Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Corbett's Charter Magic: Charter Trickery in Oregon
The front-page story in yesterday's Oregonian was a prime example of why charter schools are not a viable route to creating a high quality, equitable school system. The Corbett School District, set in a small town just outside of Portland, Oregon, recently opened a new charter school - within their already-existing public school - in order to circumvent the interdistrict transfer policy, pulling students from neighboring schools (Gresham-Barlow SD and Reynolds SD, both with 11,000 and 12,000 students, respectively; Corbett has 800). The student transfers, of course, drain funding from Gresham-Barlow and Reynolds, shoring up the funding for the already relatively affluent Corbett SD. The Oregonian's story, not surprisingly, did not offer any serious critique of the charter school policies; instead, the article ignored the demographics of the various communities, which I have provided below (information from SchoolMatters, a pro-market education "service" funded by various philanthrocapitalists and S&P):My jaw nearly dropped when I saw the entire lack of ELL students in the Corbett district. The drastically fewer students with disabilities and relatively low number of students that are "economically disadvantaged" (code word for living in poverty) seriously impacts the finances of each district. Does the public school system - itself a middle-class, white institution - have an easier time educating Corbett students? Without a doubt. Does Reynolds and Gresham-Barlow have more diverse needs among their student population? Without a doubt. But siphoning off students from Reynolds/Gresham-Barlow is part of the fast-track to a more segregated educational system. Of the Reynolds/Gresham-Barlow students, which ones have the financial and parental resources to drive to and from the Corbett school district? It's not a leap to assume the students Corbett attracts through their charter school trickery are more affluent and have more parental involvement.
Below are a few key snippets from the Oregonian article; and here are some additional statistics about Corbett, Reynolds, and Gresham-Barlow. Warning: deregulation, pro-segregation policies, and pro-charter rhetoric ahead:
Posted by Ken Libby at 10:37 AM