Today, the Commissioner and Legislature have agreed to cash Betsy DeVos’ check to double the number of charter schools in New Hampshire. Her check provides for the start-up costs for these new schools, but does not pay to operate or maintain them – the taxpayers of New Hampshire will be responsible for those costs. Charter schools, by their very nature, drain funding from local public schools, which enroll over 90 percent of K-12 students.
We believe since charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools, they MUST be held to the same safeguards and high standards of accountability, transparency, oversight and equity as public schools.
In previous hearings, it was clearly shown that New Hampshire’s charter school laws provide for weak regulations and lax oversight. In fact, our state’s charter school teachers are not required to meet the same certification requirements as public school teachers.
Too often students with disabilities are often pushed out of charter schools that can’t meet their needs, while those same schools get to keep the funding taken from the neighborhood public school.
“We were hoping that those elected to represent the more than 90% of NH Students and families that attend public school would devote their attention and efforts to the schools we already have, and help them with the health and funding crisis we are in right now,“ said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President.
Now that the property taxpayers of New Hampshire have had the burden of the extra cost to operate twice as many charter schools placed on their shoulders, NEA-NH is urging the Legislature to enact oversight rules to ensure that four key features of strong charter schools be incorporated into our charter schools laws. These include:
- Quality. Successful students need caring, experienced, and qualified teachers and a rich and engaging curriculum, regardless of the school they attend.
- Equity. Charter schools must equitably enroll and serve all groups of students instead of subtly or overtly screening out some who are less advantaged.
- Accountability. Charter schools must operate in a manner that is accountable to the communities they serve, and be required to meet or exceed any student performance targets applied to all other taxpayer-funded schools.
- Transparency. Charter schools need to operate openly. They should be required to disclose the amounts and duration of large charitable contributions, and ownership of property purchased with taxpayer support to open charter schools should be transferred to the local school district, and not the private sector, when a charter school is closed.