Education “Alternatives” Truly Alternative
According to Merriam-Webster, charter schools are: A tax-supported school established by a charter between a granting body (as a school board) and an outside group (as of teachers and parents) which operates the school without most local and state educational regulations so as to achieve set goals.1 Unfortunately, in New Mexico, charter schools are still beholden to large numbers of rules and regulations associated with traditional public schools.
According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, New Mexico law requires charter school teachers to have the same certification requirements as traditional public school teachers. It requires charter schools to adhere to the same three-tiered salary schedule as traditional public schools and, for teachers who have been employed at the school for three consecutive years, adherence to the NM School Personnel Act is required as well.2
Charter schools are supposed to act as an alternative to traditional public schools. While New Mexico’s charters have attempted to do this, they have been hamstrung by regulations that force them to adhere to similar, strict regulations, thus making charters less of a real choice for parents and students.
New Mexico’s Legislature should eliminate certification requirements, adherence to the three-tiered salary schedule, and tenure for all charters. These regulations are generally problematic for traditional public schools (as outlined above on the certification issue). Giving charters the freedom to avoid these regulations would allow for the gathering of real-world evidence as to the benefits or detriments of these policies.
1Merriam-Webster, definition of “charter school”
2National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Measuring up to the Model,” http://www.publiccharters.org/law/ViewComponent.aspx?comp=16