NTF Issue Paper: charterschools3.doc. 1-16.

Our endorsement of public charter schools bases on the belief that every student should have the privilege and opportunity to achieve at the highest level possible. Contrary to teacher union critics, public charter schools are open to all children, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status, do not have academic prerequisites, and do not screen out children by utilizing special entrance requirements. Funded by property taxpayers, like other public schools, they do not charge tuition or proselytize particular religious beliefs. Thus, they do not drain money from other public schools. In Nebraska, numbers of parents complain that their public school is not adequately teaching their children. Public charter schools would offer these parents an option to select a school based on individual wants and needs, not geographic school district or neighborhood school boundaries. Studies have shown the following:
* Charter schools stand among the highest-performing schools in the nation.
* Charter schools close the achievement gap in lower income neighborhoods.
* A higher percentage of charter students compared to those in neighborhood schools win acceptance into a university or college. There are many charters where 100% of students graduate from high school, and 100% of graduates win acceptance into post-secondary institutions.
* Parents have an additional public school option, the opportunity to select a school based on what they believe are their child’s needs and preferences.
* Charter schools are more responsive to parental wishes, because they create environments meeting the needs of individual pupils and stand accountable for student learning.
* Involved parents actually become partners in the learning process.
* Charter schools have the freedom to be more innovative.
* Teachers can innovate and utilize new strategies to improve student achievement. Parents, students, and teachers all become accountable for student success.
* Charters can change learning processes like length of school days quicker than in traditional classrooms, because charters do not need permission from school boards.
* Charter schools develop successful new teaching models and generously share these successes with other public schools for the benefit of all children.
* In towns and cities around the nation where there already exist charter schools, parents loudly praise these schools, and demand for slots outpaces the number of students charters can enroll. Presently, there are over 1 million names on waiting lists nationwide.

Currently, charter schools exist in urban, suburban, and rural communities. They now constitute about 6% of public schools, teaching over 2.5 million children. Many of these kids are minority and poor, their families residing in low-achieving school districts desperately in need of quality schools. Research proves that charters rapidly close the achievement gap between these kids and their white peers from higher-income households.

TAKE ACTION NOW. Our local property tax dollars funding public education should belong to school students and their parents who should have the opportunity to use these dollars to choose a school considered best to meet the needs and desires of both parents and students. Contact your state senator to introduce or co-sponsor a bill to allow public charter schools throughout Nebraska. Email for senator contact information and to join our NTF Education Watch Project.

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