Thursday, January 19, 2006

When Politicians Meet Expectations

Surprise! Newsday reports that in some states lawmakers are once again hurting kids by not increasing the number of charter schools. This in spite of the wishes of many parents:
A national study released Wednesday shows state-mandated limits on charter school growth are preventing hundreds of students in Connecticut and nine other states from attending the independent public schools, touted by advocates as a high-achieving alternative for many urban youngsters.

The report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools urges policy-makers to focus on stronger oversight and application processes for charter schools instead of artificial limits on everything from school size to numbers of schools.

According to the national report, various types of state-imposed caps are severely constraining growth in 10 states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, New York and Illinois.

A total of 25 states have some type of cap on charter schools, which have been around for about 15 years.

Some state leaders decided to place limits on the numbers of charter schools or the numbers of students when charter school laws were first enacted. Lawmakers worried about the pace of charter school growth, its effect on existing school districts and whether the schools would be successful.

"In most states, this was a matter of political compromise," said Alex Johnston, president of the Connecticut Alliance for Great Schools, a group that supports charter schools. "Because there wasn't support across the board for charter schools, the opposition was concerned they would expand rapidly and this was to make sure they don't."

Elm City College Preparatory School in New Haven faces the possibility of not being able to fill its classrooms for kindergarten through eighth grade because of the cap, Johnston said.

The school, which opened in the fall of 2004, currently has 256 students in kindergarten through second grade and grades 5 and 6. School officials are worried that the enrollment cap will prevent them from adding grades 3 and 4 as originally planned and that students graduating from second grade will be forced to leave the school.

"Where will these students go," the report asks.
One would think that lawmakers would satisfy all this parental voter demand by removing the caps. But then again, the children of the political class rarely, if ever, are relegated to attending troubled public schools.

And as few incumbents lose a bid for reelection, there's little incentive for them to speedily remedy this regretable situation.
See this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education right here and our latest posts over there.