Charter schools claim to be open to all students, but here is how they exclude the kids they don't want
Who don't they want? The poor, the learning-disabled, the ESL kids, the troubled, the kids with special needs, and the poor testers.
I bet if you excluded all those kids form public schools the public schools' scores would increase, too.
These aren't college applications. They're applications for seats at charter schools.
Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.
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Charter advocates say it's a fair fight because both types of schools are free and open to all. "That's a bedrock principle of our movement," said Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association. And indeed, many states require charter schools to award seats by random lottery.
But as Reuters has found, it's not that simple. Thousands of charter schools don't provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty. Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing "volunteer" work for the school or risk losing their child's seat. In one extreme example the Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove, Illinois, mandates that each student's family invest in the company that built the school - a practice the state said it would investigate after inquiries from Reuters.
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In California, the law sounds straightforward enough: "A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the school," with seats awarded by lottery if demand exceeds capacity.
Yet Roseland Accelerated Middle School, a charter school in Santa Rosa, California, won't even enter applicants into the lottery until they have proved their mettle by writing a five-page autobiography (with no errors in grammar or spelling, the form warns), as well as a long essay and six short essays. Applicants also must provide recommendations, report cards and statements from their parents or guardians and submit a medical history, including a list of all medications they take.
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And their parents must respond to a page of questions, including: "Describe what type of service you will contribute to this school. Please be specific." If they don't speak English, parents are asked to secure help from a translator.