Reform: Charter Schools Just Can't Catch A Break
Lots of people are talking about John Hechinger's Bloomberg News report about a controversial charter school in affluent Los Altos, CA. For charter opponents, the story raises concerns about affluent communities using charter laws to create elite enclaves and duck larger responsibilities. For charter supporters, the story raises concerns about their mission and "brand" becoming confused or muddied. Charters already have enough on their hands, with questions about their effectiveness, cost/scalability, and demographics. The Mathematic/CPRE study was pretty damning, and a Broad Prize and $25M from Walton aren't enough to ease the pain. So let's be clear. I'm not against charters. Four out of five charters are in urban areas, which is probably as it should be, but there's nothing wrong with charters being set up in suburban or even affluent communities -- many of which run schools that aren't nearly as good as parents think they are. But the overwhelming emphasis should be on serving low-income communities, charters should have to serve a comparable percentage of ELL and special education kids as the community in which they are located, and provided services and materials as needed (ie, in Spanish if there is a Spanish-speaking community).