Serial No. 105-136


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce

Table of contents






STATEMENT OF Ms. Mamie Thorns, Interim Director, Charter School Office, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan *








Thursday, June 26, 1997


House of Representatives


Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families


Committee on Education and the Workforce


The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:02 a.m., in Room 2261, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Riggs, Goodling, Martinez, Payne, Roemer and Kucinich.

Majority Staff Present: Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Vic Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff; and Denzel McGuire, Legislative Assistant.

Minority Staff Present: June Harris, Education Coordinator; and Alex Nock, Legislative Associate.

Mr. Goodling. Mr. Secretary, we won't hold you here. I am sure Mr. Riggs is either at the conference or caught in traffic. I will get it started until he arrives.

Mr. Martinez. Do you want me to take over?

Mr. Goodling. You can have this part.

We thank you very much for coming up this morning, and we are interested in your testimony.

Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Goodling.

Mr. Goodling. I am sorry.

Mr. Martinez. No, I will submit my statement for the record.

Mr. Goodling. No, give an opening statement; and maybe Mr. Riggs will be here by that time.


Mr. Martinez. Well, first of all, let me say I am undecided about charter schools for several different reasons. You know, I am interested in what they will do to the public school system. Will they be in competition? Because I feel, if charter schools are such a great thing, the best thing since sliced bread, why don't we change all our public schools systems to charter schools, and then they won't be accountable to anybody.

There is a system that has been in place for many years in this country, local school boards and State school boards, which control most of the educational activity. You know, I really have a problem with somebody managing the care and education of our children without being accountable to anybody for an obvious reason, that it is not their money they are spending, it is our money they are spending to do this for the children.

There should be even when we criticize local school boards because we don't feel that the people that were elected were adequate to manage that or to although there is a system in most of those areas that does provide professional staff that do have the background and education to do it. So I am very apprehensive about that.

The other thing I am apprehensive about, are they going to be able to pick and choose? Because there has been a system that is tantamount to the charter schools in place for a long time. They are called Don Bosco. They are called Vocational Tech Schools. They are called all kinds of things.

But they are the same thing. They are not answering to any school board, elected school board. On cases like Bosco, they maybe answer both to the archdiocese, but I doubt that very much. They run on private funds. But they do exclude people. They won't take any child that is a problem child.

What happens to charter schools when they are required to take all and any students and then those students, the ones that are the problems in the public schools today, are their problem? Are they going to be able to handle them? Or are they going to be like public school?

The public school system has some problem, but we haven't dealt with it either on a local level or Federal level. I can remember a time when the answer to handling a problem child was to just expel him, suspend him, kick him out of school, put him on the street, let him become society's problem, the police's problem and until enlightened educators come along and said, hey, we don't kick a kid out without finding out what is wrong with him and what we can do to correct it. We have to deal with that. You see, the public school systems have to deal with those problems.

Our charter schools are set up, and I imagine they are from what I have seen so far, that they can be very exclusive. One, exclusiveness starts from the parents themselves. They want to put their children in a school like this because they are the same reasons that a person puts his child in a parochial school, you know, to get him away from that environment that he thinks is in not in his child's best interest or in the best interest of his child learning well and getting a good education.

So there are all these kinds of thoughts go through my mind.

I will submit my written testimony for the record and then just say that, like the Chairman, I am anxious to hear the testimony today. I am anxious to learn more about charter schools.

The brief experience we had with them, especially in California, has been two charter schools that have been closed up because of an abuse of the way they spent the money. That shows that there is a real potential for that kind of a problem; and, if there is, then I think we ought to be real careful how we do that, especially in the area of accountability.

I would say that, when you say they shouldn't be answerable to the local LEAs, we always put our trust so much in the local LEAs that, all of a sudden, I am wondering why we wouldn't have their confidence in or trust in them to at least oversee what is happening with the money.

In the County of Los Angeles, for example, we have LACOE, which is the Los Angeles County Board of Education which really does the auditing of all the school systems within the county of LA to make sure their money is being spent. As I understand it, charter schools don't come under the same scrutiny. I wonder why. So those are some of the questions that I have, and I hope are going to be answered today.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Martinez.



Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for beginning the hearing. I was delayed just a couple of minutes and inadvertently went downstairs. I am glad I found the right hearing room, and I will welcome our witnesses and the attendees of this morning's hearing.

Mr. Roemer, you indicated you would like to make an opening statement.

Mr. Roemer. Very brief, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate it.

Chairman Riggs. You are recognized.



Mr. Roemer. I want to welcome the administration here today, and I want to say I very much look forward to your testimony.

When Lincoln talked during the Civil War, one of his favorite quotes and mine was as the times are new; we must think anew and act anew. Never is the need for newness more appropriate than what we face now with the public schools, and charter schools are certainly an option that we should consider.

I think there are a host of myths and misunderstandings about charter schools that I hope the administration will clear up today. I couldn't help but think, in my overhearing Mr. Martinez's opening statement, that when you visit charter schools many of these myths are brushed away.

I recently visited a charter school here in D.C. called the Options Charter School that has, as its mission, addressing the needs of the under-served, the special needs, the dropouts. They don't say no to these students that need the help. They are the school in D.C. that is, as its mission statement, helping those students that the other public schools are not helping.

So I think the more we understand about charter schools, the more they can be helpful, not as a panacea to help us reform completely our public school system but to help us in some small ways, give more options to parents, to students, to do it within the confines of the separation of church and state, to do it with new ideas, and to do it serving those most in need.

So I very much look forward to the administration's first report on charter schools and look forward to continuing to support the idea of charter schools.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you Mr. Roemer.

Mr. Chairman, did you want to make any other opening comments?

I will proceed with my opening statement briefly, and then recognize our first distinguished witness of the morning.

Again, I want to thank each of you for attending what is our fourth hearing on charter schools and the broader subject of public school choice and how we promote the idea of giving parents more choice and more say in the education that is appropriate that they deem appropriate for their child.

In January of this year, we had charter school field hearings in San Fernando, California, southern California, at the Vaughn Learning Center, run by a remarkable educational entrepreneur by the name of Dr. Yvonne Chan, and in Phoenix Arizona; and, in April, we had a hearing here in Washington.

Shortly after our April hearing, the Department of Education released its report on charter schools, which confirms several things we have been hearing from parents and other innovators, so-called developers who have started charter schools.

Key findings from this report not to steal the Assistant Secretary's thunder, but key findings from his report on which I hope he will elaborate this morning are the number of charter schools has grown rapidly over the last 4 years in America. In just 6 years, we have gone from one to almost 500 schools and from one State with a charter school law on the books to 27 States, including, most recently, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The two most common reasons for starting public charter schools, according to the report, were to realize an educational vision and, two, flexibility from bureaucratic laws and regulations. That also, obviously, conforms with what we heard from folks around the country who view charter schools as an experiment in decentralization and deregulation or, as Dr. Chan said in San Fernando, an opportunity to move away from the 3 Bs of busing, bureaucracy and but, which she characterizes as the response that she got to innovative ideas during her distinguished and lengthy career in the Los Angeles city schools.

Charter schools, in most States, according to the Department of Education's report, have a ratio composition similar to statewide averages or actually have a higher proportion of minority students. In other words, charter schools basically have the same ethnic and racial diversity or makeup as other public schools or that neighborhood public school just down the street.

Charter schools enroll roughly the same proportion of low-income students on average as other public schools; and most charter schools are small, with an average enrollment of 275 students, with more than 60 percent having fewer than 200 students.

In this regard, I am very pleased that Assistant Secretary Tirozzi would take time from his busy schedule to join us today to talk about the results of the study.

As I noted at the last hearing, at which he also testified, one of the beauties of charter schools is that they are held accountable for results. I believe we need to apply these same accountability principles to traditional public schools. After all, it is only fair. If you don't produce academic results, you should be held strictly accountable. Likewise, if a school mismanages money, it should, again, be held strictly accountable.

I am pleased that we have begun to see some movement towards strict academic accountability in America and, particularly in the recent plans for Virginia's public schools, an experiment in accountability, since I think we could safely say that Virginia is on that cutting edge of public school accountability that we, as elected policy decision makers here in Washington, will be watching closely.

By cutting red tape and promoting innovation, State charter laws have enabled more dollars to get to the classroom for basic academic instruction. Over and over in our hearings, we have heard about small teacher-student ratios, how parents are welcome at charter schools any time, how teachers are free to be innovative, and how administrators are set free from burdensome and unnecessary paperwork.

The Federal charter program has provided much-needed financial assistance to States for charter school planning, equipment and material purchase and other initial operating cost. $51 million is allocated for charter schools in fiscal year 1997 from Federal taxpayers; and the President, of course, has proposed doubling that amount to $100 million for the start-up of more charter schools in fiscal year 1998.

As I said before, I believe charter schools are one area where we can work together with the administration and with my colleagues, our colleagues, the Democratic colleagues on the other side of the political aisle.

As the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal charter school law, we are continuing to examine how that statute is working and what, if any, barriers may exist at the Federal level to the formation and ongoing operation of charter schools.

In particular, we are concerned that some charter schools may not be receiving their fair share of Federal categorical funding, grant funding for eligible students. Today, we will hear from parents, charter school operators, administrators and, of course, the Assistant Secretary; and I look forward to hearing from our distinguished group of witnesses.


Chairman Riggs. Mr. Secretary, thank you again very much for being here. I would like you to introduce your associates if you would, sir; and then you are recognized and you may proceed with your testimony.



Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you, Mr. Riggs; and members of the committee, good morning.

To my left, Mr. John Fiegel, who is the person in our office who is responsible for overseeing the charter school program; and Dr. Conaty is with the office of OERI. They are responsible for working through the evaluation process and working with the contract on the evaluation. So I think we have staff here who can answer some questions as deemed appropriate.

I welcome this opportunity to talk to you again this morning; and, Mr. Riggs, I want to commend you for doing such an excellent job on summarizing the summary, should I need your notes in the future. Hopefully, everyone has received a copy. Very quickly, I may repeat one or two thing that Mr. Riggs said, but I think they are worth repeating.

First, this is a study done by an outside contractor. It is RPP International, the University of Minnesota, under contract of course with OERI. It is a $2.6 million contract. It is a 4-year study of charter schools.

That needs to be put into perspective. This is not a one-shot deal, pardon my English. It is 4 years. This first study really is a broad demographic look at charter schools, some basic information on what charter schools look like.

Over the next 3 years but every year, we will continue to upgrade the descriptive part of the report, the demographic part of the report. But over the next couple, 3 years, we are going to be this study will include an intensive study of a sample of 72 charter schools and 28 matched comparison schools so that we can begin to look very seriously at the issue of student achievement, which all of us are critically concerned about. So I am pleased to say this is going to be a comprehensive look at charter schools.

Some highlights of this report again, I think it is very important to put the report into context. It began in the 1995, 1996 school year. At that time, we only had up and running approximately 252 charter schools. I should note, at that time, only, I believe, 97 schools were up and running 2 or more years.

I say that because, as we ask some questions and I respect the questions; most of the questions, if not all of the questions, are fair and good we don't always have all the answers. Because we are talking about a program that is very young, and we need more time to evaluate some of the issues and some of the concerns.

But I do think in this initial report some of the myths have been dispelled, at least in the early going, really pointing out that charter schools do, in fact, serve a very diverse student population. The so-called elitist label is really not fair.

However, I am certain, as we look across 27 States, we could find a couple, three, four, five, six, seven examples where that may take place; and that is our responsibility and the States' responsibility to address that. But these numbers clearly show that the schools are well represented. As a matter of fact, half of all charter school students are students of color.

The report also clearly points out that some States have higher percentages of charter schools serving students of color than other public schools in the State. We also see that charter schools are, in fact, serving a proportional percentage of special education students. In some States, like Minnesota, even a higher level of special education students; in other States, not as many. Again, as I pointed out earlier, these are issues we know we are going to look at that.

We see the same thing when we look at limited-English-proficient students. In some States, they serve a higher percentage; in some States, it is less. Although, if you look at the overall average, it really doesn't differ very much from the general average of the respective school districts.

Most schools report they are eligible for Title I funds, but many report they do not receive funding. I think later in questioning and discourse we need to talk about that, because we recognize that to be an issue, but it is somewhat a complicated issue in terms of the way the formula works that we have to work through.

As the Congressman noted in his opening remarks, they are found for a number of different reasons, ranging from more teachers and parents wanting more control, people wanting to implement their vision. Some are built around very specific curriculum models and so on.

I thought it was very interesting when the report pointed out some of the barriers to implementing charter schools; and maybe just to make everyone's life easier, I pulled from the report itself four charts that I thought would make it easier for you to handle this.

If you look for just a moment on page two on page 36, which is the second page of the handout, you get a sense of the barriers which districts report; and, please note, lack of start-up funds is probably is the most significant barrier. Fifty-nine percent report that to be an issue. Lack of planning time is 42 percent.

I also thought it was impressive, quote-unquote, if you look down toward the bottom, Federal regulations were only a barrier 6 percent of the time. So I think it is fair to say we are not getting in the way.

There are some issues at the State level that have to be addressed and so on, and our money mostly goes to start-up funds. So I think we are on track in terms of what we are trying to do.

Also, for just a moment, in terms of putting the full report in context, that chart I provided, which is page 4 of the report, which is the first page of the handout, I think it is important to look at this for just a moment. It clearly notes the 252 schools I talked about. Then if you backtrack through the year 1992-1993, you get a sense that we didn't have a large number of schools. We had I guess it was 97 that had 2 or more years of actual existence before the study took place.

I also should point out the year the study began, 1995-1996; and we were talking about a grant appropriation nationally of $6 million. So I mean, we aren't look this study is not necessarily looking at charter schools as they are in 1997. It is looking at it at a point in time. But the fact we are going to do the same type of study for 4 consecutive years, I think we can keep updating the data. That is why I raised the earlier point. There are a number of questions we continue to have as well as you.

Just very quickly and I am going to speak to it, hopefully, more specifically later to Mr. Martinez's points I would be the first to say, and I agree with anyone, charter schools are not a panacea for all ills of public education. They are not a silver bullet.

I do think, if you want to talk about comprehensive school reform, you have to look at a number of initiatives that are going on around the country raising standards, expectation, dealing with assessment, accountability, the Title I commitment, safe and drug free schools, several of the initiatives the President has put forward all of these, I mean, built into a comprehensive program.

But having said that, I think charter schools do give us an opportunity to allow teachers to allow administrators, to allow parents to work on different models and to see if, in fact, by trying some new models, things can change. I guess I would like to say if, in fact, certain charter schools prove successful, then local school districts, States and the Federal Government, we all have a responsibility to learn from those experiences and, to the extent possible, begin to replicate what some of these new models are telling us or showing us.

I think, in fairness, the accountability issue, the reality of the situation is charter schools arguably are more accountable than your traditional schools, because the law is very clear. If they are not accountable for student achievement, they can be closed.

I would put forth that you have hundreds if not thousands of schools in this country that are under scrutiny year after year where we have students failing. As a matter of fact, in California I was in San Francisco recently they reconstitute schools, the failing schools. They don't close them. They reconstitute them, put in a new faculty.

I am simply pointing out the law is very specific about accountability for student outcomes, and charter schools are under the public domain. I don't think we can ever forget that. They still are responsible to either local school boards or to a State Department of Education; and if, in fact, there is a fraud, there is a problem with achievement, they can be closed.

I think you all know it is not as easy to close a traditional school as it is to close a charter school; and the example in California, two are closed for financial reasons. I believe California has in excess of 110, 115 charter schools. Some of these schools some of these things I am sure are going to happen, and we are going to have to watch this very carefully.

The study I think is timely because it does bring it into clear view some of the issues, some of the concerns. It gives us a good description of what is happening.

Rather than spend a lot of time with the introduction, I have handed in my testimony. You have a copy of the report. I do want to speak to these four charts specifically as you ask questions. I would like to really stop there and see what your questions are, Mr. Riggs.

Chairman Riggs. Very good. Thank you very much.



Chairman Riggs. Mr. Martinez, your questions for the witness.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you. You caught me by surprise. I expected you would go first.

When you say they are under the public domain and they can be closed, they are responsible to the State Board of Education, how does that conflict with the fact that we say they are free from regulations and free from the burdensome accountability that other schools, like public schools, have to the local school board? In other words, they are not accountable to the local school board but only to the State school board?

Mr. Tirozzi. The laws are different in various States. Most States, they are responsible to the local school board. Some States Arizona would be an example, I guess, and Massachusetts they are responsible to the State board. That is a decision the State made. But they are still under the public domain. I mean, that, to me, is the critical point.

I think the issue of relieving them of regulations, this gives a group of teachers, administrators, parents the opportunity to operate a school where, for example, if they didn't want to go to school 180 days but wanted to put in 190 or 200 days, they could do that.

I am not suggesting they would not want to hire certified teachers. But if the law allowed them, they wanted to hire other types of people, they could do that. Instead of having a teacher in every classroom with 25 students, if they wanted to work it out to have smaller classes and use more teacher aides, they could do that. If they wanted to have a longer school day, they could do that.

They are still responsible for all the health and safety and accountability that other schools are. They go through the same audit process as all other schools. But the bottom line is what you are trying to do is remove what we have heard over time is rules and regulations that get in the way of reform. These are models that try to take a look at whether or not the schools can be different, can make a difference with some of the rules and regulations removed.

Mr. Martinez. You know, I have no problem with you know, sometimes I believe in that there are too many regulations and a lot of them with no basis. They have been developed over the years because somebody wanted to watch for something that they imagined in their mind and was going on or wasn't going on. So I understand the need to get rid of some of that that you don't need.

I have always come back to the fact, though, that our school system, our public school system that services the majority of our population, is the one we really ought to be concentrating on and improving.

It is the same thing with busing. I was always against busing, because I didn't believe you ought to move a kid out of his own neighborhood, out of the reach of his parents, who might be poor and unable to afford transportation on the other side of town to pick him up in an emergency. That instead of busing people around that you improve the school where it is and improve the facility.

We still have that disparity. Even though Serrano I think it was Serrano

Mr. Tirozzi. Serrano-Priest.

Mr. Martinez. Priest decision. That said that there was inequitable spending on children in California. We still have not corrected that. The kids in Beverly Hills still get a lot more per student than do the kids in Baldwin Park. So that continues to exist. We have not really worked on that.

The other part of the problem I have always had with the public school system is that we never really tested at a young enough age to find out how they are best going to learn. There are a thousand pedagogies for learning and a thousand pedagogies for teaching. But we are stuck in old paradigms of this is the way we are going to teach because that was a pattern we originally set out, and that is a hard thing to break.

Maybe charter schools will break that. I don't know. But the fact is, we still have the problem that the majority of our kids are being serviced in public schools, and that is where the real problems exist today, and that is what we are going to have our change. We may start 112 schools in California, charter schools, but how many schools are there in California?

Mr. Tirozzi. That is right.

Mr. Martinez. Thousands and thousands. So this is a little piece of the problem.

So, you know, I really come back to when we spend Federal dollars, which are very limited and a very small percentage of the public school system, why are we concentrating so hard on starting something new without correcting the old for the majority?

Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I want to go back to what I tried to say earlier. I think I would never represent to Congress or to any group or organization that this program solves the problems of public education and, in particular, urban education. I think, you know, there are other major Federal programs like Title I attempting to do that Even Start, Head Start. I would also point out that, you know States and local districts provide 93 percent of the funding for schools. I mean, how they are using their monies, how States are equalizing their funding formula to send the money out more appropriately.

I see this as I tried to say earlier, I see this as a small part of school reform, as a series of models that could be developed under the public domain. They still are public schools. I think that is very important to understand. There are still public schools that give us, hopefully, some viable working models, respect choice from parents. We learn from those models; and, very possibly, what we learn we can transfer hopefully, we can transfer to all of our schools, if not a majority of our schools, to make a difference.

Mr. Martinez. I am

Mr. Tirozzi. I think when you are in a system that has a lot of problems, rather than continuing to support a ton of money into the status quo, as we seem to be doing in this country, I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to do some new things from which you can learn some good lessons to transfer to change the status quo.

Mr. Martinez. I am glad you said that. Because, you know, when the charter schools began, they were really to be models for how to reform the public school system. That was a great idea, and that still is a great idea.

Let me ask you this, though. You know I am concerned about studies that are done, because so many times the questions are asked of people who have built-in biases. I am wondering in the firm that you are contracting with if they are really looking, when they ask the question, who they ask the question of and understand the bias of the person they might be asking.

For example, the school periods are going to be against charter schools because it seems to interfere, especially in the State where they don't have control over the local. If they allow them to have control, like in California, I there still is some resistance, 25 percent resistance to it, but they would have a built-in bias against charter schools because they don't feel they have that control they should have.

If you ask a schoolteacher, they don't like to be bound by regulations. A teacher would like to be free to teach the way they can and feel they should teach to the best result. Maybe that is the reality that we have not faced up to. But the fact is that everybody has built-in biases. But I am wondering, for the reports and the studies to be accurate, are you taking all that into consideration, the biases of the people you are asking the questions of?

Mr. Tirozzi. John Conaty from OERI. They commissioned the study.

Mr. Conaty. Good morning, Mr. Congressman.

Let me begin by introducing, behind me, Beryl Nelson. Dr. Nelson is why don't you stand, Beryl? Dr. Nelson is one of the chief researchers who is responsible for the study, and next to her is Pat Lines. Patricia Lines is a member of the OERI staff, who I think many of you know is an expert in local and State education law.

With response to your question, I would I am going to use it as an opportunity to talk, not only about this study, sir, but also the studies that we currently are planning to conduct, in addition, to support this one.

You are not the first nor the last to raise concerns regarding equity, accountability, the treatment of students with special needs and also a general finance issue. In order to address those special topics, we are commissioning additional work, special studies on those four topics that will, over the course of the life of this major study, provide us special information on accountability systems are they being held accountable? Do children get fair access? Do they treat children with special needs in a proper way? to do all of those kinds of special questions that you have raised.

In addition, and I think this goes directly to your question, not only are we talking to people in charter schools about charter schools and parents with students in charter schools, we also, as part of this study, are looking at non-charter schools that are in comparable circumstances.

So when we look at a charter school, we look at a non-charter school that has similar demographic characteristics, serves a similar population and raises the same sort of issues with them. So in the outyears we will have a good sense of a balance between not only what charter schools are doing but in a larger impact on the public schools that surround them.

Mr. Martinez. Very good. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Martinez.

Before I recognize the Chairman, let me point out to my good friend and colleague, Mr. Martinez, that our State is one of several that impose a cap or a limit on a number of charter schools through the State law authorizing charter schools. In fact, I believe California is presently at its cap at or very near its cap. I would be interested to know if we could get agreement this morning between Mr. Martinez and perhaps and Dr. Tirozzi that we ought to, from the Federal perspective, do what we can to encourage the States to lift the cap now that we know the charter school experiment appears to be working.

Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Goodling. As we know, during the first 10, 12 years of Head Start, even though there was a lot of hype out there, there were also a lot of studies that indicated we weren't accomplishing very much, and there wasn't any lasting effect and so on. Probably when you talk about Title I, that may go on another maybe that was 15, 18 years; and, of course, I was one of those administrators spending that money but accomplishing very little.

That has changed, because the Congress got very much involved in relationship to quality. But the problem was that we gave contracts to everybody and their brother to run a Head Start program, very little knowledge about early childhood education. What I am leading up to, we also then didn't recompete, no matter how poorly they were doing, as we were falling asleep, all the hype that was put out there that everything was going well.

Which brings me to my question. Does your study show that we have in place enough protection to move very quickly if, as a matter of fact, the charter school is failing? Because if we wait 5, 6, 7 years, we could do an awful lot of damage in that amount of time. Does the study show that you said some have been closed? Did they move quickly or

Mr. Fiegel. I can try to respond to that.

As far as we know, there has only been six charter schools out of about 500 that are in operation that have been closed. Five have been closed for fiscal mismanagement. They do have the same Federal and State requirements that any other public school has; but the difference is, when they get caught, they get closed. So those schools were closed very rapidly; and where criminal charges were necessary, those took place.

There have been only a handful of charter schools that actually have lived out the time of their charter and have come up for reauthorization.

So far, we only know of one that has been closed or partially slowed; and that is a school in Minnesota where they deal with a largely Native American population that has a tremendous dropout problem. They have an elementary charter and a high school charter. The high school charter was not renewed because the students were still dropping out, so the charter was the charter high school was closed down. But the neighboring high school, which had the same dropout rate, still continues. The elementary school portion of the charter continues as well.

So the answer to the question is, yes, there is the capability to close the schools when they are not functioning the way they should. How that will play out over time, when they actually come up for reauthorization of a charter, is one of the most important elements of the accountability aspect of charter schools.

Mr. Goodling. As I indicated, that is, of course, my major concern. I want to make sure we did the same thing when we got into the business of proprietary putting money out to proprietary schools. Every great American discovered that, gee, in my backyard, I have a proprietary school, and we got into all sorts of trouble. It took us a long time to get smart enough to say, if we delay disbursement, we will put fly-by-nights out of business. But a lot of young people lost a lot in the meantime.

The other question that I would ask is, in your study, what has been the relationship between the local school board and whoever it is that is running the charter schools? I mean, is there a good relationship or is it an adversarial relationship?

Mr. Fiegel. It does vary from district to district, charter schools even within the district. In some cases, there are adversarial relationships established early on; and after time and I think you will talk to and I really encourage people to question the other witnesses here today, the people that are actually in charter schools and operating them, to see what kinds of relationships they developed but, over time, those relationships seem to improve.

I tell you, in your State in Pennsylvania, we have met already with a number of superintendents of schools who can't wait to get the charters schools going because they see it as a way to further their own reforms. I think when you have that situation, you have a much better relationship.

In our study, even though the next to lack of start-up funds, the lack of facilities, the lack of planning time and operational funds, those funding issues which are so important to schools, the next highest level of concern for charter schools and it was only reported I think by 25 percent of schools as a concern was a concern with local districts' opposition to their chartering.

But, you know, we have seen in more recent laws and they will be part of additional studies in the future in Florida, where only local school boards can charter schools, that, you know, that were taken by surprise, in the first year, they had six charter schools; and, in the second year, they have chartered another 34. They will have 40 charter schools up and operating this year. The public school system is really embracing the idea of choice and the charter school concept.

Mr. Goodling. One last question. I would assume in all charter schools there is a zero tolerance in relationship to discipline, and I assume that the parent and the child knows that before they get there. Does your study indicate that many students were eliminated during the year because of discipline problems? Or does the study show that they ignored the discipline problem?

Mr. Conaty. Can I invite Beryl to answer that question directly?

Ms. Nelson. First, I would like say thank you for having us here and to be interested in the report that we have done.

In answer to your question, charter schools actually vary like the regular public schools on the discipline policies. Lots of the charter schools are really catered to kids who, for lots of reasons, had issues in the public schools; and your other witnesses will be able to talk about some of those schools.

We didn't find evidence in looking at the survey data which we did for all of the charter school or the 72 schools that we visited evidence of masses of students being expelled for discipline reasons. There were, in a few schools, several cases of kids who got into discipline issues with the school.

The students and the parents at the charter schools tell you and I won't speak for the people who are here tell you with passion that this is a place where they feel safe and they feel comfortable. Lots of it has to do with the small size of the schools, but lots of it really does have to do with charter schools creating an environment for parent and students that is open and welcoming and supportive.

Mr. Goodling. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Let me just note, also, in follow-up to the Chairman's question, that you did have a category under the on your barriers chart indicating State or local option as a barrier that charter schools found difficult or very difficult. You indicate 25 percent of the respondents indicated that State local board opposition was a barrier.

Mr. Conaty. That is State. Further down, it is local.

Chairman Riggs. Where would we because the chart I am looking at says State or local board.

Mr. Conaty. In the original report, it breaks it out on page 35.

Chairman Riggs. How does that break down then, if I might ask?

Mr. Conaty. It is by memory, it is 25 at the State level and 19 at the local level.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. Because, again, the chart I am looking at, the next category under State or local board opposition says, State Department of Education resistance or regulations and that all sites reported 19 percent time or 19 percent of the respondents cited that as a barrier.

Mr. Conaty. Let us get back.

Mr. Tirozzi. Yes. I think separating those two, separating the board from the department, the State departments have a number of rules and regulations they implement. The way I read it is 19 percent felt that many of those regulations were in the way, as opposed to the opposition of the board itself.

By the way, it wouldn't necessarily surprise me to find a number of local school boards that would have some difficulty with charter schools because it is a form of transfer of power, if you will, of their own autonomy. At the same time, you find some very I will say it candidly enlightened school boards who are willing to try some new things in an effort to improve the quality of their schools.

Chairman Riggs. We know it varies from State to State; but the chartering authorities, as I have been, are the State board of education or local board of education.

Mr. Tirozzi. Right.

Chairman Riggs. Again, according to this chart, particularly with preexisting schools I guess these are actual existing public schools that are trying to convert to charter schools, trying to get a charter.

Mr. Tirozzi. Right.

Chairman Riggs. One third of them cited State or local school board opposition as a barrier to the creation of their charter school.

Mr. Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman; and thank you again for having this important hearing this morning.

Welcome, Mr. Secretary.

I think one of the biggest obstacles you have, quite frankly, in overcoming the myths and misunderstandings about charter schools certainly many people out there feel that charter schools are primarily a vehicle of wealthy, disgruntled parents that want to start their own school and escape the public school system.

The Options Charter School that I visited here in Washington, D.C., is a school that serves 100 percent at-risk students. It is a school that serves, I believe it was, about 95 percent minority students; and most of these students were at least at the very least 2 years behind where they should have been in their regular grade level. So these were students that were not being served by the status quo in the D.C. public school system; and a special school was put together to serve this at-risk, needy, economically disadvantaged population.

Now one of the concerns I have when we do have these kinds of charter schools that I believe are doing exactly what we intended with the creation of charter schools, which is to come up with a new idea, to push our public school system into new directions, to reform it, is that, according to a CRS report, they cited several obstacles that impede the ability of some of these charter schools to access Title I funds and IDEA funds. Can you talk a little bit about some of these obstacles and some legislative remedies that we may address to help these schools that really are doing exactly what we think they should be doing, overcome these hurdles?

Mr. Tirozzi. Yes. Well, the first part of my answer is we are very conversant with both of those issues. They have come up before. As a matter of fact, we are working very closely with OSERT, our special ed office; and, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we will be getting out some very good guidance to local school districts about their roles and responsibility dealing with special ed funds. Our lawyers are looking at that information right now.

So I think the guidance we are going to put out is going to help that situation. It is, in some respects, complicated. Because, I mean, you also have to look at the youngster's IEP, the individual's education plan, whether or not it calls for him or her to be in a charter school. Is it the best place for a youngster? Of course, if it is, the funding should follow the youngster and the services and the resources.

There are also some parents who don't necessarily want their children in charter schools, feeling the broader level of services may be more appropriate in a more comprehensive elementary or middle or senior high school.

On Title I, the same type of an issue. As a matter of fact, we are just contracting now to do a separate study of that particular issue. But what compounds it in Title I, because a student was Title I eligible in a particular district, once he or she transfers to a charter school in the same district does not make that child automatically eligible. Because it becomes complex.

Because a district is responsible, as you may know, with a formula to ranking schools in order; and we have to see where that charter school falls out in the ranking, if it doesn't make the ranking. The local school district determines the cutoff point. Then it becomes in fairness, they are not really eligible for funding any longer.

Having said that, we truly believe there may be examples where the funding should be going to those schools and it is not. So that is an issue, Mr. Roemer, we are really looking at very closely.

Mr. Roemer. I would like to work with you on that particular issue.

Mr. Tirozzi. John Fiegel, in particular, is on top of that.

Mr. Fiegel. In fact, you know, the Options School has been mentioned a couple of times. I do appreciate that, and I echo your comments about the Options School. But, in fact, not only are they working with at-risk kids but the most at-risk kids in the district. These are kids that are discipline problems that the other public schools, where these kids were, just couldn't handle them. This is their mission.

I have talked to Kathy Mortonson about the Title I funding issue. For them, it is not a matter of not being eligible. Ninety-nine of the hundred students they have were eligible for free and reduced lunches, which is the measure that the District of Columbia uses for Title I eligibility.

The problem for them is twofold. They have to apply for the funds. So they have to figure out how to do that. There is paperwork involved. They also have to have the count, you know, their student count, acceptable at the before the funds are actually distributed by the district. We are going to work with I have talked to Kathy this week.

Mr. Roemer. Okay.

Mr. Fiegel. We are going to work with her, with our Title I office, to make sure that she can get together with the right people in the district school board to get her funding.

Mr. Roemer. Right. I think

Mr. Fiegel. That is the major part of the problem here.

Mr. Roemer. We would like to work with you not only on that particular case but legislative remedies that might help access for Title I or IDEA funds.

Let me ask another question as well, too. The RAND Institute is going to be releasing a study on Massachusetts charter schools I believe next month, and one of the preliminary findings may be that institutions of higher education are very helpful in starting charter schools because of their access to capital and property and a host of other things. That really correlates with what you found in your study, that funding is the primary obstacle to starting a charter school.

Mr. Tirozzi. Right.

Mr. Roemer. What can we find from this study that may help us with other institutions of higher education helping to start charter schools? Are there some things that we can draw out from Massachusetts?

Mr. Tirozzi. I would be very I have not seen that study; and, of course, I would be very interested in looking at that study. Because I guess it is in Michigan, were they?

Mr. Fiegel. And North Carolina.

Mr. Tirozzi. Michigan has had some real problems with higher ed involved with charter schools. I guess, without question, higher ed has a lot to bring to the table in terms of supporting this whole initiative.

I guess I just get concerned when they become chartering authorities, as I guess Michigan allows, because it is hard enough to operate public schools in a domain that you are very familiar with. It is very difficult when they move it up to higher ed. So I guess the RAND study will form this discourse as it should.

Without question, I agree. I think higher ed should be a key player in all of this, but I think there are a number of issues we are going to have to monitor very closely.

Mr. Roemer. Finally, let me just ask a question about your chart on page 21.

You mentioned in your opening statement that children with disabilities, depending upon the school, they rank at the overall average maybe ahead, maybe behind. What can you generally draw, Mr. Secretary, from the examples like Minnesota and Massachusetts, where in Minnesota the charter schools actually enroll twice the population of disabled students but in Massachusetts roughly only less than half of those students with disability are in charter schools? Is there something in the State charter? Is there something about word of mouth and devotion to these kinds of needs at the State level? What are we learning about that?

Mr. Tirozzi. John.

Mr. Fiegel. Well, I think we will learn more about it in the 2-year study we are going to do on charter schools and special education students.

But the Minnesota law, the first law really was designed to serve at-risk students. There is more of a purpose for dealing with at-risk students. They have been around a little while longer, so parents are more comfortable choosing those schools.

In Massachusetts, there are some interesting dynamics there. I think some of the charter schools are in portable buildings that a parent may not be willing to accept yet. There is been a lot of contention in Massachusetts between charter school advocates and charter school opponents; and I think parents and I don't know, this is purely speculation, but I think parents may be waiting to see; and, hopefully, they will choose charter schools as an option, because those many of those charter schools are working.

Mr. Roemer. I thank you again for your very helpful testimony today and look forward to working with you, with the Options School, but particularly nationwide on the remedies for Title I and IDEA funds.

Maybe, if this continues to go in the right direction, the question becomes, too, is the President's request of $100 million enough to help us continue to start with the requests of funding being the highest obstacle to creation under charter schools? Is that enough?

But if you want to handle that as a last question

Mr. Tirozzi. Yes, I do.

Mr. Roemer. Okay.

Mr. Tirozzi. Because I think it segues to an earlier question that Mr. Riggs asked or a comment that was not really addressed.

I thank you for your comments, Mr. Roemer. By the way, if we can identify someone in your office who could work with us, we would be happy to have an ongoing liaison in terms of

Mr. Roemer. Jean in my office would be happy to work with you.

Mr. Tirozzi. I would be happy to work with you on that.

Mr. Riggs' comment was the issue on the caps in the various States. I think we should have had a previous conversation about that. We have briefly talked about it before, and it partly does address the monetary issue.

I guess my concern about Congress in any way rushing forward to look at changing the law, possibly to make it so that only those States that don't have a cap would receive a grant or appreciable part of a grant, I think could be a mistake.

There is an expression: Make haste slowly. This is a new program. I don't think anyone can tell you, we can prove it, quote-unquote, works.

We have given you a statistical look. We have dispelled a lot of the myths that you have said and others. I think it is going to be critical the next 1 or 2 years to continue the study.

What is also very interesting on the money issue and we can provide you with this. We have been working on a chart; and, Mr. Riggs, we can give you it is not a perfect chart. It is just something we are looking at.

You know, it is conceivable by the year 2,000 we can have somewhere between 2,000-2,500 charter schools up and running, if the exponential growth continues. California, for example, has 112, I guess. They are thinking about going to 200. There is talk about changing the law.

Mr. Martinez. Excuse me, the cap in California is 100. They are over the cap.

Mr. Tirozzi. They are over the cap.

Mr. Fiegel. They have had introduced legislation that has been voted down to lift the cap. The cap can be waived, and they expect to have 122 charter schools operating in the fall.

Mr. Tirozzi. The point is, just looking at the 27 States now on board and two are brand new. So, I mean, they are going to have their first schools up and running. A State I am very familiar with, Connecticut, is going to have its first 24 up and running.

If we are in the neighborhood of 2,000 and 2,500 and we recognize that charter schools are representing that they don't have enough start-up funds and our money is largely start-up, we are going to spend that $100 million rather quickly. I guess what I am concerned about is if we suddenly because caps are removed and see people just rush to develop charter schools, we can be generating an excitement level, and we can't meet the need.

The other concern we have is facilities. Again, the chart clearly points out a number of charter school folks that are concerned about the lack of facilities or the quality of facilities. With the 3 million students we are adding to our schools, States like California, Texas and Florida in particular, I don't know if we are going to find the quality facilities for all of the charter schools people might want to start.

So for some of those reasons I think we need to wait a couple of years.

Then I would also say that, within a State, the potential to continue their legislation or to see the other States come on board may be negatively impacted upon if they feel they just have to, you know, open the doors to everyone. I mean, having been a State commissioner myself and working with the State board, I personally would rather take a tact that let's do this with a select number of schools. Let's see how it works. Let's iron out the wrinkles. Let's figure out what works, doesn't work and let's then move aggressively forward.

I hope in the context of Mr. Riggs' point, which I fully respect, I think we need to wait a year or two and see how this all plays out.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Tirozzi; and thank you, Mr. Roemer. I see the Riggs-Roemer bill taking shape right here in our hearing today and/or if you prefer the Roemer-Riggs bill, that is fine with me.

Chairman Riggs. Mr. Martinez.

Mr. Martinez. On the start-up cost, it goes to something I was thinking about earlier in my original statement. Right now, the monies that we get for start-up, because there are two kinds of start-up. One is a conversion of a public school, and in California there is been some conversion.

Now when you do a conversion the facility is there. The all of the most of the capital equipment is there, and so, you know, that is a lot less costly than when you acquire a new building, acquire new equipment. And a lot of the teachers are in place already; it is just assuming the salaries of the teachers, and they get ADA for that. So I imagine in all of those States, whatever is allocated per pupil, per area or district, they still get that, whether they are a charter or a public school. So that is the operating and maintenance cost.

But the cost really is in the new start-up where you are starting a whole new school. It would seem to me when they devised this law, rather than because so many of the schools well, let me ask this question.

In a conversion, since they have almost everything in place, do the students automatically become a part of that conversion that are in that school? Because, you know, as it is now, we are serviced by districts. We live in a district, a school district, we go to that school. That is called the local school. But are these students that are in that school that is a conversion, do they remain in that school?

Mr. Fiegel. Well, they can, and probably in a lot of them, they do. There are some schools these are and generally these are open to other students, though, and you will see that students choose these schools, other students in the district will choose these schools.

Mr. Martinez. These schools, or will go to another school?

Mr. Fiegel. No, no, but for a public school converting to a charter school, most States give those children who are already there the option of staying in the school.

For private schools that convert to charter status, there is a different story, because they are becoming new public schools and they don't have any they are not grandfathered in. They have to apply with every other student to be part of the new public school.

So in a public conversion, yes. But costs related to those schools vary for a number of reasons. They are not all costs that schools you know, there are a lot of public schools that are converting that don't have everything they need in the way of technology, in the way of teacher training and development, in the way of curriculum development, all those kinds of things.

Mr. Martinez. Okay. Let me get to the real basis well, not basis, but what I am trying to get at.

If there is even a private school converting, but there is a facility there and, like with a public school conversion, there is a facility there, so a lot of the cost in any start-up is acquiring facility and capital investment. What I am getting at is, is it less costly and takes less Federal dollars in that start-up aid to the conversion of either a private or public school as compared to a whole new start-up?

Mr. Fiegel. Well, that question is hard to answer because there aren't very many people using these start-up funds for facilities. Charter schools people actually are using their operating funds, their ADA, or the percentage they get of the ADA; and most of them don't get the same level that the other public schools get. They are using operating funds for facilities. They are going into their own pockets for facilities. Only the we can't use our start-up funds for purchasing or building facilities. We can use them for minor renovations, just like any other grant program, or for leasing space. And there are very few charter schools doing that; we are not given big enough grants to do that.

So at this point we are not meeting facility needs for new school start-ups. The only State that has chosen to earmark some of the start-up funds for facilities has been Arizona, and they have used funds only to make those buildings come up to any new buildings come up to health and safety codes.

So we are not addressing the facilities issue with these costs for new or existing schools.

Mr. Martinez. Okay. So then, if I understand you right, the money, the Federal money that we give, is there a max to the grant? Is there a max to a grant?

Mr. Fiegel. No.

Mr. Tirozzi. It depends on the State. The average is somewhere between $40- and $50,000.

Mr. Martinez. Between 40- and 50,000?

Mr. Tirozzi. On average.

Mr. Martinez. You know, that is not very much money.

Mr. Tirozzi. Oh, it is not. It is 40- to 50,000. And to your question, a lot of the schools, even the schools that convert, I mean, essentially they are becoming a new school, different framework.

Mr. Martinez. Yes. What I was trying to get at is, what would be the easiest and least expensive way to do this and to get the maximum bang for your buck, converting schools that exist already or promoting brand-new start-ups?

Mr. Tirozzi. I think both. I wouldn't say one.

Mr. Martinez. For the kind of money you are talking here, it really is immaterial.

Mr. Tirozzi. What they generally use the money for is professional development, introducing a new curriculum, possibly enhancing their technology capability in the building.

And you are right, it is not a lot of money. As a matter of fact, our projection, if we stayed, we are hoping I mean, with $100 million and the growth we anticipate

Mr. Martinez. It is just a very little bit of seed money to encourage people.

Mr. Tirozzi. That is what it is. That is exactly and I was about to say, with 100 million, we could probably get that up to about $80,000 a school, which is when you look at the need for more start-up money, we think that would be very, very, very helpful. And that new money does not take you know, there are still 13 other States out there, and I think at least half are debating charter school laws.

By the time we have if we have the hundred million, we spend it, we might have four, five, six States on board wanting to move ahead. So that will mitigate it.

Mr. Martinez. In the new money, would you give preference to States that didn't have charter schools yet

Mr. Tirozzi. No.

Mr. Martinez. and just passed laws to create charter schools?

Mr. Tirozzi. No.

Mr. Martinez. You just go across the law?

Mr. Tirozzi. The grant goes across the board.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Martinez.

I wonder if, with the new money, we should try to target that money to States that have no cap on the number of charter schools. We can put that subject aside for debate another day.

Mr. Fiegel. Actually, if I could address that, though

Chairman Riggs. Please.

Mr. Fiegel. I think that the way you know, with the most recent appropriation, we have been able to meet a lot of the needs of the States, and we have been able to address the needs in States that have more charter schools better, whether they have a cap or not. There are States that have caps that are chartering more schools than States that don't have caps, so you know it is not necessarily cap related. And there are States that have lifted caps.

And we are you know, Texas has just voted to lift the State cap from 20 to 100 schools, and we are very encouraged by that.

Chairman Riggs. I appreciate that point, Mr. Fiegel.

Dr. Tirozzi, let me again thank you for your testimony. And I think the first-year report, and I realize this is a work in progress

Mr. Tirozzi. Yes, it is.

Chairman Riggs. But I think the first-year report counters the idea that charter schools will lead to segregated classrooms and won't serve poor, minority, or special education students. I know some of our witnesses on these later panels will talk about their firsthand experiences at their charter schools in serving disadvantaged students or students with learning disabilities.

I want to again emphasize that your study found that that charter schools have, on average, a racial composition either roughly similar to statewide averages or actually have a higher percentage of students of color, that charter schools enroll approximately the same proportion of low-income students as other public schools, and that charter schools serve only a slightly lower proportion of students with disabilities except in Minnesota and Wisconsin where the typical charter school serves actually a higher percentage of students with disabilities.

Now this, I would think, sort of beg the question, do you see anything out there on the horizon which would indicate to you that there that these findings might shift dramatically in the next 3 years? And this is for any of the gentlemen or the ladies that have accompanied you here today. Do you think that, as we move forward with this 4-year study, you will find that charter schools are not serving low-income, minority, or special education students?

