Without a doubt, the question that I get most often about charter schools is, “But don’t they hurt the public schools?” The short answer is that charter public schools don’t hurt traditional public schools any more than other factors that can affect enrollment, but they may challenge them.
In addition to fielding questions about what a charter school is, and whether charters are private or public schools, I’m often asked: Aren’t charter schools intended for failing urban districts serving low-income students of color? They do serve those communities well, but let’s talk about who else they serve.
Tell Me Something I Didn't Know
Parents in Missouri who want to choose a high-quality school for their children, regardless of where they live, were dealt yet another potential setback last week. The Chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee introduced House bill 2531, which proposes a 17-member Charter School Task Force to study charter schools, with a December 31, 2019 deadline to present their findings.
As I wrote last week, even after 30 years charter schools remain a mystery to many people. Often, even the people who understand the basics about how charters operate are confused about whether they are public or private schools.
It’s hard to believe that after nearly 30 years charter schools are still a mystery in some parts of the United States. But I still get the question: What is a charter school?
On January 31, 2018, Show-Me Institute Director of Education Policy Susan Pendergrass testifies before the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education regarding House Bill 2247 and charter school expansion. Click on the link below for the full text of the testimony.
Demand for charter schools is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, student’s charter schools are functionally limited to St. Louis and Kansas City, denying thousands of children an opportunity for a better education. Isn’t it time to expand charter schools in Missouri?
To learn more about charter school expansion check out our 2018 Missouri Blueprint.
This year marks 20 years since Missouri enacted the law that allowed charter schools to open in St. Louis and Kansas City. Currently enrolling 22,000 students, charter schools have given much-needed options to families in these districts that have struggled historically. Unfortunately, families in the rest of Missouri are denied the same opportunity to send their children to schools that better fit their needs
THE PROBLEM: Demand for charter schools in Missouri is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, for practical purposes charter schools are limited to the Kansas City and Saint Louis School Districts. Establishing a charter school is nearly impossible in any district that meets minimum state accreditation requirements. Tens of thousands of students are denied the opportunity for a better education.
THE SOLUTION: Expand charter schools statewide.
The Nirvana fallacy often gets in the way of policymaking when, as Voltaire described, we let the perfect become the enemy of the good. It is easy to fall into this trap when discussing education because we want every child to have a world-class education. In Kansas City, however, this fallacy has led us to rejecting the good that charter schools can offer in exchange for empty platitudes about accountability, strategic plans, and prioritizing the children.
I graduated from high school in 1999. Since then, I have had few interactions with anyone who works for my alma mater, and none in any formal capacity. No one called a year later to see if I went to college. No one checked to see if they could offer me any career support. I didn’t expect them to. They had done their job. I had graduated high school, and that was that. I suspect this is the case for most high school graduates.
Charter school expansion is just one of several school choice initiatives lawmakers in Jefferson City have proposed this legislative session. The first charter schools opened in Kansas City and Saint Louis in 1999, but many Missourians still have questions and concerns about charter schools and the quality of education they offer. A new Show-Me Institute essay addresses many of these questions by examining studies on charter school performance in Missouri. In addition, the essay describes barriers that are preventing charter schools from serving more children throughout the state.
Over at the Star, Joe Robertson put together a heart-wrenching piece of journalism documenting the struggles of Kansas City families trying to figure out where to send their kids to school. Should they take a chance and participate in a charter school lottery? Should they move to Kansas or another school district?
The past 40 years have seen a well-documented decline in Catholic school enrollment across the country. But what many people don’t know is that there has also been a decline in total private school enrollment—Catholic and otherwise—particularly in the last 15 years. The entire sector is shrinking.