"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Segregation of the Poor and Disabled in Chain Gang Charters, Massachusetts Style

Last week the Governor's Office issued new verbal support for more charter schools and more money, despite the budget hemorrhage that is spread across the entire Commonwealth. There is one interesting caveat in the Governor's support that fits exactly the findings from of studies (see below) on the resegregation of America's schools. When Governor Patrick could have offered any stipulation for his support for more charters, did he choose to call for ethnically or economically integrated charter schools? Not at all, but, rather, more of the apartheid schooling we have seen so far in the KIPPs and the KIPP lookalikes that are so popular with the Business Roundtable and their inspired social entrepreneurial parasites.

Here is yesterday's piece from the Harvard Crimson, which, by the way, is far superior to the gloating propaganda the the Boston Globe continues to churn out in support of more segregated eugenics-inspired chain gangs:
The new state budget proposed by Mass. Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 calls for raising the cap on charter school spending to 12 percent from nine percent—a move that could allow for the creation of a fourth charter school in Cambridge.

The proposal was met with criticism from interest groups and educators on both sides of the charter school debate.

Although the governor’s proposal would allow more students who want to attend charter schools to do so, the additional funding comes with the stipulation that 80 percent of the new schools’ enrollment should come from historically low achieving populations, including low-income, minority, and special needs students.

“He’s setting up charter schools to deal with the most difficult population[s],” said Jed F. Lippard, head of Prospect Hill Academy, a charter school with campuses in both Cambridge and Somerville.

Lippard, who believes charter schools are highly effective, said he agreed with the governor’s efforts to make them more accessible. But he objects to the enrollment stipulations, which he said will contribute to the problem of racially and socioeconomically segregated schools—a problem that Cambridge already faces.

Robert C. Riordan—a former teacher and administrator in Cambridge Public Schools who now works for a network of charter schools in California—expressed the same concern, saying that the current proposal would mandate a trend towards segregated schools.

“Such a requirement would throw the weight of the state behind the current drift toward apartheid schooling,” said Riordan, who pointed out that the current charter schools in Cambridge already serve much higher populations of at risk students than their district counterparts.

At Benjamin Banneker, a charter school in Cambridge, about 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, compared to the district average of about 45 percent. At both the Community Charter School of Cambridge and Prospect Hill Academy, the number is about 50 percent.

Riordan said that mandating these population quotas would hurt efforts to establish schools with balanced populations.

“You can imagine that if there were a new charter school with 80 percent of students in need, not that many students of privilege would apply to that school,” he said, adding that the best model would be to have schools reflect the overall population of their communities.

But Cambridge Public Schools committee member Marc C. McGovern objects to the funding formula for charter schools in general.

For every student that goes to a charter school, money that would otherwise go to the school district would go to the charter school—which, according to McGovern, does not always provide the same services that district schools must offer.

“As it stands now, it’s not an equitable funding formula. Allowing more charter schools is going to make things worse in terms of funding. We’re in tough shape here in Cambridge. I don’t think that’s the way to go.”

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