Reimagining Education

Arne Duncan pushes charter schools to boost special education programs

June 30, 2010

National Charter Schools Conference
Chicago, Illinois

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, addressed the leadership of the National Charter School movement and conference attendees at the 10th annual National Charter School conference recently in Chicago.  CEAM was there.  Arne gave a resounding call to the charter school movement leaders to make wide-spread the acknowledgement of the difference charters can and are making in the lives of the most under-served children in our country.

Here are excerpts from Secretary Duncan’s ‘4-Point Plan’ for charter school movement leadership:

Point 1

Create more schools for the most underserved: English-language learners, Special needs students and those who have been expelled.  Then do an extraordinary job of advancing these groups of children.

Point 2

Build stronger relationships at the state and national level with the Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and Civil Rights Organizations to dispel the perception that charter schools are adversaries.

Point 3

Change the charter school debate by collecting data and generating longitudinal studies, showing proper comparison of children served by charter schools vs. those who sought charter school alternatives, but were not able to gain entry.  He referenced Caroline Hoxby’s break-through study as a model.

Point 4

The charter school movement’s leadership must be courageous and establish criteria below which charter schools should cease to exist and be pro-active in the area of self-governance.  Though the leadership and the community itself does not hold the authority to close down ineffective charters, Secretary Duncan calls upon the family of charter schools to not tolerate unacceptable performance within their family of schools and their authorizers.  He wants a list of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ authorizers, along with minimum criteria for charter school performance and pro-active self-governance.

In closing, Secretary Duncan says to the charter school movement, “Your best are world-class.  Your best give me extraordinary reason for hope for public education in this country.”  Now he strongly urges the movement to step up their role of leadership and let this country know what they stand for.

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