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Are Charter Schools Eviscerating Public Education?

schools15's picture

     As The Nation article explains, “…the basic structure of school financing in Philadelphia is rigged to benefit these privately managed companies. Public-school money follows students when they move to charter schools, but the public schools’ costs do not fall by the same amount. For example, if 100 students leave a district-run school at a cost of $8,596 per head (the district’s per-pupil expenditure minus certain administrative costs), that school’s cost for paying teachers, staff and building expenses doesn’t actually decline by that amount. It has been estimated that partly because of these costs, each student who enrolls in a charter school costs the district as much as $7,000.”

     Charter schools can skim the mostly easily educated/brightest  students, thus leaving  the public schools  with those children most in need of additional services. Under NCLB, all students are expected to achieve mastery levels regardless of their actual intellectual capabilities (504, IEP, ESL). Charters exercise the luxury of limiting or simply not accepting these populations.  Furthermore, charters specifically design their curriculum to “teach to the test”….so their student body consistently has higher test scores.

     Given this combination of funding following the student and the higher potential of each student, how can public schools possibly compete?


jccohen's picture


Your point about which students tend to attend charters is an important one, but is this an issue of "higher potential" or the lack of "need for additional services"?  (For example, an ELL student or a student with a learning disability might well have as much potential as any student.)  And as is implicit in the question, I'd say that these aren't the same, though there's overlap of course.  And the word "luxury" is a telling one, in any case.

Note that the publics too are using curriculae keyed to high stakes testing (and actually charters have more leeway here), and that charters are actually not performing better across the board... very complicated set of factors here!