Are charter schools making the grade? The answer is not so simple.
In recent days, there has been much discussion over the island’s three charter schools.
Lawmakers passed three bills that would affect not only the growth of charter schools but also the academic success of their students.
We are concerned about the potential impact of Bill 106-35, which would remove the Guam Department of Education’s responsibility over the budgetary and organizational needs for the charter schools.
If a charter school gets the bulk of its funding from the government of Guam, it seems only reasonable that it should be under some kind of oversight by GovGuam for accountability. A charter school that uses public funds should be subject to the same yearly audit standards that GDOE is held to.
By the same token, we are concerned about who would have oversight. Would the Guam Academy Charter Schools Council be capable of providing effective supervision?
Two other bills related to charter schools were passed last week.
Bill 107-35 proposes to hold Guam charter schools accountable for maintaining – at a minimum – accreditation status. The measure also would extend the allowable period for a charter school to obtain accreditation from five years to six years.
Bill 57-35 aims to remove any requirements on the number of new and converted charter schools. It would clear the way for the backers of Career Tech High School, which has been waiting two years to launch its vocational charter school program at a non-GDOE facility it identified in Agat.
In light of the potential growth of charter schools, we hope to see more – not less – oversight to ensure their success.
Lawmakers must work with education stakeholders to figure out how to keep charter schools on the path to excellence. At the minimum, charter schools must meet accreditation standards. But they should go beyond that to help students reach their full potential.
We all have a stake in educating our island’s young people and equipping them with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce and in life. Let’s not fail any of our students – let’s ensure that charter schools have adequate resources and proper oversight.