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TRUTH SQUAD: Bridgeport Charter School Edition

At the end of Monday night’s meeting, Bridgeport’s Working Families Party-controlled Board of Education voted 6-2 in favor of a moratorium on new charter schools—including the two currently applying to the state Board of Education for approval. [Education Bridgeport, 3/12/2013]

They didn’t do this alone. Working Families Party boss Maria Pereira brought the whole crew down to the BOE, signing up all her buddies for the half hour public comments session, thus ensuring a skewed, one-side “debate.”

Needless to say, the amount of inaccurate information dispensed was staggering. I feel it my duty to present the facts and dispel some of the more blaring myths in honor of the upcoming public forums on Great Oaks Charter School and Capitol Prep Harbor School.

Here’s the “greatest hits” of absurd, clearly false statements repeated at Monday night’s board meeting:

 

“Charter schools aren’t really public schools!”

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that must provide “free, nonsectarian education to all students enrolled,” as per state and federal statute. [State Board of Education, Charter Schools Frequently Asked Questions]

 

“Charter schools get rid of low-performing students!”

While this is a common retort of charter school opponents, there is absolutely zero empirical evidence proving charter schools systematically “push-out” low performing students. [Education Evaluation and Policy, 12/4/2013; ReDefinED, 12/13/2013]

If a charter school is doing this, it’s doing so in violation of state statute and could lose their charter.

According to the State Department of Education website, charter schools must allow open access to ALL students, including English language learners and special education students. [State Board of Education, Charter Schools Frequently Asked Questions]

 

“There is no proof that charter schools perform better than public schools!”

Actually, there are mountains of evidence that show Connecticut charter schools, on average, outperform their districts counterparts.

According to the performance index reports released by the state Board of Education late last year, 81 percent of Connecticut charter schools outperformed their host districts in the 2012-2013 school year. In addition, charters schools were among the top 10 of all public schools in the state’s three largest cities, Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. [School and District Performance Index, 2013]

Am I saying all charter schools are wonderful and always outperform their districts? No, I am not.

Just as there are high performing traditional public schools and low-performing traditional public schools, there are high performing and low performing charter schools.

What I am saying is a vast number of the charter schools operating in Connecticut DO, in fact, have proven records of success—success that is gravely needed in places like Bridgeport.

 

“Charter schools take an enormous amount of money from districts schools!”

There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about charter school funding.

First things first—The operating budgets of state charter school are almost entirely funded by the state, not by school districts.

There are some exceptions to this rule. In the case of special education, state and federal grants for ALL students deemed eligible for special education services is given to the district, including the students who attend charter schools or other providers.

Even though charter schools are responsible for implementing a student’s Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, the district is responsible for disbursing special education money to schools. [Special Education Mandates and Funding; State Department of Education, Charter Schools Questions and Answers]

Remember, the school district would be paying the special education costs for these students anyway, since these very same student’s special education would otherwise be served by the district.

Similarly, transportation costs also come from the district.

This is because the district is responsible for transporting ALL students regardless of whether they go to traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools or private schools. [OLR Research Report, State School Transportation Requirement and Funding, 2/6/2012]

 

“Charter schools end up traded on the stock exchange!”

This was my favorite comment in that it was absolutely baseless and absurd.

No, Connecticut charter schools are not publicly traded on the stock market

Charter schools in the state of Connecticut MUST register as a nonprofit entities. Nonprofit entities cannot be publicly traded. [State Board of Education, Charter Schools Frequently Asked Questions]

 

 

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