Charter supporters set the record straight on school accountability

By Jamar Younger

After a self-published and flawed report on public charter schools, Arizona’s charter community and the Arizona Republic quickly responded that charter schools are held accountable and school leaders are motivated by student success, not financial gain.

The Arizona Charter Schools Association issued the first set of responses with a statement and letter to our schools emphasizing that charter schools are academically successful, which is what matters most.

Here is a roundup of the other responses:

  • Kathy Senseman, president of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, published an op-ed in the Arizona Republic outlining how charters have to comply with a number of accountability measures regarding audits, financial transactions and consequences for non-compliance. Senseman emphasized the Board’s commitment to helping charters meet their obligations to students and families.
  • Charlene Mendoza, principal and teacher at Arizona College Prep Academy in Tucson, wrote an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star describing how charter leaders operate schools because they are dedicated to student success, not to make a profit. Mendoza also reiterated how charter schools are held accountable and face closure if certain standards are not met.
  • Arizona Republic Columnist Robert Robb breaks down the report in one sentence: “Some charter operators are making more money than the authors believe they should.” In his column, Robb further breaks down the “economic transaction that occurs between the state and charter school operators” and how charters are ultimately judged on the quality of education provided to Arizona students. Ultimately, charters, school districts and private schools should work together to secure greater resources, he says.

Other supporters have chimed in, as well. Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the need to focus on great outcomes for students, not harmful rhetoric. Matthew Ladner, senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, suggests that maybe districts should be allowed more flexibility, instead of imposing more regulations on charter schools.