I’ve never heard of this blog before, but now I’m listening. Charter school lotteries don’t make schools more diverse. I looked into some of the actual data. You can draw your own conclusions, but I have two very interesting observations.
One, I have a screenshot that highlights my own school with the charter with whom we colocate, at 85% and 49% at-risk, respectively. This confirms the many anecdotal observations that I’ve made over the years, most notably the car line that I see during arrival and dismissal. We have no comparable car line because our parents can’t afford cars. That should tell you something.
Two, see how the at-risk line increases from left to right? Also observe that the blue dots on the far left, the ones with the lowest at-risk percentages, possess no complementary orange ones. Those are all schools in affluent parts of town, in the tony Northwest, and one travels across the river into Southeast as you move to the right.
Charter schools in DC almost entirely serve low-income Black and Brown populations. That has indeed been their stated mission: to give families in these communities high-quality alternatives to “failing” public schools. Yet, they do not come close to actually serving the full spectrum of those populations. And for a sector that claims to have all the answers, one would think they would test the virtues of their models on the most challenging students.
The charter ethos is more demonstrative of clever marketing and exploitative branding than it is as a long term solution to the woes of educating diverse populations on tighter budgets. Rather than transfusing all the resources and people-power available to resuscitate struggling schools, which is entirely within the realm of possibility, the District, and other largely urban school systems, will attempt to improve educational outcomes through a hybrid mix of public and private funding streams. Public funding is limited to tax revenue on a per student basis and, in the case of low-income schools, Title I funding from the Feds.
Charter schools will take public tax dollars and supplement their budgets with a combination of private, philanthropic contributions and more direct funding from the corporate entities that operate the schools. Private funding gives charter schools permission to exercise greater autonomy in a number of areas. It is as if the private sector paid their way into the public school system and by releasing the public from its burden of educating the seemingly un-educable, they can largely operate as they please.
We shouldn’t pretend that at any moment that this was going to be an apples to apples comparison.