You see the cover features six well-dressed apparently middle classes white kids and a Hispanic boy waiting in line. The subtext is hundreds of thousands of children across the nation are waiting for room in charter schools. The reality however is the picture reveals just what today’s charter schools are going for, middle class white kids.
In Ohio charter schools are doing dreadful when compared with their peers and in my home state of Florida over 280 charter schools have opened taken public money and failed through a combination of poor fiscal management and performance.
The charter school industry has gotten the word too. Now they routinely set up shop in affluent neighborhoods hoping to draw middle class white kids from the successful schools they would have otherwise gone too. These parents have fallen for slick advertising campaigns, ironically funded by public dollars, or the constant and erroneous drum beat that public schools have failed often orchestrated by charter school supporters and investors.
In my hometown of Jacksonville Florida on May the fifth, the school board, most of who have taken thousands of dollars from charter schools approved a charter school on the wealthier side of town just as they announced a charter on the poorer side of town would be closing some five weeks before the end of the year.
The four public schools closest to where the new charter school operated by the for profit Charter Schools USA will open next year have historically been some of the best schools in Jacksonville and three of them were less than 90 percent of capacity. I know this because it is in the report prepared by the school board yet despite this they approved it anyways.
The owner of the new school has learned his lesson two because CUSA’s attempt to open charter schools in the poor parts of Jacksonville have met with very poor results.
There can no longer really be any pretense that charter schools are here to improve the educational outcomes. The truth is most of the ones that do well either poor extra resources into their schools like the KIPP schools who spend about a third more per child, longer school days, smaller classes and don’t back-fill when a child leaves and the ones that set up in affluent neighborhoods where they can steal resources from the public schools there undoubtedly hurting their effectiveness.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words and the Alliance’s picture of their report showing the type of kid they are going after should really tell you all that you need to know.