Improving Access and Equity in the Charter Movement


Improving Access and Equity in the Charter Movement

[Editor’s Note: Jump to 09:58 in the above video to see Amanda Fenton talk about equity and access in the school choice process.]

Access and equity is a big priority for NACSA—it is one of our three core principles that sits at the heart of our Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing. In this interview conducted for School Choice Week, I talk about why it’s important (Spoiler alert: It helps families and students get the most of the charter movement!) The responsibility falls on all of us to ensure all students and families have fair and equitable access to charter schools. This means fulfilling not just the letter of the law but the spirit too.

By this point in time most of you know that I graduated from a charter school in California. So did my two siblings. Yep, we were the weird charter family back in the 90s. I have visceral memories of when and why each of us chose to go to that charter school, and the lottery and wait list process we each had to go through to get there. My older brother was the first. He was in the school’s first graduating class (affectionately called the “First Waffles” by the staff) and, by extension, the first lottery. He was waitlisted and didn’t get in for weeks. My twin sister applied a year later and the sibling preference helped her through. I was the last and transferred in four-weeks into my junior year of high school, unhappy with a tough return to my traditional public school and willing to give the charter a try when the spot opened up. The charter school welcomed us all—a kid on the waitlist, one with a lottery preference, and me, the mid-year backfill.

And that is what access and equity are all about. Individual families, getting each child into a great school.