Mr. Tirozzi. It is very difficult, I mean, to do that type of a prediction. Personally, I think what we see in the first year probably will look very much the same next year. But it is going to depend, I think, on the State, the way the law is written.

Mr. Roemer. It is up to the State?

Mr. Tirozzi. It is up to the State. That is one of the issues.

Chairman Riggs. But you believe that, based on the study to date, we have gotten a representative look at charter schools across the country.

Mr. Tirozzi. Yes. And what I have done, Mr. Riggs, we have distributed this report widely, and along with video and some other information we have our own Web site now, I think as people around the country begin to understand what charter schools are and what this first report is showing, and dispelling some of the myths, I think they are going to understand what the real world looks like and what our expectation is.

So I would answer your question that, yes, I would expect over time we probably will see a similar snapshot of charter schools. But again depending upon certain States, and you might see an operation in certain States for other reasons political, financial, motivational, personalities on boards of education; you know, it takes one board member, as you know, to change some things.

Chairman Riggs. That could never happen. There are no politics at the school board level. In fact, I mentioned before I was Little League President and School Board President during the same year, so that is really how I got my baptism in politics. This is easy by comparison.

Did the study find that charter schools are "creaming," that is to say, and I am interested now, again, I know we are getting a representative, nationwide look, but did you find any evidence that charter schools are "creaming," that is to say, serve only the best-performing students from traditional public schools; or did you find the converse to be true, that charter schools are serving children with varying levels of academic performance?

Mr. Tirozzi. I don't believe there is any evidence in this report that would support creaming of students.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. Mr. Fiegel is shaking his head no as well.

Mr. Fiegel. No. And I have gotten the chance to see some charter schools and talked to a lot of people in charters; I have seen no evidence of that at all.

Chairman Riggs. Okay.

Mr. Fiegel. I wouldn't say I have seen evidence of the opposite because we don't have data to support that, but that might be the case actually.

And if I could make a comment about what charter schools might look like in the future, if you know, if some of the schools are who are having problems in recruiting limited-English-proficient students or getting disabled students in their schools or other minority students, people who are leery of a charter school, if they are having trouble getting students in schools, now they are going to learn better how to recruit students, how to get the word out about their schools. If anything, the numbers might increase. I mean, we don't have any evidence of that, but I would think that, you know, the more people learn about charter schools and how they can address their needs, they are going to want to be in them.

Chairman Riggs. That is a perfect segue to my next series of questions which have to do with flowing Federal categorical funding down to that local charter school. But I first want to ask again, based on the study, do you find that charter schools are accepting student applications based on the lottery; that is to say, pursuant to State law requiring the lottery rather than basing admittance on grades or test scores?

Mr. Fiegel. Well, yes. Maybe we had better let Beryl answer this question.

Chairman Riggs. Of course.

Ms. Nelson. We actually asked that question specifically on our survey of all charter schools, and what we found was that schools reported that they either used a lottery or first-come, first-served basis, which and legislation in different States called for either one of those or they did both things.

We found very few 10 percent of the schools said that they used some other method of admitting the students, and that included schools that only took students from the referred from the court systems, schools that served primarily there is a school in Minnesota that serves only deaf students.

So there are schools that really have only legitimate reasons, and we are talking about 20 schools at this point.

Chairman Riggs. While we have you up here and maybe you ought to pull up your chair, so you don't have to stand I am curious. It sounds like you are finding a lot of what I would call "niche schools" out there, as opposed to charter schools, that aside from their sort of unique chartering status, pretty similar to that neighborhood school, that neighborhood elementary or junior high or middle school just down the road.

Ms. Nelson. Forty-four percent of the charter schools of the schools that we surveyed last year, 240 44 percent of them were actually convergent schools. So, in fact, they are very much like that neighborhood school down the street. They kept the same students. It just gave the school more autonomy.

The other 60 percent are they really run the gamut. Some of them are real niche schools. Some of them are schools founded by parents and educators who wanted to implement a particular vision of education, they are common core of knowledge schools. There is a school for the deaf, there are a number of schools for the arts. But it, if excuse me they feel a need that that was felt in the community.

Chairman Riggs. Well, the ones that are serving so-called "special populations," are they attracting kids from private schools or attracting kids who otherwise would have gone on to private schools?

Ms. Nelson. We can you can only explore those kinds of issues when you actually do field work. That is a hard kind of question to ask on a survey. So we did actually visit 72 of the schools and didn't find big evidence of kids who would have gone on to private schools, but found kids who had a musical interest that wasn't being served in public schools, for example, or schools where, or kids where there was something special that they needed that wasn't being provided in the local district.

Mr. Martinez. Would the gentleman yield?

Chairman Riggs. I would be happy to yield to the gentleman.

Mr. Martinez. You visited 72 schools. Did you visit a school called Lawrence Family Development Charter.

Ms. Nelson. You know, one of the things that we promised our schools is that they are confidential, and I actually don't even have the list with me of the 72, so I can't tell you.

Mr. Martinez. Well, I am wondering, because what you are reporting is contrary to a member of the board of directors there, who could have if he could have been here today, would have testified, too. We are going to ask his testimony to be submitted for the record.

But quite contrary to what you are saying, he is saying that special populations were denied. And that is why he has become disenchanted with the charter schools. And he initially was very supportive, and that is why he was willing to go on the board.

Ms. Nelson. Well, I

Mr. Martinez. So I would say, in all probability, even if that information is not confidential, you did not visit Lawrence Family Development Center. And if it is confidential, if in a confidential way you can inform me whether you did or not, I would be interested.

Mr. Fiegel. I would like to say one thing about that.

In Massachusetts, there were last year out of the 400 or so complaints from parents and others that individual education plans weren't being met in public schools, two were from charter schools, and they were resolved through the regular State process, just as all the other complaints were. That really is sort of a local and State issue. And if the problem arises and there is a complaint, there is a procedure in place to handle these kinds of issues. And the Lawrence School at the time had not filed an official complaint. Maybe they have now.

Mr. Martinez. Excuse me. In the case of IDEA, that is a Federal problem.

Mr. Fiegel. It is a Federal problem, but it is handled through a State process that involves Federal people.

Mr. Martinez. Because we have a Federal law which they have to comply with.

Mr. Fiegel. That is right. And the Office of Civil Rights is also involved in looking into at least one charter school in Massachusetts. But those are you know, those are things that I think are positive. You know, if we are able to identify problems and deal with them, then that is a good thing. I mean, don't brush them under the rug and don't ignore them.

Mr. Martinez. I agree.

Chairman Riggs. I have some other questions I want to ask, but my time has expired, and I want to be fair to my colleagues. So let me recognize them and, hopefully, I will have an opportunity conclude this panel, the testimony from Dr. Tirozzi, with my final questions, which again have to do with flowing the funding down to charter schools.

Congressman Kucinich, do you have questions for Dr. Tirozzi?

Mr. Kucinich. No.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. Thank you. Thank you for being here.

Congressman Payne.

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I am sorry I missed the testimony. I had a conflict, so it is difficult for me to ask my specific questions regarding your testimony. But I, you know, one, of course had concerns about the charter schools, because I personally oppose the voucher system. And I am just an old public school advocate and think that what we need to do is make the public schools work, rather than to divert funds from the already usually underfunded system to vouchers or charter schools. But it appears as though charter schools are here, and evidently they are here to stay and they are here to grow, and so I suppose I have to accept the fact they are here and they are not going to go away. But I still think that we are avoiding the problem of education by saying, well, let's try this because the system doesn't work.

The system used to work. The system could work if we fix what broke. But that is the past. We are into charter schools now.

I just might ask the question, how are the students like you said, first-come, first-served is one way and the other is

Mr. Tirozzi. Lottery.

Mr. Payne. How do you do a lottery?

Mr. Tirozzi. Local districts set up their own mechanism for a fair or appropriate lottery system.

Mr. Payne. And would your study indicate that the types of students that go to charter schools are basically the kinds of kids that would just be in the normal public school system?

Mr. Tirozzi. Well, it is interesting. We discussed this earlier. I think this report does dispel the myth that these are elite schools. For example, we find a good cross-section of kids in the charter schools. As a matter of fact, in most States the percentage of Afro-American students, minority students is pretty much the same. It isn't off that much in terms of special education. We have two or three States where it does differ Minnesota having more special ed students, Massachusetts having a fewer number in relationship to the State.

So I would have to say, in this early report, we are confident that it does represent a good cross-section of America's students in the public communities' charter schools.

Mr. Payne. I have just a question. If it is well, you say it is first-come, first-served in some areas. Now, that means that you have got to have something going, I guess, to be first or in the first in the batch that makes it. So how in the areas where it is first-come, first-served.

I mean, it is the parents' initiative. I mean, you can't blame the parent for having the initiative or condone the one that doesn't, but it would appear to me, first-come, first-served, you are going to have the most enlightened, the one that reads the paper, the one that knows what is happening down at the board, the one that has a car to be able to take the kid across town, the one that feels education is very important and wants their kid to have a best.

I can't see how on a first-come, first-served basis you are simply going to have a normal mix of kids. I mean, it is just you know a lot of the problems of education and of the children is the parents, unfortunately. A delinquent parent makes, in a lot of instances, the kid delinquent. And a delinquent parent is not going to rush up to fill out by and large, generally speaking, you know, broad-brush, to get the kid into a charter school.

So how does the first-come, first-served school come up with the same mix as the neighborhood kid neighborhood school? It just seems incongruent.

Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I think it is a very good question. It is a fair question. I think if you look at any choice model, magnet school model, there has always been concern that a certain percentage of the parents for a myriad of reasons may not be enlightened and take advantage of a choice system, any type of a choice system.

I think, in this case, you are right. I mean, we may find some parents who for a myriad of reasons aren't taking advantage. I can only tell you my own personal experience. I will give you one quick I visited the Edison Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts. They had an extensive campaign in every neighborhood to recruit students. They had a number of sessions for parents to come and find out about the program. The school is predominantly youngsters eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. It is approximately 50 to 60 percent students of color. They have a good percentage of special education students. We are talking with them right now about their Title I eligibility, so in that particular case, I think I saw an excellent example of where a system worked.

But I do respect your I am sure there are parents, if you ran a survey, who never of heard of a charter school and never heard of a choice matter. I always like to talk about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where you know many of the parents in our cities, all of their children, but many are into survival needs and not conversant with a lot of things that are happening in education. So that is something I know we have to work on.

But at least the opportunity is there, and hopefully, through some excellent community relations and community-based campaigns, that can be addressed.

Mr. Payne. Okay. Just a final question. I see it is approaching the red light. But there is a question about, I guess, the for-profit schools. And I guess I am concerned about what assurances are given to students and parents that they would not be adversely affected, say, by a for-profit company that, you know, just loses money and just decides to leave. I mean, what happens? What goes on there?

Mr. Tirozzi. The significant difference in all of these examples is the fact that these are still public schools. If in fact the problems you are talking about or other problems we have heard this morning do in fact come up, they can be corrected by a local school board or State board of education by simply taking on the problem or closing the school.

And I mean just a quick segue on this one, this is why, if the conversation ever gets to vouchers, you are in a very different world in vouchers, because you are into private and parochial schools where we have lost all of the public scrutiny. And some all many of the issues I heard today, whether or not they will take special ed kids, all kids if they are not succeeding, well, we have no control, because they are controlled by the private and parochial schools.

In this model, this is a public school model with public school dollars with public school scrutiny and, you know, it is in the public domain. So I think we have safeguards that we would expect people to exercise, and hopefully they will.

Mr. Payne. Thank you, Mr. Tirozzi.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Payne.

Not to launch us into a whole debate on school choice, but I was fascinated to read the other day Gallup Poll results indicating that low-income, minority parents favor school choice, broadly defined as giving parents the full range of choice among all competing institutions, had a far higher percentage than the more affluent Anglo parents. And I thought that was a very revealing commentary on the desire for those parents to find a better education for their child. But anyway I look forward to debating that.

I also note that you see more and more an abundance of commentators, people like William Raspberry, now quoting Diane Ravitch and William Garrison and other people who are talking about giving choice a chance, at least experimenting with private school choice, to see if in fact it has the effect of improving pupil performance and causing low-performing, perhaps inadequate public schools to improve their performance, and creates this kind of boot-strapping effect.

But I want to go back to charter schools for just a moment and ask very specifically what types of formal written guidance are you, the Department, giving to States to ensure that charter schools are receiving their fair share of State-administered, Federal categorical grant funds, such as Title I and IDEA.

Mr. Tirozzi. There will be formal guidance that will be going out on IDEA special education this summer. And we are working on it right now. As a matter of fact, there is a draft already, with our lawyers taking a look at it. As soon as that is ready, we will absolutely make that available to you.

And John, on Title I right now, we are doing a study to look at that issue.

Mr. Fiegel. We did promise you, you know, the last hearing I forget how long ago it was; it seems like a long time ago now, but we did promise to do a few things, and we are. We are doing three things, and concrete things, and some other things too. But we have a study that is going on right now.

The award was made the 1st of June and we will get the information back probably the 1st of September. And what we wanted to do is look at the Title I issue, especially with the schools in the study. So we are looking at those 72 schools who reported that they are eligible for Title I funding, but are not receiving it, to find out if they are a district school, how they rank in a district, if they are truly eligible, what the issue is with not receiving funding, did they choose not to do it, or is it a district issue? And also if they are a separate district, by themselves, do they meet the thresholds so they can get funding? So we are looking very specifically at those schools for those issues.

We are also developing a guide to Department of Education programs that is specifically targeted to charter schools that will distribute all of them. It will have all of the major categorical programs, whom to contact. We have the information on all those programs, but we wanted to tailor one for charter school operators. And we will have that available, we hope, also in the fall.

In the long term, we are doing a special study on school finance issues, and it will take it will look at all the issues, local and State funding issues and how they relate to charter schools and how they fit into public schools and whether they are getting their fair share of State and local funding as well.

Chairman Riggs. Very good. So I want to make sure I understand, then, you are intending to provide answers to the States, the State education agencies, this summer. And with respect to IDEA and Title I, you are going to give separate guidance on Title I in the fall?

Mr. Fiegel. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. Do I understand that correctly?

Mr. Fiegel. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. And you are also publishing a guide so you will be providing written information to the charter schools themselves to let them know of the availability of Federal categorical grant funds, including the State-administered Federal

Mr. Fiegel. And State and chartering agencies, too. We want to make sure they get it. We are also having a conference. I had mentioned concrete things, but we are having a conference of, hopefully, all of the charter schools that we fund and as many State people and chartering authorities as we can get there. And we will address some of those issues there, too.

Chairman Riggs. Very good. Because I think that is very important.

As you know, some I won't say many or most, but some LEAs have been less than friendly toward charter schools, as we discussed earlier. And they have made it difficult in some cases again for charter schools to obtain such funds.

I think it is also important that you advise charter schools on what they can do to participate in Federal discretionary and competitive grant programs in addition to the formula grant programs. So I will be looking for your, you know, concrete action in that area as well.

Let me just ask one other question. In fact, before I do, let me ask you, do you want to give your Web site address for anybody who would be interested in it here today?

Mr. Fiegel. Sure. It is www.uscharterschools.org.

Chairman Riggs. All right. One more time if you would, Mr. Fiegel.

Mr. Fiegel. www.uscharterschools all one word .org.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much.

Mr. Fiegel. I would like to correct something I said, too.

Chairman Riggs. Please.

Mr. Fiegel. We are not looking at the 72 schools individually. We are looking at the districts in the States in which the schools are located to see.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. And I would also like to know, is the Department taking any or planning to take measures to foster more harmonious and productive relationships between charters, LEAs and State education agencies.

Mr. Fiegel. We are, and we plan to do more. This week, as we speak, Pat Lines and I are conducting a and Pat really is the one doing all the work, conducting a view in several categories. And one of those categories, for lack of a better word, is to cross-fertilize what is going on in charter schools with other public schools and improve those relationships. We want to do as much as we can about that, and we think a large part of that would be an effort next year to just get the word out about charter schools, you know, to let people know what they really are.

Mr. Tirozzi. And, Mr. Riggs, in getting around the country in my personal role, meeting with many of the groups, organizations and the National School Board Association national principals, school boards, school superintendents I always make this part of my presentation, to talk about the concept of charter schools and how it fits into the whole realm of school reform.

And, you know, candidly, you get some strong, positive response, and you also get some negative vibrations. And I always try to address everything I possibly can with the questions they have.

We have also sent I sent a personal, detailed letter in the last couple of weeks to every commissioner in the country, every State's chief school officer, outlining, you know, where we are with charter schools, what we are trying to do, what the future holds. So we are making that effort.

Chairman Riggs. Will you make sure that we get a copy of any and all correspondence you have just mentioned in your testimony?

Mr. Fiegel. Sure.

Chairman Riggs. We would very much appreciate that.

I know that Congressman Kucinich does want to pose a question to Dr. Tirozzi, and then Congressman Martinez can have the last word before we excuse ourselves to go vote on the House floor. Obviously, a series of votes are under way. When we return from those votes, we will proceed to our second and third panels of witnesses.

Congressman Kucinich.

Mr. Kucinich. I just really had a brief comment, Mr. Chairman. I was intrigued in this listening to Dr. Tirozzi's comments about Dr. Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. And as someone who actually studied that, I would just like to comment that, as I remember Dr. Maslow, I don't think that we would want to put his views as a strict behaviorist model

Mr. Tirozzi. I agree.

Mr. Kucinich. because actually there was much humanism to his approach. So I wouldn't want to invoke his name as somehow endorsing a charter school model which might, in some people's views, be less democratic and therefore less humanistic. So I want to offer that for your consideration.

Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you. Not my intent.

Mr. Kucinich. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Congressman Martinez.

Mr. Martinez. You mentioned earlier you visited 72 schools. I am not sure you visited the right schools. I would like to offer the names of two schools that you should visit because of the practices that have gone on there. And I would suggest that you do not alert them to your visit, because often when you inform them of your visit, they are going to be on their best behavior and show you what you want to see or show you what they want you to see. So I think if you are really going to find out about some of these charter schools, you ought to do it in the different way than just the head-on approach.

So I will, if you will allow me, suggest those names to you. I will get them over to you and you visit those two schools.

Mr. Tirozzi. Be happy to.

Chairman Riggs. Dr. Tirozzi, ladies and gentlemen from the Department of Education, thank you so much for being here today.

I should also note that in my testimony a few weeks ago before my alma mater, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services, and Education, I did indicate my support for the President's budget proposal to increase Federal taxpayer funding to double, actually, Federal taxpayer funding for the start-up of more charter schools. But I asked the appropriators to make sure that would be subject to action by the authorizing committee beginning with this subcommittee. So I see a continuing need for us to work closely together.

And, again, I appreciate all the good work that you have done so far. The study is, I think, very insightful and constructive in promoting education reform through the charter school movement and through expanded public school choice for parents and guardians.

Again, I want to thank you all. I know the good work you do. I appreciate your dedication and professionalism. I thank you for being here.

The subcommittee stands in recess, and we will reconvene approximately 15 to 20 minutes after these votes on the House floor conclude.


Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, we will resume the subcommittee hearing and go to our second panel of witnesses. It looks like the room cleared out a little bit. Hopefully, those that are interested will rejoin us.

Our second group of witnesses includes a constituent, Ms. T Beller, who is cofounder of the River School in Napa, California. I represent Napa County, California. In a sense, I guess that makes me the wine congressman. And the River School is the only charter school, I understand, in Napa County.

Ms. Beller. Right.

Chairman Riggs. It has an arts-based curriculum-serving students in the 7th and 8th grades. And Ms. Beller has a daughter who recently graduated from the eighth grade or at the River School and is now I guess going to high school.

Ms. Beller. Correct.

Chairman Riggs. In the fall.

And Ms. Linda Horan did I pronounce the last name correctly is the parent of a student attending the City on a Hill Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts. The City on a Hill Charter School focuses on civic education through a liberal arts curriculum and a community service program. And her son is in the tenth grade at the City on a Hill.

So, ladies, thank you both for being here today. We very much look forward to your testimony.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. Beller, who don't you go first? You are recognized. You may proceed with your testimony. Then we will go right to Ms. Horan, and then we will pose our questions and have a little give-and-take with you both.




Ms. Beller. Thank you.

Four years ago, I was a parent who was deeply concerned about my daughter's middle school education. I never would have believed that today I would be sitting in front of a congressional subcommittee sharing my experience with you. Thank you for your interest, and it is an honor to be here.

Congressman Riggs has asked me to address the following topics with you today: my motivation for starting a charter school, what River School looks like and why I felt traditional schools were not meeting children's needs, how River School benefited my daughter and other children, our successes and failures, what makes River School a special place, barriers we faced, and how the Federal Government can help us. That is about a minute a topic, and I will do my best, but I make no promises.

In 1993, I perceived a need for a nontraditional middle school in my community of Napa, California. The City of Napa is a fairly typical, medium-sized county seat in California. It is a growing hub of 63,000 citizens, 87 percent Caucasian, 12 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent other.

While there are many options at the elementary level, including 17 neighborhood schools and three alternative schools, there were only two huge middle schools to choose from. As I talked with other parents and teachers, I realized that many others shared my concerns for the lack of challenging curriculum, overcrowded classrooms, lack of enrichment or foreign language and the almost total elimination of the fine arts.

I have always felt that adolescence is such a critical time period. During adolescence, students are striving to be independent. They are testing limits, defining their relationships both within the family and with their peers. They are really torn between being a child in the family and being an independent person on their own. They are wondering who they are, what they believe, and where they belong. Boys and girls are maturing at rapidly disparate rates.

They are moving away from the intimacy they have shared with their parents in elementary school. They have many questions that they would like to ask, but don't know how. They have tons of street information, much of it wrong. They have a vibrant enthusiasm and unlimited energy. It seemed to me that asking teens to sit at a desk, memorizing facts that many had learned in elementary school, was not a positive or productive way to channel that energy, that hoarding them into schools with 1,100 other students where many kids where mainly kids with behavior problems or athletic prowess were well known was the not the best way to bolster self-esteem or develop self-confidence in young people.

At a time when youth is predictably self-centered, why not show them their community and let them help others through community service. Rather than having students be passive receivers of knowledge, engage them with thematic-oriented projects that enlighten the academic model. Allow them to take responsibility for their education, participate in student government, run a student store, produce and sell their own T-shirts, develop governing rules, have input into what works and what doesn't work. Hold them accountable for their actions, praise them for their accomplishments, know who they are, and what their needs are on an individual basis.

Rather than have parents suddenly disappear at a time when a safety net is most needed, bring parents in on a regular basis to support the program, working in the office, supervising field trips, lunch and recess, offering enrichment courses, sharing their individual talents and knowledge. And at the heart of the program, hold tightly to the belief that the arts are not extraneous to the educational process but serve to be fully woven into the core curriculum.

