Continuing the conversation about charter schools

Among the first 100 individuals commenting (by email and on online) on my recent article on charter schools, there were passionate opinions on both sides, but there was a distinct numeric tilt (53-34) against charter expansion, a tilt that was consistent across the communities that I represent.

I’ve read all the statements a few times.  The statements that meant most to me were those that told personal stories and/or shared local perceptions. One recurring perception was that charter schools find ways to send kids that are challenging back to the district schools. I’m sure there is some truth to that, although I’m also sure it isn’t true in every charter school. The other recurring and indisputable point was the drain on local district resources.

After listening to these comments and listening further to colleagues, here are my main current thoughts:

  1. The end game will not be that charters take over education in Massachusetts. Many communities passionately support their local district schools and many parents lack the system savvy to find their way into charters. We should be putting most of our energy into improving local district schools, which will always serve a majority of our students.
  2. The magic in good schools comes from a sense of caring and purpose among the faculty which translates into high expectation setting for the kids. We should be doing everything we can to build morale in district schools. Expansion of charters conflicts with that goal if it forces annual downsizing of district schools.
  3. At the same time, some charters, by breaking the mold, may help recreate that sense of caring and purpose and boost expectations where they have bottomed out. Certainly, charters are also here to stay and will continue to serve some fraction of our students.  Some charter schools are doing a very good job serving some kids — I’ve heard enough heart-felt testimonials from parents to believe that.
  4. The statement that there are waiting lists for charters is not, in itself, a compelling reason for raising the cap.  Popular district schools are also over-subscribed in Boston.  The case for expansion seems most compelling where parents want to extend a good charter experience to higher grades.  We should allow the successful charters to stabilize with a full K-12 sequence, but should otherwise consider only very modest expansion within communities and statewide.
  5. Any increase in the charter cap should be targeted to districts where dissatisfaction with local district schools is high.  Any measure allowing more charters where desired should also eliminate the possibility of charters in places where scores are high and satisfaction is high:  If there is no local perception that a school system is broken, we should not be threatening it with fixes. This is common sense, but also based on the data — see “Urban Charter Schools Often Succeed. Suburban Ones Often Don’t” and (less clearly) the Stanford study of Massachusetts charters.
  6. We should be adopting a more robust approach to reimbursing local school districts for charter tuition when kids transfer to charter schools.   Mayor Walsh’s approach, which would pay a higher reimbursement for a shorter period seems to offer a better transition.   His idea that the sending cities should not be at risk for underfunding of the reimbursement by the state is also sound.  If the charter schools themselves were at risk when the state underfunds reimbursement, they would be better partners in advocating for full funding.
  7. Time on task is the one thing that almost always helps learning.  Expanding learning time is about increased funding, but also about controlling instructional costs — charters are able to expand learning time because they often don’t bargain collectively with teachers.  Alas, neither increasing funding nor cutting costs through collective bargaining is easy in local district schools, but we should be looking for ways to support it where the need for it is greatest.

As this conversation continues, I hope we can keep ourselves focused on our own direct perceptions and Massachusetts-specific facts.  The choice we are making is really about Massachusetts and should be based on perceptions of how things are working here.   While there is a national fight going on about charters and local schools, every state has its own institutions, laws, politics, demographics and history.  Neither the successes nor the failures of the charter movement in other states tell us much about how charters are working here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

31 replies on “Continuing the conversation about charter schools”

  1. Your analysis and suggestions are right on target! Very sensible approach. I agree. If not broken,do not fix. Charters should be able to go K thru 12.Pat and I are very glad you are our senator!Thank you.

  2. I’d prefer an approach that allowed for more freedom of choice. Even in Belmont, if people wanted to go to all the work to organize a charter school, I think they should be allowed to.

    1. Remember that new charters get to take full tuition away from the district schools and that charters do not require local approval. A lot of people have overextended themselves financially to put their kids in the Belmont schools and to support the Belmont schools. They’ve already made a choice and backed it with their life savings. The argument for choice is more compelling in districts where many parents are less able financially to choose a school system.

      That’s what makes the charter issue such a dilemma in Boston — the Boston schools include many parents who are there after making an equally significant life choice for their children and we want to respect their choice. At the same time, it also includes a lot of parents who don’t have the option to buy in to a suburban system, who are desperate to get their children into safer, better schools.

