A charter school has the audacity to petition your district to come in and “steal” 250 students from under the district and provide them with smaller class sizes and other nefarious promises of equitable education, and you’re on the board of education. What do you do?
Well, in many cases, you don’t even have to think about it. The teachers union affiliates in your area have spoken when they gave you $10,000 for your school board race and made you sign an oath in blood to deny any and all charter school petitions. Because, as we all know, all charter schools are bad and they steal ADA (Average Daily Attendance) from the traditional neighborhood schools, right? Not so fast. Let’s discuss how the board of education should do its due diligence around whether to support or not support a charter school petition in the school district.
Instead of just taking political cover from the teachers union, all board members need to consider the unintended consequences of just saying no. You might end up with that school in your district anyway. The local board of education is NOT the final authority on whether the petition will be granted (authorized) or denied. All petitions that are denied at the local level have the option to appeal to next level of authorization, the County Board of Education. In many instances, the petition will be granted at this level. If not, the petitioner can then appeal to the last level, the State Board of Education. In most cases, the state will grant the charter in your district. What does that mean for the local board of education and the school district? It means that you now have a school that will be operating for the next five years (typically) within your jurisdiction and will offer an option to parents and children within your district, and you gave away your opportunity to have a voice or any accountability over that school. This is the unintended consequence of allowing county and state authorizations.
This is why it is important to truly consider a petition and offer to help make the petition acceptable. All districts should have a liaison to help work with providers to enhance their charter petition and make it acceptable for the kids of your district. Simply saying “NO” is truly irresponsible and quite frankly, cowardly. So, beef up your professionalism and develop a backbone. You should be working to increase academic success in your district, and you cannot do that if you relinquish control and accountability because you fear political backlash! Come on board members, be leaders!
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