Amendment C-3 

Amend by deletion of Section 1.c under Criteria, on page 11, lines 5-36, and addition of a new Prohibitions section following the Introduction beginning on page 10, line 19:

c. Because a charter school application should be judged more on the basis of what it says than on the basis of who says it, there should be few a priori restrictions on eligibility to receive a charter. The chartering agency should have broad discretion to grant a charter to any responsible group or entity that meets the relevant prerequisites, including a group of parents, a team of teachers, a community organization, a college or university, a union, etc. There should, however, be certain categorical prohibitions:

1. Private for-profit entities should not be eligible to receive a charter. Because for-profit entities have a financial obligation to their shareholders, which requires them to build a profit margin into their calculations, and because they typically lack roots in the local community, such entities should not have independent authority over the operation of a public school. Charter schools should have a limited right to contract with for-profit entities to provide management and other services—but only to the same extent, and under the same circumstances, as mainstream public schools.

2. There also should be an absolute prohibition against the granting of charters for the purpose of home-schooling, including online charter schools that seek to provide home-schooling over the Internet. Charter schools whose students are in fact home schoolers, and who may rarely if ever con-vene in an actual school building, disregard the important socialization aspect of public education, do not serve the public purpose of promoting a sense of community, and lend themselves too easily to the misuse of public funds and the abuse of public trust.

3. Although mainstream public schools should be eligible to convert to charter schools if they meet the relevant prerequisites, private school conversions should be prohibited. The net effect of such conversions is all too often simply the use of public money to pay for private school education. In those instances where private school conversions are allowed, there should be rigorous safeguards to ensure that the conversion to a charter school is done in more than name only. The chartering agency should direct its attention to the student body, the governing board, and the educational program of the proposed charter school, and determine the extent to which they will differ from their counterparts in the pre-conversion private school. This is a fact specific inquiry that must take place on a case-by-case basis, but a private school that converts to a charter school at the very least should not be permitted to give a preference to its former students in admission. Particularly careful scrutiny should be given to the application of any private school with a prior religious affiliation to be sure that the principle of church/state separation is not violated.

Prohibitions on Charters

1. Private for-profit entities should not be eligible to receive a charter. Because for-profit entities have a financial obligation to their shareholders, which requires them to build a profit margin into their calculations, and because they typically lack roots in the local community, such entities should not have independent authority over the operation of a public school. Charter schools should have a limited right to contract with for-profit entities to provide management and other services—but only to the same extent, and under the same circumstances, as mainstream public schools.

2. There also should be an absolute prohibition against the granting of charters for the purpose of home-schooling, including online charter schools that seek to provide home-schooling over the Internet. Charter schools whose students are in fact home schoolers, and who may rarely if ever con-vene in an actual school building, disregard the important socialization aspect of public education, do not serve the public purpose of promoting a sense of community, and lend themselves too easily to the misuse of public funds and the abuse of public trust.

3. Private school conversions should be prohibited. The net effect of such conversions is all too often simply the use of public money to pay for private school education. In those instances where private school conversions are allowed, there should be rigorous safeguards to ensure that the conversion to a charter school is done in more than name only. The chartering agency should direct its attention to the student body, the governing board, and the educational program of the proposed charter school, and determine the extent to which they will differ from their counterparts in the pre-conversion private school. This is a fact specific inquiry that must take place on a case-by-case basis, but a private school that converts to a charter school at the very least should not be permitted to give a preference to its former students in admission. Particularly careful scrutiny should be given to the application of any private school with a prior religious affiliation to be sure that the principle of church/state separation is not violated.

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