Charter schools are different from traditional district schools in that they are free of many regulations and operating constraints, but in return for their freedoms they are held accountable for their results. Those charter schools that fail to deliver results over time are closed, the theory holds. Yet, strict charter accountability in the form of closure collides with the efforts of states like Ohio to use federal school improvement dollars to turn around troubled charter schools.
President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Duncan are pushing the school turnaround concept hard through the Race to the Top competition and School Improvement Grants. Andy has written extensively about the many challenges that face turnaround efforts, and has mustered much evidence against the cause. [quote]
Despite Andy's strong case against all turnarounds, I have argued that there are times when the turnaround strategy may have merit for school districts. Of course, we should take on turnarounds with a healthy dose of skepticism and with the understanding that most will fail. But, in cities like Fordham's hometown of Dayton, half of the community's schools perennially receive an F or D on the state's academic report card.
Why would we want to place an ironclad ???????no??????? on a reform-minded superintendent who might seek a portfolio of reforms, including the strategic use of turnarounds? Dayton has been in a perpetual state of reform for 15 years, including launching one of the largest charter sectors in the
If you've been reading Flypaper lately you know that we released a new study yesterday, America's Private Public Schools, which identifies 2,800 public schools nationwide that serve virtually no low-income students. In some metro areas, upwards of 30 percent of white youngsters attend such schools.
Originally we posted lists of these schools for the 25 largest metro areas, but now you can check this list for "private public schools" nationwide. (The list is organized by state, and then school district.)
Did you attend a "private public school" as a child? Do you send your kids to such a school now? Check it out!
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
Our new report, America's Private Public Schools (described below), is meant to pierce the tired rhetoric used by so many defenders of the status quo in education. Unions and others love to hide behind their fealty to "public education" when arguing that charters or vouchers will lead to "exclusive" schools, whereby their beloved public schools "serve all comers." Except, it turns out, when they don't.
But one thing that's fun about our little project is that we can actually look at the NAMES of these 2,800 "private public schools"--schools that serve virtually no poor children. And I suspect they will be quite familiar to you; as several readers have told me this morning, the school they went to as a kid--and their rival schools, and the schools that all of their friends went to--are on the list.
And in full disclosure, that's the case for me too. I didn't think to look until yesterday, but lo and behold, there it is: Claymont Elementary in Ballwin, Missouri, a "private public school" whose student body is 97 percent non-poor. Maybe I should no longer boast that I went to "public schools" from Kindergarten through college.
See for yourself; if you went to school (or send your child to school) in one of the 25 largest metro areas in the country, you can scan our lists and find out right now.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli