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The Connecticut Education Association’s Recent Attack On Charter Schools Extremely Suspect 

It would appears, once again, the state’s largest teacher’s union are taking aim at charter schools.

About two weeks ago, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), issued a press release claiming that one-third of them employ more than the allowable amount of non-certified teachers.

In their release, the CEA specifically cites the Achievement First network of schools as being one of the worst culprits when it comes to employing non-certified staff.

Of all the charter schools they could have attacked, the Achievement First network is one of the most successful charter networks in the state. Amistad Academy, the network’s New Haven high school, consistently ranks among top schools in the country and is number two in the state out of all public high schools. The school reports a remarkable 100 percent college acceptance rate, with an over 80 percent college persistence rate.  This isn’t isolated either. Many of their schools have shown success in closing achievement gaps for low income and minority students.

In other words, they’re attacking schools that are better at educating students than most traditional public schools. Certified staff or not, these are the schools that best illustrate why funding charter schools in high-need districts are so important.

If that wasn’t enough, the timing of their attack pretty much gives away their intentions.

Right now the state legislature is in the midst of their 2017 budget talks. Last year the CEA lobbied state legislators, promoting the defunding of new charter schools seats. It seems likely that they might be launching a similar, though subtler, campaign this year.

Three weeks ago, a group of state legislators told the Connecticut Mirror, that they’re unhappy with Gov. Malloy’s budget plan, claiming that it “increases” spending on charter schools, while eliminating funding for traditional public schools.

Of course, this claim couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The proposed budget plan flat funds all schools. The supposed “increase” to charters legislators are referring to is actually an increase in the number of seats, not an increase in the in the amount of money charters get per-students. In fact, it’s charters school students are the ones getting the short end of the stick. According to the Northeastern Charter School Network, on average, charters across the state receive $4,000 less per-students in public funding, and unlike traditional public schools, have been flat funded for years.

No surprise here — among the loudest detractors of Gov. Malloy’s budget was Rep. Edwin Vargas, a retired teacher and current member of AFT Connecticut, who won his seat largely due to support from the teacher’s union and their lobbyists. Vargas was also the legislator who introduced a bill last year to put a moratorium on new charter schools.

With the state facing such tough economic times, a certain amount of sacrifice seems par-for-the course, but for the CEA to try to persuade state legislators to put that burden directly on the shoulders of charter school students, who tend to be some of the state’s highest-need students, is unconscionable.

Instead of focusing on tearing down schools that are clearly doing a better job educating students, maybe the union should focus their energy on promoting a sharing of best practices between schools types?

But then again, they’ve made it clear their attacks aren’t about what’s actually best for students. No, this is all about the adults in the room.

 

 

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