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In a conversation with a public school teacher about the restrictions on Charter Schools in Virginia, I was led to this line in a Virginia State statute on Charter Schools:

E. Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict the authority of the local school board to assign professional, licensed personnel to a public charter school or any other public school as provided in Sections 22.1-293 and 22.1-295.

While the rest of the statute seems to be a framework for setting up school choice in the same way as most Charter School minded reformers want, this one line seems to completely gut any autonomy a charter school has. This line allows the school board to assign any teacher to that charter school. In a specific meeting for a Virginia School Board, the board stated that they would use this to enforce the rule that teachers must be laid off on a last in first out model. Furthermore, the charter school would not be able to only hire teachers with specific training (like Montessori) as the School board would assign any accredited teachers to the school.

What justification did the lawmakers or proponents of this clause use to include this clause, or what justifications were used in areas with similar rules? I would prefer an answer that explains why a reasonable person could see this as beneficial rule for a system that wants to take advantage of the benefits of charter schools rather than just writing this off as an example of teacher union corruption.

  • One argument would be the studies that show charter schools as a whole tend to perform more poorly than public schools, requiring even more school district oversight. That said, why the school board gets to decide that rather than the school district is beyond me. – user1530 Aug 18 '15 at 15:21
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I would prefer an answer that explains why a reasonable person could see this as beneficial rule for a system that wants to take advantage of the benefits of charter schools rather than just writing this off as an example of teacher union corruption.

Well, that's a tad leading there. It's implying that charter schools offer benefits and teacher unions are corrupted. In both cases, some are, but by no means a majority.

There's also the assumption that reasonable people make reasonable laws. That's not always the case, either. :)

That said, in both googling the topic and reading the aforementioned sections of the VA Statutes, I can't find any specific explanation as to why this is, so we can only guess.

My guess is that charter schools, being publicly funded, warrant the same oversight as any public school in terms of ensuring staff is qualified to do their job.

Given the track record of charter schools in this country, this is justified. Minnesota has one of the longest and most studied charter school systems in the country. The University of MN did a study and found:

  • charter schools underperform public schools
  • charter schools are more segregated by race
  • charter schools are more segregated by economic status

In addition, there have been many scandals throughout the country where charter schools were simply corrupt.

So, I think the 'reasonable person' argument could be:

Given that charter schools underperform public schools and that a lack of oversight has led to some major corruption scandals, it's wise to give the governing board increased oversight to attempt to allay some of these concerns.

In other words, my guess that this was simply part of the give-and-take political bargaining. In exchange for increase oversight, they got to have charter schools.

  • That's fair, I might be completely misreading this bill as being pro-charter school when actually it's a bill that was intended to regulate charter schools in favor of the status quo. – lazarusL Aug 18 '15 at 15:57
  • @lazarusL you seem to be hinting at something, but I'm not clear what. :) In that the bill allows charter schools, you could call it 'pro charter school'. And you could argue it is to preserve the status quo given the status quo currently outperforms charter schools. – user1530 Aug 18 '15 at 15:59
  • Perhaps I'm "hinting" that I think any charter school whose staffing is determined by the public school system is a "Charter School" in name only. "Given the status quo currently outperforms charter schools." is highly debatable and thanks to severe measurement difficulties there's boatloads of evidence on both sides. – lazarusL Aug 18 '15 at 16:06
  • @lazarusL well, anything is debatable, but I'd argue the data is leaning heavily towards the fact that charter schools...at least up to this point, have not overall lived up to their promises. At the end of the day, though, charter schools are publicly funded, so I think it's fair to expect that there also be some public oversight as to how they're being run. – user1530 Aug 18 '15 at 16:17
  • I should say that I am biased on this topic, as I have family that have worked at charter schools and I've seen some of the worst sides of them. Which is unfair as there are certainly good charter schools. It's just that they are currently the exception, rather than the norm. – user1530 Aug 18 '15 at 16:18

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