I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

US Census Bureau: Most Charters Not "Public " Schools

It's official: according to the US Census Bureau, most charter schools are not "public":
Charter Schools

The data in this report include only those charter schools established and administratively controlled by another government entity (e.g., universities, cities, counties, or public school systems). The data for these “public charter schools” are collected as separate, individual units, or are included with the data for their chartering government. Charter schools that do not meet the Census Bureau criteria for classification as a government entity are considered “private charter schools” and are not included in this report.

In order for a charter school to be classified as a “public charter school,” it must meet the same requirements as any other government. It must be an organized entity, with substantial autonomy, and governmental character. Typically, if the school board is appointed by public officials, then the charter school would be classified as governmental. A few “public charter schools” are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private. [emphasis mine]
Hey, it's not me saying that charters aren't public; it's the Census Bureau. And the National Labor Relations Board. And legal scholars. And education policy scholars.

Taking public money doesn't automatically make you a public entity; if it did, Halliburton would be its own branch of the military.

NOT a public school.


Michael Fiorillo said...

The tell has always been the way charter promoters and advocates refer to their spawn as "public charter schools."

Is that said to distinguish them from unnamed "private charter schools," or to misdirect and falsify the terms of debate?

alm said...

What makes charter schools meaningfully public is that they serve the public (free for students) and that they are publicly financed.

In the vernacular, "private" most generally means selective admission + not free. That's what people are talking about when they talk about "public charter schools".

Duke said...

1) There are many private entities that "serve the public." Many churches provide many free services for the public, regardless of creed; they aren't "public."

2) If you think a charter school isn't selective, try enrolling your kid in one of the "high-performers" in mid-year.

3) See my last sentence in the post.

alm said...

I think that Bruce Baker does a better job of handling the subtleties here - if there's a continuum of privateness <--> publicness (with, say Deerfield on the left and a big district on the right) I don't think that anyone would disagree that charters are to left of most district systems. I certainly wouldn't. There's definitely diversity in the sector

Are you in favor of charters getting zoned catchment areas? If you read Neerav Kingsland's work (and I may be extrapolating a bit here) the district of the future has:
-centralized admissions/waitlists for district/charter schools
-a mix of specialized and zoned/local schools (some operated by charters, some direct run by the district)
-similar accountability for all schools
-knowledge transfer/dissemination of effective programs and practices.

The portfolio model would seem to resolve a lot of your concerns -- stricter governance, unified enrollment, same mechanisms for enrollment. Have you written about this already?

giuseppe said...

Why have charter schools? Many studies have shown that they are, overall and on average, no better than the real public schools and that there are more failing charter schools than there are good ones. It's not fair that charter schools are forced upon unsuspecting school districts without their consent or approval. Charter schools siphon off money and resources from the REAL public schools and the REAL public schools are left with the more expensive students (special needs kids, special ed kids, English learners, more poor children and more behavior problems). Charter schools are known for counseling out the problem kids and the disciplinary problems. Charter schools don't work in cooperation with the school districts, quite the opposite. It's utter insanity unless your goal is to sabotage and destroy the REAL public schools.

Unknown said...

Good for you.

I think the NLRB opinions should be determinative. If the operators of charter chains don't want to be legally recognized as "public" when it comes to rights, they shouldn't claim "public" when it comes to funding, yet they do.

These schools are privatized. They're run by appointed boards and the public has to rely on sunshine laws and filing demands to reveal what they spend.

The distinction made between charters and vouchers is also silly. A charter is simply a larger voucher; writing a single, large check to an (essentially) private operator rather than a series of smaller checks.

Steven Smith said...

Yes it is. The data that will be putted in the report must meet the main requirements as any government do because it also concern for the needs of the said charter department.

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