West Virginia Joining 42 Other States That Offer Charter Schools
West Virginia is now the 42nd state to introduce public charter schools as an educational choice for parents and students. A new state law allows for the creation of 10 charter schools over the next three years. That can include two virtual charter schools. A state authorizing board is reviewing seven applications that are required to follow the same rules and regulations that public schools do, but charters can offer more flexibility to adapt and adjust learning approaches.
In some states like Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina and California more than 10 percent of students now attend charter schools. The educational reform movement got its start 30 years ago in Minnesota and in the past three decades, charters have created an us-and-them divide.
Despite their popularity and expansion, some people oppose charter schools. They say charters drain students and resources from traditional public schools. When students attend a charter program, state funding moves with them. We’ll hear from students, parents, teachers and leaders about West Virginia’s decision to bring in charters — and a lawsuit that claims the plan is unconstitutional.
For this episode, Us & Them host Trey Kay speaks with West Virginia State Senator Patricia Rucker, who championed the landmark legislation to permit charter schools in the Mountain State. Kay also checks in with people involved in the charter debate on the national level. He speaks with Joe Nathan, who helped write the nation's first charter public school law and Diane Ravitch, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education in President George H. W. Bush’s Administration. Ravitch was once a supporter of charters, but is now one of the nation’s most outspoken opponents.
This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the CRC Foundation and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
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