    2. Yes, each parent and student should have the power to choose. On a collective basis everyone in Belmont may think Restaurant A meets their needs. Nevertheless, a creative Restaurant B might better appeal to some. The collective mindset locks everyone into the status quo, which suits the owners (the union) but prevents possibilities for creativity and progress and punishes those who would prefer Restaurant B (the non-union alternative). Just because Wendy’s gets the job done, some might like to put their money in McDonalds.

      1. People who buy in to suburban systems already have the power to choose. Fragmenting strongly-supported systems into multiple competing options will, in the long run, fragment and weaken taxpayer support for public education.

    3. This has been a great conversation. I continue to believe that public schools need stronger support and incentives to innovate, and am not convinced that charter schools are achieving that. It seems to me that charter schools are little more than private schools on the dole.

      That said, disgruntled parents and educators are always free to get together to create private schools and seek support from government sources, foundations and private capital. There are many examples of such schools. That route provides freedom of choice too, without subtracting anything from public schools except students. (State aid for public schools that lose students would still decrease, but it should be at the marginal cost of educating one less student, not the full rate now used.)

      Of course, parents of private school student have to pay tuition. A means-tested voucher program (not all that different from fuel assistance or school lunch subsidies) could be set up using monies that would otherwise flow to charter schools.

      That would entail some additional administrative costs, however, and mechanisms would need to be built in to hold schools receiving subsidies accountable; carrots for good outcomes and sticks for high drop-out rates.

      As other commenters noted, parental involvement is very important for good educational outcomes, and I get the sense that charter schools tend to discourage it. But many parents of at-risk students need education too.

      All schools regardless of type should help parents fulfill their roles and responsibilities in their children’s education–because ultimately, parents should be the ones to hold schools accountable, not government bureaucrats. But to get there, parents need to do their homework too.

  3. I appreciate that you are actually coming to your constituents for input and that you seem to actually be listening. In Boston it’s been very discouraging that its parent investigation that is uncovering what the Mayor’s plans are, involving the Gates and Walton foundations, rather than him being upfront with us. I’m very disturbed by the whole ‘unified enrollment plan’ shenanigans that are going on. Parent meeting after parent meeting has shown the Mayor that there is a lot of opposition to the plan. It doesn’t seem to matter. It’s very discouraging.

  4. Will,

    I agree with your points 5 and 6 in your response. An increase in the charter cap should be targeted (#5) and the funding should be reviewed (#6).

    As a former public school administrator, I used to be adamantly opposed to charter schools. However, I recently see the value of them in some urban areas in terms of serving a critical educational need. I am still opposed to them in competition to wealthy suburban schools.

    Thank you for taking the time to seek public input.


  5. As a teacher (retired) I saw many of the talented students drawn away from the public schools,thus lowering the average and in some cases,the inspiration from the overall public school population. That being said, the charter schools do serve a purpose but should be limited in scope and expansion. Perhaps the district schools could be more focused on skills in various areas to act as a balance to the charter schools’ specializations within a limited geographic area.

  6. Success in school depends immensely on a student’s homelife. Charter schools often provide mentors/tutors who provide what parents are not providing. This is a necessary substitute but does not correct the underlying problem which is that families need to be in partnership with the school and further at home what teachers are doing at school.

    Neighborhood schools are the best way to include parents/guardians, often teaching them along with their children. We need to put our collective efforts into neighborhoods so whole communities benefit.

  7. why would a parent opt to send a child or children to private schools with high tuition and still pay taxes to support public education? mandated public funding and it is GOVERNMENT ENTITY .in our opinion ENOUGH SAID.

  8. Despite the “problems” with charter schools, I believe they do far more good than harm, especially for communities poorly served by existing public schools. There are many issues that lead to poorly performing public schools; unfortunately their resolutions are neither easy nor swift. In the meantime every young person deserves an opportunity to attend a school of quality, and the majority of charter schools seem to offer just that. We need more of them to fill the gap. Moreover the existence of charter schools should be stimulating public school systems to look deeply into the systemic conditions that keep their underperforming schools from doing better.

  9. Once again I want to thank you for seeking the input of your constituents. I appreciate you not just listening to the charter school lobby.
    As I’m sure you are aware the original intent of charter school was to develop new and effective ways of educating and then sharing those practices with public schools. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. What has happened is a private entity that drains resources from public schools. Providing public education is the government serving the people. Charter Schools is a slippery slop to privatizing that responsibility. Consider working with public schools teachers. Citizen Schools n Boston is a successful example of teachers and an administration working together.

