W.Va. Needs Charters

Editor, News-Register:

A recent editorial on full-time virtual public charter schools (Avoiding Charter School Mistakes, July 27) was a misleading snapshot of the charter school sector as a whole. More than 3 million students across the country attend nearly 7,000 charter schools in 43 states and D.C. In fact, West Virginia is one of just six states without a charter school law.

This is a shame. According to a 2016 survey, nearly 80 percent of parents nationally want the option to choose which public school their child attends. Aside from parent demand, academic outcomes should be considered, too. According to a 2015 study by Stanford University, students in public charter schools learn significantly more than their peers in district-run schools: the equivalent of 40 more days worth of learning in math and 28 more in reading annually.

A foundational tenant of the public charter school model is flexibility in exchange for accountability. In exchange for the flexibility to innovate, charter schools must meet high standards for student achievement and rigorous academic, financial, and managerial standards. With this combination of flexibility and accountability, educators from coast to coast have created some of the most innovative and effective public schools in the country.

It is important to note that the examples of bad behavior cited in the editorial are by full-time virtual charter school operators in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Our organization is pushing lawmakers across the country to significantly strengthen the accountability requirements for these schools.

No child’s education should be a victim of their zip code. We urge lawmakers in West Virginia to enact a public charter school law in the upcoming session. Such a move would bring this innovative and effective public school option to those Mountaineer State families that need more high-quality public school opportunities. There isn’t time to waste.

Todd Ziebarth

Senior Vice President, State

Advocacy and Support

National Alliance for

Public Charter Schools

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