Lies, Damn Lies, and Charter Schools: Charter Chicannery in the Commonwealth

One of the most despicable tactics of education ‘reformers’ is their willingness to game the numbers in support of their desired outcome–more charter schools and weaker teachers unions. One tactic is to claim better outcomes than regular public schools, even though charters employ the double whammy of accepting fewer high-risk students along with transferring out poorly-performing students (whose poor performance is then credited to the ‘receiving’ public school).

Here’s the Boston version (boldface mine):

Commonwealth charter schools are not “level funded” but are “average funded” by the sending district. I wrote a detailed piece about it here on BMG titled “MADOE Commissioner Mitchell Chester…Listen Up!” To briefly sum it up, to educate a Regular Ed student in aBPS traditional school cost $11,855. However, when you add the cost of all the BPS Special Ed and Ell students, the cost “averages” out to $15,227. Charter schools are paid the “average” $15,227. even though their population of students is mostly regular ed, and in no way reflects the English Language Learner and Special Education demographic of the Boston Public Schools! This $15,227 tuition figure BPS pays, does not include the busing expense, which BPS pays for, nor does it include the “non-tuition” State, Federal, Foundation, and NMTC (New Market Tax Credit) investor revenue, which Codman Charter, and other Commonwealth charter schools, also receive.

At Codman Charter in Dorchester only 2%, (3 students) are LEP (Limited English Proficient) in a community like Boston that has a high population of new comers, only 3 LEP students! In 2011, they had .7% – that’s point seven percent! In the BPS 30.6% of its students are LEP.

In 2010, Codman Charter started out with a 9th grade cohort of 53 students. In 2011, when those students entered grade 10, an MCAS grade, 19 students vanished from Codman Charters roll! This June only 24 students from that cohort remain, they did not backfill those empty seats. There is no way to predict if all 24 of these students will graduate but historically Codman Charter has had a low graduation rate. In 2012, Codman’s four year graduation rate was 62.5%!

These Commonwealth Charter schools, like Codman Charter, take our children, try them out, and send those children that are “not the right fit” back to BPS. One way that happens is by Suspensions. At Codman Charter the Suspension Rate is 23.5%. In BPS it is only 4%. How many days can a parent take off of work to address their kids issues before they don’t have a job?

It is hard to take their claims of caring about poor children seriously when they are so willing to callously discard many of those very same children. It is hard to believe they are speaking in good faith when they game the system to look more proficient. And it is despicable that they are appropriating–a polite word for stealing–resources from Boston’s neediest students.

Regardless of educational philosophy, any educational movement that engages in slight of hand, that tells ‘little’ lies in service of the Great Truth is ethically flawed and has no business being anywhere near political power. Or children.

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4 Responses to Lies, Damn Lies, and Charter Schools: Charter Chicannery in the Commonwealth

  1. Lee Coddens says:

    Similar to privatization of services to other populations in need of on-going services, I allways assumed there was more to Charter Schools than the public dialogue had revealed.
    It boggles the mind that the news media has not covered this.
    It is not “too complicated for the average reader/listener/watcher” to understand (one of the frequent excuses media gives for avoiding discussions of public funding issues).
    It’s not even partisan or he said/she said: presumably, most everyone is interested in delivery of adequate education at an acceptable cost.

    • Min says:

      “It’s not even partisan or he said/she said: presumably, most everyone is interested in delivery of adequate education at an acceptable cost.”

      So one might think. But consider this quote from Roger Freeman one of Nixon’s and Reagan’s advisors: “”We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That’s dynamite!” We cannot assume that everybody wants an educated populace.

  2. joemac53 says:

    They are only after the money.
    However, in my little corner of the world, parents are looking for a private school experience on the public dime by making a charter school that discourages students with special needs or are LEP from even applying. When we found out who went to the charter when school started in September, we could make a pretty good prediction about which students would be back. We were happy for the students who found success at the charter, but we bristle when we hear that the charters are “laboratories” for innovative ideas that could be brought back to the regular public schools. Puhleeze.
    Make the public schools better. Everybody wins.

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