Charter school bills mandate more taxpayer money without local input, with less accountability to parents, taxpayers

Statement from CEA President Kerrie Dallman on introduction of charter school bills in the Colorado Senate April 12:

“Senate Bills 187 and 188 are clear and deliberate attempts to usurp local control in public education in a false frame of education equality. We fundamentally agree all students should have access to a high quality education, no matter the ZIP code in which they live. All of our schools are shortchanged on funding, which is why CEA members remain committed to reducing the ongoing cut of $831 million to public schools affecting more than 850,000 students, not just charter students. The makers of these bills, however, are attempting to introduce a state mandate to decree how locally approved funds will be distributed.

Local voters pass mill levies with an expectation that their elected school board members are trusted community stakeholders who will allocate added revenue in thoughtful ways for the benefit of students. Elected school boards are accountable to local taxpayers and can be voted out of office if voters desire different priorities. These bills would allow charter school companies to collect more money from taxpayers while continuing to play under a completely different set of rules, with charter schools waiving dozens, and in some cases more than 100, state laws and district policies. Charter schools already have access to millions of dollars from outside sources denied to neighborhood schools. If they demand even more money, then charter schools should be required to meet the same standards of transparency, accountability and oversight as our public schools. Colorado owes that to its students, families and communities.

Colorado’s students are the direct beneficiaries of schools that are transparent and accountable. Quality comes with accountability. We ensure all students have the very best we can offer when we are vigilant about making sure every public school answers to local parents, to local voters, and to local taxpayers. Legislators should allow local communities to decide use of local funds unique to their needs without mandating a one-size-fits-all approach from Denver, and devote their efforts to passing laws that hold all public schools to same standards, if they are indeed serious about true equality in education.”