by Katie Linehan
Lincoln Journal Star
February 4, 2016
Much has been written recently regarding charter schools. To be clear: charter schools are public schools, open to all students, accountable to the public, and authorized by the state.
Charter schools do not cost taxpayers more. Rather, funding follows the student.
While many parents in Nebraska enjoy some ability to choose among existing schools, high performing public options are often at capacity.
Parents of means enjoy the opportunity to then choose among private school options. Low income parents, however, are left with fewer options and, far too often, their only options are low performing schools. Frequently, this results in a child’s zip code determining the quality of education she receives.
Despite increased spending and good intentions, student outcomes in Nebraska have failed to keep pace with the average rate of improvement in other states. Meanwhile, the achievement gap between white and minority children in Nebraska has grown and is now among the largest in the nation.
Charter schools are one example of a reform that has proven to benefit students, and under-served students in particular. The highest performing charter schools in the country are not only closing the achievement gap, but reversing it.
Given their positive outcomes, the charter school movement is growing. After twenty five years, charter schools are working for more than two million children in America, doubling the number of students served over the past decade. Forty three states and the District of Columbia have passed charter school legislation.
No charter school law has been repealed and weak laws, like that in Ohio, have been reformed. In 2015, students attending charter schools in Arizona performed as well as all students in the state of Massachusetts (the highest performing state in the country) on the