Charter schools not serving the neediest students

Posted By Levi

February 6th, 2012 8:37pm

Category: Education

Critics of charter schools have consistently pointed out that they don’t often serve the most needy students and that they have the ability to pick and choose their students unlike public schools which cannot turn away any student who shows up at their doors. The strongest evidence of this is in this letter of resignation. Pedro Noguera, a trustee of the State University of New York, resigned late last month, citing concerns that SUNY and its Charter Schools Institute, which authorizes charters in New York, have a political agenda to increase the number of charters, rather than a mission to develop experimental schools. SchoolBook invited Mr. Noguera to explain his decision.

Believing that charter schools could serve as models of “best practice” for expanding access to college and improved forms of teacher education, Noguera syas this has not been the case because “politicians in New York and Washington are far more interested in competition between public and charter schools than they are in collaboration.

Noguera continues:

Despite my optimism, I have also had a growing awareness that the proliferation of charter schools and their co-location — placement within an existing public school — were actually undermining rather than improving the public schools. Particularly in neighborhoods such as central Harlem and cities such as Albany and Rochester where there is now a concentration of charter schools, it was becoming increasingly clear that we were contributing to a problem.

Although charter schools were serving low-income children of color, they were often under-enrolling the most disadvantaged children — those with learning disabilities, English language learners, and those with chronic behavior problems.

These children are typically under-represented in the lotteries used to select students for charters, and as a result, these children are being concentrated in the “failing” public schools.

Thus far, the only strategy that the D.O.E. and State Education Department has had to address the plight of these schools is to label them as “failing” and call for their closure. It is a set up, and it is blatantly unfair.

In too many cases, the new charter schools are not serving the same children as the schools that have been shut down. Instead, those children are being reassigned to other schools that will soon be labeled failing once again.

Whether it was intended or not, in many cases charter schools are contributing to a more inequitable educational playing field.

Read the whole thing here.


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