The community believed in this vision, and this is what The River School looks like today. But it took a lot of hard work and complex maneuvering to get there. The Napa Valley Unified School District staff and school board initially greeted our proposal with indifference and defensiveness. We assured them we were not condemning the existing middle schools, that there are as many different styles of learning as there are learners, and that we believe choice is the key to the success of public education.

They say, if you really want to understand something, try to change it. Well, now I fully appreciate what that means. My written testimony describes the political process we went through in great detail. I urge you to read it, because while every charter school has its own struggles, I think ours is a fairly typical experience of what a start-up school goes through.

To make a 4-year-long story short, on August 29, 1994, River School opened its door to 48 seventh and eighth graders. We were an independent study school then because the district had rejected our proposal and referred us to the county office of education. On June 1996, in a split, 5 to 2 vote from a board where consensus is the norm, we finally received our charter school approval.

River School has allowed my daughter and all its students to progress at their own pace in math, science and language arts, whatever that pace may be. But the real learning she has taken away from her 3 years at River School has been the implicit or hidden learning. What she and other students have learned at River School is much more about living, becoming productive contributors to our society than it is about algebraic equations.

How much longer does this mean I have?

Chairman Riggs. Don't worry about that. You

Ms. Beller. Okay. Because I don't want to miss my end.

Chairman Riggs. That is right.

Mr. Martinez. That is the benefit of coming from the Chairman's district.

Ms. Beller. Well, I hope so. I did come from California, after all.

What she and other students have learned at River School is much more about living and becoming productive contributors to our society than it is about algebraic equations. Students have been involved in issues of school management and planning. They have found that what doesn't work isn't irreversible and that changes at River School can be made relatively quickly; that even if we didn't change a policy, we stopped, listened and acknowledged the legitimacy of student concerns.

Students learned that what one person views as a trivial matter is a question of great principle to another. At River School, all students are known not just as superstars or at-risk kids. The shyest, least engaged student emerges and finds voice at River School. There is mutual respect and trust. And with that, parents learning to let go and give greater responsibility to their capable teens.

Finally, River School has created a community that many, many adults have played a significant role in shaping, through volunteering, the charter council, and through elective classes at River School there are innumerable opportunities for adults and students to work together, create mentorship, serve as role models and generally provide a glimpse of possibilities that will help students grow into compassionate and involved citizens. They have learned that if you don't like something, you can accept it, you can change it, but whining does not help. They have learned that life is not perfect, but that commitment to your vision and doing what you love will keep you on course and bring you the greatest joy.

There were many hurdles that we faced. And I won't go into them in great detail, but they can really be broken down into three major categories. The first hurdle was related to resource limitations. I like to say that starting a charter school is like knitting a sweater while wearing it. It is like trying to start a new business without any operating capital and without any financial payback in sight.

Virtually all charter schools represent an enormous amount of sweat equity. Parents involved contribute thousands of hours of time to develop the proposal, move it through the political process, and often modify their facility to meet building code requirements.

While the students in our school represent an economically and ethnically diverse backgrounds, we were fortunate to have five parents who were willing to sign a line of credit, a $10,000 line of credit, to help our school get up and going, hardly enough to start or run a school.

There were no initial start-up funds, and we have had inadequate funding for our school for its 3 years' existence. It has been a challenge to the district to determine the cost attached for services per pupil per school. There seems to be a real difficulty in determining a specific breakdown for cost of services. No paradigm currently exists for viewing expenditures in this way.

In my written testimony, you have two pie charts which really detail the breakdown of our district's revenue limit, which is $3,386 per student. One of those pie charts shows that 41 percent, or $1,397, of that per student allocation is missing or unaccounted for, money that our school has never seen for either funding or services. While we are working to rectify that problem, it still represents a considerable amount of funding that we feel we have missed over the past 2 years.

In addition, political resistance from the teachers union and some school board members two school board members; I think we alluded to this before, but all it takes is one political resistance from the teachers union and two school board members has caused us to make major concessions in our charter regarding autonomy, flexibility and governance.

And in California, it is really not so much teachers who move to start charter schools as it is the parents. And it was our concern over potential conflicts with the teachers union and the bargaining unit and a very tight time constraint that really forced our hand in making major concessions to our charter, and we are currently in the attempt of trying to renegotiate a more full-status charter.

I realize that educational reform is largely a State and local matter. However, the Federal Government has already proven to be a major helping hand to the charter reform movement. Start-up funding is critical and we were hopeful that the current proposal to double or more than double the Federal grant funding will be approved. Funding should be allocated directly to school sites to avoid exactly the type of bureaucratic entanglement the charter schools were designed to be exempt from. The financial control the district exercises becomes an obstacle in and of itself to innovation.

I would also like to recommend that the Federal Government improve its efforts to focus Federal charter grant funds on States with well-developed charter legislation, and that money be allocated in proportion to the number of charter schools in the State.

Lastly, I would and I would also like to recommend lifting the capital in California obviously.

Lastly, I would like to recommend funding for charter school clearing houses or consulting centers which could provide much-needed technical assistance and guidance in maneuvering through the system. I am deeply concerned that without this assistance, founders will abandon their dreams of creating exciting public schools that serve all students. Even supportive school districts have had a hard time with the charter concept. It is about giving up money, power and control.

We in the California charter school community greatly appreciate the strong support of the President, Secretary Riley, Assistant Secretary Tirozzi, and the congressional leadership from both sides of the aisle, especially Congressman Riggs and this subcommittee. Bipartisan support has been a key ingredient in the success of charter schools here in California and in many other States.

Thank you.


Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Beller. And I want to congratulate you for the remarkable tenacity you have displayed in helping to co-found and launch The River School. As you well know, I had an opportunity to visit The River School recently and was very impressed by the enthusiasm I saw there on the part of not just the parents who make up the advisory board, but most importantly, I suppose, the teachers and the young people, the students.

Ms. Beller. It does represent a remarkable commitment, and I hope that everyone will take an opportunity to read the testimony that does really outline in detail just what a struggle it was.

Chairman Riggs. I am sure we will want to delve more into that when we have an opportunity to have, again, some give-and-take. We appreciate your testimony and the very specific policy recommendations you have made to the subcommittee, and I look forward to working with you.

And I extend this offer to the other charter school founders and developers in attendance at the hearing. We want to work directly with you. We want to get beyond the Beltway, so to speak, in developing the legislation that would authorize increased expenditures of Federal taxpayer dollars to promote the start-up of more schools and, obviously, more school choice in public education.

Ms. Horan, please proceed with your testimony.




Ms. Horan. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Thank you for the invitation to come before you and to participate in this hearing on charter schools. So far, it has been a very informative morning. I have learned a lot.

When I first heard about City on a Hill Charter School, a school where my son has just recently completed his tenth grade, it had no building and it had no staff. What it did have were two founders with a vision, Ann Connolly Tolkoff, a veteran English teacher in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Sarah Kass, who also taught English in Chelsea while Chelsea was under State receivership, who had dreamt of starting their own school.

Their vivid description of a school that would teach students about democracy, citizenship, and public service, and hold them accountable to high academic standards is what persuaded hundreds of parents, myself included, to take a risk and try to land one of the schools 65 slots for their children. For my family, we had looked at everything under the sun, spending the summer of 1994 researching about 35 established public, private, parochial, and also Don Bosco schools. Hearing Ms. Tolkoff speak at an open house at my son's middle school sparked my interest; she was truly inspirational.

For myself, it was like, what is the worst thing that can happen, that my son would have the benefit of a smaller classroom setting and many innovative practices in a charter school where, at the time, City on a Hill proposed having 15 students to a class, and maybe not learn anything more than he would have in another Boston Public School.

I liked City on a Hill so much that I did not even tell any of my friends about it until my son had won a slot in the student lottery. We really coveted the school. We didn't want any competition from anyone we knew until we were sure that we would be able to get in.

What was so attractive? Why would parents choose to go to a school that did not yet have a building and did not yet have a staff? Most were aware that one-size schools do not fit all and that there had to be a better option out there, and they were willing to risk it on something that was not yet established. The positive things that they heard from the two founders had to do with meeting the needs of the children, innovative teaching methods, a core curriculum with high standards, small class sizes as if you were in a private school, parental involvement and decision-making, a sense of creativity, and very positive a very positive, flexible learning environment.

Well, we were fortunate to be one of 65 students to get in. And what I had done for you was, I documented a little bit of a chronology of things that occurred at City on a Hill during the two years that it has been operational, because I think it provides insight into, from a parent's point of view, what is going on at the school and then taking a step back and what does it mean?

For the first open house that City on a Hill had in September of 1995, school had only been in session for 17 days and already there was a shared sense of family. City on a Hill's focused approach to education had created an excitement and camaraderie among the 65 students and their teachers. The lone second floor corridor of the Boston YMCA, which is still home to City on a Hill was bubbling with kids' laughter and song, teachers and other interested parties. The kids are safe and nurtured, and they knew how lucky they were to be there.

And I would ask of you, when was the last time you were able to drag your kids to an open house or parent-teacher meeting and have them be so engaged in the whole process? There was something very positive going on in this little City on a Hill from day one, and making history may be a part of what it is, but it is not at the top of the list.

So what gives? There is a sense of ownership at City on a Hill that the school can be innovative and can make a difference. No one was assigned to go to this school. Everyone wanted to be there. There is hope and sheer energy. It is a very passionate place.

By comparison, the Boston Public School system makes huge promises of change and betterment. But incremental change requires huge amounts of time and effort, and a kid is in high school for only 4 short years.

Jesse Solomon, one of the original teachers, commented, the amazing part of a new school is to be able to dream stuff up and make it happen this week. For me, that is ideal. A school should be able to take feedback about how things are going and act on it.

Now, we go through the whole school year and we are up to June of 1996. Twelve computer screens stare fixedly at 12 pairs of eyes at work since 7:30 a.m.. It is now 9:30 p.m. You have 12 students trying hard to stare back at drafts of 2-minute speeches, design your own planet write-up and graphs of math problems. The scene resembles a college computer room during exam week, but these eyes belong to 12 ninth graders, most of whom are children of color from Boston's toughest neighborhoods. The City on a Hill students, a good 20 percent of the school, were putting in 14-hour days preparing for their final projects, their final exams and final oral presentations before citizen juries.

City on a Hill charter school is an urban public high school where students work hard and take demanding academic programs. At City on a Hill, students are selected by lottery without regard to past performance in school or special needs. During its first year all students read Shakespeare; all students wrote essays; all students spoke in public; all students used computers, CD-ROM and graphing calculators; all students studied algebra; all students did science labs. All students studied primary documents in history; all students studied Spanish and all students learned how to swim. Additionally, all students participated in a weekly town meeting, performed public service, and completed several hours of homework a night.

Wednesday, November 20th, 1996, speaking at a Northeastern University conference entitled Massachusetts Charter Schools, the most accountable public schools, Lamar Alexander, the former U.S. Department of Education Secretary, remarked, "City on a Hill fulfills the dream for 100 students that every student should have a chance to go to one of the best schools in the world." How's that for a plug?

Chairman Riggs. Pretty good.

Ms. Horan. Yes, it is a good one.

City on a Hill Charter School serves students from all neighborhoods of Boston. Seventy-two percent are children of color, 52 percent qualify for federally subsidized lunch, 20 percent are first generation, 10 percent have documented individual education plans, and 4 percent are LEPs which I didn't know what that was until today limited English proficiency.

City on a Hill's mission is civic education to graduate responsible, resourceful and respectful democratic citizens, prepared to advance community, culture and commerce. City on a Hill is just completing its second year of operation and is the only charter school in Massachusetts founded and managed by its teachers. City on a Hill served 65 students in its first year. This year, 100 kids attended. Next year, starting in the fall, 140 kids are expected. By the year 2000, City on a Hill expects to be a seventh to twelfth grade school of 225 students.

In December, 1996, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education conducted a site visit at City on a Hill. Parents had an opportunity to join the site group for lunch. They wanted to get the scoop from parents, what was really going on.

Everything can't be as great, as it seems. Is the academic progress a success? How to you know? The rhetoric bounced all over that lunchroom. There were nonbelievers in the site group, there were skeptics. But students chose to come to City on a Hill Charter School after carefully weighing their options.

It is not an elitist group; it is not the cream of the crop. Some students may have graduated from public middle school or private independent schools or transferred from exam schools. We have students from prestigious Boston Latin who chose to come to our school and get out of the Latin School; it was too big.

Some students came from the Meco program. Some students came with advocates because English was not spoken in their homes. But, bottom line, 2 years in a row, Jesse Solomon, who runs the math department, found that 70 percent of the students entering the ninth grade at City on a Hill, irrespective of where they came from, did not know how to use a ruler. And this is in the ninth grade. So, yes, students chose City on a Hill.

Parents and guardians chose City on a Hill, and teachers chose City on a Hill, all taking a risk after weighing the alternatives. No one has been held accountable for the 70 percent of the ninth grade who got there for not knowing how to use a ruler.

For those of you who may have struggled through a required college course in statistics, you can appreciate the gains these kids have made in 9 months where, by June, not only had they mastered how to use a ruler, which seems very elementary, but they had also learned how to calculate a standard deviation in the ninth grade and converse about normal distributions.

And the bigger picture, charter schools are the most accountable public schools in Massachusetts; charter schools are allowed to set their own high standards, demonstrate performance against those standards and they will not have their charters renewed if they don't produce good results.

Observation, for June of 1977, end of year two: Over 500 applicants for new teaching positions have been reviewed by the faculty of City on a Hill. New hires relocating to Boston come from Chicago, Puerto Rico and San Francisco, all choosing to move to Boston to join City on a Hill at their own expense. We paid no relocation.

All of the original teachers are returning for year three. Sarah Kass, principal, shared her glee at orientation last week with the 40 new incoming students chosen from a pool of 160, saying that City on a Hill without a doubt will continue to have the best committed teachers we can find on the planet, the comment being that most know about the enthusiastic parent-student demand for charter schools. What is less noted is the demand for teachers eager to teach and participate in the exciting things that go on in a charter school.

Observation, last Friday, June 20th, 1997: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is pleased to host its school partner, City on a Hill, for a final town meeting celebration and surprise. We have 100 kids. There were 250 persons in attendance on a Friday night where it was a about 85 degrees. The surprise is a dream come true, an anonymous gift of $200,000 has been received to establish a City on a Hill endowment. This endowment will fund scholarships for graduating students.

Two years into a 5-year charter school contract and things are looking pretty good, but City on a Hill and other charter schools face several challenges, and I think you have heard them over and over again. First, charter schools have less money than regular public schools. Tax dollars in Massachusetts follow each student to cover operating costs, but unlike regular public schools, charter schools receive no State help. They are currently prohibited by State law from receiving the school building assistance funds, which can cover from 50 to 80 percent of your cost that public schools receive from the State, so that capital expenditures for the acquisition, expansion and leasehold improvements go unfunded. And because, in all likelihood, a charter school has no assets, they are not in a position to float a bond. They are not a municipality. They are not a corporation well, they are a nonprofit corporation, but who is going to loan you the money?

To get started, City on a Hill had to raise $100,000 from charities and business sponsors. And as a catch-up, in the last 12 months, the Federal Government has allocated about $2 million in start-up costs to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

According to the formula, City on a Hill's prorated share of that was about $31,000. It funded a cheap teacher, but it was good. You know, it was handed from heaven. It was something that was not expected, and it was put to good use.

Second, because kids are chosen by lottery, you get the luck of the draw and all that entails kids with differing abilities and differing needs and differing backgrounds, all services to be provided by an independent charter school acting as its own school district with limited resources and meager, if any, infrastructure.

Resource allocation is forever an issue. At City on a Hill, to hire a full-time special education teacher for the fall meant cutting out gym class for the eleventh and twelfth graders.

In Massachusetts, a key legislative committee approved a bill on Tuesday, June 24th, to raise the cap on the number of charter schools from 25 to 50. And as a compromise for those 25 new charter schools, 12 will be new charters, 13 will be converted into Horace Manns, where they are existing public schools going to charter status.

In Massachusetts, raising the cap as to the number of students that are eligible to attend a public charter school is still on the table. In Massachusetts, we are still talking small numbers; at the Federal Government stage, you are still talking small numbers. President Clinton, in his State of the Union address, offered a 10-point plan for educational reform. Charter schools represented one of those points. I would hope the Federal Government would see fit to aggressively support the charter school movement and allocate greater resources to that end.

Thank you.



Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much for the very interesting and compelling testimony, Ms. Horan.

And I want to make sure I understand. What grades does City on a Hill cover?

Ms. Horan. At present, City on a Hill has homegrown students. It started with ninth and tenth grade and every year admits ninth graders.

Chairman Riggs. I see.

Ms. Horan. So that, in September, we'll have kids from ninth through twelfth.

Chairman Riggs.9 through 12. And you made a reference to Horace Mann I didn't understand. What is it?

Ms. Horan. The new converted schools are being typified as Horace Mann schools.

Chairman Riggs. Why is that? I didn't understand the reference.

Ms. Horan. I don't know.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. I am going to have other questions as well, but I want to first recognize Congressman Martinez for his questions and comments.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Before I say anything, I want to make sure you understand where these questions are coming from. These questions are not because I am against charter schools, although some of the questioning may sound like that. My question my questions arise because of my concern for the public school system, which the majority of the students are being served. And I have always believed, before we start reinventing and inventing new ideas, we ought to do something about correcting all the problems that existed in our public schools for all these years instead of just campaigning about them. So where I come from on these questions is trying to find out a little more about charter schools and how they operate and, in fact, if there is a real ability here to do what was originally intended, to use charter schools as a model for improving the public school education. Because, by all the evidence we have seen today, there is a very short number, a very small number. For example, Ms. Horan, you stated in your testimony that initially, if I understood you right, there were only 65 students in your school.

Ms. Horan. That is correct.

Mr. Martinez. Well, compare 65 and it is thought even one fraction of a percent of the number of students in Boston you mentioned Don Bosco. Don Bosco is a school that operates exactly as a charter school operates, except they are not under the purview of a local school board because they are a private school, a parochial school.

My son went to Don Bosco, and I decided he would go to Don Bosco when he was only 12 years old, not even close to high school yet. That is because I saw the results of the students that came out of Don Bosco.

I think that is what motivates all the people that get in the lottery that you are talking about. But that is the problem you see, that it is a lottery; and you say it in your testimony, it is the luck of the draw. So that means there are a lot of other students that aren't going to get serviced, and real need let me ask you this:

You are very appreciative of the fact that your child was a student here, is going to receive the benefits of all this wonderful innovation, but won't you want the same thing for every other student?

Ms. Horan. Of course, I would.

Mr. Martinez. See, that is the point. And that is where I come from. I want the same thing I want the best education possible for every one of our students. Ms. Beller said that.

Well, first, I would like to ask you, do you select the students that go to your school, or do they apply and you take them on applying? Is it a lottery system, like in Boston?

Ms. Beller. This is how it works. And first I would like to say, not every student wants to choose this model. It is just another model. And for us, we are a small school, we are 80 students and we are limited because of our facility issues to having only 80 students. We recruit. This year, our director and student representatives went to every public sixth grade in the district and talked about the school, personally met kids, talked to teachers.

Mr. Martinez. Yes, you have answered the question.

Ms. Beller. Okay.

Mr. Martinez. Then you select.

Ms. Beller. For kids

Mr. Martinez. And when you select, are there criteria that you establish for that selection?

Ms. Beller. Kids apply. And we I think.

Mr. Martinez. You said you recruited. You said

Ms. Beller. I am sorry.

Mr. Martinez. You said you select.

Ms. Beller. What I mean by that is, we were marketing our program. We were doing outreach. That is a better word.

Mr. Martinez. All right.

Ms. Beller. We were doing outreach because, as you pointed out earlier, initially we were so busy with start-up, there wasn't time to do outreach, and we relied on word of mouth, newspaper articles; and you are right, that brings a certain group of students. It brings in those kids whose parents are out there finding out about things and are already interested.

My point is that we are now going out and actively providing information to kids and parents who wouldn't otherwise find out about the school, so that

Mr. Martinez. Is there a waiting list?

Ms. Beller. There is not currently a waiting list and the way that kids are admitted is that we explain the program and we have an open house for both kids and parents, where they come, they meet teachers and other parents and tour the school. And then there is an interview process whereby we explain the basic components of the program, answer questions, and see if it is a fit. If the parents and students both like us, and they there needs to be motivation on the part of the student to want to be at the school.

We have had a number of people applying not a number. Some people will apply because the parents want the students to be there, the kids don't want to be there; they want to be at a big school. So that is not a good fit. So we have an interview process and determine at that point.

Mr. Martinez. So there is

Ms. Beller. And if there are more kids that apply than we have spaces for, we go to the lottery. That is the answer.

Mr. Martinez. Have you ever gone to the lottery yet?

Ms. Beller. We haven't needed to yet.

Mr. Martinez. All right. So you do interview, and so then there are criteria that you establish in your own mind, if you are interviewing, of whom you will select and whom you won't.

Let me ask you this, do you serve any disability children, children with disability?

Ms. Beller. We have several kids this year who are special need kids. I don't think they are IEP kids. We might have a couple of special ed kids next year.

Part of the problem is, because we are so small and because we are so bare bones, we have not been we have such a bare bones staff, we have not been a choice of special ed parents or students, not that we have or have excluded them. That is an issue I think we will soon face. And it has not I don't know.

Mr. Martinez. Well, you see, this is the whole thing. Do you know of any particular laws or regulations that you have to abide by in your school?

Ms. Beller. In terms of meeting needs of special ed?

Mr. Martinez. State laws on education, regulations on education.

Ms. Beller. Well, actually, the way our charter is structured, we meet all of the State laws regarding disability meeting special but we don't receive the funding for special needs kids. So if we were to have a special-needs-identified kid, we would then need to have a conversation with our district about how the money would follow that kid.

Mr. Martinez. The question is, is that well, let me put it a different way, then.

All charter schools in the State of California are given an automatic waiver from all State laws and regulations pertaining to education.

Ms. Beller. Unless, as we were forced to do, they specifically agree not to waive those requirements

Mr. Martinez. So you did not agree to waive?

Ms. Beller. We, in the interest of time and in the interest of avoiding a conflict with our bargaining unit, we agreed to not waive the charter school criteria.

Mr. Martinez. Okay. You know, as the Chairman just said, beyond the Beltway I thought that was a great title for a movie or a book, "Beyond the Beltway," because often we get stuck here in the Beltway, and we think in terms of the evidence presented before us and we look at other alternatives.

Chairman Riggs. I didn't coin the phrase, though it is quite common.

