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Charter Schools Turn 25!

Did you know that Charter Public Schools are growing in size and number in North Carolina? This is happening at the same time that several states are beginning to reconsider how they authorize, operate, fund, and hold charter public schools accountable.

Twenty-five years after the first charter school legislation was passed in Minnesota in 1991, the results are complicated and mixed.  In cities where charters provide an attractive alternate to failing traditional public schools, charters have posted impressive results and substantial academic gains.  In other cities and communities, Charters have served as vehicles to further segregate schools across races and classes.  In all cases, the growth of the charter sector has posed economic challenges for traditional school districts.  While charters do not receive funds for facilities and they do not take 100% of the per pupil cost from sending districts for every student they educate, districts continue to absorb fixed costs and don’t capture efficiencies equal to the number of students who leave. And a persistent compliant by districts is that charter students are known to return to a district school during a school year without the return of those funds that have already been transferred to charter providers.

Additionally, a big philosophical, ideological, and ethical challenge centers around the growing number of for-profit charter providers.  Today, 15% of all charter providers are for-profit management organizations and these organizations’ funding practices and profits have raised more than a few eyebrows.

States that have questioned the impact of charters include Ohio, Utah, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Among them, Pennsylvania’s charter sector has proved to be the most problematic.  Efforts to quickly expand the number of charter providers in Pennsylvania, particularly in Philadelphia, has ted to a dearth of low performers, questionable financial practices, and increased and disruptive school closures.

Here in Mecklenburg County, charter expansion is greatest in the Charlotte area.  While still educating a relatively small number of students, research has shown that aggressive efforts to integrate schools will accelerate the growth of charters.

Check out MeckEd’s Interactive School Maps to explore the performance of charter and district public schools in Mecklenburg County.

References:

National Alliance for Charter Public Schools

Who Is Profiting from Charters? The Big Bucks Behind Charter School Secrecy, Financial Scandal and Corruption. Posted on: Jan 21, 2015, Source: AlterNet

Read more here: Six Charlotte-area charter schools are on track to open in August.

 

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