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'A Failed and Damaging Experiment:' NEA Takes on Unaccountable Charter Schools

At its annual meeting on Tuesday, the educators of the National Education Association drew a sharp new line between charter schools that have a positive effect on public education and those unaccountable, privately managed charter schools that hurt public schools and students. The policy denounces unaccountable charters as a “failed and damaging experiment,” and calls for a stop to the proliferation of such schools by supporting state and local efforts to hold charters accountable, to preserve funding for public schools, and to organize charter educators.

The new policy statement is the work of a task force convened by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in 2016 to respond to educators’ growing concern about the unabated growth of the sector. As expansion has picked up pace over the past decade, the original, collaborative vision of charter schools has largely been eclipsed by a competitive model that has empowered reckless disregard for accountability and transparency, at the expense of many of the students they seek to serve.

“Charter schools were started by educators who dreamed of schools in which they would be free to innovate, unfettered by bureaucratic obstacles,” said Eskelsen García. “Handing over students’ education to privately managed, unaccountable charters jeopardizes student success, undermines public education and harms communities.”