Peter Greene keeps making the point that having a charter school system along side a public school system is wasteful. One reason is that each system would need its own set of administrators. In Washington, DC, where nearly half of the students now attend charter schools, we now have MORE school buildings than we did when I was in junior high school just over 50 years ago, but only about HALF as many students — thus, a lot of unused space.
Inventing two separate school systems has done essentially nothing to reduce the score gaps between children from white, affluent families (living mostly in upper Northwest) and children from minority, poor families (living elsewhere). The segregation is not quite as awful as it was in the 1960s, but it’s pretty close.
Here is an excellent article from Valerie Strauss’ blog where a DC parent decries the waste, segregation, and general bass-ackwardness of what passes for ‘reform’ in the nation’s capital.
“Two years ago, when I moderatedthe mayoral education debate, I gave each candidate a math problem:
“–In 1965, the District had 147,000 students and 196 schools. That’s [an average of] 750 kids per school.
“–In 2014, we had 85,000 students and 213 DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] and charter school buildings. That’s [an average of] 399 kids per school.
“That means we have half the kids that we had in the 1960s, and more buildings, many of them gravely under-enrolled. Yet, we still authorize up to 20 new charters per year, and an unclear number of DCPS new schools. Enrollment is flat. At what point do we match school growth with enrollment needs, geographic balance, and transportation planning in mind? At one point do we focus on using data to invest in and manage the schools that we have?”
She also describes
“…the scene I watch from my house near North Capitol Street. It’s straight-up racial apartheid. If I see white children walking to the parks, I knew they are from Mundo Verde or Inspired Teaching schools. The lack of white faces in a group of children makes me know the kids are from Langley, Harmony, or KIPP.”