Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Are some charters trying to disqualify students?

Are charter schools really open to all? A draft report on Philadelphia charters says access is a problem.

Are some charters trying to disqualify students?

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Charter schools are public schools. As such, they are supposed to be open to all. But a new draft report from the Philadelphia School District has found that some charters put "significant barriers" in front of those who try to attend.

Read the Philadelphia Public School Notebook story on the report here.

It cites these examples: 

"In at least one case, an unidentified charter made its enrollment application publicly available on only one day during the year. Another unnamed charter required applicants to complete an 11-page application, write an essay, respond to 20 short-answer questions, provide three recommendations, be interviewed, and provide records related to their disciplinary history, citizenship and disability status."

As the School Reform Commission talks about the likelihood that more students will end up in charter schools, and as questions grow about financial irregularities at district charters, the question of access is  important. Everyone is supposed to have an equal shot at getting in, but if charters make that hard, some families will have lose that opportunity. What are parents supposed to do if they happen to work on the one day of the year that the charter in the report gives out applications? For them, Superman may never come.

Do policies that decrease access increase the odds that a school will get only the best applicants, a potential boost to those all-important test scores?



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Reach Miriam at hillmb@phillynews.com.

Miriam Hill
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