The Charter School Accountability Agenda is a “front” for opponents of school choice and reform, writes RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation. The authors, Center for Popular Democracy and In the Public Interest, have union backing, he writes.
The agenda includes requiring an “impact analysis” on how new charters would affect district-run schools. It’s “absurd” to let existing schools keep out the competition, Biddle writes. That’s especially true in cities: Urban charters improve achievement — and raise the odds students will earn a diploma and go to college — according to Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes and Rand studies.
The agenda would let district schools keep per-pupil funding when students transfer to charters. “Why should any district be entitled to receive dollars for kids they are no longer serving?” asks Biddle.
It also calls for charters to enroll as many special-needs students as traditional schools.
Charters have fewer special-ed students because they’re less likely to put a disability label on students with learning problems, Biddle writes. They focus on teaching struggling students instead of sticking them in a “special ed ghetto.”
The American Federation of Teachers, which endorsed the agenda, ran a very low-performing charter school in New York City, notes Biddle. The school met just one of 38 goals set by its authorizer and was “rated a failure mill” by the city’s education department. The school had little tolerance for special ed students.
UFT Charter meted out-of-school suspensions to 17.8 percent of special ed students in 2011-2012 and in-school suspensions to another 20 percent of them, according to data submitted by the school to the U.S. Department of Education. This is higher than the out-of-school and in-school suspension rates of 1.5 percent and 6.5 percent for kids in regular classrooms.
United Federation of Teachers, the New York City local, will close the K-8 school, but hopes to keep the high school going.