Robin Hiller of Tucson’s Voices for Education writes that while it is true that charters in Arizona represent 25% of all schools in the state, they enroll only 9% of the state’s children.
|The 25% number is misleading, because we have charters that have 17 students and public high schools that have 3,000. In 2008, Arizona had 1,480 ‘traditional’ K-12 and 477 charter schools. But according to the Arizona Dept of Ed and reports from each county’s superintendent’s office:
85% of Arizona students attend public schools, 9% attend charter schools, 4% attend private and less than 1% attend home schooled. If we want to fix education, we need to invest where the children are.
Another reader in Arizona writes in response to this post about “the wild west” of unregulated charters:
The situation in Arizona is distressing. A significant number of charter schools are underperforming and depriving students of a worthwhile education. Oversight by the state is nearly non-existent. This article points out that some charter schools are excelling. While that may be true of a handful of them, please do not underestimate the damage that these few schools are doing to the public school system in general. The excelling charter schools on Arizona are largely located in upper middle class areas. They “cherry pick” students from nearby high quality public schools. They do not offer things like free and reduced lunch, bus service, or help with the cost of uniforms or “consumable” textbooks and supplies. Their fundraising is relentless – both among families attending the schools and private sector (note the $1.5 million recently gifted by the Quayle family to a large charter school network in Arizona). Charter schools in Arizona are approved by the State. There is no district involvement, cooperation, or public accountability. Charter schools are not incubating new ideas and sharing that knowledge to improve the system at large. They are competing directly with public schools, but are allowed to play by another set of rules. They serve a small percentage of students and no one seriously argues that this model is “scalable.”. (The Daily Star article mentions that 24 percent of Arizona schools are charter schools, but I am almost positive that the percentage of students served by charter schools is far less than that.) The goal seems to be to have a network of strong charter schools that serves a small segment of the population while suffocating and destroying our public school system. Just how is this “competition” a good thing? Have we in Arizona just given up on a strong public school system?
Another reader in Arizona comments:
|f you will also look at demographics in your study of charter schools of AZ, you will see that charter schools typically do not serve the students who most need the help. They serve students who already perform well in an academic setting. The AZ charter schools do not have the same demographics of special needs, ESOL, students from economically disadvantage homes, or any other challenges that face the public school system. If you compare the same students with the same type of demographics from a public school as the charter schools in AZ, you will find that the public schools still outperform the charter schools. It has been proven, even in Arne Duncan’s beloved Chicago school district, that taking a student who does not perform well and transferring them to a higher performing school or to a high performing charter school, does not guarantee success for that student. So, if the charter schools in AZ had to make their schools match the demographics of the public schools they would do no better, and probably worse. Please read the book Freakanomics. It is very enlightening.|