WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 1, 2011 -
The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), today held a hearing to examine the role of charter schools in the nation’s education system.
“Republicans on this committee have been strong proponents of charter schools for many years, as we recognize the opportunities they offer parents and students,” Rep. Hunter said. “Charter schools empower parents to play a more active role in their child’s education, and offer students a priceless opportunity to escape underperforming schools. These innovative institutions also open doors for teachers to experiment with fresh teaching methods and curricula that they believe will have the greatest positive impact on students in their individual community.”
Ms. DeAnna Rowe, Executive Director of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, called charter schools “an integral part of a complex system,” adding, “Not only do the schools provide an alternative for families to find the environment that will allow each student to reach his or her full potential, but they have proven to be a tremendous source of innovation, providing all schools with new tools and methods of improving student achievements.”
In exchange for additional flexibility and autonomy over their operations, charter schools are held accountable for results. Ms. Debbie Beyer, Executive Director of Literacy First Charter Schools in California, explained, “If charter schools don’t perform, they cease to exist. Performance is the bottom line. It is a brilliant marriage between business and education. It forces competition and requires serious and deliberate attention to every daily detail to justify our existence. There is no entitlement.”
Ms. Elizabeth Delaney Purvis, Executive Director of the Chicago International Charter School, discussed the ways charter schools invest in local communities, calling them “a strong vehicle for neighborhood change.” Ms. Purvis explained, “Charter school operators often make significant investments in buildings in which they reside, create new job opportunities, and seek partnerships with local businesses in a way that is difficult for traditional public schools.”
“Charter schools are not the only answer to school reform,” Ms. Purvis said, “but represent one way that school districts and state agencies can efficiently and affordably improve and increase educational options for families.”
As part of its education reform efforts, the Committee on Education and the Workforce is currently reviewing proposals to expand access to high-quality charter schools.
To read Chairman Hunter's full remarks, witness testimony, or view an archived hearing webcast, visit http://www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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