TAF Position on Charter Schools Bill
TAF Position on Charter Schools Bill
I’m sure you have heard about the current bills in this legislative session concerning charter schools. And you’re probably wondering what TAF’s position is on the bill.
Our #1 core value is our commitment to students. For over 15 years we’ve navigated the ever-changing educational landscape to bring the best programming possible to our students. We have from time to time supported policy type efforts that would make conditions better in the future, but by and large we focused on our core-work on the ground with kids no matter what it takes-so we can do our part to ensure cohorts of students have opportunities to succeed.
TAF does not have a pro or con position on charter schools. We recognize the research papers concluding that there are charter schools that are effective as well as those that aren’t. We also understand from firsthand experience how difficult it is to start a school and provide the services that help students come from behind the academic curve and move into a position of success. We applaud all schools (charter, public and private) that do this kind of heavy lifting on behalf of students.
We are often asked, “Wouldn’t it be easier if TAF Academy was a charter school?” and our answer has always been the same:
- At the school level it would give us sanctioned flexibility in staffing choices
- We wouldn’t have to enter into negotiations with each district on staffing and other programmatic aspects that allow us to innovate
- At the operations level, it would mean adding another layer of funding and competencies for facilities and a Human Resources department – things that are already handled by the district in our public/private partnership model.
- There would be no partnership with the district (if the district was not the one to authorize the charter school) and therefore no incentive or mechanism to share best practices
As the bill correctly calls out, our state has serious and unresolved systemic issues including closing the opportunity gap and reforming educational policies that constrain districts and schools from innovating and finding more effective ways to meet the needs of low-income students of color, English language learners, and others whom our system has fallen short of serving.
Charter schools may help, but we believe these issues can and should be tackled system wide by the Governor, Legislature, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Washington Education Association and the Washington State School Directors Association. Prioritize the roadblocks to innovation and begin to knock them down one by one system-wide. Institute a level of accountability that actually has teeth and will be implemented. Demonstrate for our students what it means to put action behind the words, “We’re doing it for kids!” or “We care about kids!” or “Every kid deserves a great education!“, because they know it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.
On January 18th I was invited by Senator McAuliffe to give a presentation about TAF Academy to the Senate K-12 Education committee so they could hear what is possible today given our current economic and educational climate. TAF will play a bigger role than we have in the past of informing our elected officials about how their policies impact what happens in the classroom.
While the charter debate moves forward TAF will continue to partner with school districts that see the value in the resources we bring to the table for students. We will continue partnering with corporations and community organizations to help our students connect their learning to real world applications as they prepare for their future. We will continue to support our community partners in advocating for the policies and adaptive changes needed to turn our Jurassic public education system into a model of equity, innovation and excellence.
At the end of the day, we are here for kids as always and we hope you will continue to invest in the futures of our students and be there with us as we celebrate their successes.
Thank you for your continued support!