As is the case elsewhere in Connecticut and across the country, charter schools generally refuse to accept and educate their fair share of children who require special education services, children who need help learning the English language, as well as children with disciplinary issues.
While siphoning off scarce public funds, these privately owned and operated schools fail to educate the wide range of students who live in their communities.
Rather than provide open door policies where all are welcome, charter schools “cream” off those students who they believe will score higher on standardized tests, thereby setting up the false narrative that the narrow, teaching to the test methodology used by charter schools makes them more successful than real public schools.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the charter school industry’s discriminatory approach is in full view.
In a community in which nearly one in six students are not fluent in the English language and many require additional English language services, two Bridgeport charter schools report that they have no ELL students and none of the six charter schools in the city educate an appropriate share of students who need help learning the English language.
Failing to educate English language learners is an “effective” way in which charter schools artificially inflate their test scores. Not having ELL students means they needn’t worry about those children bringing down their average scores.
A similar story is evident when looking at the charter school industry’s failure to enroll and educate students who require special education services.
As with ELL students, Bridgeport’s charter schools simply fail to enroll and educate those students who would utilize special education programs despite the fact that state law requires schools receiving state funds not to discriminate and the law ensures that any special education costs that the charter schools must make to assist their students will be reimbursed by the community’s public school system.
In addition to the failure to accept appropriate numbers of special education students, when charter schools do report having students who need special services, the data reveal that they are students with fewer and less severe special education needs.
Compounding the problem is the Connecticut charter schools’ record of disciplinary abuses. Many charter schools suspend and punish students in a never-ending attempt to get parents to withdraw the students that charter schools have accepted but do not want.
For example, Achievement First Inc. Bridgeport suspends English Language Learners at a rate 137% more than the Bridgeport Public Schools and the same school – Achievement First Inc. Bridgeport – suspends special education students 101% more than the Bridgeport Public Schools.
Using data provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education, the following chart highlights Bridgeport charter school’s failure to educate students who aren’t fluent in the English language.
|Bridgeport||% English Language Learners|
|Bridgeport Public Schools||14%|
|Park City Charter||0%|
|New Beginnings Charter||0%|
|Side by Side Charter||6%|
|Bridge Academy Charter||3%|
|Achievement First Inc. – Bridgeport||11%|
Despite the record fiscal crisis facing Connecticut and the state’s shocking record of under-funding its public schools, charter schools are trying to grab even more public funds this legislative session. However, the real data makes the situation clear. Charter schools want taxpayer funds but refuse to provide the services that goes with being a public school.