'Public' schools in name only

A new report from Fordham today, authored by yours truly and our research assistant Janie Scull, identifies some 2,800 ???private public schools??? nationwide???public schools that serve virtually no poor students. More students attend these schools than attend charter schools.* And in some metro areas, like New York's, almost 30 percent of white students attend these exclusive schools. Because you have to be well-off enough to live in their attendance boundaries, these schools are more private than private schools???which at least give scholarships to some needy children.

These schools are open secrets in the education policy community. They are where lots of the children of the nation's elite get educated (if they aren't attending ritzy private schools). And taxpayers are spending upwards of $20 billion a year supporting them. Yet there's none of the outcry that surfaces when someone proposes vouchers so poor children can attend private schools at public expense. How come? And if the civil rights community is upset that charter schools serve ???too many??? poor and minority kids, why aren't they upset that these ???public??? schools serve too many white and middle class children?

Check out the report, and also lists of these schools in the 25 biggest metro areas.

* Interestingly, among the 2,800 ???private public schools,??? we identified 79 charter schools that themselves qualify because they serve virtually no poor students. Shame on them!

P.S. You might have noticed that this analysis is a tad shorter than typical Fordham Institute reports. That's because it's what we're calling an ???EdShort.????? EdShorts will be brief analyses we'll produce from time to time. They'll provide interesting insights into education issues, but in a more concise, compact form, and with less original data collection

(Illustration by Dan Rosandich)

--Mike Petrilli

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