In her testimony to the New York City Council Education Committee, education activist Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters exploded several common myths about charter schools.


First is the myth that they are public schools. They are not. They are private corporations with contracts to run schools, exempt from most state laws and from most state oversight. In court after court, the charters themselves have argued that they are NOT public schools. We should take their word for it. They are not public schools.


Second is the myth that charter schools enroll exactly the same demographic of students as the real public schools. This is patently false. With few exceptions, they take smaller proportions of students with disabilities and almost no students with severe disabilities, and they enroll smaller proportions of English language learners. They have the power to kick out students who do not meet their stringent disciplinary codes, which leaves them with a very different student population than public schools. Meanwhile, neighborhood public schools get disproportionate numbers of the students who are most expensive and most difficult to educate. This is not a fair playing field on which to compete. The original purpose of charters was to collaborate, not to compete, yet charter schools take every opportunity to boast of their success with a select population of students.


If you want to know about the other four myths, read the rest of the post.