AEA’s Stand: Charter schools don’t work. They take money from our already underfunded existing schools. If certain schools need improvement, then we should work together to improve these schools. Charter schools are schools run by businesses, private corporations, or foundations but funded with public money diverted from public schools. Charters are often set up with little to no oversight and have been found to pay exorbitant amounts to their principals but not their teaching staff. In several studies, charters were found to seemingly choose their students from an applicant pool, leaving children with learning disabilities as well as physical disabilities behind. In a Stanford University study, over 67 percent of charter schools were found to be no better than public schools, and over 30 percent were found to be worse. While its true that charters have been formed in 37 other states, they have not been proven effective and in fact, many former charter school proponents, including Diane Ravitch, now vehemently oppose charter schools.
Alabama has a host of outstanding programs from the Alabama Pre-K Program to the Alabama Reading Initiative to the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative that, if fully funded, could change the landscape of education in Alabama. With classroom supplies cut, larger class sizes due to the loss of over 4,000 educators in five years, and no textbooks or new technology, we can’t afford to divert money to charter schools or voucher programs.
AEA’s Stand: Vouchers are yet another method to take money from existing public schools. No existing classroom can afford more cuts – especially when teachers are already paying out of their pockets for classroom supplies, paper, etc.
Vouchers are currently found in 12 states and Washington D.C. In the states that have vouchers, not one of them is open to everyone. Each state has designated who can benefit from the vouchers, in most cases being a subset of students including low income and students with disabilities. The absence of public accountability for voucher funds has contributed to rampant fraud, waste and abuse in current voucher programs. Vouchers serve to further segregate students. They also increase costs by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private. There is no equality in choosing and not every public school student will have the ability to benefit from vouchers. There will always be students left behind. Americans prefer improving their public schools rather than spending tax dollars on voucher programs and voters in 22 states have rejected vouchers with nearly two out of three voters casting “no” votes.