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Be fair: Treat charter schools the same as any other GUAM public school

guam-educationFour years after legislation was passed, history was made Monday when the island saw the opening of its first charter school — the Guahan Academy Charter School.

The purpose of the charter school law is to give parents an option for their children’s education other than the public school system, which has done a poor job at providing an adequate education to the island’s schoolchildren. Charter schools are supposed to offer different ways of learning, and offer hope for long-overdue improvements to the quality of public education.

The Guahan Academy Charter School provides its 500 students with the same programs provided for public schools, such as buses provided by the Department of Public Works, and services for students with special needs and English as a second language needs. The school uses Direct Instruction as its core curriculum, which currently is being used as a reading reform program in 11 other public elementary schools.

The Guahan Academy was delayed in getting launched because of bureaucratic red tape and struggles to secure a site and a budget. Monday’s opening wasn’t without challenges.

Before the opening date, Guam DOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez decided the charter school wouldn’t be allowed to use the services of school cafeteria vendor Sodexo, even though it’s a public school. So Guahan Academy scrambled to find a vendor to ensure its students would be fed.

Of even bigger concern was the budget for the charter school. The Guam Academy Charter Schools Act of 2009 gives the Department of Administration the power to deduct funding for charter schools from the local education agency’s annual budget. But the fiscal 2013 budget gave that power to the superintendent.

The charter school needs to be treated fairly. The problems the school faced needed to be sorted out quickly, not just so Guahan Academy could finally get started, but to establish a set of standards for starting all future charter schools. Guam law allows for up to seven charter schools.

Charter schools are supposed to give students an alternative. The schools must be given every opportunity to achieve that goal. And to make that happen, charter schools need to be properly and adequately budgeted, and get the services and resources to which they’re entitled.

There also needs to be a clear, systemic and standard way to get new charter schools started, so future institutions don’t face the struggles and challenges the first charter school has faced and continues to face.

Source: Pacific Daily News

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2013 by in Advocacy, Charter Schools, Guam and tagged .

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