Hearing of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Education and The Workforce Committee - "Education Reforms: Exploring the Vital Role of Charter Schools"

Statement

By:  Dale Kildee
Date: June 1, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I also want to thank our distinguished witness panel for their participation in today's hearing. I believe we have a great deal to learn about the potential benefits and challenges of charter schools and how they can be a part of education reform. I hope your insights bring us closer to our goal of providing a high quality education for all students.

While the American education system is one of the best in the world, the status quo is no longer acceptable. We must prepare our students to compete in the global economy.

The top 10 percent of American students are competitive with our peers internationally, but we fall flat when it comes to educating our poor and minority students. The persisting achievement gap is a threat to our country's competitiveness, our economy, and our national security.

Furthermore, there is a moral imperative to do better by our neediest students. Higher standards and better assessments will help, but we must push the envelope with innovative strategies for reform.

Charter schools were originally intended to be a new form of public school that would develop and share innovative practices, and promote competition, leading to improvements among traditional public schools, as well.

While the original goals of Charter schools hold promise, they must be held accountable for their performance and work collaboratively with other public schools to improve the high-quality educational options available to all students.

I have watched too many bad charter schools divert resources from the traditional public school system only to finish the school year with students farther behind.

Charter schools are public schools and must be held accountable as such. Innovation cannot occur without proper oversight, and I will push for policies that hold these schools accountable for performance.

I am also concerned that charter schools all too often fail to serve a representative sample of the student population.

Charter schools are not real choice for most families around the country. They operate in only 40 states and are often located solely in urban school districts.

Where they do operate, their effectiveness is often unclear. The performance of charter schools varies tremendously, with predominating studies showing that, overall, charter schools perform no better or worse than traditional public schools.

Even when charter schools are improving student outcomes, too often they do not provide services to those students most in need. As we explore strategies for comprehensive school reform, we should never lose sight of our commitment to equal access for all students.

I look forward to a productive discussion about these important issues during today's hearing so we can move forward with solutions acceptable to all.

I want to thank the Chairman for calling today's hearing, and look forward to the discussion.