Mr. Martinez. I know. It is still a good idea for a book or a movie. Today, because you know today we had a witness that was going to testify now we have heard only the good; and we were going to have a witness that we selected to testify to some of the bad and the ugly that is out there. And I would like to submit to the record, for balance for the benefit of balance, this article in the Wall Street Journal that says, in Phoenix, an effort to improve Arizona public schools is beginning to resemble a Clint Eastwood movie, nasty shoot-outs, a fistful of dollars, and a cast that manifests the good, the bad, and the ugly of educational reform. And the reason why, in the article it goes into detail, is some of the disturbing things that have happened that would never have happened in a public school system because they are not, in many cases, required to comply with State education laws and regulations.

So if the Chairman wouldn't mind

Chairman Riggs. Of course. Obviously, there being no objection, we will include it in the record.



Chairman Riggs. And I just note that we Dr. Jackson, who had to step out of the room momentarily is from a charter school in Phoenix, and so perhaps he will be able to respond to some of our concerns.

Mr. Martinez. There, I see my time has run out, and if the Chairman would just bear with me

Chairman Riggs. Of course.

Mr. Martinez. one more time, I would like to ask Ms. Horan a question.

You have mentioned a lot about the good things about the school. But in your mind, when you decided to attempt to be one of the selected, by the lottery and I imagine you went into the lottery and your child was selected.

Ms. Horan. Well, actually, the way that City on a Hill conducts its lottery is that, after going around and doing a similar process of soliciting interest from the middle schools, they invite all interested families to come to the school. Then they divvy up the parents in one room and the children in the other room. Parents are fed a bunch of information, but have nothing to do with the application process. So if your child comes to the school and does not fill out the application, because he doesn't want to be there, right off the bat, he is not included in the lottery. So the decision even to apply at the school rests entirely with the child.

Mr. Martinez. Very good. But let me ask you this, before you even got to this process, before you were totally aware of tell me specifically, what did you believe the charter school would give your student, your child, that the public school couldn't?

Ms. Horan. Well, my son has some specific learning disabilities, and.

Mr. Martinez. Your son has learning disabilities?

Ms. Horan. Yes.

Mr. Martinez. So that school does serve children with disabilities?

Ms. Horan. Actually, it did not.

Mr. Martinez. It did not?

Ms. Horan. It did not, because it was just starting up. They were very up front about saying, we may not be able to comply with laws and give your son all the attention that he may need. We chose to go nonetheless, because in the Boston public school system, at the high school level, you would be mainstreamed in a very large classroom and could be lost in the crowd.

It was very attractive to be part of a school where the class size was going to be 13 to 15 students. So, by definition, the small class size was very instrumental in us making a decision to apply.

He had had the benefit in the Boston Public Schools to be in separate classrooms from grades two through fifth, where he was in the bright learning disabled bright learning disabled program, where it was an excellent program. There were 120 slots in the City of Boston, and he had the benefit of being in a classroom that had a full-time teacher, two full-time aides, a college kid and seven students. It was the best of an education.

Mr. Martinez. So you got a very good deal in the public school system?

Ms. Horan. Very good deal in the public school.

Mr. Martinez. Back to the original question, before you understood what a charter school was and since you were getting this excellent treatment in the public school system, what was it that you thought would be better for your child in the charter school than in the public school system?

Ms. Horan. When you weighed the options, one of the things that was true is that, yes, there are specific requirements for educators or for schools that offer special education. But they only have to satisfy minimum requirements. So if they have one person that had a master's degree in special ed, that was sufficient for them to say they were in compliance with the Federal rules.

So a lot of the school system also were not as in-depth and did not have the scope and the coverage necessary to ensure that kids with special education were going to get the full spectrum of services that they may need.

We had looked at

Mr. Martinez. But you got the same answer from the charter school that said that we may not be able to comply

Ms. Horan. We got the same answer

Mr. Martinez. with all of the laws.

Ms. Horan. however, there were many, many positive things on that table that, in balance, when you weigh the positive things that were completely unknown against that which was true in the Snowden Public School, we looked at Boston University Academy, we looked at Commonwealth School, we looked at Don Bosco, B.C. High, a number of public schools in the city there was no comparison.

Mr. Martinez. Well, I want to commend you because you are so concerned about your child's welfare that you did all of that.

Ms. Horan. And still chose the risk.

Mr. Martinez. You know, with the public school system, you mentioned in your testimony that a lot of parents don't go to open houses or parent-teacher conferences. I have five children. I went to every one of them, because it was important to me. The reason it was important to me is because when they saw me go there to see what they were doing and talking to the teachers, they understood I was concerned about what they were doing in school. And my children ended up getting a pretty good education.

My grandchildren ended up getting a real good education from the public school system. But that is because their parents, me as a parent, me as a grandparent and their parents were concerned about their education and how it benefited them in the public school system.

If there was something wrong in the public school system, I would go to the members of the school board and complain and make sure that something was done about it. So there is a process there to do it, which now that process eliminates in the charter schools; and you must go to the charter schools themselves, and the directors of the schools, to depend on them to do the right thing by your complaints.

If you are in the minority of the complaint, I don't know that they are going to really take that much interest. I am hopeful that they will, and I am looking to see if there are ways that we can ensure that they do.

Let me just close by saying, my kids all got a college education. My granddaughter is in a very prestigious school, Smith College in Massachusetts, I am sure you are aware of. And she went there on full scholarship because she was such an outstanding student.

There are pros and cons on both sides. But I still say, if we are going to spend the kind of money that we are spending on charter schools, why aren't we doing any for a few students, why aren't we doing anything about correcting the major problems with more money in the public school systems that exist to make sure that all students in our society have the most beneficial education they can have.

And that is simply my thrust.

Ms. Horan. A couple of comments I can make to your informed comments. For the children that presently attend City on a Hill Charter School, there are perhaps 40 percent of them come from single-family or single-parent households. Perhaps 20 percent had come from households where they do not reside with either of their parents.

Mr. Martinez. Yes. I understand this I understand that those that are having the advantages that they wouldn't otherwise have, that is tremendous, that is stupendous. The problem is that it is only 65. And in the Boston school districts there are thousands and thousands and thousands of students that are not getting that benefit, you see. And I think in our society as the union, we need to be concerned about everyone, not just the somehow we stand we divide our population or make those a special few that have a privilege that others don't have.

Now, it is fortunate for them, and I would not deny them any opportunity like that. In life, I guess there are a lot of us and I happen to be one of them that was fortunate enough to receive the kinds of things I have, through life, that moved me to where I am today. But by the same token, somehow in my naivete, I guess, I would really hope we would be a country that would provide that same opportunity for every child, not just a few that might be lucky.

Ms. Horan. Well, granted, City on a Hill has enjoyed very positive media attention. We have had articles written about the school in everything from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times; Education Week followed the school for a whole year. One of the things that has been an outcome of that is, because we have been so visible, things that have gone on at City on a Hill have allowed us not to be at odds with the Boston Public School system.

We are presently working with the Boston Public School system on a grant with the U.S. Department of Education to develop a calculus curriculum. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has adopted as a standard that they would like to see incorporated in the educational reforms the idea that students are held to rigorous standards and have an oral presentation at the end of the year where they are reviewed by citizens. And this is something that is very exciting that yes, we are a small school; and given that we are a small school, there is opportunity for more innovation and a quicker turnaround. If something doesn't work, it is really quick just to drop it and move on to something else. But because of the quick turnaround in trying new things, something that is tried and true and works on a small scale is something that can be replicated to a larger school system or adopted by the State. And so, after 2 years, we are beginning to get inroads into that process where we are able to give something back, both to the Boston Public Schools as well as to the Commonwealth, for things that have been successful at our school.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you. I just wish more people were as actively engaged in what is happening in our education system as you are.

Ms. Beller. Could I just add that part of the intent of the charter legislation is to allow these schools to develop models that can then be the good points of which can then be extracted and used in bigger schools. And in my school, I know things have changed because of what we have done, the existing public schools have made exchanges directly linked to things that we have done in our program.

Also, there is the collaborative type of thing that occurs with grants and helping one another out and our helping them with programs that we have grants for; and hopefully, it would be a two-way street.

Mr. Martinez. Well, I am hopeful that that is the end product, that somehow or another whatever we do in this area ends up being a real improvement in the public education system, which currently and I asked the question of the Secretary the last time he appeared before us, did he envision that charter schools would replace the public school system? And he said, no, no way, impossible.

Well, that being the case, then I think that we should look at these as models to improve the public school system.

Thank you.

Ms. Horan. May I follow up?

I think that for charter schools, which are operating free of unions and work rules, they are not the last word in education reform. They can make it easier to lengthen the school day, to institute standards of excellence, to dismiss under-performing faculty members. They can establish incentives and introduce performance evaluations for all involved in the school.

But I think one of the things that I keep hearing about charter schools is something that I disagree with a lot, in that a lot has been said that charter schools are providing competition to public schools. And I don't buy into that at all; I think that there is a serious flaw in assuming that competition alone can greatly improve schools under the present circumstances. And economic you learn this in Economics 1: Competitions work when customers know what they want. And for consumer preferencing in schools you really don't know what you want.

You know that in the long term, you want your child to be successful. But you do not know as a parent, or as an education or as a policy matter, what does that translate to day in and day out for your expectations, as to what should go on in the schools?

And, secondly, I think that it is very difficult to compare school qualities. You could have a very good public school system and a few bad apples. How do you compare that with a poor school system that has a few shining apples. So I think on a comparative basis, when a lot of politicians start talking about competition and using charter school reform as a competitor of public school, I think they are a little bit off base.

Mr. Martinez. I would applaud you for that last statement, except the Chairman would cite me for

Ms. Horan. I am very opinionated.

Chairman Riggs. Not at all. Let me just say that, that I appreciate your comments and your testimony again, that I think we would all agree that charter schools can and should be a model for education reform in school improvement. I appreciate Ms. Beller and Ms. Horan sort of suggesting that we look at the good things that charter schools are doing and how they can be replicated elsewhere in the public school system.

This committee, the larger Committee on Education and the Workforce, is embarked upon a tremendous undertaking, a two-year nationwide look at what is working and what is not working, what is successful and should be replicated, what is wasteful and should be eliminated in public education today. And it is within that, that larger context or framework, that be want to evaluate the charter school movement.

Let me also point out that perhaps we have some common ground for agreement. When we look at the fact that State bureaucracies and State legislatures for the most part I am not pointing at any particular State but for the most part have tepidly embraced the charter school movement, I think we can all decry the fact that the current cap, which you urge be lifted in Massachusetts, Ms. Horan. But the current cap on charter schools of 25, statewide in Massachusetts, and a limit, by the way, of two per city, except five permitted in the two major urban areas, one of which obviously is Boston, that that is ridiculously low. And again that is, I think, illustrative of the concern and the reluctance of State educators and State legislators to embrace the charter school movement.

I also want to point out that under current Federal law with respect to charter schools, any local charter school receiving Federal funding must use a lottery system if there are more students applying than can be accommodated. And that is current Federal law, so I just want to explicitly state that for the record.

Ms. Horan, did the City on a Hill, does it receive Federal category Federal taxpayer categorical assistance?

Ms. Horan. It does.

Chairman Riggs. For special populations, did you bring those numbers with you today.

Ms. Horan. Yes, I did. Would you like them as percentage as total revenues?

Chairman Riggs. Yes, please, uh-huh.

Ms. Horan. For City on a Hill, on average, the revenues generated per student about $10,500; 1-1/2 percent comes from Title I monies, and about 1-1/2 percent comes from Title VI health protection, Eisenhower and Goals 2000. So about 3 percent comes from Federal sources.

Chairman Riggs. And in both of your cases, City on a Hill and River School, did you receive a Federal start-up, charter school start-up grant?

Ms. Horan. Yes.

Ms. Beller. Yes, we did.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. Beller, in the case of The River School, did you get 100 percent of that grant or was some of the money siphoned off the top by the local school board?

Ms. Horan. Or do you know?

Ms. Beller. We don't yet know. We are having difficulties in spending that money. And it is my understanding that we received a grant letter announcing that we had received a grant in December or early January I don't remember which that the money did not come through for several, 2 to 3 months later, and that it has been an enormous bureaucratic morass, trying to spend that money or have the district pay for expenditures under that grant.

Chairman Riggs. So I understand it, the district has actually received that money? They are keeping that money, and they are requiring you to, to submit vouchers or

Ms. Beller. Yes actually they are requiring us to submit original receipts, which it is really it is requiring, it has required us about 40 hours of a volunteer bookkeeper's time to retain obtain reimbursement for $15,000 worth of receipts. It has been such a bookkeeping and accounting and reimbursement nightmare with the district that that is one of my recommendations, that grant funds come directly to the charter school, because

Chairman Riggs. So you effectively have to bill the district?

Ms. Beller. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. And you have to support that billing with original

Ms. Beller. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. Receipts or invoices.

How large a grant are we talking about?

Ms. Beller. $33,000.

Chairman Riggs. $33,000.

Now I want to shift the focus for just a moment, and again I want to thank Ms. Horan particularly for the for the observations, little vignettes throughout your testimony. Those are very, very nice to have.

We talk about getting beyond the Beltway. Obviously, I have had an opportunity to visit The River School, but I feel, after reading your testimony, as if I have visited and have seen firsthand some of the good things you are doing there.

Ms. Horan. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. At City on a Hill. I also, when you talk about City on a Hill bubbling with kids and parents, laughter and song, teachers and interested parties, I want to tell you that is exactly the same atmosphere I saw at the River School when I had a chance to visit it recently. And then I go on and talk about the sense of ownership at City on a Hill. And accompanying Ms. Beller's testimony is a letter from another parent, Sarah Novak, whose daughter Rachel has attended River School for two years. And I quote from her letter now that River School "River School's vision of instilling a life long love of learning attracted us in the first place. My daughter has thrived in the community of the school." Interesting how she phrases that, the community of the school. "And has reached out to the larger community through school sponsored volunteer activities."

I am skipping down her letter. "I am convinced that charter schools are the best model for the education movement. All the studies tell us that parental involvement is crucial to a child's education."

So my question of both of you since we talk a lot back here in Washington about high expectations of teachers and students alike but we rarely add parent to that equation. I would say we have to have high expectation of parents, teachers and students alike but too often we do not. So I would like to know in addition to having high expectations, what are the expectations or requirements of parents at River School, and at the City on a Hill? Ms. Beller.

Ms. Beller. Well, I would like to first say that one of the reasons for my starting River School was because I received a very clear and unequivocal message from the existing middle schools that parents were not wanted, that they could come when they were invited to parent meetings but there was nothing they could do to help, and that, really, your kids do not want you around, drop them off, pick them up, goodbye, which I do not happen as I said in my testimony, to think is in the best interest of middle school students.

So that was one of the reasons for starting River School and developing the vision that I did, was to encourage parent participation, and in fact parent participation is the key cornerstone of our program. And we require 8 hours a month of parent participation in one form or another. And there are a variety of different ways that parents can meet that, that requirement. And what we found is that while that might sound like a lot of time, it is really not, and that if a parent wants their child to be there, we will work with them to find a way for them to be involved. And they are involved in a variety of different ways. They are involved through supervising well, we have the parent who is a bookkeeper. They are involved in supervising recess. They plan field trips. They do fund raisers. They do staff workdays. There is a whole host of activities that are required.

What we found is that students do enjoy having their parents around. They really do. It is another support system. It is another form of mentorship. It is another connection to the real world outside of just going to school for however many hours a day and sitting at a desk. So the parent participation, we wouldn't exist without parent participation.

Chairman Riggs. Before I go to Ms. Horan, you require a minimum of 8 hours, but have you been able to track how many hours on average parents

Ms. Beller. We have tracked. And of all the information we brought, you would ask that question. Most parents participate far more than that. There are parents who are there for literally 20 or 30 hours a month as volunteers. It is overwhelming, when I look at what we have accomplished, would not have happened without the work force of parents. And I think that is an unfortunate aspect that is missed in the bigger schools, and I think one lesson that can be learned from our model is that the other schools should encourage parents to come in and really help in a meaningful way, not just collating newsletters or whatever, but really supporting their students.

Chairman Riggs. So your parents are actively involved and contributing far over and above the minimum expected

Ms. Beller. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. or required of them.

Ms. Beller. And in all aspects of funding the school.

Chairman Riggs. Yes. So this is a great form of parental empowerment, you might say.

Ms. Beller. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. And with respect to your advisory board, what role do parents or your governing board, what role do parents play there?

Ms. Beller. Well, our governing board, as outlined in our charter, includes parents, teachers, staff, and that is it. The directors, teachers and parents. So there are parents sitting on the governing board along with teachers and along with our director, and that in itself is a major commitment.

Chairman Riggs. Does the chair of your governing board under your charter have to be a parent?

Ms. Beller. No, but it has been.

Chairman Riggs. It has been.

Ms. Beller. It has been.

Ms. Beller. Our director is stretched so thin. I think that she should probably quit if she were elected to be president of the council.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. Horan, could you describe the situation

Ms. Horan. Sure, I have a question for you first.

Chairman Riggs. It is hard for me to say. It is City on a Hill.

Ms. Horan. That is correct.

Chairman Riggs. Is that the correct name?

Ms. Horan. That is fine. First of all, I had a question. In Massachusetts, it is illegal to require parental involvement in a public school.

Ms. Beller. Well, actually in California we do have parent participation contracts that we tell parents about in the interviews. And it has never been legally threatened, but it is my understanding that a number of charter schools both in California and throughout the States do have that requirement and that they are there actually are California precedent to uphold. It is a choice that parents make. And there are other choices for parents who do not want to be involved in their children's education today to choose another school.

Chairman Riggs. This is great. We do not normally get this kind of interaction between the witnesses. That is fine. So there is no, then, set requirement at the City on a Hill?

Ms. Horan. No, there is not.

Chairman Riggs. But obviously parents are very involved.

Ms. Horan. Parents are very involved, in varying degrees throughout the year. For the hundred sets of parents who are guardians, the levels of commitment range. You have some parents that you never hear from. They do not show up for anything. And that is fine. It is a public school. But parents have been instrumental in changing the after school program for kids. It had been the case that parents participated as proctors in the after school program. But that really did not work out, because parents weren't in a position to tutor students in specific subjects. So the parents went to the board and made a recommendation that the after school program be revised, and with that parental involvement it was changed. The parents were instrumental in ensuring that the school had its first college night, which 29 colleges came to visit Boston east of the Mississippi. The parents were instrumental in hosting the first career night. And at our career night, we had a full spectrum of folks show up, some of them being parents talking about their own careers.

Parents have the opportunity to participate in disciplinary hearings if there is an issue at the school. They can show up on a Saturday morning and do odd jobs. But there are many opportunities for parents to be involved, even if it is baking a cake for a social function. But there a wide disparity in interest and a wide disparity in level of commitment by the parents, and it is understood. It is a public school and not a requirement.

Chairman Riggs. What about your governing Board?

Ms. Horan. For our governing board, City on a Hill has, as a charter, a board of trustees that acts as the school committee for the charter school. The board of trustees also acts as the financial governing board of the 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization. The board of trustees consists of a number of outside community activists. We have representatives from Northeastern University, BC, BU, City Year, which is City on a Hill is somewhat mirrored after City Year in trying to ensure that kids give something back to the communities. We have two parent representatives sitting on the board that are elected by the students' families, and there is room on the board for a student who will be joining us in the fall.

Chairman Riggs. I see. Very good. Well, my last question before we excuse this panel is going back to Ms. Beller. And I want to know a little bit more about what you call in your testimony, written testimony, charter concessions, governance and autonomy.

In order to avoid lengthy delays due to objections and misinformation distributed by the California Teachers Association, which is obviously the California State affiliate of the National Education Association, and a few but vocal critics, we made major concessions in our charter application in the interest of obtaining local board approval and keeping our doors open for another year.

We are currently working toward regaining the autonomy guaranteed to charter schools. So it sounds like you are not quite yet autonomous. You are not truly a charter school.

Ms. Beller. We are not.

Chairman Riggs. You are a quasi-charter school. And that is because you faced a number of hurdles or what the Department of Education called in their study barriers.

Ms. Beller. Barriers.

Chairman Riggs. So if you could just elaborate on that a little bit more. I understand that two the local school board consists of 7 elected members or trustees.

Ms. Beller. Right.

Chairman Riggs. And two have consistently opposed you.

Ms. Beller. Consistently.

Chairman Riggs. So everything has been pretty much a 5-2 vote to get you up and running and your charter.

Ms. Beller. Really, it has. And it is the first issue that the board really has not reached a consensus on. It is a consensus type of board. We were up for approval of our charter petition well, one of the things that happens with school boards and I think, in working with districts is quite frustrating, is the delay, the task force, the study group, the committee. And it was the last meeting before they adjourned for the summer. We had been operating, as I said, a study school for a year. Our priority was to, one, get the charter school number. Our number is 91. So we did not have time to mess around with that. And, two, to ensure that we would be open for the following September. It was the last school board meeting. And the president of the teachers union had circulated a letter that was that had many myths and pieces of misinformation in it to all of the teachers. And it was very detrimental to our cause. We knew that if we went in to try and request full charter status, we would be bogged down in such a lengthy delay that we would never obtain our charter number before the end of the summer. So it seemed to be the lesser of the two evils.

Chairman Riggs. So due to time constraints, union opposition, you basically had to make concessions?

Ms. Beller. We made major concessions and we knew at the time that it our other option actually, Mr. Martinez, at that time was to become a private school. And we had a number of existing parents saying forget it, it is too hard, just be a private school. But we are really committed to the choice of providing this type of model to kids and trying to work within the existing system. I did not want to make it to transition into a private school. That was our choice, either go private or make major concessions on the charter. And we chose against opposition from some of our parents and some of our teachers to go to make the concessions and then try to renegotiate, which is what we are doing now. And it is tough. It is tough.

Mr. Martinez. Did not your petition require 10 percent of the teachers in the district or 50 percent of the teachers in the school? Since you weren't a conversion, it would be 10 percent of the teachers in the school district?

Ms. Beller. Actually, that is a very difficult requirement for start-up schools. And what our district asked us to do was to obtain both 50 percent, we obtained both 50 percent of the signatures of teachers at the school in addition to 10 percent of the teachers throughout the district, and that was very difficult for us to do.

Mr. Martinez. Yes, I think there was a misinterpretation of the law there by somebody, because it is 50 percent of the teachers in the school that is doing the conversion but it is 10 percent of the teachers in the district where there is no conversion, where there was no start-up. And all you needed was 10 percent of the teachers in the district and then approval by the school board.

Now is yours a district school, city school district or county board?

Ms. Beller. It is a unified school district, city district.

Mr. Martinez. Could not you appeal to the county or do you have a county board?

Ms. Beller. We do have a county board.

Mr. Martinez. I thought they all had county boards.

