Teachers Union Says Connecticut's Charter Laws Need Improvement | Connecticut Public Radio

Teachers Union Says Connecticut's Charter Laws Need Improvement

May 13, 2019

A new report by the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, says that Connecticut's charter school laws need to be improved.

The report gave Connecticut's charter school laws a "poor" rating, noting that the state doesn't require charters to be overseen by local school boards, which it sees as an important part of accountability.

"We believe that charter schools should play by the same rules that our traditional public schools do,” said Don Williams, executive director of the union's Connecticut branch. “And that means accountable boards of education -- people who are accountable to the community."

But freedom from bureaucracy is a key part of what helps charters innovate, said Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president for state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

"The point is to give them some flexibility to do things a little bit different,” Ziebarth said, “to see if we can accelerate improvement, particularly for students who have been left behind in the past."

The analysis also pointed out that only half of charter school teachers in any given institution are required to be certified in Connecticut, while the other half can have alternative or temporary certification. While the teachers union would like all teachers to be fully certified, Ziebarth said that doesn't mean that kids learn better.

"We think Connecticut's current approach in terms of allowing some flexibility around who charter schools can hire to teach, makes a lot of sense,” he said.

Maryland's charter laws were the strongest, the report found. While Connecticut's laws were rated poor, the state still scored the 12th best in the country. Washington, D.C. was the worst.