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Statement on Maryland General Assembly’s Passage of Charter School Bill

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STATEMENT BY KARA KERWIN, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR EDUCATION REFORM, REGARDING THE MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S PASSAGE OF CHARTER SCHOOL LEGISLATION

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
April 14, 2015

“Late last night, The Maryland General Assembly took a step backwards in passing a dramatically revised charter school bill, making it less likely that parents and educators will be able to create and advance innovative public school opportunities for children.

“The bill removes the State Board’s check and balance authority to review school district actions on charter applications, which by extension removes a Governor’s authority to impact charter school decisions through his or her appointments to the board.

“The bill requires an invasive study by the State Department of Education of all charter school operations, compliance of which will require additional staff and resources. This was clearly an effort by opponents to tie up small, underfunded charter schools with more bureaucracy, not less.

“The bill further removes authority for charter schools by making every operational feature subject to agreement with school districts, which more often than not deny basic freedoms to charter operators to hire and train their own personnel. It also furthers funding inequality for public school students attending public charter schools.

“The bill makes changes in the ability of charter schools to make preferences on who they enroll, which is not a major accomplishment. Nor is the proclaimed victory of advocates over so-called flexibility, which validates authority that already exists for districts and the state to consider requested waivers from various rules and regulations.

“I’m appalled that this bill is considered progress when by definition it puts school districts and unions more fully in control of charter creation, operations and outcomes. Mr. Governor, I urge you to grab a cup of coffee – or a beer – and sit down to read this bill for yourself, and you too will be appalled at what the General Assembly has done to your well-intentioned proposal.

“While the Governor’s team has embraced this bill, I urge the Governor to veto this bill and start fresh with the next session.”

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