Ms. Beller. We do have a county board. One group before us in St. Helena was denied their charter by their district and went to the county board unsuccessfully. It is so that while that review process does exist on paper, it is very cumbersome. And the county board is not really inclined to take on the financial requirements and other requirements that they would have to take on to support a charter school, even though philosophically they might support them.

Mr. Martinez. I think you ought to get your congressman to talk to the county board of supervisors.

Chairman Riggs. I am there for you.

Ms. Beller. Actually, well, there are other things to talk to my congressman about now that we have our charter. And we are now working closely with the district to regain those, those elements of our charter which we gave up. And the first one relates to financial and fiscal autonomy, which is key.

Chairman Riggs. Just one other question I have. How many of your teachers are certified right now and members of the local bargaining unit of the California Teachers Association?

Ms. Beller. We have four teachers who are certified teachers and who are members of the California bargaining unit.

Chairman Riggs. Out of how many instructional staff?

Ms. Beller. Well, those are the four district teachers that we have. And we have one part-time arts teacher and two part-time Spanish teachers whose salaries are paid for through fund-raising by the 501(c)(3), which we established to do fund-raising for things like we knew we would not have budget to otherwise cover.

Chairman Riggs. Yes.

Ms. Beller. So all of our district teachers and all of our full-time that is, all of our full-time teachers are members of the collective bargaining unit.

Chairman Riggs. And I found it also interesting in your testimony, you pointed out that the local school board, again the Napa City Unified School Board, required you to improve your facilities to current building code standards.

Ms. Beller. That was the major difficulty for us.

Chairman Riggs. And you feel that actually exceeds the current State requirements for public schools?

Ms. Beller. I have been told that meeting uniform building code standards is more stringent, or those standards are more stringent than the standards required for Field Act, yes. That was part of our last minute June one of our key negotiating issues was that even though as a charter school we were exempt from California Field Act legislation and were technically and legally able to be in that non-Field Act building, the district, out of the concerns for their liability, required that we bring a building we did not own up to these standards at incredibly high cost. And our request was, so give us a district site so that we do not have to pay rent and to undertake this expensive facility request.

Chairman Riggs. How did the district respond, the school board respond?

Ms. Beller. The school board responded that they would look into it and we are still looking into it and there is not currently a site. They mentioned the possibility of being on the site with the two existing middle schools, which are already terribly impacted and misses the point of the vision of what we are trying to accomplish. So there really wasn't a viable site offered to us at that time.

Chairman Riggs. I see. Okay. Very good. Ladies, thank you both again for very interesting and helpful testimony. You are excused.

Panel 3, who has waited very patiently, is called forward to take their places at the table. As they come up, let me introduce them by way of background. Our three final witnesses for this hearing are Mr. Bob DeBoer, who is the Director of the New Visions School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. New Visions School is a charter school where half of the student population qualifies for Title 1 and half qualifies for special education services.

Ms. Mamie Thorns is the Interim Director of the Charter School Office at the Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Central Michigan University is the primary chartering authority in the State of Michigan, and they have now approved 40 charters I am told.

And Dr. Raymond Jackson is the President of ATOP Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. I had a chance to meet Dr. Jackson or at least wave at him at our field hearing out in Phoenix in January of this year. ATOP is a charter school which serves large numbers of African Americans and places a strong emphasis on college prep courses and personal discipline. Dr. Jackson, thank for you being here.

Congressman Martinez.

Mr. Martinez. Mr. Chairman, regrettably, John Pellitier, who was scheduled to be a witness on this panel, will not be here because his son was attacked by a pit bull and was severely injured. Obviously, he needs to be with his family. Mr. Pellitier, I would say, however, is a member of the board of directors of a charter school in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and his testimony would have centered on the fact that, in his charter school, they are denying the entrants to the school and services with disabilities and children with special needs. And so I ask unanimous consent to have his testimony submitted for the record.

Chairman Riggs. Absolutely, and there being no objection, so ordered. And our thoughts and prayers will go out to Mr. Pellitier and his son and the rest of the family.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Written testimony for Mr. John Pellitier, Member of the Board of Directors for the Lawrence Family Development Charter School was not submitted for the record.]

Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for being here. If you do not mind, we will just sort of proceed from my left to right, beginning with Mr. DeBoer, whom I had a chance to meet yesterday. We had a very, very interesting conversation. I hope Mr. DeBoer will be able to touch on the highlights of that conversation in the course of his testimony. Thank you for being here, sir. You are recognized. You may proceed with your testimony.

Mr. DeBoer. Thank you for inviting me.

Chairman Riggs. For all three of you, you have waited so long and patient, we will not use the clock. We will just ask you to be as concise as you can be, and I was also told that someone may need to leave by two o'clock. We understand. But at least this will give us an opportunity to get into testimony and hopefully some questions.




Mr. DeBoer. Thank you for inviting me here. I am the superintendent of School District 4,001 in Minnesota, which also is a charter school, New Visions School. And I want to talk about 3 areas today: First of all, how charters can be a catalyst to American education, which has been discussed at great length here today; secondly, how New Visions School is beginning to realize that potential in the legislation; and, thirdly, some specific recommendations that I would like to share with the committee to help with charter schools.

First of all, my original interest in starting a charter school came from my interest as a former teacher and what I perceived as a failure of a lot of poor children and children with reading problems in the current education system.

Four years ago, the National Commission on Adult Literacy published that 90 million Americans cannot read and write well enough to fix a credit card problem. And I had experienced that 25 years ago as a teacher, graduating high school students with a sixth grade reading ability. So I wanted to help children with reading and learning problems. So we used the charter school status as a way to begin to try to address what we thought was missing in the current education. And I think so many times today I wanted to raise my hand and respond to different questions from you all.

Mr. Martinez. Do it now.

Mr. DeBoer. I will see if I can remember some of them. But I think in answer to some of the questions you have had, Mr. Martinez, one of the things I see, there seems to be almost like a semi-monopoly in public education so that there is very little that I know of I know you just talked about competition but there is very little impact or effect of accountability if children do not learn. They are just passed on, which is why you end up with 90 million Americans who are functionally illiterate even though they had Title 1, special ed, and regular ed. And I applaud you for what you did with your children and grandchildren. But again I think a lot of parents may not have that insight and commitment that you have had.

So what I see the charter schools represent is an opportunity of choice for parents. We are just expanding options for parents within the public school education domain. So that is the first reason why charter schools can be a catalyst.

Secondly, I think that choice ensures some local control where the teachers and parents are most affected by decisions and are actually participating in those decisions, whether it relates to curriculum, hiring and budget.

Thirdly, I think most charter schools, even the ones that are converted charter schools, typically come together over a vision or a mission. They want to do better. They want to do something different. Certainly most of the charter schools are characterized by that, but even some of the converter charter schools seem to have higher expectations and produce greater results with children.

And then, fourthly, I think one of the things that is particular to charter schools is accountability. At New Visions School, if we do not produce the reading gains we are achieving or trying to achieve, we will lose our contract. And just two weeks ago, in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis School District that has 40,000 children in it, of which two-thirds are children of color, 91 percent of the children in Minneapolis in the eighth grade failed the reading and math graduation standard test, 91 percent. As of yet, I haven't heard of anyone losing their jobs or the contract being discontinued there. So I think some of the principles that are underlying or within the charter schools might be principles that could be fleshed out or developed more in the mainstream public education.

So I think that the charters can be almost like in industry, the stinkpot where the company sends the people out, and they try out some new ideas, and they bring it back into production. So I think charter schools represent that potential.

Now I would like to talk also just about what we have done in New Visions. At New Visions we serve children first through eighth grade. All of the kids in our school were failing or struggling before they enrolled. Half of the children qualify for special ed services, with the two main levels being SLDs, specific learning disability, or MMMI, mildly mildly mental impaired or handicapped.

The other half of those kids qualify for Title 1 services, which means they are one year behind in reading. So all the children in New Visions School came from the bottom third of whatever classroom they came from in the traditional setting. Eighty percent of the children at New Visions qualify for free and reduced lunch, which is higher than the Minneapolis Public School Strict. Two-thirds of the children in New Visions School are children of color. Many of the children in New Visions School come on Ritalin and have labels like ADD, ADHD, EDD labeled to them.

So within New Visions School, we thought we had a sufficient challenge that here is a group of kids that have been falling between the cracks in the traditional setting. Now our view of children is that most children have average or above average intelligence and they have almost unlimited potential. And what is missing in the preparation of teachers in American education is that teachers are not taught the early child development, the neurophysiology of child development that leads to the readiness skills that are necessary for a child to benefit from a teacher, no matter what the instruction methodology is.

So readiness skill deficits is what is missing. And that is what we are trying to show, that if you identify those readiness skill deficits, you can resolve them with the curriculum we have developed, and you can accelerate their reading gains and their development.

So New Visions School we refer to as the reading school. And if you look at the printed testimony that I submitted, you will see that for the last four years, of the children at New Visions School coming from that bottom third category, exceeded a year gain in reading in two different nationally normed reading tests. So that, one, we were able to identify reading skill deficits. Number two, we have developed curriculum that resolve those. And, number three, we can accelerate their progress in development.

So that is a big portion of our thrust, is to give those children that ability which should be a given or constitutionally guaranteed right that all kids should be able to read. If you can read, you have a chance of getting out of poverty. If you cannot read in the 1990s, you are guaranteed to be in poverty. So reading is the major focus of New Visions School.

Another aspect of interest perhaps to the committee is another theme or component of our school, and that is working with the kids who are hyperactive or have attention issues or are on medication. And we drew from the great State of California to learn about EEG neural feedback. And we implemented it into our curriculum. So EEG neural feedback is part of New Visions School, and about a third of the children take advantage of it.

With EEG neural feedback, we are able to hook people up onto their earlobe and get the electrical activity coming into their brain and on a computer screen, and the children learn how to educate their brains, to change their brain waves. After 30 to 40 sessions of EEG neural feedback, we find that children can get off the medication. So we can get kids off of Ritalin with increased attention and less hyperactivity. Or, what really sold me was when I was working with kids that were third grade and they had to be restrained because they developed this great temper tantrum in order to get kicked out of the class because they could not read and after two or three months of EEG neural feedback they could gain total control over their emotional explosiveness with no one touching them within two minutes. I mean they just had better control of their anger and their impulses.

So the children at New Visions last year 1995-1996 they made an average reading gain one year eight months reading on one test and one year two months on another. The one message I have for the committee today that maybe has not occurred a lot is that part of our vision was to develop curriculums and methods that could be replicated, that are economical, can be trained, can be replicated. And that depended upon my vision or my values or life experience. And so that has occurred in two different areas that may be of interest to the committee.

Number one, for the last three or four years I have been training teachers both within the State of Minnesota and the State of North Carolina how to afford aide training workshops, how to identify those rating skill deficits, and how to use the curriculum we published called Boost Up to implement the methods, to resolve those reading issues.

In the Drexler, North Carolina experience I just returned from them last week. And last year they took the Boost Up curriculum and implemented it 30 minutes a day in all nine first grade classes and all nine second grade classes. So it was just a regular neighborhood school. And the first graders made an average reading gain of one year nine months. Second graders made an average gain of one year six months, which was a way to document to me that this curriculum could be implemented system-wide and help all the kids, not just the low kids. At New Visions we are aiming at the kids that have fallen between the cracks. So we are replicating our results in other settings.

Secondly, we are in the process of seeking a grant for the EEG neural feedback. We will take it to a traditional setting and make it portable and work just with kids with ADD or ADHD or EDD to show what can be done or show what is more economical than some of the current methods.

Finally, I would like to talk about specific recommendations I might share with the committee. The first one everyone has hammered at is capitalization. That is, you notice, said a lot today. I think the way to think about it is I have heard many people here today talk about the public schools and the charter schools, and that is really a misnomer. It is traditional public schools and charter public schools, because they are all the same kids. I mean, they are Minneapolis kids being educated by a New Visions School; in fact, Minneapolis kids that were failing Minneapolis public schools, and we are educating them for less money. But they are all the same kids. So that is the first step to think about.

So then when you look at $100 million, what do you do with $100 million to help two to three thousand charter schools, I would say take that money and figure out and I mentioned this to John Fiegel before he left. I said figure out how you can leverage that money to access the same public funds for Minneapolis school kids so the Federal Government does not think they have to create the buildings for all these chartered schools. I mean they are all the same kids. So we need to figure out how to leverage existing funding authorities, or whatever, with whatever safeguards they need to have, rather than the Federal Government having to dip into its pocket to pay for these chartered schools. There are already structures in place at all those States. So that is the direction I think the Federal Government should go as far as capitalization.

Number two, I think that you should look at the categorical aid. And Representative Riggs has been asking about that today, and I appreciate that. I know in Minnesota there is some categorical aids that still do not follow the student. So if the Federal Government could really push on that level, that would be very important. In Minnesota, I had to push for a year to get Title 1 funds, which is one of the things you are talking about, and it was not because the people did not want to serve our kids. It was just bureaucrats did not quite understand how charters fit into traditional public schools, and it was really just an education process. But it needed a persistent charter operator to say no, that is not fair, that is not right, to actually succeed in that.

So I think that the Title 1 and special ed component of categorical aid is mainly educational and technical assistance. If you have a State that does not understand that Title 1 should go to charter schools, call Jesse Montonio in Minnesota. She is head of Title 1, and she has been able to get Title 1 services to the charter schools in Minnesota. It is a matter of opening up the way of thinking and seeing. A charter school district is just like a traditional school District. It is just a smaller District. Obviously, our school, where half the kids are special ed, we get all the special ed services and revenue we need. It is just a matter of learning the paperwork. So technical assistance will help charter schools with that.

Number three, in any current and future legislation, I would encourage you to make sure, like, for instance, the legislation that is being discussed, and I am not from the Beltway so I do not know what is going on, but the legislation being considered for building renovation, you read in the papers, President Clinton is advocating all of this. Make sure in all of those kinds of legislation that it specifically says that charter school districts are eligible for this. Because that was the problem in Minnesota. The State bureaucrats read the law. They said, well, it does not say charter school. And it took us a whole year to bring them up to speed, not because they did not care, it was just a matter of education. So if that is put in the legislation from the get-go, it just clarifies it, that is all. So that does not cost any more money. It is just a little conscientiousness in putting it into legislation.

And then fourthly and finally, another specific thing you could do is when you are allocating money, whether it is buildings or computers and technology, you should consider, in my opinion, maybe even making a little stream of that money dedicated to charter school district competition, because very often a charter school district when they are having to compete again a large school district for an RFP, there is no comparison in size and numbers and the amount of staff hours that are available to traditional school districts to put together that proposal. So it is not like saying give more money. It is just designating a portion of that money being eligible for charter schools to apply directly to compete against other charter schools.

So those, again I think charter schools are a catalyst. I do not think they are a silver bullet. I think they are just part of the public school education these days, and I think it helps promote more accountability and competition.

Number two, I think New Visions has demonstrated you can do a lot to accelerate children's development and you can replicate some of the models we have done here.

And thirdly, there are several things you can do at the Federal level that do not take a lot of money, and obviously there is the capitalization issue, too. But you have to begin to think that charter schools are public schools and how do we make them be more of a catalyst for us to shake up, to develop new good ideas that may be replicated.

Thank you very much.



Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. DeBoer. I have to point out, I think "silver bullet" is running a close second to "inside the Beltway" in the metaphor competition today. But before we go to Ms. Thorns, I want to make sure I understand one thing in your testimony. What is the justification in Minnesota for giving charter schools 75 percent of the per pupil allocation that other public schools receive?

Mr. DeBoer. Well, people do not like to talk about that because there is no justification for it obviously, and we have been hammering away at that. What it is is a lot of the categorical aid does not follow. If the case of

Chairman Riggs. The Federal categorical aid.

Mr. DeBoer. And State.

Chairman Riggs. And State.

Mr. DeBoer. For instance, even at the local level in Minneapolis, $700 per student comes from a referendum revenue from private property taxes to have a reduced class size. Minneapolis keeps all that money for all our Minneapolis kids that we serve while we try to have the reduced class size. So that is it , in essence, in a nutshell. It is that the money should follow the kids. It does not belong to the principal, to the superintendent, to the teachers. It is there to educate the kids, and I am talking about within the public education domain only.

Chairman Riggs. Right.

Mr. DeBoer. And once we get to that as the basis for good charter legislation, you will not have that kind of phenomena. Now in this current session in Minnesota, they are attempting to change some of that, so that disparity is not quite as great.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you again.

Ms. Thorns.


STATEMENT OF Ms. Mamie Thorns, Interim Director, Charter School Office, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan


Ms. Thorns. Good afternoon. Thank you, Representative Riggs and other members of the subcommittee who perhaps could not be with us. I want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to come and give you an update on charter school movement within the State of Michigan.

In 1993, Michigan became the 9th State to adopt the charter school law. The Michigan legislators particularly wanted to set up several goals, and they were to improve student achievement for all students in the State of Michigan, to stimulate innovative teaching methods, to create new professional development for teachers, to achieve greater school accountability by placing full responsibility for performance at the school level, to provide parent and students with choice in the State of Michigan.

The current law in Michigan gives the State board of education supervision over the charter schools and allows four different entities to authorize them: State, public universities, community colleges, intermediate school district and local school district. However, no single university in the State of Michigan may authorize more than 50 percent of all of the chartered schools within the State. Presently, State universities authorize 67 of the 78 operational charter schools in Michigan. Eight are chartered by intermediate and regional school districts, and three are chartered by public school districts.

Central Michigan University, a key player in this reform movement was founded in 1892 and is a public university that is dedicated to providing a broad range of liberal arts and professional education and programs. We are committed to the experience in education, and we want to be a key partner in the school reform movement.

Central Michigan University has chartered more schools than any other agency in the United States. Currently, 7600 students are enrolled in 40 of Central Michigan University chartered schools. We project an enrollment of 10,232 students in 40 chartered schools this fall. The majority of these students served are within the metropolitan areas. The demand for available seats currently exceeds two to one in CMU's chartered schools; thus, many of our chartered schools must conduct lotteries for enrollment.

In the 1996-1997 academic year, there were 12,870 students enrolled in all of Michigan's chartered schools. In addition, the first ever Federal study of charter schools, which we heard about this morning, showed that minority students make up about nearly 53 percent of charter school students in Michigan.

Children of color, low-income students are greatly benefiting from this choice made available through public school academies. The Charter Schools Office at Central Michigan University was established in 1994 to pioneer the authorizing process in Michigan. In October of 1995, Central Michigan University established the Michigan Resource Center for Chartered Schools to work very closely with our schools in assisting all States in providing technical assistance to our schools. The resource center provides valuable training for our administrators, our teachers and our board of directors.

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies was established in the fall of 1996 to strengthen members' ability to offer quality educational programs, to promote legislation, which balances the need for accountability.

Michigan's revised school code requires all contracts to be issued on a competitive basis, taking into consideration resources available, populations to be served, and the educational goals of the PSAs. Many of the State's charter school application processes are very complex and competitive. More than 158 requests for applications have been received in my office for this school year. The process begins with the review of the prospectus of the proposed academy. If selected, quality mixes will be submitted to the applicants. The components of an application consist of educational goals, governance and management, finance and facilities, and human resources.

I would like to add right here that we are very proud of our application process, because we involve the faculty and staff members there at Central Michigan University as well as some of the local remedial school districts and also some of the community members.

Entities that issue charter contracts are obligated by law to provide oversight, ensuring that the school is in compliance with the charter contract and with all applicable laws. Michigan charter schools must submit two annual reports, a financial audit that is conducted by a certified public accountant and an educational report detailing and outlining the school's mission statement, attendance, statistics, dropout rates. The academy must also agree to comply with all of the laws in Michigan, particularly like the State School Aid Act, Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act. As a matter of fact, every six months, our board of directors must submit to our office a certificate of continuance compliance, meaning that they are in compliance and they are following all of Michigan's applicable laws.

Since the money follows the students, it is imperative that charter schools deliver a high quality education product. Michigan charter schools have direct accountability because of the way they are funded. Every charter school receives a per pupil foundation grant equivalent to that of the local district in which it is located, or $5653, whichever is less. Unable to levy taxes, charter schools are at a financial disadvantage with regard to their traditional counterparts, which can raise additional revenues through property taxes and funding. Same amount of money, no more.

The Michigan Department of Education has created a Charter Schools Office. This is designed to assist all of the public school academies in the State of Michigan. State Superintendent Arthur Ellis, State Board President Kathleen Strauss and Gary Cass and all of the intermediate school districts and the local school districts are key people in the success of our charter schools in Michigan. They all have oversight responsibilities.

Now, can a contract be revoked in Michigan? Yes, it can. A contract may be revoked by the authorizing body or the State board if they are not following all applicable laws. If they fail to comply with these laws, if they fail to abide by and do not meet the educational goals, yes, their contracts can be revoked. And believe me, they know that.

The charter school movement is still too young to assess its widespread impact on student achievement and change. In Michigan, the performance of charter schools is measured by their progress toward meeting the educational goals set forth in their contract. Various measurements like the MEAP, the Michigan Education Assessment Program, is used in all of our charter schools, and many of our other charter schools can select and use other measuring instruments in measuring the success of their students.

We had one particular school in the State of Michigan last year, first year in operation, administer a national test at the beginning of the school year and also gave one, a post test, at the end of the year. The children either made a year's gain or, in some cases, two years gain. We are definitely seeing our children improving their test scores. However, there are many of our children who are performing very low because we are taking them where they came from, the particular schools that they came from. So wherever they came from, whatever those scores were when they came, that is the benchmark that we have set for our school, and we are working to improve.

As a former building principal and a classroom teacher for over 20 some years and who has worked practically all of my life in urban education, it takes at least three to five years to raise test scores. And test scores, particularly when you are at the bottom, it is hard work. And so I hope that maybe in four, five years I will be able to come back and tell you all of the progress, particularly student achievement, that our children in Michigan have made, because I do believe that we are on the way to improving all of our children's test scores in the State of Michigan.

All Federal category money flows to charter schools by the same formula as it flows to all public schools in Michigan. And I do want to say that it was my privilege last year to work with the Title 1 director in the State of Minnesota to help us to establish the charter school Federal funds, so that Federal funds could flow directly to our charter schools. And this year for the first time, the first 28 schools that we authorized and the other schools in the State of Michigan are receiving Title 1 funds for the very first year.

Many of our schools are not taking advantage of the charter school, the Title 1 funds, and I really believe it is because of administrative issues. Having received a national Title 1 grant for a former school that I was in, the paperwork there is an awfully lot of paperwork that is involved, and it takes an awful lot of training if you have

not been involved in that process. So we hope to do a better job in Michigan of making sure that the Federal dollars that have been set aside for our children, that our children do receive those funds.

On behalf of the charter school movement in Michigan, we recommend that the Federal Government continues to ensure that resources are directed to the schools through grants for program design, implementation, and evaluation and assessment.

