We have seen this story again and again. A lawsuit against the charters in New Orleans and the District of Columbia filed on behalf of children with disabilities. A charter school in Minneapolis that literally pushed out 40 children with special needs, part of a pattern in which the nation’s largest charter chain–the Gulen-affiliated schools–keep their test scores high by excluding students with disabilities. Study after study showing that charters take fewer children with disabilities. Even a federal study by the GAO documenting that charter schools have a smaller proportion of children with special needs, to which the relevant federal official responded with a yawn and a promise to look into it someday.
And now the AP has documented the widespread practice, in which charters take fewer students with special needs, take those with the mildest disabilities, and harm the public schools that are expected to educate a disproportionate share of the neediest, most expensive to educate children.
As this movement, this industry, continues to grow, aided by lavish federal and foundation funding, abetted by a thriving for-profit sector, we must ask the same questions again and again: What is the end game? Are charters becoming enclaves for those who want to avoid “those children”? Will we one day have a dual school system for haves and have-nots? Will our public school system become a dumping ground for those unwanted by the charters?
And why is the U.S. Department of Education not asking these questions?