Home > Uncategorized > Backpack Full of Cash Underscores Charter’s BIGGEST Advantage: Only Engaged Parents Apply

Backpack Full of Cash Underscores Charter’s BIGGEST Advantage: Only Engaged Parents Apply

October 10, 2018

For a number of years (and posts) I have contended that the biggest advantage charter schools have over public schools is that they only draw from the population of parents who are engaged. This point has been driven home to me since my grandchildren are both enrolled in NYC public schools and I’ve witnessed the hoops parents are required to jump through to “choose” which school they wish their child to attend: the application process for middle and high schools is even more daunting than college since there is no common application. Worse, if “school of your choice” is one of the most prestigious ones you must attend one of their orientation sessions, a particularly difficult task for a working single parent.

Durham Herald Sun reporter Matt Goad reported on a screening of “Backpack Full of Cash”, a movie being shown across the country that informs parents and voters about the way privatized charter schools skim off the best students and, maybe even more importantly, scarce public funds. The article highlighted the fact that charters enroll only children from households where the parents are engaged, derive their operating costs from existing pools of funding for public education thereby diverting funds away from existing public schools, and, because they operate “efficiently” save the taxpayers money.

The movie focuses on two urban districts, Philadelphia and New Orleans. But as the closing quote in the article indicates, it has relevance in North Carolina:

“These things that are talked about in Philadelphia and New Orleans have happened in North Carolina and have happened at an incredibly rapid pace,” Durham school board member Natalie Beyer said.

How rapidly?

The cap on the maximum number of charter schools allowed in North Carolina (100) was lifted in 2012. That year, nearly 45,000 students were enrolled in charter schools. Currently, 185 charter schools, including two online or virtual charters, operate in North Carolina, serving 101,000 children. Charter school students make up nearly 6.5 percent of the total student population for grades K-12.

North Carolina recently increased its spending on education, but as of last December it was still spending 8% less per pupil that before the onset of the Great Recession. Yet in the face of this diminished funding, the legislature in the state has diverted more and more funds to charters and loosened regulations on the operations of charters. Why? I think that if one follows the money the answer will be revealed.

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