In addition, we recommend that the Federal Government provide additional grants for authorizers to assist with assessment and evaluation in their own particular State like Michigan. We believe that we have a catalog for what we are doing, the lessons that we have learned, and we would like to be a part of sharing that with other States as well as doing some additional studies within our own State. We strongly recommend that the Federal Government provide assistance for agencies to coordinate and market the overall initiative.

So many people in Michigan do not understand what charter schools are, that they are public schools. That is why this past year and for the last two years, we have put on a charter school expo where we invite all of our legislators, the entire general public, all of our schools to come, to tell the general public about who we are, what we look like, what we are trying to do in the lives of kids. The first year that we hosted this, we had about 2,000 people. This past May we had 3,500 people.

So I believe that we are doing some creative and wonderful things in Michigan with our charter schools, and we invite all of you to come and visit the schools in Michigan, particularly come to CMU. We would be more than happy to share with you the kinds of things that we are doing to make a difference in the lives of children. Thank you.

see appendix h -- written STATEMENT OF Ms. Mamie Thorns, Interim Director, Charter School Office, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Thorns. And we appreciate the invitation and your enthusiastic testimony. I look forward to the opportunity to perhaps ask you a few questions.

Dr. Jackson, thank you for waiting so patiently. You are recognized, sir. You may proceed with your testimony.



Mr. Jackson. Thank you, Congressman Riggs, members of the committee. It is a pleasure to be here to talk about my favorite topic, charter schools, and I can see that even at the Federal level people are still confused about what charter schools are. But being an educator

Chairman Riggs. We are confused about a lot of things at the Federal level, so do not take offense.

Mr. Jackson. But I would like to just take a minute and explain to people about charters. The word "charter" came from the European trade when ships contracted with different countries, and more specifically Christopher Columbus, who had a charter from Queen Isabella to find a new route to India, but we all know he got lost. So the charter is an agreement between two parties where they agree to do something, and if one does not, then the charter can be revoked.

Secondly, as my colleagues already mentioned, charter schools are public schools. So we need to always put charter-public schools maybe-- I think we need to hyphenate it in some way so people understand we are public schools, not private schools. The only difference is we have some new regulations in terms of hiring teachers. You do not necessarily need to have certified teachers. But in Arizona we are perceived, I guess, as one of the leaders in this movement, although it started in Minnesota. We were the fourth State in the Nation to start charters. And at this time we have 136 charter schools. With the new charter schools that are coming on board, with the ones that are sponsored by districts we will have about 180 when we start off in September.

But let me just say in terms of charter schools in Arizona, we are perceived a little bit differently than in most States because one of the things that makes our legislation unique in the Nation is the fact we have three ways to have charters to be sponsored. You can go through the State Board of Education, you can go through the State Charter School Board or you can go through your local school district. I think that makes us distinct in sponsorship of charter schools.

Also, we also see ourselves as public schools, but we also see ourselves in competition with traditional public schools. Now let me explain that. In the 1970s, we had deregulation of the airline industry. And when I got on the plane last night leaving Arizona to fly here, I knew I had better get me something to eat because, if not, I would only have peanuts and pop, which was brought on by Southwest during the decentralization movement in the seventies, and so much so that Southwest now has had such an impact on the whole airline industry. But had the airline industry not been decentralized, Southwest would not have come into existence.

Let us look at the eighties where you had decentralization of the communication system. AT&T, as long as they had a monopoly, could care less about customer service. But now that they have MCI, Sprint, LCI and all the others, I get a call every week, I want you back, I want you back. But because they have some competition, it is making them get better.

And now we are in the nineties, and it is decentralization time for the traditional public school system as we know it, and they need competition to make them get better.

And if you turn to the testimony that I have, and I show a picture, I think a lot of times you say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think if you turn to it, and you see the little cartoon there, that is in the back there, I bring that to your attention because, to me, this is typical of our public, our traditional public school system today.

And you see the quotes, a group of educators and administrators sitting around, and starts off with "education is getting a little fuzzy," and as you continue to read around it ends up right back with the same statement, "education is getting a little fuzzy." And the student is sitting in the middle holding his hands saying I am not learning anything.

And a quote that I found that was very appropriate for this picture, it says: "In most schools, the language of the classroom is primarily a language about the process of teaching something; it is not itself a language of learning. We came to call this language 'talkinbout,' because we saw so many people talking about reading but not actually reading, talking about writing, but not actually writing, and so on. 'Talkinbout' is an abstract language, an adult reconstruction after the fact of an experience that the student is not allowed to have first hand. It is a rumor about learning."

And that is what we have in many of our systems, is rumors about learning. I spent 26 years of my life in this business, and I have worked in education at every level and in the State of Michigan, New York, Illinois, and now in Arizona.

I have seen education at every level, from the Governor's Office, to the State Superintendent's Office, to the chancellor's office, to being a principal, an assistant principal in one of the roughest neighborhoods in South Phoenix. I walked away from the system because I developed a product within the public system that could change some things and people were not receptive.

I think that is part of the problem we have in our traditional public schools and why charter schools are so valuable and why parents now come to charter schools in droves, because they see for the first time they have a choice, because they did not have a choice traditionally in the traditional public schools.

My school is one of the first charter schools in Arizona. We are predominantly an African-American school, about 95 percent. Our students wear uniforms. We have a very structured environment.

I will give you some idea of what we do in our school. Our school starts off every morning with a regular assembly, where our kids state their school motto, that successful people do those things that others fail to do. They do the 10 Laws of Success. They also talk about why they come to school.

So before our students even start school, the teachers ask them, why do you come to school? And our kids are probably the only kids in America that can give you a definitive answer, because they tell you they come to school to learn how to learn. And then you ask them, what do you come to learn how to learn? And they tell you, to study. And then you ask them, well, what is studying? And they tell you that studying is a concentrated effort to understand a body of knowledge or information. And then they can break that down and tell you "concentrate" means to focus, "effort" means to work hard, that a body of knowledge is math, English, science, social studies, information, encyclopedia, dictionary, and thesaurus. And what do I need in order to study? They tell you, they pick up my learner's tool box, because what we do at ATOP, we believe that all children can learn, irregardless of their ethnicity, irregardless of their socioeconomic system.

When you show children how to learn in a very systematic manner and how to use a standard set of tools, they can learn anything, and I am living proof of it.

I grew up in the inner-city of Chicago. My mother was a teen mother who dropped out at age 16, 10th grade. My father only had a seventh-grade education. They migrated from Tennessee and Mississippi. And I earned five degrees by the time I was 34 years of age. And I know what we can do with our kids, and the kids at our school learn.

The Congressman's subcommittee came to our school and saw our kids in action, and those very questions, you can ask any of our kids, from kindergarten through eighth grade, and they can tell you why they are there.

We have parental involvement. Our parents are very heavily involved. I don't know if you have a copy of it or not, but the blue newspaper, our parents put this newsletter together. They have put this together. Our parents put our computer lab together. They selected the computers; they installed the computers; they taught the computer class.

Our teachers, the majority of our students that attend our school, my son, who is a seventh-grader there, I took him out of the public school system that I live in, which is supposed to be one of the best in the valley, what we call the Valley of the Sun. And I took him out and put him in my school, and he will be a seventh-grader there. This is his third year.

And some of his friends whose parents took their kids out the first year, we started our school 3 years ago and put them in my school. They took them out after the first year and put them back into the traditional public schools. Just last week they are now telling me, now that I am opening up my second campus in Tempe, they are now telling me they are going to put my kids back in my school because their kids learned when they were in my school; the kids had structure when they were in my school; the kids had a higher self-esteem when they were in my school.

So I am not going to belabor it too much, but we do have strong parent involvement. Our parents also have their own office directly across from my office. The president of our board of directors is also the president of our parent association. Our parents are very much involved and feel very comfortable coming into the school. They take ownership of the school, which we encourage them to do. We work together, and we build the school together.

Some of the initial problems, some of my colleagues have already mentioned, is a lack of appropriate funding. We don't get the full amount of dollars that should follow the child. In Arizona, they just gave us, for the first time, capital improvement money. They gave the traditional public schools $296; they gave the charter schools $146. As I told the legislators, we don't get a half a child when they talk through that door, we get a whole child, and you are expecting us to do the same amount of work.

So, along with my colleagues, I think we need to make sure that the full amount of student appropriation follows the child through the charter school doors.

We also turn to Title I. That is another problem that I see also, because we have to wait a full year. For example, we already now are going into our third year opening up our second school with 400 students, and our current school with 320 will now be a smaller school district, as I call ourselves, with 720 students in the fall. But we can't access Title I funds this coming year because we have to wait another year before we are eligible.

Since we are already in the system though, we have already waited one year. So it is being delayed now. So at the new school, we can't provide Title I services for these students because we have got to wait another year. So I would encourage the legislators to do something about that particular problem.

Secondly, I would encourage the legislatures to look at charter schools and see the things that work and then begin to try to implement some of these programs on a pilot basis in some of the public schools, because I understand what Mr. Martinez is saying. I used to be a strong, strong, strong supporter of public schools, and I walked away because I am tired of people talking about educating kids and not educating kids. I am tired of seeing that 85 percent of all of the public support dollars that go into public schools go into administration; only 13 percent of that money goes back into the classrooms.

So charter schools offer people an opportunity to change and really have real educational reform and change. It is the fastest growing movement in this country since the GI Bill.

When Arizona came into the system 3 years ago, we were the fourth State. Now you have 26 States, and it is time for change, and it is time for people to stop talking, and it is time for people to stop trying to make this out as some kind of racial issue or something.

The parents are the ones who decide where their kids go. It is their tax dollars that pay to support these schools. So they should have the right to choose where they want to send their kids.

That is all I want to say. Thank you.


Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much, Dr. Jackson.

I want to commend you for what you are doing there, literally building an outstanding school, an exemplary school, a model school in many respects, from scratch.

I also wanted to acknowledge the frustration and the concern I hear in your voice about all the talk, so much of it in circles, so much of it seemingly lip service, when the time for action is now.

I commend you all for, we like to sometimes say back here, walking your talk and actually practicing, because I think that is the key word, the operative word, real educational reform and improvement at the local level.

With that, I would like to go to Congressman Martinez for his comments and questions, and then I will conclude our hearing.

Mr. Martinez. Like the chairman, I commend you all for what you are doing. You are teachers and administrators who want to reach out to improve the quality of education for children. The only problem I have with that is the small percentage you reach. That small percentage you are reaching with your effort really is admirable, but, to me, it is not really dealing with the problems that exist that many of you have spoken about.

Mr. DeBoer, you spoke earlier about the insightfulness that I might have had in making sure my children got a good education. I am not unusual; there are a lot of parents in this country who take an interest in their children's education in public schools and do attend the parent-teacher association conferences, and do go to the open houses, and do encourage their children to do well, and do take an active role in seeing who is elected to the school board, not as much as I would like to see even there. There is still a real lack of participation on the part of citizens who want to. As Mr. Jackson said, it is their tax dollars; it is their money, it is their kids; they ought to be interested.

Which leads me to the next statement I am going to make in regard to your earlier statement. What about the parents that either are not enlightened enough or those parents that don't even care? Do you know there are parents who don't even care? Well, those children need somebody.

I remember years ago when I was chairman of the committee and I had Terrel Bell testifying before me. He was the first Secretary of Education under Reagan. And he said something that really rang a bell, because it happened to me personally, that there is nothing so gratifying that happens to a teacher as when they see that light go on in that young person's head that they learned that they can learn.

You mentioned they learn that they can learn, and this is what we need to be doing in our school districts, and we are not doing it.

The problem here is that if and what I am hearing here is that the reason that the charter schools are a success is because they don't have to comply with any of the State laws or regulations, and because of the freedom to experiment and the freedom to be teachers, to teach the way you feel the child needs to be taught.

Now, I can go along with that because I always said, and from my own experiences, too, that children learn in different ways. These are called pedagogies for learning and pedagogies for teaching, and we don't even try in the public school systems to match those.

So a lot of kids sit in a classroom, a lot like cattle, and teachers are teaching one way, without regard to who is learning and who is not, and they figure the bulk of them or the great percentage of them learn, and those that don't learn, they pass them on anyway.

You spoke about illiterates graduating from high school, functional illiterates. Well, I know that from personal experience. My son had two friends that he was very good friends with they even had a little band, a little combo that used to go around and play and Pete couldn't read. But, guess what? He could compose music, and he could read music.

Now, why did he not learn to read if he could do that? In fact, that group, because of the arrangements that he would make, was very sought after in our little community. But why do some people now, this is not a kid that cannot learn.

I think you mentioned that there is no such thing as a kid that can't learn. Well, I agree with that 100 percent. There is no such thing. It is how he is taught. And that is a personal experience I had with a teacher, who I thought was the meanest teacher in the world, because she slapped the devil out of me, but she got me to learn.

Mr. DeBoer. Look at you today.

Mr. Martinez. But she got me to learn. And I looked up, and I said, "I can do this, I can do this," and she was smiling from ear to ear, and I had never seen her smile before. I then realized, hey, her frustrations with us as students were the reason she never smiled, but if we did what she taught us and learned, she could smile.

But you started to say something when I asked that question. What do you do?

Mr. DeBoer. I would like to respond only because I am the one that has to leave at 2:00. But I think the answer there are two ways of looking at the problem. One of them is, I believe I am interested in your opinion is there any accountability in the traditional public schools when children don't read or learn or progress? I think not. So part of my answer is somehow getting accountability into the traditional public school districts.

And there is a lot of hope pinned on the graduation standards these days. And I am going to predict here 4 or 5 years from now that we are going to find this country isn't going to be able to build enough buildings to teach all the kids that don't meet those standards, or we will start to see the slow compromising of those standards, which is what I am talking about, dummying down education in America.

Again, I think it is part of from my experience, part of the lack of preparation for teachers, both in the expertise I bring, which is the developmental readiness skills, as well as teaching those pedagogies of instruction and learning, because you are absolutely right, that a child that can read music has an incredible intelligence.

And, as I said, we look at every child as having average or above average intelligence. What happens is, they are victimized by a system that has no accountability for producing failures. So that is part of it.

You have to bring charter schools cannot bring that accountability to those existing traditional school districts, and that is part of the problem. But charter schools, on the other hand, in my mind, represent for the Congress, for society, a positive alternative to begin to demonstrate what can happen when you have people like this who take into account pedagogy of learning styles, and hold that out as an example, and then encourage those best practices to be replicated by leveraging or enticing, or whatever, those traditional districts who have not been producing kids learning.

So I feel like it is kind of two-sided, the answer to your question.

Mr. Martinez. What you really basically are saying, I think, is that you want your experiment to actually become the norm for public schools.

Mr. DeBoer. I wouldn't say that, no. I wouldn't say that. I think one of the beauties, the strengths and weaknesses, of charter schools, is the diversity of them at this stage. There is no one again, to use the overused term silver bullet. I am saying the children who aren't performing and reading in American education, a good deal of the problem is this lack of identification and readiness skills and resolving it. But what about all the kids who are succeeding?

So I am not saying this has to be done everywhere, but I am saying it could be replicated in many schools districts very economically and produce tremendous results. But you have to give people who are either inspired to make a difference, or they are rewarded because all their kids learn, or they are given a negative reward if their kids fail to motivate them, because there is a monopoly. It doesn't matter if the kids don't learn; everybody draws their check.

Mr. Martinez. Yes. You know, when I was going to school, I found more teachers that were really dedicated to teaching and didn't care about a paycheck, because they weren't paid that much, but they were respected. You see, that is the big difference, is you respected them as being models for our children to follow.

Maybe I stated it wrong, but what you are trying to do, what you feel this charter school concept is doing, is trying to reach out to show ways to improve the quality of education for our children.

Mr. DeBoer. Yes.

Mr. Jackson. Congressman, I would like to respond to your question when you say about children and reading. One of my professors at Michigan State, Dr. Ron Edmonds, used to make a point all the time, and he said, we already know what we need to know in order to educate children; the question is, are we willing to do it?

Now, we already know how to do some simple diagnoses which we do at my school to diagnose a child's independent instructional frustration level of reading. All of us have it in this room. But what we do is, when all of our students come into our school, within the first 3 weeks we diagnose to find out what that child's independent instructional frustration level in reading is.

Our whole system is based on 36 symbols, 26 alphabet and 10 digits. The problem that we all have is when we come to interpreting those digits, because if I put up the words here and say "ABC," and ask everybody in here, everybody is going to give me some different interpretation. They are going to say they see "ABC," they are going to see the acronym for "ABC," or they see the alphabet; they move to an inferential level of thinking; they are moving to different levels. But what we do is, we find that out with all of our students.

A case in point: I had a student, when we just started the ninth grade this year, came in, and we did the diagnosis, and we started off with phonics, and then we moved to sight words, and then we moved to whole language. He couldn't read; all he barely knew was his alphabet.

Now, after a year with us now, he is reading and comprehending at about the first-grade level. Now that we are discontinuing the ninth grade now, because we aren't going to do the high schools now for a couple years, his mom is looking for someplace else for him to go where he is going to get that kind of attention.

Here was a kid, when he was in another school, he was an honor student, and he cannot read, but he was a nice kid. He was quiet, so the teachers socially promoted him. That is how you get a lot of functional illiterates we have, not only in high school, by the way, but in college as well.

So there are things we can do, but the people in these public school systems, traditional public schools, don't want to do it. That is why people like ourselves, who are committed educators, walked away, because you get tired and frustrated, trying to show people that there is something that can be done. And it is very simple, very simple.

I can take this system and I can show teachers how to do it. As a matter of fact, I am going to Minnesota next month to work with one of your first charter schools in training their teachers how to do this. Whereas we have been trying to do it with traditional public schools, they are not receptive to it. We don't have the money or the time.

Take the time, because they want to start off in September doing the thing they always do, and then at the end of the year they end up with the same lousy results every year, and then they start pointing the finger at everybody about whose fault it was, because they don't want to take time to do some very simple, informal diagnosis that they can train their teachers how to do.

So the answer is out there, Congressman, but the thing is, you have got to get the people in the public system to want to change, and they don't want to change.

Mr. Martinez. I am glad that you were here to testify, Dr. Jackson, because when you meet a person and talk to a person, you get a better perspective than sometimes what is printed in the newspaper. And I know this, too, from personal experiences dating back to years and years ago, in 1950, that the paper doesn't always get things right or reporters write with their own biases, and many times their reporting is actually editorials with their own biases in there.

But there was an article and I know you are aware of it in the Wall Street Journal regarding your school, in which the statement is credited to you, and I say this because if charter schools are a good thing and they need to grow and develop, to help improve quality of education in other public schools, in other kinds of public schools, then we need to be very, very careful of what we say in public and do in public that gives the opponents of a proposal like this ammunition, so-to-speak.

So I want you to respond to what the paper said. It said you didn't want to deal with the unions, so you simply fired them. You say, "That is the beauty of the charter school, I don't have to deal with them at all," you said, "I just fired them." And you let 11 teachers go.

There has got to be more to it than that. I know the teachers did, according to the article, do sick-ins and disruption in the classroom. That cannot be tolerated either. But would you give us a little more insight on that?

Mr. Jackson. Sure, because he didn't print the whole truth of what I said, he just took out and put in there what he wanted to put in there.

I had several teachers that came to a new school, and one of the problems you have when you have a start-up with a new school, because you get the funding so late that you have got to run around and try to hire people and try to find a building and find furniture. So I made a terrible mistake. I hired a lot of people that I thought had a commitment to our vision and our mission, but the only vision and mission they had was looking at every other Friday.

And we had a couple of people who came from the other traditional setting who saw this as an opportunity to say, well, we are going to bring in what we do in the traditional public schools, and we are going to form a union, and then we are going to take over the school.

And that is what we had. We had a few people who had some prior experience in the traditional system that came in and wanted to try to take over the school and impede education, which the unions do, and had put out a lot of bad information about our school in the communities.

Actually, literally, I caught several teachers actually telling parents, "Take your kids out of this school."

Mr. Martinez. You did lose some students on that, didn't you?

Mr. Jackson. Yes, we lost some because of that. But what I did was, I said, "The school will be here next year and it will be better off because you will not be here."

So at the end of the year, that is one of the beauties of a charter school, is that, at my school at least, we have a year-to-year contract. So your contract is renewed on an annual basis. I chose not to renew their contracts.

And this year, just to show you the reverse, we only had one person whose contract we didn't renew, because we took the time last year and we had a much more extensive recruitment process.

Because I had to hire so many people the first year, rushing, I didn't get a chance to really check a lot of people out the way I should have.

Mr. Martinez. I know we are running late and we have all been missing from our offices for a while now

Chairman Riggs. They like it that way though.

Mr. Martinez. The offices do, but we have business to take care of.

Let me say, the way the article is written, it attributes the fact that you didn't want to allow them to unionize as the reason you let them go.

Do you have a dead-set opposition to teachers trying to organize into a collective bargaining unit of any kind?

Mr. Jackson. Yes. I don't believe in it, because I have watched the unions impede education. I have never seen teachers, in the 20-some years I have been in business, go out on strike to improve quality of education. They go out on strike to get more money. They never go out my priority for going on strike is to improve the quality of education because I am dissatisfied with what is going on here, I don't get enough money into my classroom for me to teach and educate my kids.

Mr. Martinez. Let me just caution you that that kind of an attitude sometimes is what gives the people apprehension about going into charter schools, because it does allow the charter schools to waive bargaining rights for employees in most States, where the laws are passed by the State, and there are people in this Congress that believe that people do have the right to collective bargaining, they do have the right to protecting themselves through collective bargaining, because sometimes in some cases that is the only defense they have to an abusive or otherwise selective employer who would try to determine their whole life style simply because they were employed by that person.

So you need to have some protections on both sides.

More importantly than that, not to give rise to the argument that you see, this is one of the things it does, that it destroys the ability for people to protect their job security, that we need to say, hey, in the case of charter schools, because very soon what you will see happen is a movement towards trying to change the law to allow at least that section of the law that deals with collective bargaining

Mr. Jackson. I am not against people performing collective bargaining themselves, if they want to do that. I am just saying you are not going to do it in my building, where I am working. They were forming it right there in the building. They were actually holding the meetings right there in the building.

I am just saying that people can do whatever they want to do in terms of if they want to be a part of the union. I just personally don't believe in it myself. I don't join a union. I never was in a union.

Mr. Martinez. All right. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Congressman Payne?

Mr. Payne. Yes. I also am impressed with the material that I see about your school, and it certainly seems like your children are doing well.

How do they get to your school? A lottery and first come, first served, were the two criteria I heard earlier.

Mr. Jackson. Most of our students just come first come, first served, and a lot of the students come as a result of the reputation I have for being a principal in South Phoenix. A lot of people just follow me because of that.

