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Author says charter schools more flexible

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When it comes to charter schools, autonomy and accountability must go hand-in-hand, said education author Rick Hess, who made a stop in Albuquerque on Tuesday.

Hess shared his thoughts on charter schools and how they benefit the nation’s education system during a noon-hour talk at the Marriott Pyramid hosted by the Rio Grande Foundation.

Hess, a supporter of charters, argued that traditional schools, for historical reasons, are not best suited to prepare students for the modern expectation that they will be capable of going on to college or pursuing a career out of high school.

“We’re trying to set high expectations for every child,” Hess said.

The charter model works because schools are given freedom to try new ways of teaching and successful schools are allowed to keep teaching they way they found works best, Hess said.

But it’s equally important that poor-performing charter schools are weeded out, he said.

“It’s a misnomer to suggest all charters are inherently better” than traditional schools, Hess said, adding it is the role of authorizers to make sure charter schools are producing good results. In New Mexico, charter schools are authorized by the state or local school districts.

Doug Wine, president of the New Mexico Coalition of Charter Schools, said the state’s authorizers should better define their roles, both in supporting charter schools and deciding when to shut down a troubled school.

“I think it’s fair to say their role is not clear,” Wine said.