Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not the Moment for Growing Suburban Charters

This is just not a good time to be expanding suburban charter schools, for a number of reasons:

  • Ongoing and worsening budget crises. It is much easier to grab a piece of an expanding pie.
  • An increasing emphasis on charters outperforming district schools on standardized tests. This cuts against the boutique model of suburban choice. All things being equal, there is no reason to think that, say, a Mandarin-immersion charter school is going to have better value-added ELA and math scores than their sending districts. Therefore, according to the current reform model, there is no reason for that school to exist, or have its charter renewed.
  • Around here it is a bad idea because overall enrollment is declining, exacerbating funding loss and the impact on children remaining in sending districts. Also, you're essentially deliberately creating an oversupply of seats.
  • And the recent use of charter schools as a polarizing political tool makes a hard core of activist resistance more likely.

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