However, now we are moving into Tempe, I don't have that reputation, so we have to go through a much more formal lot of recruiting students now.

Mr. Payne. How does it work out your way? Do you come under the same policies of the public school system, or yours is more like a private school?

Mr. Jackson. We are a public school. We were chartered through the State Charter School Board, and we are held accountable for everything that traditional public schools are. Our students still have to perform on the State and national exams. The only difference is, I don't have to have certified teachers if I don't want, and we have some control over our curriculum. Those are the only two distinctions that we have.

Mr. Payne. Like I said, I have been one that has sort of been leery of the voucher system and taking money out of the public school system, I think, but it certainly is clear that private schools and parochial schools and other Christian schools have worked.

I just wonder how a system is going to work, half public and half charter. I just see at some point it seems like it is not going to if the number of charter schools grows and the number of public schools declines, it is like a two-system system in a system. I don't know how it works, and I don't know how it will work.

I wish that the public school system could do the job, as I indicated earlier, but evidently the charter school business is off and running. I guess I am less elitist than a lot of people.

I get concerned about the masses, I don't think the masses should hold back anyone, but by the same token, I know if you start in health care they call it cherry picking, they have a new way that people can become a part of an HMO, but what they do is pick all the healthy people so the premiums are low, and the healthy people are in the system and the poor, sicker people are not invited in. So a lot of healthy people that don't have to pay health bills stay together, their premiums are very low, and they do well. Of course, the rest do badly.

I have a problem with, how do you deal with society in general in the specific talented one-tenth that you are pulling out? How do you see that whole talk about taking the best out and leaving the rest to fend for themselves? Does that argument play with you at all, or do you just have a charge of teaching this group and somebody else has to worry about the rest? How do you think in the long run this will work?

Mr. Jackson. In charge of our students?

Mr. Payne. The kids in general. The others. Your institution is going to pull out the motivated, the first come, the ones that want

Mr. Jackson. 70 percent of the kids in our school are on free lunch. So the majority of our kids come from low-income families. And people come into our school seeing these students coming to my school, and you see that we have 300-plus students there. The first question they ask is, where are the students? Because they are so quiet and orderly, because the kids are focusing on academics.

What we are teaching our kids and what ATOP stands for is the Adaptive Thought Orientation Process, and it is based on research I did at Michigan State University, where we teach our kids to understand how to think and how to act when they transition from their familiar environment to an unfamiliar environment, so that they can succeed. That is why we have our kids wear shirts and ties, the same as we do.

But if I have to go back on 43rd Street, where I grew up, in Chicago, I revert to a different type of environment, okay, so I do things differently. I check myself out before I get out of my car, or I get my walk back a little bit, or something, if I have to walk on the street, so people know something, they think I am still from there.

But I am saying I understand, in other words, what we are teaching our kids, and then when you go into a situation such as this, that I understand how to deal in this situation as well.

So we are teaching our kids how to be academically prepared and socially responsible citizens. That is our mission, so our kids can be responsible and take control of their lives, no matter where it is they are going, no matter what situation they go into, and that is what you see at ATOP. And I would invite you and anyone here to come and visit our school when we start back August 25th.

Mr. Payne. What is the teacher-student ratio?

Mr. Jackson. 1 to 22.

Mr. Payne. How about you? I didn't hear you, so I couldn't ask you anything.

Ms. Thorns. That is fine.

Mr. Payne. Where is your school?

Ms. Thorns. I am from Central Michigan University, so I am here representing the State of Michigan. CMU is one of the authorizers, and we have been a pioneer in the movement in Michigan, and we have 40 operational schools, and we are expecting to have about 12,000 students this year.

I wanted to also share this with you. When we talk about a small percentage of children in charter schools, that is true. In Michigan, we have 1.6 million students. We are talking about in charter schools .75 percent.

"Charter schools by the dozen await Detroit board action." And Detroit, as you well know, is one of our large urban areas in the State of Michigan. They have chartered two. So if they are talking about a dozen more, it is growing in the State of Michigan.

Also, other large urban areas are beginning to talk about starting charter schools and having charter schools with their own district.

So the movement is small, and it probably will continue to be that way for another couple or 3 years. But I do believe that it will grow and it will continue to grow. And certainly your concerns about all children, that is one of the beauties of charter schools in Michigan that we authorize, we have no boundaries. The authorizing agency that authorizes the schools, there are no boundaries, so our children can, if they live in Lancing and want to go to a charter school in Detroit and parents provide the transportation, we do that.

You talk about getting out the word. All of our PSA's or our charter schools must do an extensive recruitment, recruiting of students. And we recommend a 2-week period. We recommend holding them in the morning, some in the evenings, some on the weekend, to accommodate all parents and invite all parents.

We try to do a good job with this, because we want to make sure that all parents are involved or have an opportunity, because I personally believe that all parents do care about their children's education.

So we are seeing it growing in the movement.

Mr. Payne. Thank you.

Is it a for-profit system that you are associated with in Michigan?

Ms. Thorns. Okay, in Michigan the State Board has said that there are certain entities who can charter schools in the State of Michigan, one being public universities. So we are a public university, community college, local school district, as well as intermediate school districts have the authorization to issue a charter.

Mr. Payne. It could be a private or for-profit or whatever that particular is, because there are some, I guess, for-profit charter schools, I guess.

Ms. Thorns. No.

Mr. Payne. It says the charter school administrative services has opened five charter schools in Detroit and other Michigan cities serving the city youth with the entrepreneurial focused curriculum. And they were supposed to be for-profit companies now running schools, it said here, in Detroit. I was just curious about

Ms. Thorns. Excuse me, Representative Payne. If you don't mind, I would like to invite a governmental relations person at Central Michigan University. He just came and shared with me some information.

So Chairman, is that okay to do?

Chairman Riggs. That would be fine.

Ms. Thorns. He was very instrumental in helping to assist in writing the legislation in Michigan. So he helps me when I get into a little trouble like this. So Joe Chisholm.

I think I understand your question, but I want to make sure that you have of the factual information.

Chairman Riggs. Let me ask if the gentleman would introduce himself for the record.

Mr. Chisholm. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members.

I am Joe Chisholm, assistant vice president of governmental relations at Central Michigan University. I formerly used to work for the State Senate in Michigan as education advisor, so I have a little background on this particular issue.

I think what you are referring to are what are commonly referred to as management companies. They would be no different than a public school system that hires a public company to do its garbage pickup service.

In Michigan, all charter schools, what we call public school academies because we want the "public" word in it, are public bodies. They have a public board of directors, they swear an oath of office, they comply with all law that public bodies have to comply with, but they are allowed to contract with private entities for school services.

One of those school services can be management, and the management team can come in and help operate or do the operations in the school. They are still required to use certified teachers that go through a State process, and they are still required to comply with all that law.

That management company may draw a profit, the same as a transportation service company that provided busing to a traditional school system, a school lunch company that does catering for the schools, things like that.

Mr. Payne. Okay. Thank you.

Well, therefore, a management company simply runs the school. The school is managed; the manager would be the principal and the administration; and so for all intents and purposes, the business runs the school or through its teachers and principals and dieticians and custodians and whatever.

Mr. Chisholm. The school is run by the board, the public board, and they have oversight over the school, and they hire and fire the management company in those instances.

I think some of the newspaper articles kind of don't make it sound the way it should sound when it says a management company opened five schools. What happens often is, you find that management companies do have a lot of expertise and experience, so that groups that are interested in forming schools get together, and then they will go out and find the management company that is skilled on giving them advice as to how to do the formation of the nonprofit corporation that is the public body, as identified by law, and to go through all the steps in the application process.

So there is help from the grassroots level, there is help from the private sector in the formulation of schools, and then there is certainly help at the level of Central Michigan University, which is a major authorizer in providing expertise to these people.

Our Charter School Resource Center there, one of its primary purposes is not to help charter schools specifically but to help authorizers and those groups that are interested in the formation of schools, because we have other components whose job it is to work directly with the charter schools on their programs.

Mr. Payne. Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, at some future hearing I would be interested in us taking a look at just how management teams operate, what is the difference, how do you what does the board do if a team comes in and does everything that you approve or disapprove, you can fire or rehire. I think that has nothing to do with any of you, it is just kind of getting a little another side of this thing that I would be interested in looking into.

Ms. Thorns. Mr. Riggs, I would be more than happy to share with you our policy on the management company that we have developed at Central Michigan University, so if a board of directors would want to hire a management company, there are certain things that the management company must do.

Chairman Riggs. We would appreciate seeing that information and would be happy to accommodate that request. I might suggest the appropriate time would be the fall, when we begin our series of questions on the state of urban education, because I believe to the extent that you find the private for-profit management companies out there operating in America's public schools, you are going to find those probably in the larger urban school districts.

I want to clarify for the record, so I am sure I understand, in the five situations that Congressman Payne is referring to where local school districts have brought in a private for-profit management company, are those charter schools under Michigan State law?

Mr. Chisholm. I believe what is referred to there, it is a misnomer when it said the management company opened five schools. The management company was selected to operate five schools that were

Chairman Riggs. Five existing schools?

Mr. Chisholm. Well, I am speaking in general now about what can be done. A school district can operate schools, too. And, by the way, there is one nuance in Michigan. If a school district opens a school, that school must have the same collective bargaining agency as the school district.

Mr. Payne. I just got this. I don't know if you can see it. It says, "For-profit companies now running many chartered schools," and it just indicates five or six different groupings, and one bracket was, five schools were opened in Michigan. So I haven't had a chance to read it.

Chairman Riggs. Those are in the Detroit metropolitan area? We would like to go ahead and submit that article for the record as well. I do appreciate the gentleman's concern.



Chairman Riggs. Again, we will definitely address that, either when we have our third hearing on charter schools in the fall and/or again when we launch our series of hearings on the state of urban education in America today.

I am going to quickly conclude the hearing with a couple of questions of my own. I wanted to, first of all, thank both of you again. It is unfortunate Mr. DeBoer had to leave early to catch his flight, but we did have a chance to visit yesterday.

Ms. Thorns, I was struck by the fact in your testimony and I know you had to condense it and summarize your written testimony, but I find it very interesting that the charter school legislation enacted by the Michigan State Legislature and the Governor of Michigan, into law, reflects the belief that quoting now from your written testimony "Public school students were not graduating with adequate skills to compete in the marketplace. Too many students were dropping out of school. The monopoly" it is an interesting choice of terms "enjoyed by public schools failed to stimulate or adopt new ideas" which I think would be backed up and supported by Dr. Jackson's testimony and based on his extensive service in public education, his career to date "and, lastly, parents should have more choices for their children to accommodate differences in educational needs."

So I hope when you get down the road and you begin to gauge the progress of charter school students and evaluate the actual academic results of the charter school experiment in Michigan, you will have a chance to look back at these original beliefs and tell us whether, in fact, these beliefs were correct and whether or not these beliefs, the current situation in Michigan public schools, is being changed as a result of the charter school experiment.

That was just something I wanted to share with you.

Ms. Thorns. In our annual report to our State board, one of the areas that we just addressed, that was on the number of dropout rates in the State. So we are looking at these beliefs, and we are keeping them very close, and we hope in a couple of years, like you said, down the road, we will be able to go back and see the changes.

It is just like with the goals, you know, when the public schools come in and they want to the academies come in and want to start a school, you know. We want to make sure that they know what the goals are that the legislators set up, and the number one goal is, we want to improve student achievement.

Chairman Riggs. I would be very surprised if that, in fact, didn't occur, given the level of commitment on the part of teachers and educators involved in charter schools and the level of involvement by parents themselves, the actual consumers of education.

It was interesting to see in Dr. Jackson's ATOP credo that parents are to be treated with dignity and respect, they are to be treated as consumers, because I am a big believer that we have to change the education paradigm by shifting the focus from the providers of education to the consumers of education and finding a better balance anyway.

I wanted to make sure, though, that I understood your testimony again, Ms. Thorns, with respect to accountability measures. Are the accountability measures for the Michigan public schools specifically, the ones chartered by CMU are they the same as traditional public schools, or are they more rigorous?

Ms. Thorns. Okay. In Michigan and I am going to look for Joe to help me in Michigan, all of our charter schools must comply with all educational laws, just like the other traditional schools. So they must service special ed students, they must have certified teachers, they must do criminal background checks, just to name a few.

So, yes, they do have to abide by all of the rules and the regulations that traditional public schools must abide by.

Chairman Riggs. I am clear on that, but with respect to accountability, accountability as measured by pupil performance, actual academic results, real academic results, are those accountability measures the same, or are they more rigorous?

Ms. Thorns. I think they are more rigorous.

Chairman Riggs. Why is that?

Ms. Thorns. Well, charter schools are new in the State of Michigan, and everybody is watching us and everybody wanting to know what are we doing, if we are just playing school, or are we really making a difference in the lives of kids.

And so the market drives the accountability, and if parents are not pleased with their school and the results they are getting or meeting the needs of their children, then the charter schools are out of business.

Chairman Riggs. Well, I completely agree with that, and I completely agree that education should be viewed as a marketplace. It gets to the problem, obviously, of bureaucratic monopolies.

Again, you say in your testimony the performance of charter schools is measured by their progress towards meeting the education goals set forth in

Ms. Thorns. In their contract.

Chairman Riggs. That is the contract

Ms. Thorns. That they have with us as the authorizing body. We set up a contract.

Chairman Riggs. I am clear on that. Then you say various measurements are used, including the Michigan Education Assessment Program, or MEAP. The Michigan Education Assessment Program, is that given to all students in all Michigan public schools?

Ms. Thorns. All students in all Michigan schools.

Chairman Riggs. So we will have a basis of being able to compare then how students perform on the MEAP and charter school students are performing on the MEAP, compared to students in other public schools.

Ms. Thorns. That is correct.

Chairman Riggs. When can we look forward to seeing those results?

Ms. Thorns. We do have some results available, and I will be happy to get those to you.

Also, our schools go a step beyond that. They use other instruments to assess their students as well as the MEAP. But by law, all of our schools do administer the MEAP. So we do have the results out on our fourth-graders, particularly in reading and in math, and then the writing scores just became available, I believe yesterday.

Chairman Riggs. Okay.

Chairman Riggs. Dr. Jackson, in Arizona is there a similar situation? Is there a standardized test?

Mr. Jackson. Right. Yes, we just changed over this year. We do the Stanford test. Prior to that, we have been doing our tests. So we really wanted to be prepared toward next year, because those two tests are quite different.

Chairman Riggs. Do you think this time next year?

Mr. Jackson. Next year.

Chairman Riggs. So at the conclusion of the next school year, we might have some results for the basis of making comparisons in Arizona and Michigan as well.

Mr. Jackson. Right.

Chairman Riggs. I was struck also by the recent report entitled I still haven't been able to get a copy of it, but I think the title of it was "Reclaiming the Nation at Risk." It was a follow-up to the famous, I think, early to mid-eighties "Nation at Risk Study" that cited decentralization and site-based decision-making as the number one factor, the most important factor, in education reform and improvement.

In my mind, that is what the charter school movement is all about. Would you agree?

And I just want to quickly get your thoughts on record with respect to site-based management.

Ms. Thorns, in your testimony, again, you said it was one of the three main purposes cited in Michigan for creating a charter school. But what do you mean by site-based decision-making or site-based management?

Ms. Thorns. Site-based management, means where you have your staff, you have your board of directors, and you have your administrators all working together for the benefit of the children. They make decisions about curriculum, about what textbooks to use, what staff development they want to provide; teachers are involved.

When I was a former building principal when this topic, this phrase, first came out, and I no longer was the only person in charge of my building, I empowered my teachers, I empowered my parents.

Society-based management encompasses those, where parents, the community, the administrator, and the teachers are all working together, because, see, one of the things that we must realize in this country is that we cannot do this alone. It takes all of us working together for the benefit of our children.

So when we empower staff to be actively involved in the day-to-day operation, the curriculum, the financial part of it, that is what teachers want. They want to be involved. And I think when they are involved, they feel good about what they are doing and they want to do everything they can to make a difference in the lives of children. So it is empowering all of the stakeholders.

Chairman Riggs. Dr. Jackson, it sounds as though your management model is more hierarchical. It is not as horizontal as this concept of site-based decision-making or site-based management implies. Do you buy into that idea, and how important is that to the charter school movement?

Mr. Jackson. Well, I think one of the things that, when we look at our management, we see ourselves as a business, and because we know we only have limited support financially in terms of the State funding, we see our parents as our customers and we see our students as consumers. So that requires us to make a lot of instant decisions that sometimes you cannot make when you are dealing with a lot of bureaucratic red tape.

So, for me, I think that if we look at it and turn it around as site-based management, I am able to make instant decisions. And there are certain decisions that I know I have to go to my board for, but there are other decisions I don't have to go to my board for, and I make those decisions.

I had to make some decisions yesterday about some things for the business, and I was going to be gone, so I was able to give those instructions to someone, and someone is carrying out those decisions today.

So I like the idea of being able to do things instantly. If we need to meet needs for parents or students or my teachers or administrators, we can make instant decisions. That is the beauty of the charter schools. We don't have to wait and say, "Well, we have a board meeting next month," and put it on the board's agenda, and then we talk about it next month, and then you get there, and it may not get to the board or they may not make a decision, or if they do make a decision, we have to come back and meet again on it, or whatever, and 2 months down the road you are still talking about having to make a decision.

I like the way we have it, and if that is what you call site-based management, in terms of making instant decisions, that is what we do.

Chairman Riggs. I am curious how you involve parents in the life of the school at ATOP. Again, it seems to me this whole idea of parental involvement and empowerment is so important. Based on some of the earliest results, the earliest data we have seen about school choice, there seems to be a correlation between higher or greater parental involvement, higher parental satisfaction, and improved pupil performance. And that is the bottom line. That is what we are trying to get out here in this subcommittee, and that is, how do we improve academic performance in our public schools?

I guess the best measurement of that degree of parental satisfaction is whether or not the parents choose to keep their students at the charter school.

But is there any other way that you measure parental satisfaction? There is lots of informal feedback.

Mr. Jackson. We get into verbal comments. Like we just had our graduation a couple weeks ago for our kindergartners. The parents were ecstatic about that, because they were excited by the fact that their kids are reading already, their kids are learning Spanish, they are learning geometry.

Like when a parent says, "My son came home and he was pointing out octagon and hexagon, and I am trying to figure out, he is in kindergarten, where does he learn that from?"

So through verbal comments we get it from the parents. We are getting it through word of mouth from other parents who heard other parents who have kids going to our school.

And that is really what led to us opening this other school, because we have parents traveling 30-some miles to put their kids in our school. So now we are opening up the east Valley campus so that can accommodate other people, because we decide we no longer are going to have a waiting list or anything else, we are just going to accommodate people's needs.

Chairman Riggs. I noted in your testimony you mentioned transportation is a big concern.

Mr. Jackson. Right. In Arizona, I think when they started the charter school movement, they didn't realize that people would be willing to travel long distances to have their kids come to a charter school. And they started out giving us the same amount; I think it was $1.95 per mile, the same as traditional public schools.

Most traditional public schools only go a radius of about 3 to 5 miles to pick up a kid. They never imagined that I would have people actually coming from Gilbert which is 30-some miles away from where the school is located that want to come to our school. But we have transportation that goes out.

So what was happening is, the State budget was getting usurped, so to speak, because all of the funds were being drained. So they tightened it up, so now they give us 174 per student, which comes out to the amount for bus fares, which is $17.40 a year, although the traditional schools still get their $1.95. That is where a disparity is also, because on the one hand they keep want to keep saying we are a public school, we are a public school, but we are not being treated equal.

Chairman Riggs. You are a second class public school. You don't run a busing service?

Mr. Jackson. Right.

Chairman Riggs. Do any of your young people, your students, rely on public transit?

Mr. Jackson. Well, we started this year buying bus passes for some of our kids. So we use three forms. We use bus pass, we are still contracting on a limited service for bus transportation, plus parents bring their kids to the school. So we use a combination.

Chairman Riggs. That is traditional school bus type service?

Mr. Jackson. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. I see.

Ms. Thorns. Could I just share one thing with you? On our board of directors, we require a parent to be on the board as well as an educator. So our board of directors consists of between five and nine people, and a requirement of that academy is to have a parent involved.

Chairman Riggs. I guess my last question is for you, Ms. Thorns, and that is, I don't know how many other States follow the example of Michigan, but I find it interesting in fact, remarkable that you have, in the case of Central Michigan University, the university itself acting as the chartering authority. I think that that, again, is unlike most other States.

Are there any particular advantages or disadvantages to having a university act as the chartering authority, and what was the logic and reasoning behind that?

Ms. Thorns. That is a good question. I am going to take part of it and have Joe to do the negative side, and I will do the positive side, since Joe has been at the university much longer than I have.

But there are some great advantages to having a university to be the authorizing agency, one being, in particular, we are the leader in the teacher preparation, and so therefore we do empower our staff members, we do work with our faculty and staff there by visiting their classes and educating them on charter schools and having them to be involved in the entire movement, because a lot of the ideas and creativity, that is where they begin, with our teachers.

So, therefore, we empower them and invite them to be a part of our communities, which is our charter school. Many of them do consultants; many of them do go out and do case studies; many of them assist with an area of curriculum in the workshops.

The resources are right there on our campus, and so the Michigan Resource Center is housed on the university. As a matter of fact, it is in the College of Education Department. So our faculty members are all around us, and so they provide those resources and services to our schools and even to our office.

Another reason why the authority back to that accountability piece. We are a public institution, and so we sign our name on that contract saying that we are going to be held accountable with this school to make sure that the school abides by all laws. Then that is what we do.

So those are some real advantages, and also working with the community and working with the young students on campus and the international students who come to our campus, students from other countries, other leaders, educators, who come, who want to know about the education system in Michigan, those resources are readily available.

Now, Joe?

Mr. Chisholm. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

There are no negatives, but ma'am; I did touch on some of the theory behind having the university involved, and that is the accountability aspect.

When they put the law together in Michigan, they wanted to make absolutely sure that there was an unbroken trail of public accountability in the formation of schools, so they selected four different recognized public entities that had education experience and empowered them to do the chartering, universities being at the top of that food chain with respect to the professional education component. Central Michigan University taught 60 percent of the teachers in the State of Michigan.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. Very good.

Well, again, I want to thank all three of you for being here, for the outstanding testimony, for waiting so patiently for the opportunity. Believe me, it has been very, very helpful to us, and we look forward to working with you between now and the fall, when I hope to be able to introduce a bill that the subcommittee will entertain authorizing a larger role for the Federal Government in and increased funding from the Federal taxpayers to promote public school choice through the start-up and expansion of more charter schools nationwide.

So thank you. And the subcommittee stands adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 3:05 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]