  10. Students who are “special needs” especially those who have multiple handicaps cost vastly more that the average student for the local schools to educate. Students in these programs that cost significantly greater than average students, should not be funded through the local school finance system as it is now, but be direct funded the state. These difficult situations are often a large administrative and financial drain on local schools driving up costs, while not really contributing to the average child’s education, thus making especially in poorer school systems more expensive while not dealing with average or gifted educational needs. I believe that the commonwealth requires local schools to fund special needs education no matter how expensive the program if the child will benefit if the child needs can not be dealt within the local school. Severely handicapped children end up in programs paid for through local school budgets. My father was involved 20 years ago with teacher education and often said that in MA 10-15% of the children in Boston schools required more than 50% of the system’s resources because they needed special services. Perhaps a reform would be to require that these children have their education paid for directly by the commonwealth so local school system can concentrate on the on the majority of children. This too effects the debate about charter schools.

    1. That is a really good point. Will, do you think charter schools have been bellying up to take on their share of the SPED burden?

      1. Hard to evaluate this, Geoff. I’m sure it varies, but this is one of the concerns people express — that challenging kids end up back in the public schools. On the other hand, some charters may do better at mainstreaming kids rather having IEPs for them — that also has been suggested.

  11. Hi Will,

    At least for the Boston Public Schools, the charter school debate is a distraction.

    There are a lot of people who don’t like to hear this and don’t like to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable: most BPS schools are bad because they primarily serve a poor, minority population, and as our country (should have) learned from Brown v. Board of Education, when it comes to schools (or anything else) there is no such thing as “separate but equal.”

    I could write pages and pages about how minorities — primarily blacks — in this country have been systematically disadvantaged for centuries, and continue to be systematically disadvantaged to this day, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before and are well aware of it.

    This isn’t merely a lower-class vs. middle-class issue, nor is it a poor vs. not-poor issue. The fact of the matter is that poor white people in this country are privileged compared to poor black people. This is not to say that white people living in poverty have it easy — they obviously don’t — but it’s important to recognize that systemic racism makes everything that much harder for a black person than for a white person in a comparable economic bracket.

    One of the most commonly held theories about why majority-minority schools fare worse than whiter schools, regardless of how much money is thrown at the problem, is because minority students face many more challenges outside of school than do their white counterparts, stemming from the centuries of systemic racism they and their families are burdened with, e.g., racist housing policies which deprived blacks in this country from being able to grow their wealth via home ownership after World War II and forced them into ghettos. There is a great deal of truth to this theory, and the most depressing thing about is that it seems nearly impossible to fix in any comprehensive way.

    But aside from that, I have a different theory about why districts like BPS find it so difficult to make significant improvements across their entire district vs. in a few special schools. I haven’t heard anyone espouse this theory before, though for all I know perhaps I missed it. I’d like to share it for your consideration.

    Blacks in this country are conditioned from infancy to silently bear the brunt of systemic racism. They are taught to resign themselves to it, to put up with it. They are, in fact taught that the alternative to putting up with it — fighting back, protesting, standing up for themselves — can often result in a worse outcome than grinning and bearing it. The most extreme examples of this are Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, etc., but it doesn’t just play out on the extremes. I hate to use the clichéd term microaggressions, but the fact of the matter is that blacks in this country are confronted with microaggressions on a daily basis, and they are taught, consciously and subconsciously, that the only way not to be driven crazy by them is to go along to get along.

    School districts, like any large government bureaucracy, inevitably descend to the lowest common denominator they can get away with. That means they do as little as they can get away with to cater to parents, hire staff and faculty, maintain buildings, etc. It’s hard to entirely blame them for this when they are chronically underfunded, but it’s not just about money. It’s simple reality that this is how bureaucracies tend to function unless there is extremely strong leadership pushing them in a different direction; even then it’s hard to break out of this mold because of resource limitations.

    As This American Life recently explicated quite brilliantly (#562, “The Problem We All Live With”, and #563, “The Problem We All Live With – Part Two”), integration is, bar none, the one and only thing which has been proven to consistently equalize the quality of majority-white and majority-minority schools. Integration is the best hope for BPS and similar districts to give all of the students it serves the education they deserve. The question we need to be asking is: why is integration so successful at improving schools?

