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Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association

Charter Schools - The Facts

19 Dec 2016 10:59 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)

Since the Commissioner announced his support for the massive expansion of Achievement First charter school in Providence, I have spoke numerous times about the concerns of RISSA members regarding charter schools. RISSA is not against charter schools, but we demand public schools have the same flexibility and funding levels as those privately run.  Someone asked me recently what is the difference between public and charter schools, which are funded by the public:

  • Charter schools don’t serve all kids. Their selection is based on a stratified random sample. Parents to take the initiative have more agency than parents who don’t apply
  • Charter schools don’t serve kids with involved special education needs
  • Charter schools don’t serve English Language Learners the same way as public schools: it’s different to have an ELL program for a kindergartner than it is for a 9 or 12 year old who walks in the door; charters only add new kids off their waiting lists, not new enrollees
  • Charter schools can control their populations, public schools can’t: once the kids are enrolled, they can stay at the charter regardless of residence. Public schools serve residents of the district and deal with high levels of mobility
  • Because charter schools are funded at a higher per pupil level than kids in the district (no Career and Technical Education, no out of district special education, and  in the case of Achievement First, no State pension contributions) they can offer extended day child care, a huge benefit to working parents: public schools can’t
  • Charter schools can demand behavior contracts, public schools can’t
  • Charter schools serve families that are better off than the sending districts (lower free lunch, higher reduced lunch eligibility)

Three years ago, with NECAP, once IEP kids were disaggregated from the population, there was next to no difference between public schools and charters. In fact, public schools often did better. I’m in the process of asking RIDE for an APRA request to disaggregate the PARCC scores.



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