“Charters and small specialty schools [are now] fragmenting [school] districts [and] creating tiers of schools serving decidedly different populations with unequal access... The Charter movement [attracts] the attention of political and financial interests who [see] the public school system as a ‘government monopoly’ ripe for market reform.
“In the past decade, the character of the charter school movement has changed dramatically. It’s been transformed from community-based, educator-initiated local efforts designed to provide alternative approaches for a small number of students into nationally-funded efforts by foundations, investors and educational management companies to create a parallel, more privatized school system…
“The most complete national study of charter school performance by CREDO, a research unit at Stanford University that supports charter reform, found that only about one in five charter schools had better test scores than comparable public schools and more than twice as many had lower ones. Unlike most charter schools, traditional public schools accept all children, including much larger numbers of high-needs students. In most states, charters do not face the same public accountability and transparency requirements as public schools, which have led to serious problems of mismanagement, corruption and profiteering.
“Invariably beneath accounts of ‘spectacular charter success’ lie demographics that reveal fewer special needs children, fewer English language learners, and fewer numbers of children from the poorest families…There are many other factors that make charters unsustainable as a general strategy for improving public education [as well]. Significant evidence suggests that charters are part of a market-driven plan to create a less stable, less secure and less expensive teaching staff. Other trends reflect the efforts of well-funded groups working to privatize everything from curriculum to professional development to the making of education policy.