Bruce Baker is a professor at Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education at Rutgers. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on school financing. He has written extensively on the subject, including serving as a lead author of the definitive graduate text book called Financing Education Systems. He is also the author of a blog called School Finance 101.
A couple of days ago Baker posted a “MUST READ” article on his blog that drives home one of the most important points Wait, What? readers have been learning about over the past year.
Charter schools cream off the students. They cream off students because they are trying to get the “right students” so that can “produce higher standardized test scores” so they can continue to mislead government, foundations and wealthy donors to give them money.
Then, when their test scores come out, they completely fail to explain that those scores are not a product of the quality of the education these schools provide, but are a direct result of selective, discriminatory enrollment policies they have and their increasingly well-known system of forcing out (often called migrating out) those students that won’t produce the results they want.
While Baker’s latest blog looks at charter schools in multiple states, the Connecticut data he presents makes the strongest case yet for the intentional fraud being perpetrated on Connecticut’s public schools, our students, teachers, state government and taxpayers.
You can read Backer’s full article here (see link), but the key Connecticut findings are as follows;
Using data from the State Department of Education and the NCES Common Core, Baker summed the “total number of public & charter school enrolled children by City (school location in CCD) and the total numbers of free lunch, ELL and special education enrolled children.”
Here is a chart highlighting the data – and once again – the data makes the situation absolutely clear.
We know the greatest predictors of standardized test score performance are poverty, language barriers and special education needs. We also know that in case after case after case after case, Connecticut’s charter school educate children that are less poor, have far less language barriers and need fewer special education services.
CLICK ON THE CHART TO OPEN IN NEW WINDOW SO YOU CAN GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN TEXT AND CHART:
In fact, Connecticut’s charter schools are particularly brutal on locking out students who are not fluent in English – which are usually the children who come from homes where English is not the primary language.
If Charter schools educate children who are less poor, have fewer language barriers and few special education needs, they will, by default, end up with high standardized test scores.
So what has Governor Malloy, Education Commission Pryor, the Connecticut Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly done?
They have given more funds to those that are discriminating while making things worse for the schools that are actually trying to what every child deserves under the Connecticut Constitution – a few, high quality, public education.
As Dr. Bruce Baker puts it, “In a heterogeneous urban schooling environment, the more individual schools or groups of schools engage in behavior that cream skims off children who are less poor, less fewer language barriers, far less likely to have a disability to begin with, and unlikely at all to have a severe disability, the higher the concentration of these children left behind in district schools.(see for example:http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/effects-of-charter-enrollment-on-newark-district-enrollment/).
Baker goes on to speak the absolute truth when he said, “…with independent charter expansion, districts lose the ability to even try to manage the balance. Sadly, what may initially have been conceived of as a symbiotic relationship between charter and district schools is increasingly becoming parasitic!
In a “competitive marketplace” of schooling within a geographic space, under this incentive structure, the goal is to be that school which most effectively cream skims – without regard for who you are leaving behind for district schools or other charters to serve – while best concealing the cream-skimming – and while ensuring lack of financial transparency for making legitimate resource comparisons.”
Baker calls the impact the “Collateral Damage of the Parasitic Chartering Model” and writes, “In previous posts I showed how the population cream-skimming effect necessarily leads to an increasingly disadvantaged student population left behind in district schools. High need, urban districts that are hosts to increasing shares of cream-skimming charters become increasingly disadvantaged over time in terms of the students they must serve.”
Baker’s post goes into far greater detail.
He uses the data to explain and highlight the problem.
It is an issue Wait, What? readers know well.
And if the policies are left unchanged, it will be the legacy that haunts Governor Malloy and those who support the discriminatory policies that are undermining our schools and destroying our public education system.