The Truth about Charter Schools

A study on charter schools released on June 15, 2009 by Stanford University (sponsored by PRO-CHARTER groups: Walton Family and Susan Dell Foundation) studying 15 states and District of Columbia found that:

• 80 % of charter schools performed the same or worse than traditional public schools: (37% that did significantly worse and 46% that performed the same).

• African American and Hispanic students were found to do worse in charter schools in math and reading scores.

• In Florida, the leading state with charters (389 schools), “Black students, bottom-tier students and top-tier students in Florida charter schools all perform “significantly worse” in reading and math than their peers in other public schools.

A study released on August 22, 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found:

• Students in charter schools performed several points lower on reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress Test (the gold standard).

A report by the United States Department of Education (under George W. Bush) in 2003 found:

• Charter schools in all five case-study states were less likely than traditional public schools to meet performance standards even after controlling for several school characteristics.

• More than half of authorizers (of Charter schools) report difficulty closing a school that is having problems – a key responsibility of authorizers in this educational reform.”

• The reality is that only 36 percent of authorizers had a charter school office, or staff in 2001-02, suggesting limited capacity to address charter school oversight.

• Only four percent of authorizers had NOT renewed a school’s charter and six percent had revoked a charter as of 2001-02. (Bad charters keep on going).

• Charter schools are more likely to serve minority and low income students but less likely to serve students in special education.

• According to the 1999-2000 SASS, 79 percent of teachers in charter schools held certification, compared with 92 percent of teachers in traditional public schools.

A study by Arizona State University (EPAA) in August 2002 finds:

• charters in economically depressed areas may receive more funding than the traditional public schools that surround them, placing traditional public schools at a funding disadvantage.

• In the case of DC charter schools, private funding was found to have accounted for $780 per pupil and, combined with a higher level of public funding (mostly due to non-district funding), resulted in considerably higher funding for charters than comparable public schools.

We at GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) believe:

The invasion of charter schools is an issue of race. If white affluent public schools have low teacher-to-student ratios and access to top notch academic building and programs, why is a lottery system the only means by which urban minority students can access these equitable conditions. A lottery system of winners and losers, is abandoning the conversation that ALL students, regardless of race and socio-economic backround deserve the greatest of educational opportunities.

Charter schools, like those in Harlem, vastly under-serve English Language Learners and Special Education Students. Due to the self selection process of lottery systems, not only are Charter schools creaming off the top of various student sub-groups, their lack of programs for Special Education and ELL students dissuade those parents from seeking their children’s enrollment.

Charter schools are a political and corporate tool used by those favoring privatization to access the 800 billion dollars spent yearly in public education. If public education goes the way of the current health care model, a vast number of students will get education on the cheap. Profit not education, and shortcuts not support, will be the guiding principle. The funding gap and resource gap will become even more stark than it is now.

The current limited success of a few charter schools bedazzled by huge corporate sponsored budgets can not be replicated on a system wide basis. For example, the budget of Harlem Promise Schools requires a yearly 36 million in private funding alone. If Harlem Promise Schools have shown anything, it is that lowering class size, providing the best supporting services and resources, should be the goal for every student in the inner city – not just those that win a lottery. We are abandoning the goals of an equitable public education, which although never fully realized, have made significant gains since Brown vs the Board of Education. Charter schools are in essence legitimizing the two tiered system of education for the lucky versus those left behind.

Furthermore, charter schools open the door for skirting a fine line between church and state. Recent controversies pertaining to Hebrew Language Charter Schools, Arabic Language Charters, Hellenistic Language Charter Schools, and the conversion of Catholic private schools into charter schools, may provide loopholes that may further segregate rather than hold the public school ideals of democratic multiculturalism.


One thought on “The Truth about Charter Schools

  1. This a really great list of stat's to have on hand. Someone should send a copy to the Working Families Party so that the next time they hold a debate among political hopefuls, they could actually ask questions backed by research.

    Posted by Floraine Kay | July 18, 2009, 9:43 am

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