A new era of selective charters?
Spectrum Academy--the catchy if slightly off-putting name for Utah’s K-8 charter school for students with autism (or “on the spectrum”--get it?)--will expand its offerings to high school in fall 2010. What’s more interesting is how the school’s very existence reminds us of two contentious issues. By removing these youngsters from mainstream classrooms, indeed from regular schools, Spectrum obviously flies in the face of IDEA’s emphasis on integration. And it raises a question about charter-school admissions. In Utah, like most places, charters are supposed to accept all comers--and use lotteries when oversubscribed. Schools that restrict themselves to predetermined pupil populations risk losing (and often do lose) some funding--federal start-up dollars in particular. Gadfly thinks well of specialized charter schools with admissions criteria but public policy hasn’t really bought into that idea. Is Spectrum another trailblazer?
"New Help for Autism" by Elizabeth Stuart, Desert News (UT), December 28, 2009
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