On March 18, 2021, the Highland County Press published an article about a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona calling for equitable treatment of the more than 3.3 million students in America’s charter schools. The letter was authored by the Association of American Educators (AAE), a national nonunion, professional association serving educators in all 50 states. 26 other organizations signed the letter including ConnCAN.

The Association of American Educators (AAE), a national nonunion, professional association serving educators in all 50 states, sent a letter to the newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona calling for equitable treatment of the more than 3.3 million students in America’s charter schools.

This time of transition and increasing challenges facing the nation’s education system offers an opportunity for the secretary and the Department of Education to take a bold stand to equitably support all students, including those who attend public charter schools to ensure their access to an excellent education. The letter was co-signed by 50 education organizations, charter school associations and advocacy groups.

The letter states, “We are committed to preserving the flexibility and autonomy that make public charter schools successful and to holding all schools accountable for student achievement.”

“We have witnessed how the pandemic has exacerbated the differences in technology access and gaps in learning that existed even before school closures and we’ve also seen the heroic lengths to which educators have gone to make learning continue,” said Colin Sharkey, AAE’s executive director. “Charter schools, through their innovation and commitment to serving many of the nation’s most vulnerable students, have reinforced their vital role as essential to the delivery of high-quality public education.”

The letter calls upon the secretary to “advocate for every student by supporting high-quality public charter schools and encouraging the growth of the public charter school community.” In many states, public charter schools, which are tuition free and open to all students, receive inequitable funding compared to students attending public schools, as well as limited access to unused public school buildings.

As the letter explains, AAE and the other co-signers “support public charter schools because of a steadfast commitment to public education, not in spite of it. Through high standards of achievement, greater collaboration with staff, and flexible independence, public charter schools strengthen the public education system, not threaten it.”

The letter also invites Secretary Cardona and his staff to participate in a roundtable discussion with charter school educators, administrators, parents, and students, as well as volunteers to organize a delegation to the department to advocate on behalf of public charter schools. Dialogue between the department and the hundreds of thousands of educators and millions of families in America’s charter schools is vital to properly serving this growing and important community, especially during a pandemic.

Organizations that joined the letter include National Association of Charter School Authorizers, National Charter Collaborative, The New Teacher Project, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Democrats for Education Reform, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, and charter school associations and advocacy groups in 32 states, including California Charter Schools Association, Texas Public Charter Schools Association, Arizona Charter Schools Association, Michigan Association of Public School Academies,
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Colorado League of Charter Schools, Georgia Charter Schools Association, NYCAN, ConnCAN, JerseyCAN, TennesseeCAN, GeorgiaCAN, NewMexicoKidsCAN, NorthCarolinaCAN, DelawareCAN, HawaiiKidsCAN, Ed Voices, EdAllies and Bluum.

More information, including the full letter text and the list of signatories, is available at aaeteachers.org/cardonaletter.

The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national nonunion, professional educator organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to educator empowerment and advocacy — promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda. AAE is committed to a teaching profession that is student-oriented, well-respected and personally fulfilling. AAE serves members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $16.50 per month and includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional resources and many other benefits. Classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, student teachers, university professors and supporters can learn more at aaeteachers.org.


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