State lawmaker calls for ‘timeout’ on approving new charter schools
A New Mexico lawmaker wants the state to stop allowing new charter schools to open for at least two and a half years so officials can evaluate such schools now in operation and find ways to ensure they are delivering high-quality education.
“Maybe we need to call a ‘timeout’ for new charter schools to open and let some of the people who are enforcing the rules catch up and untangle what we have,” said state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, in a recent interview. “Let’s make sure that what we are doing is a good thing. Let’s make sure that our charter schools are accountable and successful.”
She has introduced a bill that would halt approval of new charter applications between June 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2020.
Charter schools — which are public schools but generally operate with more autonomy under a governing board rather than a school superintendent — in New Mexico and around the nation have faced criticism over their academic standards and the amount of public funds they use. Some studies have said student achievement at such schools is no higher than that at traditional schools. Many charter schools in New Mexico also have been under scrutiny in the past year for their financial management practices.
In August, the Chicago-based National Association of Charter School Authorizers said the state commission that oversees charter schools in New Mexico sets loose standards for approval and hasn’t clearly defined academic requirements.
One legislative report issued earlier this year said charter schools receive about 15 percent more in state funding per student than traditional public schools, and another found that while charter schools serve only 7 percent of students in the state, they have received 46 percent of new public school funding in the past seven years.
In January, an audit of 55 state-chartered schools found many of them lacking in internal financial controls and out of compliance with state law.
Trujillo serves on the Legislative Education Study Committee, which has created a Charter School Subcommittee to examine how the state’s 97 charter schools are performing. “I don’t have anything against charter schools,” she said. “But we are moving so fast that we don’t have time to really oversee how they are functioning.”
Charter school advocates oppose her bill.
“We are against a moratorium,” said Greta Roskom, co-executive director of the State lawmaker calls for ‘timeout’ on approving new charter schools - The Santa Fe New Mexican: Northern New Mexico Education: