Fact: There are many elements of charter schools that make them appear more private than public.
Though charter proponents tout that any child is allowed to attend a charter school, there are many barriers in place that “screen” students:
- Many charters require students to go through an application and interview process; - Parents must commit to volunteering at the school (difficult for single parent families or families where both parents work); - Students must sign a behavior and academic contract (if broken, students can be kicked out); - Some charters do not have lunchrooms and do not provide transportation (barriers that keep out economically disadvantaged students).
EmpowerED Georgia addresses these concerns in our Charter Schools Blueprint. If the only test for “public” school status is receiving public funding, then charters are “public” schools. Applying any other criteria that public schools have to meet would indicate charter schools are a front for privatizing public education.
Fact: The charter movement has close ties with the pro-choice movement.
The President of the Georgia Charter School Association (GCSA) recently was spotlighted in the documentary Making the Grade Georgia. The documentary advocates for expanded choice, including vouchers, home schooling, and online learning. Recently, GCSA participated in an event that included advocates for these very issues. Clearly, GCSA is including itself as part of the movement to privatize public education in Georgia.
Myth: Charters Serve All Students
Fact: Many charter schools use lotteries to avoid qualifying for AYP testing, making it difficult to compare their success to public schools.
If students are able to jump over all of the barriers mentioned above (applications, interviews, parent volunteer commitments, behavior and academic contracts, etc.), then they are entered into a lottery. Currently, schools are measured for their overall test scores, but also the test scores of students in different subgroups (Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, Students With Disabilities). All testing subgroups must meet the same pass rate or the school does not make AYP. If a school has a low number of test takers in a subgroup, then the scores of those test takers do not count toward the school’s overall performance. Lotteries are designed to keep the class sizes of charter schools small. Many charters use this mechanism to exploit a loophole in the methods used to measure a school’s performance.
Fact: Overall, data suggests that students who are the most challenging to teach and require the most resources are not being served by charters in the state.
EmpowerED Georgia looked at the AYP for all of the charter schools in Georgia and did not find any charter schools in the state with a Students With Disabilities (SWD) testing group that counted towards AYP. Clearly, the needs of students with disabilities can be ignored by charters since charters are not being held accountable for this sub-group’s performance.
In regards to English Language Learners (ELL), EmpowerED only found three charters with enough ELL to count as an AYP sub- group. Out of the three, only one charter school made AYP in this category. As expected, most traditional public school counterparts served a very diverse student population (including SWD and ELL).