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A strategy for charter school regulations

Members of the West Virginia Board of Education and state school Superintendent Steven Paine are in a no-win situation — at least in pleasing education “stakeholders.”

So what? That is not their job. Their responsibility is to do their best to ensure that children get good educations, now and in the future.

State board members are required by a law enacted earlier this year to develop specific policies for charter schools. It had been expected Paine would give the board a proposal on that last week.

But the state superintendent “put a halt on the policy because I’m not comfortable with it coming forward yet.” Paine explained he wants to discuss the matter with more people before presenting a proposal.

Many of those on both sides of the controversy are either firmly in favor of as many charter schools as possible or none at all.

Advocates say West Virginia parents deserve choices in educating their children. Opponents fear charters will siphon off scarce funds from public schools.

In order to get a bill enacted, lawmakers who favor charters had to put in place severe limits. At first, no more than three charters can be established. Later, about one a year will be permitted.

Given the specificity in the law, state board members have little latitude in writing rules for charters.

Let us hope they throw no more obstacles in the way of charters — but also insist that if any are established, they are accountable for quality instruction but not adhering to bureaucratic red tape. That would serve young West Virginians best, and it is the strategy Paine and board members should follow.

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