AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

IMPROVED PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND VOICE IN CHARTER SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the recent rush to expand the number of charter schools in many states has not been accompanied by a commitment to ensure that charter schools are "public schools" in the fullest meaning of the term, dedicated to education for the public good and in our common purposes as American citizens; and

WHEREAS, charter schools must be "public schools" not only in name but in their accountability to students, educators, families, communities and taxpayers for quality, equity, transparency and professional voice; and

WHEREAS, research has shown disturbing inconsistencies in the practice of many charter schools with respect to enrolling and retaining students with disabilities, English language learners, and from homeless and low- income families on the same basis as regular public schools; and

WHEREAS, existing state charter school laws and regulation have resulted in lax oversight and less rigorous financial and educational reporting requirements to the public than regular public schools; and

WHEREAS, transparency, accountability and universal access continue to be resisted by well-financed anti-public education forces such as those represented by the Walton, Bradley and similar foundations whose cynical and selective funding of charter schools conceals their larger purpose of privatizing public education and stripping educators of professional voice and parents and communities of the information and power to assure a quality education for their children; and

WHEREAS, when educators in charter schools have demanded a voice in their workplace through union representation, charter school operators and charter advocates have actively worked to deny and impede educators from gaining that voice, although the evidence demonstrates that far from being an impediment to learning, real teacher involvement in school governance makes schools better and makes the innovations more sustainable; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers represents teachers and support personnel in 140 charter schools across the nation and has assisted their efforts to organize successfully for professional voice, transparency, meaningful accountability and advocacy on behalf of quality education:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support efforts to seek changes to federal, state and local laws and regulations to ensure that charter schools are fully transparent in their operations and directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance, admissions and enrollment policies, respect and support for teacher and staff voice in school policy and program, potential conflict of interest and disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in as rigorous a manner as regular public schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demand that all schools—charter schools as well as district public schools—be held to the same standards of accountability and transparency with regard to student progress and achievement, budget, funding and the influence of corporate and private interests and entities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT accelerate our support of parental and community efforts to advocate for transparency and accountability in charter schools, help affiliates build capacity with respect to charter school responsiveness and accountability, and assist charter school teachers and support personnel collectively to organize for professional voice and quality education and to allow charter school staff to join existing union locals, rather than being forced to form their own small affiliates.


(2010)