Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Addressing Equity and Access in Charter Schools

During my tenure as principal, one of the experiences I faced annually was losing students, including my top performing students, to charter schools.  One year I ended the school year with a 10% identified gifted student population on my rosters, but began the following year with only 2% identified gifted students on my rosters.  Eight percent of my gifted student population had gone to the new charter school down the road.  Within 2 months, my population began to grow from students returning from the charter school.  Interestingly, they were not the gifted students, but students who had been asked to leave the charter school, or who were struggling academically.

States and districts apply laws and policies to ensure equitable access to both traditional and charter schools. Unfortunately, they are not always applied evenly.  A study referred to in an article by Joy Resmovits, Some California Charter Schools Discriminate in Admissions, ACLU Report Says, speaks to the issue of equitable access to charter schools.  In order to remedy the inequities that exist, accountabilities must address the beliefs, practices, and cultures of schools that discriminate based on self-identified criteria, and work toward measurable change.  What needs to happen is that 1) the law needs to be written and applied with an equity lens at its core, 2) monitoring has to be more consistent and comprehensive, and 3), consequences for failing to follow the law must be more aggressively applied, to deter future violations.

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