José Espinosa is the Superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District In Texas. This article appeared in the El Paso Times.

Superintendent Espinosa thinks the public should know the truth about charter schoools that claim to have a 100% college acceptance rate. They are lying. Rightwingers in Texas and charter promoters are planning on a big expansion of charters in the state, peddling their wares with unverified claims about their “success.”

He writes:

When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Dating back to 1954, the Better Business Bureau used this catchphrase to alert the public of shady business practices.

In the new era of school choice, this catchphrase can be used to alert the public of misleading business practices by charter schools in order to protect our most prized possessions — our children.

Every year, certain charters tout a 100 percent college acceptance rate as their major marketing pitch to lure parents away from traditional public schools.

The reality is the public isn’t told acceptance to a four-year university is actually a graduation requirement at some charter schools.

It specifically states in certain charters’ student/family handbooks that a student may graduate and receive a diploma ONLY if the student is accepted into a four-year university and has completed 125 hours of community service.

Reading lengthy student/family handbooks carefully before considering charters is just as important as reading the fine print before signing contracts.

We must also ask, “Why is Corporate America bashing our traditional public schools, yet it doesn’t demand transparency or accountability from charter schools?”

While 100 percent of charter seniors get accepted to college as required, the public has a right to know the percentage of charter students who didn’t make it to their senior year.

Ed Fuller, Pennsylvania State University professor, found in one of his studies of a particular charter network that when considering the number of students starting in the ninth grade as a cohort, the percentage of charter cohort students who graduated and went on to college was at best 65 percent.

In other words, 35 percent of ninth-graders at a charter network didn’t make it to their graduation….

Just like the BBB, it is our duty to alert the public.

If charters insist on boasting about 100 percent college acceptance rates, then traditional public schools must insist that our communities be fully informed.

Charters’ news release could read: “Since we require students to get accepted to a four-year university in order to graduate, our seniors have a 100 percent college acceptance rate. However, more than 30 percent of our cohort students in the ninth grade didn’t graduate from our charters. Therefore, we had less than 70 percent of our cohort students graduate and get accepted to college…”

Lauding charters who lack transparency and discount students while bashing El Paso’s public schools disparages the hard work, relentless dedication and success of Team SISD.