AFT Resolution

TO PROMOTE THE PUBLIC GOOD IN PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers in 2017 passed a resolution titled “Reclaiming the Promise of Public Charter Schools through Rigorous Authorizer Reform”; and

WHEREAS, per the 2017 AFT resolution, members working in charter schools developed a rubric by which state charter school laws could be evaluated; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for charter and district schools to cooperate by:

  • Developing a coordinated, multiyear citywide plan that discloses the financial and demographic impact of school openings and closings;
  • Requiring public posting and public input on citywide plans;
  • Identifying minimum academic, social and educational services that all public schools must provide; and
  • Providing collaborative professional development between district and charter schools with regular channels of communication to provide a free exchange of best practices; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for representative and transparent school governance by:

  • Requiring at least 50 percent of the charter board be composed of teachers who work at the school and parents of current students;
  • Requiring non-parent or non-teacher members of the board to reside in the community served by the school;
  • Requiring financial disclosure and conflict of interest statements be completed by all board members;
  • Requiring open public board meetings with online access to board minutes and agendas;
  • Requiring the charter agreement to be publicly available online;
  • Requiring a pledge of neutrality and non-interference with employees’ right to unionize and bargain collectively; and
  • Creating escalating, corrective consequences for charter schools that violate state laws; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for strong oversight and accountability of management organizations and vendors by:

  • Prohibiting board members with a financial stake in a management or vendor from serving on the board of a client school;
  • Requiring that vendor and management contracts in excess of $25,000 follow procurement and bidding laws and be made public;
  • Requiring third-party management organizations to publicly disclose donations, debt service, bond issuance, administrative costs, marketing costs and student recruitment expenses;
  • Maintaining legal and accounting capacity independent of the school administration or third-party management organizations; and
  • Requiring financial disclosure reports be posted publicly online; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for equitable student enrollment and retention practices by:

  • Requiring uniform enrollment and retention practices monitored by the district that ban discriminatory or overly burdensome enrollment requirements;
  • Ensuring a fair lottery process conducted by a neutral party;
  • Requiring public disclosure of all enrollment and admissions requirements;
  • Developing a fair, neutral and universal appeals process; and
  • Requiring uniform enrollment and withdrawal data retention and sharing; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for fair and transparent discipline policies by:

  • Requiring the charter agreement to include a school’s discipline policy, and requiring that policy to be publically available on the school’s website;
  • Ensuring state law provides a fair and uniform discipline policy to which all public schools, including charters, must adhere;
  • Requiring explicit and clear due process and appeal rights for students and parents;
  • Requiring annual reports on all significant disciplinary actions and withdrawals; and
  • Requiring authorizers to develop intervention strategies and escalating, corrective consequences for charter schools that have not followed the uniform discipline policy; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for cooperative planning for charter facilities and co-locations by:

  • Requiring meaningful public input on co-location and/or facilities planning;
  • Developing uniform standards for the use of public school locations;
  • Creating fair guidelines on the use of shared spaces in co-located campuses; and
  • Requiring stakeholder input on yearly impact reports for co-located facilities; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for clear monitoring and oversight regulations of charter schools by:

  • Empowering the state department of education to oversee authorizers;
  • Ensuring no conflict of interest exists between the authorizer and the schools it monitors;
  • Providing local public control of charter authorizing;
  • Providing basic whistleblower protections;
  • Requiring public disclosure of real estate transactions between charter schools and non-public entities; and
  • Requiring revenues, expenditures and audits of charter schools and management companies hired to run charter schools be posted publicly and in the same format as traditional public schools; and

WHEREAS, the charter rubric identifies the need for either a prohibition of online schools or strict guidelines for their implementation; and

WHEREAS, AFT members believe every school that receives public resources should be open, transparent and accountable to the public; and

WHEREAS, weak charter school legislation in many states has encouraged waste, fraud, abuse and a lack of public transparency in charter schools; and

WHEREAS, AFT members in unionized charter schools have effectuated greater transparency and accountability through the collective bargaining process; and

WHEREAS, public charter schools are funded by the public, serve the public and are staffed by public servants, and charter holders and operators must not be allowed to prioritize their private interests over the public interest; and

WHEREAS, the legislative rubric developed by AFT educators working in charter schools demonstrates that every state’s charter school law is lacking in multiple measures of accountability; and

WHEREAS, charter school laws that lack accountability need to be strengthened in order to protect the public good and promote the public interest in every school serving the public:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will make public the charter school legislative rubric and analysis of state legislation in a format that the public can easily understand; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will lobby for changes to existing state charter school laws that do not align with the best practices identified in the charter legislative rubric; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will call for a moratorium on charter school expansion in cities or states that have weak charter school laws as defined by the legislative rubric; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to support new member organizing in charter schools across the country.

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports and endorses the NAACP’s call for a national moratorium on new charter authorizations until the AFT rubric is adopted nationally.

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.