select” their students with limited enrollment. The number of students in each charter school is determined by funding and space.
Since charter schools are forced to operate on significantly less dollars and facilities are limited, they must limit enrollment in order to best serve their students with the resources available.
Myth #2: Charter schools are “private” schools. Whether charter schools are authorized by public school districts, universities, or other entities, they are PUBLIC schools.
They are subject to all federal and state laws designated for public schools.
Myth #3: Charter schools “do not serve special needs students.”
As public schools, it is illegal for a charter school to deny services to a student based on need. Many charters have innovative classroom techniques, longer school days, and creative organizational structures that offer quality instruction to students with unique learning needs.
Myth #4: Charter schools operate with “no accountability” and “no oversight.” As public schools, charters are subject to all federal and state laws designated for public schools.
In addition, charter schools are accountable to their authorizer. Authorizers have the power to close any of their schools not performing to agreed standards or provisions of their contracts.
Finally, charter school boards are subject to all laws pertaining to school operation.
Myth #5: Charter schools perform “no better than other schools.”
On average, students enrolled in Milwaukee’s independent charter schools outperform the MPS average.
Some charter schools are outpacing the state and nation in proficiency growth for minority and low-income students.
However, it is up to every family to determine their priorities for what they want from a school.
For two decades, charter schools have been an important part of advancing public education.
Many of Milwaukee’s brightest and most promising students have graduated from charter schools.
It’s time for us to begin more collaboration between our school systems and less fighting.
It’s also time for our legislators to consider how to support and initiate stronger education policies for our most vulnerable students.
In the end, we can become better communities, a better city, and a better state.