Less than 1 percent of public school students in Oklahoma attend charter schools, and Oklahomans make up less than half a percent of the nation’s total population of charter students.
But there were still 4,708 students enrolled in charters here last year — more than 4,000 students to whom charters do matter.
That figure is according to the new Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools by The Center for Education Reform.
Jeanne Allen, the center’s president, calls the results “educational for the uninitiated, solace for the skeptics and fodder for the fans.”
So whether you find this information to be educational, solace or fodder, here are some highlights:
- -There are 1.2 million students in about 4,100 charter schools nationwide. There are about 4,700 students in 15 charters in Oklahoma.
-Demand is growing, based on the size of wait lists that grew 33 percent over the previous year. However, growth dipped for the first time ever due to caps in some states.
-Charter schools operate with less public funding than regular schools.
-About 40 percent of charters serve majority-minority populations.
-A sampling of state data shows charter schools consistently outperform their conventional counterparts. (Locally, Dove Science Academy, a charter school in Oklahoma City, has the highest API score in the state.)
And while the report did not draw the conclusion that all schools should be able to close the racial achievement gap because charter schools are raising minorities’ performance, others have used this type of data to make that argument.
That thought reminded me of something a presenter said at the Hechinger Institute seminar I attended earlier this month in New York.
Professor Douglas Ready said that there is a selection bias in play, that the low-income, single-parent, minority children in the charter schools are not the same as the low-income, single-parent, minority children in traditional schools.
Their parents are in some way different in that they found reason and time to take a proactive stance in enrolling their children in such a school, Ready said.
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