Sunday, November 02, 2014

Why is New York trying to contain school choice?

In a world that's becoming increasingly global, with the persistent rhetoric on the importance of giving kids the best possible education, New York is going to close the doors to any new charter schools that parents are clamouring for, despite a few facts:

Of the city public school system’s 717 high-poverty public schools enrolling a large number of black and Hispanic students, only 3.6% of them have a proficiency rate in either math or English that is above 50% (and seven of those high achievers select their students). In contrast, fully one-third of similarly situated charter schools meet that bar, a rate almost 10 times higher.

When charter schools are compared to district schools in the three areas in which they are concentrated — Harlem, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx — charters once again far outpace their district counterparts in both subject areas, with proficiency rates more than double in math, and in English higher by between seven and 14 points.

Some 50,000 parents applied to a charter school and did not get in because there simply aren’t enough charter-school seats. Those parents are sitting on waiting lists and too often their children are sitting in struggling public schools where their future is slowly disappearing before them.

Opponents imply that charters are selective, that they gin up their test scores by systematically cherry-picking the most motivated students and forcing out kids who don’t measure up.

That’s wrong. Not only is admission by open lottery, but over the past several years, charter schools have taken important steps to enroll populations of students that more closely reflect their neighborhoods.

The number of special-needs students and English Language Learners now attending charters has gone up. And what’s more, the results show many charter schools are having tremendous success in not just enrolling but educating them.

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