- Charter schools use a variety of methods to self-select incoming students;
- Charter schools generally have free, far-reaching expulsion policies;
- Charter school attrition is more severe and more lasting than public school attrition;
- Charter schools enroll a student group not like surrounding regular public schools.
Given this, the focus of articles is generally on exposing the lie: in the end, KIPP and its ilk probably aren't that exciting. (Full disclosure: given the low-quality, test-first KIPP pedagogy and their long hours, their test scores don't surprise me. I find it interesting that their actual rollout is so poor they can't "transform" SIGgy schools. I have to assume this is due to their extraordinarily low teacher retention.)
What you don't see is attention paid to the schools that take everyone else: the regular public schools. I teach at one of those schools. And the charter school enrollment problem negatively impacts us. It isn't okay to say that the charter schools are helping a self-selecting bunch of kids, because they are actively making good education harder for everyone else:
- Those kids expelled go somewhere, like my school. Not only do they bring whatever challenges their charter chose not to deal with, they have suffered real emotional harm from the expulsion experience. I don't care how tough that eleven year old looks: it's still an ELEVEN year old child who's just been told that he or she is not good enough to stay.
- Cherry-picking high performing students with motivated parents means the students left behind are a more concentrated bunch of high-needs children. Our class loads become more challenging because there are more high-needs students.
- Those very high-needs students tend not to test well, and there are lots and lots of sticks associated with bad test results.
- Nor do we receive more money, in general, because we now have a more difficult student population. Even the Weighted Student Formula SFUSD uses doesn't have metrics that cope well with this.
What I'm saying is that what KIPP does harms the schools around it. This isn't even "for the greater good", it's "for the good of a very few with lots of hot press...at the expense of everyone else."