As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school agenda, Connecticut taxpayers hand over more than $110 million a year to the state’s charter school industry. This largess comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s charter schools refuse to accept and educate their fair share of students with special education needs and those who require extra help learning the English language.
Equally appalling is that these privately owned, but publicly funded, schools refuse to follow Connecticut law when it comes to the use of certified teachers and school administrators.
Connecticut State Law is extremely clear.
For public schools, 100% of the teachers, administrators and service staff MUST hold an appropriate certification and authorization for the position in which they are serving. State certification not only ensures that teachers and school personnel have appropriate training but it also means these individuals have gone through background checks before being allowed to teach children.
State law even mandates that public schools cannot even pay non-certified teachers and administrators.
However, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the charter school industry, charter schools “play” by a very different set of rules.
In charter schools, only 50% of the teachers, administrators and professionals must hold a traditional state certificate such as an initial, provisional or professional educator certificate.
This means that up to 50% may serve under a “temporary authorization” process or have what is deemed a “quick and easy” certification from a charter school preparation program. In no case are charter schools allowed to use teachers and staff who don’t hold permanent or temporary certification.
Yet despite this enormous flexibility, Connecticut’s charter schools are notorious for still having a significant percentage of their staff “out of compliance” with Connecticut’s statutes and regulations.
This result is that parents of charter school students cannot be sure whether their student’s teachers and administrators are meeting the most basic requirements to be in a classroom and that taxpayers are paying for staff who should not even be hired by the charter schools.
The data on the magnitude of the problem in charter schools can been found at the Connecticut State Department of Education.
According to official reports filed with the State Department of Education, and current as of March 2016, 14 out of 24 (58%) Connecticut charter schools are were violating the law when it comes to ensuring students have properly authorized staff in the building.
It will not come as a surprise to those who follow “education entrepreneur” Steve Perry, that the greatest violator of the law is the Capital Prep Charter school chain. As of March 2016, 80% of Bridgeport Capital Prep Harbor School’s staff did not have any certification what-so-ever and were therefore in violation of state law.
A number of other charter schools had staffing operations in which at least 30% of the staff were teaching or administrating illegally. This list included Achievement First Amistad, Achievement First Bridgeport, Achievement First Hartford Academy, Achievement First Elm City, the Stamford Academy and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence.
Other charter schools in which at least 10% of the staff were in violation of Connecticut law included Booker T. Washington Charter School, Brass City Charter School, Highville Charter School, New Beginnings Family Academy charter school and Path Academy Charter School.
Rather than giving Connecticut charter schools even more state money, state officials should be withholding funds until charter schools fulfill their legal duty to their students, parents and the taxpayers of Connecticut.