At Hearing, Committee Democrats Emphasize Importance of Oversight and Accountability in Public School Choice

Parent demands accountability in charter schools

WASHINGTON – Today, at a Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on charter schools, Democrats emphasized the importance of oversight and accountability to ensuring public school choice helps fulfill the promise of making quality public education available to all students. While noting the success stories in places like Denver and Massachusetts, Democrats pointed to Michigan – and the policies advanced there by Secretary of Education DeVos – as a cautionary tale of rapid charter school expansion without necessary safeguards.

Michigan’s lax state laws led to a proliferation of low-quality and for-profit charter schools. In Michigan, 80 percent are for profit charter schools, and 70 percent of Detroit charter schools rank in the bottom quartile of all Michigan K-12 schools.

“The truth about charter schools is complicated.  There are some good – even great – things happening in public charter schools. There are also areas of serious and legitimate concern,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “When accompanied by oversight and accountability, public school choice with strong can improve our education system as the whole. But, as we’ve seen in Michigan and other states with dismal charter school performance, expanding choice without strong standards is a recipe for disaster.”

The Democratic witness, Jonathon Clark, a parent, veteran, and community advocate in Detroit, described his experience with the charter school system in the city. 

“This is my children’s lives and their education. Like your children, like all children, they don’t get to do it again,” said Mr. Clark. “What they deserve is a quality education. What we parents and community members deserve even more than a choice is a say in their education. What all of us citizens deserve is accountability—assurance that those who take taxpayer money to provide an education will deliver what they promise.”

Democrats believe public education is the bedrock of our democracy. As a direct response to waste, fraud, and abuse in the charter sector, Congress amended the Charter School Program (CSP) in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to improve charter schools. It is critical that Secretary DeVos enforce new these new requirements to improve charter authorizing and operational quality.

OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and the Workforce 

TESTIMONY: Jonathon Clark, Parent and Community Advocate, Detroit, Michigan

FACT SHEET: Good Charters vs. Bad Charters: A Tale of Two States

FACT SHEET: Expanding Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Program

FACT SHEET: Fast Facts: Charter Schools in Michigan


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