District schools become faux charters

Money is motivating some charter conversions in California, reports Sarah Butrymowicz on the Hechinger Report. Until this year, all California charters received the state’s average per-pupil funding. Schools in districts with below-average funding could convert to charters and move up to the average. They also could apply for federal startup grants.

That’s lead to a wave of “chinos” — charters in name only — that haven’t changed curriculum, teaching, schedules or anything else.

Several California school districts with only one school have become “charter districts.” And in at least five California districts with multiple campuses, charters now comprise nearly all of the schools. Many of these “dependent” charters retain close ties to their districts.

In San Carlos, five out of six schools are charters. Most parents don’t realize their neighborhood school is a charter. There are no lotteries, writes Butrymowicz. ”The schools still have a traditional central office and school board overseeing them.”

Starting this year, district schools in California can’t boost state funding by converting to charters. Conversation applications are way down.

Nationally, conversion charters make up nearly 10 percent of all charter schools. 

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