Monday, July 29, 2002

Boston Commons

Figures from the Massachusetts department of education show that state charter schools are enrolling large numbers of low-income students.

Of the 20 school districts with the biggest percentages of poor children, 11 are charter schools, according to 2002 figures from the DOE. (Though smaller than most school systems, the state's 42 charter schools are counted as school districts.) In some cases, the numbers show the charter schools have higher percentages of low-income children than their home school system.

Despite serving low-income children, today's Boston Globe charged charter schools with a familiar accusation: "According to 2000-01 state figures, only eight of the 40 charter schools operating that year had the same or more special-education students than the school systems in which they're located."

Considering the percentage of special education students that are over-identified and mislabeled as special education, perhaps a lower special-education count in charter schools should be celebrated. Maybe charter schools actually teach students to read rather than labeling them as special education. They also have a higher rate of students who used to be labeled as special-education, who were able to move out of a disability category, after they made substantial progress.

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