Monday, March 9, 2015

A charter school advocate reverses course

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 9:15 AM

David Hornbeck was a charter school advocate as superintendent of Maryland schools and as Philadelphia school superintendent. No more. He says their results are mixed and they do harm to conventional public schools. He's opposing an expansion plan in Maryland.

Could we get him to Arkansas for testimony when the legislature hears the Walton-backed bill that would allow charterizing of the Little Rock School District — and expropriate facilities, tax base and local control at the same time to ship money off to private companies with no accountability?

Among many arguments against expansion of charter schools, Hornbeck makes a point overlooked here when advocates tout some of the better charters:

Charters do not serve students with the greatest challenges: Charters will be quick to point out they enroll high percentages of low-income students. Some do. However, the citywide charter lottery inherently skims. Every student chosen has someone (parent, pastor, friend) who encouraged and is advocating for her/him to apply and succeed. That fact by itself creates a select pool of students and a corollary depletion of those students in non-charter schools.

Indeed, it will be no surprise when a Walton-backed charter middle school in posh Chenal Valley, with a student body overwhelmingly white and financially secure, outscores the nearby Little Rock district middle school with a virtually all-minority student body from poor families. But the Waltonites will claim it's a result of their superior education and the many faults of the Little Rock School District.

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