This week, a new report on charter school discipline touched off a predictable controversy when it singled out charters for disproportionately suspending certain groups of students. Black and special needs students are far more likely than their peers to be suspended from school, but the problem spans district and charter schools alike.
Last year, for example, Stanford researchers found that black students were more three times more likely to be suspended or expelled. According to that study, teachers interpreted student misbehavior differently depending on the child’s race. For example, although teachers may not have let racial stereotypes guide their reactions after a student’s first infraction, after the second infraction, teachers judged a black student’s infraction more severely than for a white student. Another report from the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative found that 25 percent of black students with disabilities received at least one suspension in the 2009-2010 school year.
Study author Dan Losen called out some specific schools:
Take a school like Roxbury Prep in Boston that suspended 57.8% of students with disabilities at least once, according to 2014-2015 data. Now that suggests to me that they should have been flagged along time ago and raises this question of what it means to say that a school is high performing. High performance should include a range of indicators, including whether a school is effective for ALL kinds of students. We should be looking for charter schools that have low suspensions, low attrition rates, and are also performing well academically.
Perhaps what’s needed is transparency. If schools, charter and otherwise, release timely and accessible discipline data, parents and the public can hold them accountable for bias or overly harsh practices — or choose to send their children elsewhere.
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers offered some charter-specific recommendations. Some charters are rethinking their approach to discipline already.
NPR, The Atlantic, The 74, Christian Science Monitor, Democrats for Education Reform and others examined presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ confusing stance on charter schools, but Sara Mead managed to cut through the noise and explain why this really matters: Public education is being redefined, and not everyone agrees what that means.
The Kentucky state Senate voted to legalize charter schools. But many doubt the House will follow suit.
New York lawmakers pushed changes that could penalize charters.
A bipartisan push for tax-credit scholarships gets underway in Maryland.
Chartlotte-Mecklenberg debates re-de-segregation.
Should the federal government fund education savings accounts for Native American students?
Understanding the fiscal impact of Nevada’s ESAs.
How do teachers handle choice for their own children?
The voucher regulation debate, continued.
Chris Stewart, on fire: “It takes a nation of empty robes to hold us back.”
Quote of the Week
“I like accountability, and it’s why I made the jump. Test data helps me understand my students’ thinking, and it drives my instruction. I’ve seen struggling students make a complete turnaround because of it.”
– Longtime educator Tracey Hertzog, on how school accountability policies prompted her to leave a private school for a public one.
Tweet of the Week:
For 5th-straight year, DPS provided students w/ equitable access to schools through nationally renowned #DPSschoolchoice enrollment process.
— DenverPublicSchools (@DPSNewsNow) March 18, 2016
This Week in School Choice is out weekly roundup of national news related to educational options. It appears Monday mornings on the blog, but you can sign up here to get it Sundays. Did we miss something? Sends tips, links, suggestions and feedback to tpillow[at]sufs[dot]org.