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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charter Schools = Economic Segregation?

So Christie takes time out from his busy schedule of cable-TV appearances to do a photo-op with Waiting For Superman's Geoffrey Canada at a charter school in Hoboken: Elysian Charter School.

For Christie and crew, it was a chance to sing the praises of those elysian fields:
The Christie Administration brought the conversation to Hoboken today atElysian Charter School which is considered among the best charter schools in the state and serves 288 children in grades K-8.

"We've been meeting AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) annually," said Kenneth Nielsen, president of the school's Board of Directors. "Our students are succeeding."

However, Nielsen added that funding for the school could be better, especially in the wake of the two-year, state-mandated freeze on charter school budgets. Canada spoke about the freedom charter schools have to hire, fire and monitor their teachers.
Oh, really? You know how we roll here at the Jazzman - let's do the numbers:

There are three "regular" elementary/middle schools in Hoboken. Using the National Center for Education Statistics' "Common Core," how does Elysian stack up against the rest of the district's average?

Hispanic Students as a percentage of total population
Hoboken "Regular" Schools: 60%
Elysian: 28%

African-American Students as a percentage of total population
Hoboken "Regular" Schools: 15%
Elysian: 11%

Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible Students as a percentage of total population
Hoboken "Regular" Schools: 65%
Elysian: 25%

Look at those numbers above. Think about how many of the Hispanic kids speak Spanish at home. Look at the economic statistics. Think about how this may affect test scores. Charter schools have freedom, all right - the freedom to exclude the most difficult-to-teach students from their rosters.

This, apparently, is Christie's great new vision for schools: economic segregation.

ADDING: I made a big mistake in my original post in not linking to Bruce Baker's excellent work on this topic:

Start here. Then search the rest of the blog. I'm merely an amateur; Bruce is the real deal.

ADDING MORE: Thought about what Bruce said in comments about Free Lunch v Reduced/Free Lunch. My numbers:

Free Lunch Eligible Students as a percentage of total population
Hoboken "Regular": 54%
Elysian: 14%

That is just really, really ugly.


Anonymous said...

Generally if you look at free lunch only, the charters have even fewer and the differential even greater between charters and the traditional publics. Those qualifying for free lunch fall below a lower income threshold - are poorer. Charters are particularly good at avoiding the poorer of the poor, since they know people will look at free and reduced shares. Apparently this one isn't even good at fudging that.

Duke said...

Bruce, I made a big mistake in not linking to your excellent work on this - stand by for correction.

Duke said...

Adding: I never quite got a satisfying answer back in grad school about how, exactly, "free lunch" translates into poverty measures. I had a professor basically tell me, "Well, it's the best we've got." Kind of frustrating.

My numbers on just free lunch:

Elysian: 14%
Hoboken "Regular": 54%

Dear lord, that's ugly.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the 54% surprises people. I am not going to completely stereotypical, but I would gather that if you took that 54/14% figure and figured out how many of those 2 actually give a rats about their kids you would see the difference might swing the other way. A lot of those lower income children are just a product of the crappy environment they come from.

What I am saying is people are in those charter schools because either the kids or there parents chose to send them there. If the children are left alone they will do the minimum. Just like the parents that choose not to get involved in those kids lives.