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L.A. Unified leads nation by far in number of charter school students

The Los Angeles Unified School District continues to have more charter school students than any school system in the country, according to the latest data released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

L.A. Unified, with about 68,500 students in charter schools last year, was well ahead of the No. 2 district, the Detroit Public Schools, which has about 50,000 students in charters. Overall, about 10% of L.A. Unified students attend charters.

Charters are free, publicly funded schools operated by nonprofits and private companies. They continue to grow in number and are a key element in the school-reform strategy of President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as they were in the previous administration of George W. Bush.  Charter schools are typically free from many regulations that govern traditional schools; most in California are nonunion.

Overall, charters enroll about 3.2% of U.S. public school students, with wide variations from state to state, said Deborah Veney Robinson, a spokesperson for the alliance, based in Washington.

The school systems with the highest percentage of students in charter schools are the New Orleans Public School System at 61% and the District of Columbia Public Schools at 38%.

The charter surge in New Orleans was spurred in large measure by Hurricane Katrina, which put the school district virtually out of business for a time, opening the door to radical changes. Aggressive reforms in the District of Columbia, including the promotion of charter schools, were pursued by Chancellor Michelle Rhee. She resigned this fall after her most crucial political patron, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his reelection bid.

As in nearly all places, charter school enrollment in Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. increased over the prior year. In Los Angeles, the rise occurred even as overall enrollment has declined.

Ten states do not allow charter schools, Robinson said.

California has 941 charter schools, more than 17% of the national total, according to data from the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter organization which also is based in Washington.


Effort to convert Compton school to charter draws fire

L.A. charter school group secures $10.5-million bailout

Charter schools submit plans for control of new and struggling L.A. schools

-- Howard Blume

California Schools Guide

Comments () | Archives (16)

As I understand it, No Child Left Behind has a goal of 100% proficiency in English and Math in just a few years. The target proficiency rate has increased every year, but in the last one to two years has begun hitting levels that are difficult if not completely unrealistic for a district like LAUSD, which has a huge non-native English speaker population.

NCLB requires that schools become a charter or make other drastic changes after two or three years of failing to meet the targets. Even "good" schools in well-to-do areas are beginning to fall short of the target proficiency rates, and if NCLB isn't changed in the next few years, EVERY school in LAUSD will end up a charter or with an entirely new staff.

What a strange coincidence, Los Angeles also has the highest dropout rate and the densest concentration of illegal aliens. Go figure.

Great....LAUSD leads the nation in charter schools and illegal immigrants. An connection???? Anyone???


Just great.

Charters may not be perfect, but Republicans and Democrats alike came to realize that charters were needed to break the deadening choke-hold of teacher's unions and indifferent LAUSD admnistrators.

For their recognition and for their actions, all those politicians--even our photo-op mayor--and the brave parents and teachers who volunteered to go with Charters should be congratulated.

Wow...great to see LA leading the nation in something positive!!

What does this tell the LAUSD board and the teacher's union? If they're listening, which they usually don't, it tells them people aren't happy with the status quo. Of course, they only see this as a threat to their power.

Duffy is a disgrace as the leader of UTLA!

Charter schools enroll students who must apply. They look at previous academic and behavioral performance before granting admission. So they do not offer any improved curriculum to the community they serve. But they do offer a pre-selected social environment for your kid, should they be admitted.

How many people reading this article are aware of the huge impact that charters are having on LAUSD's budget? Charters take in a much smaller percentage of special ed and English Language learners, leaving a much higher percentage in the traditional schools without an increase in funding to make up for the higher numbers. Also, with so many students leaving LAUSD, the ADA(average daily attendance) which determines per pupil funding, also impacts the overall budget.

There may be an argument for charters if there was proof they were more successful, on average, than traditional schools. While many charters claim high graduation rates and college entrance, SAT/ACT scores and CSU remediation rates tell a different story. Also, while charters attract more involved parents and students, they also kick out the lowest performers or those with behavior problems. Then, in 12th grade, they claim that they graduate 80-100%. However, this number is based on those entering 12th grade, not from those who entered in the 9th grade. When it comes to charters with high APIs, it's too bad no one publishes their demographic makeup. If this was done, the public could see that high scores are so misleading.

In response to previous posters--Actually, charters do NOT "choose" to admit students. If there's space, the child is admitted. The "application" includes information like: name, birthdate, address, etc. There is NO mention of past academics or past behavioral issues--charters are NOT "cherry-picking" students. I teach at a charter that has a higher percentage of special needs students than the LAUSD average (without the benefit of aides). We have the same proportion of ELL students as the surrounding schools. We have the same percentage of students on free/reduced lunch as the neighborhood schools. Parents are not any more/less involved.

Charter schools haven't proven themselves to be better than public schools. In fact, a major study conducted by Stanford University indicates that they are inferior to public schools. Nevertheless, charter enrollment continues to increase in L.A.

The average API of the Green Dot charter schools in LAUSD is only 654, which is less than the average for the schools on the take-over list.

In response to Craig....Your school is an exception if what you are saying is true. Anyone can access this kind of data on the CA Dept. of Education website. Charters, on average, have a much lower percentage of special ed and English Language learners. As for the application process, that alone filters out many students whose parents either are not motivated enough to seek out other options, or who don't have the means to personally drive their child to a charter which is most likely not close enough to walk to. Also, charters can create policies, such as parent volunteering and lots of extra hours of remediation and/or detention, that most certainly discourages many more from staying. Last, a small charter simply is unable to provide the wide range of special ed services that an LAUSD school can, most especially for the most severely disabled students. So, while some charters may appear to have a decent percentage of special ed students, that number does not tell what kind of disabilities these students have.

"As for the application process, that alone filters out many students whose parents either are not motivated enough to seek out other options, or who don't have the means to personally drive their child to a charter which is most likely not close enough to walk to."

Sue, the same can be said for magnet programs. Does your antagonism extend to them as well, or is it only non-union charter schools that irk you?

This anti-public school, pro-testing, pro-charter phenomenon is being used as a hammer by the LA Times to bash the heads of teachers and unions. Merit pay, testing/evaluation synthesis, charter schools, and the fed's obsession with robbing local school control are all insipid tools of a private-sector corporate scheme to steal schools from the public and drop them (and their attendant tax dollars) carelessly into the bottomless, profit-driven coffers of major multi-national corporations such as Microsoft and Walmart. Here, schools can be held captive and bled dry until their skeletal remains turn to dust created by the eroding sands of our once-great commitment to educational equality as a foundation for our healthy and successful American Democracy. Sad thing is, our large urban school boards ands our appointed state education officials (along with certain newspapers) are the ones serving up our public school teachers and their schools as red meat to the drooling wolves – wolf thieves who blink in surprise at the ease of securing such a bountiful, precious and satisfying free meal.

Charter schools are free to the students, and their parents. These charter schools are taking money from LAUSD's budget, and LAUSD wants the property owners to make up for lost they have created.

Maybe the school system can go to Mexico and ask for financial help being the majority of its stundents are Mexican Nationals???


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