Congressmen Bishop and Scott Stand for Public Education in Charter School Hearing

On March 12, the full House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing titled “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education.” This hearing focused on the successes and failures of charter schools and raised some issues concerning how charter schools affect traditional public schools.

The hearing opened with a statement from Chairman Kline (R-MN) who gave examples of some of the benefits of charter schools, such as enhanced flexibility in teaching methods and programs, rigorous and focused curriculum programs, and a record of success in helping low-income families get accepted to college.

Deborah McGriff, Chairman of the Board at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools focused on the growth of charter schools across the country and the success they’ve had in closing the achievement gap. While she highlighted research showing charter school students outperforming their peers and closing the achievement gap, she stressed the importance of conducting research and enacting laws to hold charter schools accountable in creating successful models.

Other speakers in support of charters included Lisa Graham Keegan, Chairwoman for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and David Linzey, Executive Director of Clayton Valley Charter High School in California.

While bipartisan support for charters was expressed, members such as Representatives Scott (D-VA) and Bishop (D-NY) expressed warranted concern that funding for charter schools is detrimental to public schools asking whether it was equitable to drain funds from public schools by providing charter schools with more money. Congressman Bishop also questioned whether it was good public policy to freeze funding for traditional schools while continuing to fund charter schools when 98 percent of students are educated in a traditional setting.

Both Congressman Scott and Bishop agreed that there is essentially no difference between charter schools and traditional models and noted that taking money to support charters diminishes the quality of district schools.