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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Private schools vs. Charter schools

Private schools vs. Charter schools

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It seems to me that people are pulling their children out of Private schools where tuition is mandatory, and putting their children into charter schools. The problem here is that it is hard to get your child into a charter school, there is lotterys and sometimes tests. why? The charter schools are aware of this, why is it so hard to get your children into a charter school in their county? For example, if you live in Newark you can only send your children to the Newark charter schools, why? The point of the parent taking their child out of a private school to enter a charter schools means that the charter schools are doing something right. Why make it difficult?

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Noelle's picture
Elementary teacher

I can only speak to my experience working at charter schools in California. We had a lottery system at the school I worked at for three years (it was a Montessori charter, and yes, a lot of parents liked it because most Montessori schools are private). The reason for a lottery is that in our charter (the official charter agreement), there is an enrollment cap-a maximum number of students that can be enrolled in our school for that year. There are several factors that influence the cap, one of which is the local district. Often, the local district asks for gradual growth in the student population (ours did-it takes away from their enrollment). Furthermore, some charter schools have it written in their charter that they cannot exceed x number of students; for some charters one of their principles is maintaining a small school population (hence a small, tight-knit community). When a charter reaches their cap, they cannot enroll more students. Often more students want in the school than there is space for, so it goes to a lottery. Many consider a lottery system the fairest option. I have not worked at a charter with a placement test, and so I am unfamiliar with how it influences enrollment.

I am also unfamiliar with charter laws in New Jersey, but I know in California any student in the state can attend any charter if there is room; a student cannot be denied if space is available. At my previous school, we had several students attending from outside our district. However, I believe that if you live in another state, like, Nevada, and are only 15 miles from a charter school in California, you cannot attend it because it's in a different state.

Generally, I believe that charter schools do not want to make it difficult for students to enroll, but they have to follow certain rules and regulations, which makes it more challenging. I've found most teachers at charters also feel frustrated by the difficulties charter schools face.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

Speaking of charters being more and more selective, I just came across this article in Smartbrief on New York City charters.

"Admissions data from New York City's charter schools show that they are becoming more difficult to get into, with the most selective charters accepting just 5% to 7% of applicants. Despite a growing number of available charter seats, applicants last year had a 20% chance of gaining admission to a New York City charter, compared with a 41% chance in 2004. State lawmakers recently increased the statewide charter cap from 200 to 460." NYTimes.com/City Room blog Read more: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/the-choosiest-of-the-charters/

Theresa Grafflin's picture

Here's a solution...move to Albany, NY where we have twice as many charter school slots as we have children to fill them. One will close at the end of the year and two that I've studied are only 63% full and beginning new construction with the need shrinking. Two of our charters are expanding from elementary to include middle because they can't recruit so those 160 potential slots the new construction thought it would accommodate will be even more vacant than I thought it would.
We are working to halt the construction of new charters as there is a lack of transparency, with "not so open" board meetings, not enough students in the city to fill the slots and a growing number of vacant school buildings left in the wake.
This new construction is primarily do to the reward of the funders doubling their investiment in 7 years regardless of the success of the school through New Markets Tax Credits. While I believe in capitalism, there is absolutely no need to create more charter schools in Albany at this time...the funders are getting rich on our stumbling charters.
Oh yes, they are also suffering in performance.

Karen Patterson's picture

The following is a copy of a note I posted on fb regarding charter schools:
In response to recent articles in the SB Tribune regarding the State's ideas of school reform:

Using the static model of evaluating a high school is a deviant way to try to destroy public education. Once again, if the growth model is used, one could clearly see that a high school like SB Washington makes tremendous progress with the students it serves. The State is trying to sway the public by labeling high schools instead of addressing the real problems, such as social promotion, discipline, and class size...issues that teachers have been telling the world about for decades.

The whole accountability issue is headed in the wrong direction. The NCLB legislation itself and P.L. 221 are nothing more than underhanded moves for conservatives to privatize education and strip teachers of union protection. The trend is to open up profitable charter schools. True, some teachers might need to be removed, but it's the principal's job to evaluate bad teachers; it can be done in our current system. If the government has money to open up charter schools, then it has money to reduce class size and provide resources for existing schools.

American education has always been divided, segregated, split, or however you want to call it, between the haves and the have-nots. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Therefore, with this lack of cohesiveness in our education system, we still will be playing a dangerous game with our future. Charter schools and state takeovers are not going to cure the ills of society. The bottom line is: those who are privileged usually prevail; those who are disadvantaged are just that and are left to perish---that's the American way, and education is not spared.

Privilege means having more role models and resources...why should some segments of society be left out? The State is sending a message that it is okay to point the finger and ignore the truth; how's that for setting an example? In order for someone to be on the top, someone has to be on the bottom. Therefore, politicians feel the need to stop teachers in their tracks who care for and help ALL students succeed, which is counterproductive to the goal of education for all. Everyone should be "racing to the top," so to speak, but not everyone will get there through this NCLB scandal because it sets some schools up for "failure" from the start. It systematically categorizes schools based on a static, standardized test which the State admittedly has some flaws, and it ignores the fact that "savage inequalities" already existed. Like an HMO, they don't want to address a pre-existing condition.

To close the achievement gap in America, everyone has to be on the same page, not one school having an advantage over another school or one school doing one thing while another school is doing something else; it only creates more discord and more gaps. What works at a "blue ribbon" or a "five-star" public school is what should be practiced in all American schools, not just a few charters...or is there a fear among capitalists that all Americans will have a common, good education...?

I'm not just saying this in defense of teachers because I teach; I'm saying this because it needs to be said. I've had great teachers all my life, and I'd be willing to bet that most other people have too, public or private. The right-wing needs to face reality and stop focusing on teachers as the sole source of the problems or as scapegoats for the charter movement. If you know these politicians are deceptive, then stop letting them get away with murder. Be heard.

Lastly, who should be accountable for a child's education? Everyone in the child's life, including the child, but what do I know? I'm just a teacher.

Craig Brandenburg's picture
Craig Brandenburg
Technology Teacher, yBlazer Studios Founder @ YES Prep North Central

I work at YES Prep North Central in Houston TX. I am a huge proponent of charter schools...well, the ones that work. We have run into situations where parents pull their kids from private schools and try to get them into our school. Serving upper middle class families is not the mission of YES Prep and we re-wrote our charter to only pull students from the zip codes around our school.

Students who come from upper class families are more likely to be set on a path to college than low-income students. YES Prep wants to serve the families who can't afford private school. We firmly believe that success in life should not be based on one's zip code. We are trying to even the playing field between low- and high-income students.

We have a waiting list of over 2,000 students at this point. I wish we had more schools for all the students who deserve an excellent education.

Troy Fredde's picture
Troy Fredde
3rd Grade Teacher in Kansas City ,Missouri

I have taught at a chater school in Kansas City for the last 5 years. Kansas City Public school district is shutting down 26 schools. A major reason is the success of charter school in Mo. Kansas City MO public schools has went to around 80,000 students in the late 60's to around 20,000 now. The cities population has not decreased, so the student are here. I work at University Academy Charter School. We are a very succesful school and out perform Kansas City Mo and most other charter schools in the city.


is our website if you want to check it out.

We do not have a lottery to get in but a waiting list. We are a K-12 school. Anyone who can prove that they live in the city limits of Kansas City, MO can attend. We have a person whose actually checks addresses, because parents lie to get their kids in.

You may email me at jayhawkrtroy@gmail.com if you want more info

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