DeLaney: House Republicans agree to study virtual charter schools, but not reform them
INDIANAPOLIS – While State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) had some success in getting lawmakers to agree to study Indiana’s scandal-plagued virtual charter school industry, his efforts to bring needed reforms to the system were largely struck down by House Republicans.
House members did approve a proposal offered by DeLaney that would enable legislative leaders to create a study committee to focus on how virtual charter schools spend their money, and how much of that funding is spent on educating students. The amendment was included in Senate Bill 567.
However, House Republicans rejected three other amendments from DeLaney. Those proposals would have:
- Prevented any failing virtual charter schools from continuing to operate after their charter was revoked, expired, or not renewed because of mismanagement or academic failure.
- Allowed only the state Department of Education to authorize a virtual charter school.
- Required parents of students in virtual charter schools to meet with educators twice a year to review the student’s academic progress. The move would have ensured that a student being taught at a non-traditional setting is making progress similar to students learning in a classroom.
“The problems that surround virtual charters have been consistent since the idea first gained traction, and we have seen those concerns generate more public disapproval as these programs grow,” DeLaney said. “Recently, we have seen in the news that charters for two of these schools are at risk of being revoked because of numerous violations, including counting thousands of students who never signed up for or completed classes.
“The proposals I offered today would have compelled the state to address many of these concerns,” he continued. “If a virtual charter is failing students, it should be prevented from being able to fail even more students. We need to determine whether or not we should be using $80 million in taxpayer dollars on a highly profitable industry that is more interested in collecting a check than educating our children.
“While it can be considered progress that House Republicans are agreeing that the problems surrounding virtual charters need to be studied in-depth, they continue to be dead set against holding virtual charter schools accountable to the same standards they demand from public schools,” DeLaney said. “They cannot continue to ignore the growing number of warning signs or scandals surrounding virtual charter schools in Indiana. We have to act now. Studying the issue is a great idea, but more is needed.”