A proposal for a two-year moratorium on public charter schools has ignited impassioned debate and tapped into long-standing disagreement over how well the schools perform and whether they drain needed resources from ordinary neighborhood schools.
“I ask that you consider our social, moral and American obligation to educate our youth and not further disable our true public school students…” said Dennis Bradley in legislative testimony in support of the moratorium. “It’s only logical … that we consider all positive and negative factors in the light of the best interest for our children.”
Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, who proposed the moratorium, said he supported the development of the state’s first charters back in the ’90s but has been disappointed with the performance of the schools.
Although the state says that 86 percent of charter elementary schools and 83 percent of charter high schools outperformed their host districts in 2013 on the state’s standardized tests, Vargas said that he wants more detail on how students are doing, on the funding for the schools and other operating policies.
“Over the years, we have to take their word, they are doing a great job, but there’s very little independent verification of any of it,” Vargas said.
Senate Bill 1096, raised by the education committee, calls for a halt on the approval of new charter schools after July 1, until the state education commissioner develops a comprehensive statewide charter school plan and conducts a review of existing charter schools. The plan would have to be submitted by Feb. 1, 2017, and would be reviewed by a legislative joint standing committee.
In addition, the bill would strengthen accountability for charters, and it calls for charter management organizations to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.Read More »