    The answer to this question is obvious, once you realize it: integrated schools are more successful because white parents, who have not been conditioned for their whole lives to suffer in silence, don’t put up with bad schools or bad treatment; instead, they force their children’s schools to do better. They push back against sins small and large committed by teachers, principals, and the administration. When there are enough of them doing that on a daily basis, the schools and districts cannot help but learn that “lowest common denominator” is higher than they thought it was. They get better and they stay better.

    Note that this theory does not assume or require racist intent, or even racist behavior, on the part of the faculty, staff, or administration of any school district. It’s not that they treat black people or serve black students worse than they would whites. They would — and do — treat white students and families just as poorly when they can get away with it, But they can’t get away with it when there are too many families who won’t put up with it.

    My wife and I have five children who have among them attended 33+ years at private schools and 5+ years at BPS. We also have many friends who’ve had experience with both private and BPS schools for their children. Our consistent experience is that BPS treats people like dirt, and they get away with it, because there aren’t enough people pushing back to force them to improve. Let me share with you a few specific examples.

    One of the ways in which BPS abuses the families in its district is especially relevant to your constituency, since it specifically negatively impacts Allston and Brighton. Every BPS family has to visit a BPS “Welcome Center” at least once for every child they enroll in the schools, to prove residency. Take a look at the list of Welcome Centers. Notice how none of them is located in Brighton. Notice how none of them is located anywhere near or convenient to Brighton. Now let’s look at the demographics for the five neighborhoods in which the Centers are located. Dorchester is 28% white; Roxbury is 21% white; Roslindale is 47% white; East Boston is 37% white; and Mattapan is 3% white. Brighton, in contrast, is 70% white. This is not a coincidence. When asked (and believe me, they have been asked, many times, by many Brighton residents), the BPS administration will tell you that there is no Welcome Center in Brighton because there aren’t enough BPS students near there to justify one, but that’s exactly backward. Making Brighton parents go hours out of their way to get to a Welcome Center sends a clear, unequivocal message — we don’t care about providing you with decent service or making this easy for you — and it drives Brighton families away from BPS. Yes, it’s true that if they opened a Welcome Center in Brighton, it would get less traffic than the others, at least at first. But that’s backward thinking; if they want to attract and retain white, middle-class families from Brighton — and I’ve already explained why they should absolutely, positively want that — they need to cater to those families first, before it is “cost-effective” to do so.

    The process the BPS requires for proving residency is another example of the district’s failure to adopt a customer-service mentality that would attract and retain families who won’t tolerate being treated poorly. In this day and age, there is no conceivable justification for requiring families to show up in person to prove residency. Why can’t the necessary documents be submitted electronically? Why can’t the fact that I already have a residency exemption on my property taxes (i.e., I’ve already proven residency to the City of Boston) be sufficient to prove residency to BPS? Why do I have to prove residency for children who are newly enrolling in BPS when I’ve already proven residency for my older children? Why did I have to visit a Welcome Center in person to prove residency so my daughter could take the ISEE, and then have to repeat the process again just a few months later when she enrolled in one of the exam schools? Why, in short, hasn’t BPS done everything it can to make this process as streamlined and easy as possible? Reality check: residency fraud among BPS students is miniscule and is almost entirely limited to a few schools; most BPS schools are not good enough to justify any parent anywhere committing fraud to get their kids into them. How can it possibly make sense to make the parents of 56,000 students jump through these onerous hoops just to prevent a fraction of a percent of that number of students from committing residency fraud?

    I recently wrote to to the superintendent’s office about a particular long-standing problem I can’t explain in detail for privacy reasons. Because I care about BPS and would like to see it improve, I said this in my letter:

    …after just a few years’ experience with BPS, I could fill a book with stories of the many disappointing experiences we’ve had. We’re hardly alone; I could post a message on my Facebook wall and within a few hours round up a posse of friends who have had experiences similar to ours…

    As long as the district keeps pulling stuff like this, families like ours will continue to avoid BPS even when it costs us, literally, several tens of thousands of dollars per year to send our kids to private schools…

    I would like to extend to you the following offer: if you, as the new superintendent of BPS, are interested in hearing directly from families like ours what you need to do to bring us back to BPS, and you are willing to take the time to meet privately with us and listen to what we have to say, then I will personally take responsibility for finding and organizing a group of parents with first-hand experiences to participate in such a meeting.

    I was not surprised when the superintendent ignored my offer in his response (and indeed, it was not he, but his chief of staff, who responded to my email).

