Charters are #1 choice in Newark

Now that Newark parents fill out a single application to district and charter schools, a majority of K-8 students ranked charters as their first choice, reports the Wall Street Journal. Eight of the 10 most-requested schools are charters. Only 45 percent of students got their first-choice school.

In the fall, district schools expect to enroll 34,800 students while charters will take 12,200. District officials predict that 40 percent of public students will attend charters by 2016.

In addition to Newark, Denver, New Orleans and Washington D.C. are experimenting with universal enrollment. Parents fill out one form, ranking their preferences.

In Newark, children with special needs and free-lunch status are are more likely to get their first choice “if such high-needs students were underrepresented in a school’s applicant pool.”


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  1. I don’t know why it should be that much of a surprise that parents prefer charters.

    Common sense makes the school that welcomes you with open arms likely to be more favorably viewed then the school that’s indifferent and then there’s the history of charters which also ought to ensure no one’s surprised at the results even without analyzing the reasons.

    Detroit’s gone from 31% to 51% in just two years and with none of the give-aways and parties the Detroit Public Schools engages in to bulk up count day. They just build it and they come.

    Heck, there are even charters in middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods that pack ’em in with kids popping out of Lexus’ and G-wagons and such every morning.

  2. If they do nothing else better than the regular public schools (curriculum, instructional methods), charters do weed out the disruptive and the lazy; therefore those interested in learning have a chance to do so. Back in the dinosaur era, when I was in public schools, I never even heard of any school which tolerated disruptive behavior – and I was involved in activities with kids from all over the state. Seriously handicapped, emotionally disturbed or wannabe-criminals were sent to separate facilities.

  3. palisadesk says:

    “..charters do weed out the disruptive and the lazy…

    Indeed, some do (we certainly hear that KIPP and some of the other prominent ones do this), but it is certainly not true of all. I am on a private discussion forum for parents and tutors and there have been multiple examples of children in charter schools who are apparently doing nothing in class and making little or no progress. Parents have different explanations for why they keep the child in charter schools of this sort (some of them are very creative, arts-oriented, Summerhill type places I gather) but in a market situation, a lax atmosphere and low demand obviously appeals to a number of people. Unfortunately parents who join the group and discuss this problem also have difficulty getting the child to apply him/herself and master basic academic skills.

    Since charter schools need enrollment to stay open for business, the less rigorous/famous/selective ones may have what one could euphemistically term “flexible” standards. Private schools are in the same position. Well-known ones are very competitive and have high expectations; lesser ones are all over the map. I’ve had students who have attended private schools for years and learned so little it astounds me (8th grader who never even learned the alphabet was the most egregious case –bright kid, too). Caveat emptor, as the saying goes.