California Educator

April / May 2019

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schools are more likely than traditional public schools to be high-poverty schools (more than 75 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, or FRPL) or low-pov- erty schools (less than 25 percent FRPL). is raises questions about where privately operated charter schools choose and are approved to open. Privately managed char- ters have also been criticized historically for serving fewer special education students and English learners. The racial and economic imbalances at these char- ter schools make the results of a recent Education Week article even more striking. The article, "In Many Char- ter High Schools, Graduation Odds Are Slim," finds that charters account for more than half (54 percent) of public high schools with less than 50 percent grad- uation rates — a quarter of all charter high schools and nearly 3 percent of all U.S. public high schools. It also finds that 27 percent of California charter high schools graduate less than half their students in four years. Education Week researchers note the low grad- uation rates aren't just a one-time issue; many charter high schools have suffered from chronically low rates for nearly a decade. Along with scrutiny of these results comes an inter- est in the impact of charter locations on local school districts. The Century Foundation report outlines the community and financial fall- out of independent charter schools, stating that current state policies regarding char- ters can affect the obligation to provide adequate and equitable public schools to all students. "Policymakers must take care that the manner in which charter schools are cre- ated and funded does not subvert state constitutional guarantees to public education," the report states. A series of recommendations for government agencies at federal, state and local levels to improve intentional equity in charter schools nationwide outlines best practices to address the issue. Recommenda- tions include: • Requiring local agencies to provide a plan on how they ensure char- ter schools they authorize are promoting equitable outcomes. • Adopting state policies that require charter schools to plan explicitly for special student populations, including children with disabilities and English learners. • Mandating that charter school authorizers consider the fiscal impact of a charter on the district where it is proposed for location. "In short, charter schools should only have a place in our public edu- cational landscape if they further the public policy goal of advancing equal educational opportunity," the report states. See the research at and This chart from the Education Week article shows the percentage of charter schools that graduate less than half of their students in each state. Source: Education Week Research Center analysis of CCD and Edfacts, 2019. " Charter schools should only have a place in public education if they further the public policy goal of advancing equal educational opportunity." — Century Foundation report on equity in charters 17 A P R I L / M AY 2 019

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