    I can assure you — because I have experienced it on numerous occasions — that if I were to contact the headmaster of the private school my children have all attended and tell her that I and other families at the school have serious concerns about a systemic issue, she would jump at the opportunity to invite us all to come sit down and talk with her. The administration of BPS just doesn’t get it. They don’t understand that rather than ignoring parents’ concerns, they need to be doing everything they can to enlist parents in helping to make the schools better.

    In summary, BPS has put the cart before the horse. They think that if they figure out how to improve their test scores, white families will return to the schools. That’s wrong for two reasons: (1) it’s not just the test scores that are driving white families away, it’s also (and perhaps more so) the fact that BPS treats parents like dirt rather than actively trying to be attractive and welcoming; and (2) their test scores will only improve significantly when they figure out how to raise the lowest common denominator, and the best way for them to do that is to enroll more students from families who won’t put up with being treated poorly.

    I want to be completely clear that all of the individual BPS schools our children have attended have treated us with dignity and respect. While they have not always lived up to our expectations, they clearly consider it important to involve parents in the school, solicit and respond to their feedback, and solve individual problems that are brought to their attention. The district should be applying lessons from the schools that do this well to the entire district and creating systems that support and perpetuate it. Instead, it often seems like the district hampers the efforts of successful schools.

    Why am I telling you, a state senator, all this? What can you do about it?

    Generally speaking, the legislature needs to show bravery and leadership on the topic of what it’s going to take to improve our schools. People don’t like to talk about the race problem in our schools, about the fact that as long as schools remain segregated de facto, kids in majority-minority schools will get a worse education, but we need to be talking about it. Hold hearings about it. Bring in experts from districts that are aggressively, actively working to desegregate their schools. Highlight the research — and there is a lot of research — which shows how effective desegregation is at closing the performance gap. In short, acknowledge that whether or not it is a good idea to raise the charter school cap, charter schools are frankly just an excuse to avoid talking about the race problem we need to solve to give every child in every school district access to the education they deserve.

    Leadership is important, but it’s also pretty vague. Here are a couple of specific policy initiatives to think about as ways to potentially make inroads into solving the problem. These are off-the-cuff ideas which I admit are not fully thought out, but they’re at least useful as thought exercises to start the ideas flowing.

    1) The Commonwealth gives a lot of money to local school districts. What if some of that money were distributed under a formula which incentivized integration? To hear what I’m talking about, listen to the story in the second This American Life episode mentioned above, about the efforts of the Hartford, CT schools to actively, aggressively integrate their schools (but really, I encourage you to listen to both TAL episodes in full; they’re incredibly enlightening and informative).

    I’m not talking about forced busing à la Judge Garrity. I’m talking about rewarding majority-minority school districts for finding ways to attract white kids to their schools, and conversely, rewarding majority-white schools which voluntarily accept minority students. There’s Metco, but there are fewer than 4,000 Metco students per year; it’s not nearly enough, and in any case, it’s only half of what’s needed. The other half is rewarding heavily minority districts that find ways to attract white kids.

    2) If, as I’ve asserted, how school districts treat parents is a critical factor in their success, then just as the Commonwealth measures how schools stack up on MCAS scores, it should also be measuring their “customer service.” If every school district were required to survey all parents every year on their feelings about the district — not just how good they think their kids’ schools are, but also whether they feel that the district listens to them, solves their problems, makes it easy to enroll kids, listens to and addresses parent concerns, etc. — and if poor parent survey results negatively impacted schools just like poor MCAS scores do, then that would incentivize schools to treat parents better.

    Again, these are just off-the-cuff ideas, not fully formed policy recommendations. Generally speaking, what the legislature needs to do is acknowledge the race problem and start talking about how to solve it, not treat it as a third rail and avoid talking about it at all costs. It isn’t going to go away, and as long as our local, state and national leaders keep their heads in the sand about it, generations of minority students will be deprived of the education they deserve.

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Thanks, Jon, for putting these thoughts on the table. The concern to close the achievement gap is front and center in much thinking about the school issue.

      But your emphasis on the benefits of having kids learn together is important and worth continued reflection. It may be that feeling special and cared for is important (for both teachers and students). It may be that integration helps that, but it may be possible in other ways — it may also be that creating a sense of purpose within a charter can help that — it is interesting that urban charters seem to perform better than suburban charters. Thanks to Fred Hapgood for sending on this piece from the New York Times.

