Charter schools are growing in number where they are not needed, new report says
Charter schools are proliferating where they aren’t needed while state funding continues to support even those charters that violate state law, according to a report released Monday by a research and advocacy group.
The new research by an Oakland group called In The Public Interest looks at where charter schools are increasing in number and where schools are needed based on enrollment. The two trend lines do not correspond, researchers found — especially in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the number of school-age children has declined even as the number of charters has exploded.
Charters are privately operated, taxpayer-funded public schools that are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses.
The report points out that traditional school districts can’t build new schools when real or potential enrollment fails to justify expansion. But those rules don’t apply to charter schools, which can open anywhere and qualify for state funding or subsidies to build or lease facilities. The report says public funds helped open and sustain at least 450 charters in areas with plenty of existing classroom space.
“Paying for more schools than are needed wastes taxpayer dollars,” the report says. “Furthermore, an oversupply of schools serves to undermine the viability of any individual school.”
The latter argument has been made repeatedly by L.A. Unified officials, who assert that rapid and widespread charter growth is one of several factors threatening the solvency of the nation’s second-largest school system.
The report’s lead researcher, Gordon Lafer, an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, attributes the problem to a lack of clarity and vision in state policy.
Charter supporters insist the need for such schools isn’t based on a shortage of classroom capacity but on a shortage of classrooms providing a high-quality education.
They also believe parents should have more choices, especially in low-income neighborhoods where student achievement and graduation rates at traditional public Charter schools are growing in number where they are not needed, new report says - LA Times: