Diane Ravitch on Charter Schools

Below is an introduction to why Democrats oppose charter schools. The attrition rate for KIPP, the “successful” franchise that is being pushed hard by Stand for Schools and the League of Education Voters, is 30% per year in grades 6, 7 and 8, with the rate for African American males being 40% per year. This is how the low performers are “counseled out.” Of course, they end up back in their neighborhood schools.

I testified Friday Jan. 20th against the charter schools bill in the Housed Education committee. It’s on TVW, after another bill. I was last to speak. My main point was that charter schools were created two or three decades ago as a laboratory for innovation, but few of their innovations (e.g., paying younger teachers less for longer hours) can be scaled up to apply to our school systems as a whole. This must be the measure of success for public schools. Creating a few charter schools with a lottery system to enter creates winners and losers, mostly losers. What do we say to those parents?

We all need to claim the title of educaton reform. No one is satisfied with the “opportunity gap.” The reforms we want are proven by research, and we want the flexibility to apply them within our school systems. We have good examples of this working, such as the turnaround at Washington Middle School, in Seattle’s Central District.

Please communicate to your legislators that what we really need is to fund education. Successful charter franchises such as KIPP spend $6,000 to $10,000 more per child than the public schools. Fund our librarians, our art and music teachers, our classroom aides and graduation support specialists! The charter school bill is a failed tool and a distraction.

Sarajane Siegfriedt, Chair
King County Democrats Legislative Action Ctte

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