    2. As a woman of color who grew up in Boston during the bussing era- I love love love your input and insight. I agree completely that we need to look beyond the usual charter chatter and explore sustainable ways to improve public education. I am both a charter parent and work in the ed reform space and have faced some very angry opponents- it’s disheartening actually- BUT you have given me hope- hope that there are some white families who understand the deeply rooted systemic oppression people of color face. Your perspective is dead on. We need more people like YOU challenging the status quo. THANK YOU!!-

  12. Senator Brownsberger,

    I teach at the public high school in Belmont, and have been thinking a lot about the charter school issue. If they’re truly innovating in education and increasing outcomes, then I think they should have an increased role in educating our students. That said, under the current system, it’s impossible to know if they’re really doing this. There have been reports of both stellar charter schools and abject failures – just like public schools.

    I’m concerned about the resource drain on public schools for the sake of what seems like another fad in education. But, if they’re here to stay, we should be able to measure their impact on a level playing field with the public schools, and for this to happen they need to become part of the default option. If there is a charter school serving a district, then the eligible student populations should be randomly assigned among the potential schools. This makes sure that each school is working with the same population. After enough time serving these students, some more meaningful conclusions can be made about what does and does not work in education.

    With an application process, a small barrier is erected that automatically causes a self-selected population to enter our charter schools, potentially segregating a system into haves and have-nots. Eliminating this barrier will give us much greater insight into this experiment in public education, and may help us all figure out how to best serve our students.

    In my experience, however, students are best served when schools are well managed by a caring administration and teachers are rewarded by being treated and supported as professionals. If this were happening at all public schools, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Thanks for soliciting feedback on this.
    Marc Lefebvre

    1. Just a further reply — high morale of teachers goes along with a belief that their students can succeed, which in turn goes along with student success. Where charters are successful, there is evidence that the “no-excuses” approach works. The performance problems in low-income schools may be in large part about low expectations, a point which resonates Jonathan Kamen’s comment below. When kids feel fortunate for placing into a charter school and that school sets high expectations, they may do better.

      The lottery studies do a pretty good job at screening out the selection bias in evaluating performance and still show real gains in Boston. My understanding is that some of these studies also correct for any tendency to push out low performing students by keeping those students in the comparison cohort.

  13. dear Senator,

    Please support expanding the Charter school program and it brings in fresh idea and competition into the current system. And equal opportunity is not the same as equal outcome.

    Give opportunities to those who work hard, not only to those who ask hard.

    thanks again.

  14. My understanding is that charter schools were begun as an antidote to pervasive dissatisfaction with the education provided in typical public schools. The charter schools were to be allowed to pursue new ideas and policies and then share the discoveries that were made with the typical schools. The failing here seems to me to be a lack of openness to innovation on the part of the typical school systems, probably prompted by the perceived financial inequities established by the legislature. In my region the charter schools are seen as treasures and the students who attend them,fortunate. The typical schools are relatively good here but are inhibited by the old culture and procedures that prompted the charter school movement in the first place.

    Please do your best to correct this misguided competition between the two types of schools by evening out the support granted to all schools and increasing the options for the sharing of new ideas.

  15. The vote is probably more against as sure more teachers belonging to the union are paying attention. They seem to be the main objectors. Also was very surprised to learn that even teachers failing their required tests-still continue to teach. If more students are leaving the public system-doesn’t the cost of their education get reduced from the overall public system.

  16. Why don’t charter schools have to be held to the same standards as public schools in accepting and servicing ALL students, regardless of ability? Why are attrition rates so ridiculously high in charter schools? What about the fact that many charter schools purposely leave seats unfilled in order to create a so-called “waiting list” for media pusposes? Why are so many “troubled” students sent out of charter schools? And why do those charters get to keep the funding attached to those students? What about the fact that in order to get into a charter school lottery in the first place, you need to have strong family advocates willing to attend numerous meetings, which immediately eliminates at-risk students with no family advocates? There are so many equality issues at stake here. Wiith all due respect Mr. Brownsberger, you need to do your homework on this issue. The charter school system is nothing more than publicly-funded segregation of haves and have nots, and the reason they don’t work in the suburbs is because those areas have the political capital to fight against them. Why is this okay for poor kids in urban areas?

    1. Hi Kelly, I respectfully don’t agree with you the statements you phrase here as questions. If you look back through the discussion, you’ll see that a lot of these points have been addressed.

      1. You don’t have to agree or disagree. These are facts. Look into the attrition rates, suspension and expulsion rates, and the demographics of ELL and Special Needs students compared to public schools. That is your responsibility.

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