AFT Resolution

RECLAIMING THE PROMISE OF PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS THROUGH RIGOROUS AUTHORIZER REFORM

WHEREAS, members of the American Federation of Teachers, whether employed by charter operators or by public school districts, share a passionate commitment both to students’ educational opportunity and to teacher union advocacy in pursuit of social, economic and racial justice; and

WHEREAS, the proliferation of charter schools in the United States is sometimes driven not by children’s educational needs but rather by corporate or political interests, which can create a competitive system of winners and losers that is damaging to public school districts and ultimately destructive to public education as a whole; and

WHEREAS, the AFT supports all students, parents and communities served by schools, charter and district, yet opposes the overuse and proliferation of charter schools where they are causing large-scale layoffs, budget cuts, and closings of both district and charter schools, as is happening in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York.

WHEREAS, state laws that allow financial self-interest to drive so-called education reforms have been detrimental to student learning outcomes, neighborhood schools and the overall health of communities; and

WHEREAS, schools serve a public good; any “profit” derived from public education dollars should be reinvested in the education of students and not used to enrich a private entity; and

WHEREAS, the outsourcing of charter school management to third-party education management organizations allows the pass-through of public education dollars to private companies with no accountability to the public; and

WHEREAS, the closure of schools in the name of accountability is harmful to every affected child, as well as families and the community at large; and

WHEREAS, authorizers of charter schools have a primary role in school accountability yet derive their funding for oversight directly from the schools they oversee, thereby creating a conflict of interest; and

WHEREAS, charter school boards should be representative of and accountable to the community they serve; and

WHEREAS, the charter school model originally called for an increase in involvement and voice from faculty on the creation and governance of charter schools; and

WHEREAS, a commitment to neutrality by authorizers and individual schools during union organizing drives at charter schools would provide a fair and appropriate framework for teachers to exercise their collective voice; and

WHEREAS, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform has researched best practices for charter school authorizers and created a policy brief titled “Public Accountability for Charter Schools: Standards and Policy Recommendations for Effective Oversight,” which aligns with the views of our members working in charter schools:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will develop a metric to evaluate charter school authorizers, charter school operators, charter management organizations and state legislation based on our members’ experience, the principles outlined in this resolution and national best practices; and

RESOLVED, the authorizer metric will recognize, in creating and closing charter schools, the need to balance every school’s impact on its neighborhood, school district and the wider community; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will use the criteria outlined in the metric to evaluate state charter school laws and assist our affiliates to champion state legislation that puts students’ interests first; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to oppose and will actively seek to reform charter school legislation that promotes profiteering, that promotes unsound educational practices, or that is detrimental to communities and students.

(2017)

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.