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Media: Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting*

Late last week, Reuters' Stephanie Simon came out with a big story documenting a now-familiar set of complaints about charter schools: burdensome applications, parent volunteer requirements and pushouts.  Some of the examples -- a 23 page application, kids left out of the lottery -- are pretty vivid.

However, NAPCS head Nina Rees took the somewhat unusual step of putting out a weekend response that, essentially, questions Simon's focus on a handful of schools rather than the overall charter environment. Rees notes that there are over 600,000 students on charter waiting lists,  that charters enroll higher percentages of low-income and minority students than traditional public schools. "Perhaps unwittingly, the Reuters article underscores the popularity of charter schools and why more are needed."

Via email, CER's Jeanne Allen added that Simon's story ignored that charter applications are comparable to district school waiting lists and other paperwork procedures that districts require and ommitted the fact that most charter schools feed kids even if they don't apply for the federal funding.


Neither Rees nor Allen dispute the specific examples Simon cites.  Rees' contention that charters education a more disadvantaged population than district schools doesn't comport with my reading of the data on urban charters.
However, it's also worth noting that Simon makes an extremely broad-sounding claim - "across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law" -- without quantifying the extent of the problem.  The suggestion is being made that the problems are widespread, but at least on the screening practices there are no data.
*UPDATE:  NACSA's Greg Richmond, who represents charter authorizers, emailed that the examples in the Reuters story were troubling. "This story cited examples of authorizers that were ignorant of charter school actions, ignorant of the law, or both." He called for state legislators to improve charter authorization requirements.



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How did Rees document her claim of 600,000 students on charter waiting lists?

That's a rhetorical question; I call bull****, Nina Rees.

If charter schools have such ginormous waiting lists, how come so many of them don't fill the seats of the vast number of students they push out?

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