Charter opponents have no more legs to stand on

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So the unions and superintendents tried the argument that charters do not serve as many disadvantaged students. We dismantled that argument. While charters don’t serve as many special needs kids and English Language learners, both categories designated by adults, they serve many more minority and poor students.

So, then the Mass Teachers Association cries out about high attrition in a handful of high-powered charter schools in Boston. But they forget that choice schools are about parents making choices. And, oops, they forget that in fact there is more attrition in the Boston Public Schools. And, uh, ooh, ah, they forget that in the charters they are pointing fingers at there is only a dropout rate of 10 percent, which is less than the state average, while in the BPS schools the dropout rate is more like 35 percent.

And now, with the release ofour newest white paper, Follow the Money: Charter School and District Funding in Massachusetts, we find out their other tried-and-true hue-and-cry, that charter schools spend more and drain resources from districts, is also without merit.

Key facts from the report:
* In FY2008, charter schools spent an average of $10,628 per student, $9,277 after subtracting facilities expenses. By contrast, the school districts charter students came from spent a weighted average of $13,530 per student—$4,253 more per student than charters.
* The $27.7 million – or about $1,800 per pupil – that charter schools received in federal, state, and private grants during FY2008 was slightly less than the average district.
* According to state data, Boston spent approximately $17,150 per student, while the city’s charters spent $12,700 per student, roughly $4,400 less than the Boston Public Schools.

As the author, Salem State Professor Ken Ardon notes, “The state gives districts three years to address the loss of funds, beginning with full reimbursement during the first year and ramping down to 40 percent of per-pupil cost by the third.”

So, let’s get this straight. Charter schools have consistently outperformed their district counterparts on Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. Some urban charters even outperform affluent suburban districts. They serve lots of disadvantaged students, they have lower dropout rates, and they are cost-effective.

When will the education establishment act like educated people and face the facts?