Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Over the past few years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has assisted an increasing number of parents who have contacted them with concerns about charter school suspensions and expulsions. In helping parents with these cases, AFC found that charter school discipline policies were not always readily available.

In this report, AFC sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the three New York City charter school authorizers and, to the extent possible, charter schools opening in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year seeking, among other things, copies of their discipline policies. Charter schools are required to comply with FOIL requests, and most charter schools responded. From the FOIL responses and charter school websites, AFC was able to review 164 discipline policies from 155 of the 183 charter schools operating in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year. These discipline policies came from large charter school networks as well as from small, independent charter schools.

While charter schools should be able to discipline their students, they must uphold the rights of their students and provide them with a fair discipline process. The Charter Schools Act requires charter school authorizers to ensure that charter applications include discipline policies and procedures that comport with the law. Yet, all three authorizers of New York City charter schools have approved charters for schools that have legally inadequate discipline policies.

February 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage

The members of Journey for Justice, are comprised of thousands of youth, parents, and other concerned citizens from comĀ­munities of color across the United States. They wrote this report because they need the American people to know that the public education systems in our communities are dying. More accurately, they are being killed by an alliance of misguided, paternalistic "reformers," education profiteers, and those who seek to dismantle the institution of public education. Some are being killed quickly; others are still in the early stages. But it is, at this point, quite clear that there will soon be little to nothing left of our public school systems -- and many more like ours -- unless current trends are disrupted.

May 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois-Cook County-Chicago, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan-Wayne County-Detroit, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Minnesota-Ramsey County-St. Paul, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts-Suffolk County-Boston, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Jersey-Essex County-Newark, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Jersey-Hudson County-Jersey City, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Jersey-Passaic County-Paterson, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Allegheny County-Pittsburgh, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia County-Philadelphia, North America-United States (Southern)-District of Columbia-Washington, North America-United States (Southern)-Louisiana-Orleans Parish-New Orleans, North America-United States-Puerto Rico-Caguas

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste. Fraud and Abuse

Education and Literacy

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste. Fraud and Abuse

This report echoes a warning from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General. The report draws upon news reports, criminal complaints and more to detail how, in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more. The report also includes recommendations for policymakers on how they can address the problem of rampant fraud, waste and abuse in the charter school industry. Both organizations recommend pausing charter expansion until these problems are addressed.

May 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Southwestern)-Arizona, North America-United States (Southern)-Louisiana, North America-United States (Southern)-Florida, North America-United States (Southern)-District of Columbia-Washington, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York, North America-United States (Western)-Hawaii, North America-United States (Western)-Colorado, North America-United States (Western)-California, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Jersey, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Wisconsin, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Ohio, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Minnesota, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois, North America-United States (Southwestern)-Texas

Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws, 2014

Education and Literacy

Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws, 2014

This report evaluates each state's charter school law against the 20 essential components of a strong public charter school law. These 20 components are drawn from National Alliance's A New Model Law For Supporting The Growth Of High-Quality Public Charter Schools.

Over the past few years, there has been significant activity in state capitals to improve public charter school laws, and 2013 was no exception. Governors and legislators from coast to coast worked to lift caps that are constraining growth, enhance quality controls to better encourage the opening of great schools, and provide additional funding to decrease the equity gap between public charter school students and their counterparts in traditional public schools. All of this work was done with one simple goal in mind: create more high-quality public charter schools to meet the surging parental demand.

January 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Charter School Performance in Massachusetts

Education and Literacy

Charter School Performance in Massachusetts

This report contributes to the discussion of charter schools by providing evidence for charter students' performance in Massachusetts for six years of schooling, beginning with the 2005-2006 school year and concluding in 2010-2011.

With the cooperation of the Massachusetts Department of Education, CREDO obtained the historical sets of student-level administrative records. The support of Massachusetts DOE staff was critical to CREDO's understanding of the character and quality of the data received. However, it bears mention that the entirety of interactions with the Department dealt with technical issues related to the data. CREDO has developed the findings and conclusions independently.

This report provides an in-depth examination of the results for charter schools in Massachusetts. It is also an update to CREDO's first analysis of the performance of Massachusetts's charter schools, which can be found on the organization's website.

This report has three main benefits. First, it provides an updated rigorous and independent view of the performance of the state's charter schools. Second, the study design is consistent with CREDO's reports on charter school performance in other locations, making the results amenable to being benchmarked against those nationally and in other states. Third, the study includes a section on charter performance in the Boston area, where much attention has focused.

The analysis presented here takes two forms. We first present the findings about the effects of charter schools on student academic performance. These results are expressed in terms of the academic progress that a typical student in Massachusetts would realize from a year of enrollment in a charter school. The second set of findings is presented at the school level. Because schools are the instruments on which the legislation and public policy works, it is important to understand the range of performance for the schools. These findings look at the performance of students by school and present school average results.

February 2013

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts

Funding California Schools: The Revenue Limit System

Community and Economic Development, Education and Literacy, Government Reform

Funding California Schools: The Revenue Limit System

Analyzes variations in per-student funding across districts under the current school finance system by examining the components used to calculate funds, including adjustments for falling enrollment and small schools. Recommends simplifying adjustments.

March 2010

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Western)-California

Review of Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education

Education and Literacy

Review of Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education

A review of the Brookings Institution report, Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education finds that it relies on a limited body of research, misstates key issues and makes some recommendations not supported by the evidence. The review, by Western Michigan University professor Gary Miron, was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The Brookings report consists of a summary of evidence from five studies of student achievement in oversubscribed charter schools, plus two studies about charter school revenues. It also draws on information from exchanges between the six co-authors at a day-long Brookings conference. It ends with recommendations intended to help shape the federal role in charter school policy.

The evidence presented on student achievement suggests that charter schools are more effective at raising student achievement in popular urban charter schools. The evidence presented on revenues suggests that charter schools are short-changed in terms of the funding they receive.

Miron points out that the five studies of student achievement in oversubscribed charter schools cited in the report, "cannot validly be generalized to less-popular charter schools." Overall, the research on charter student achievement is much less positive. Even more troubling, he finds that the two studies on charter school funding cited in the report are used to justify recommendations that are "poorly developed and based on a narrow and misleading view of the evidence."

Miron criticizes the Brookings report for unquestioningly accepting the assertion by charter advocates that charter schools get some 20% less per pupil in public revenues than traditional public schools. In truth, he explains, "differences in revenues can largely be explained by higher spending by traditional public schools for special education, student support services, transportation, and food services." Moreover, there is great variation within the charter sector. Contrary to the Brookings recommendation, Miron concludes, "Recommendations regarding charter school finance should be targeted at the creation of better state funding formulas that are more sensitive to the diverse programs schools offer and the diverse needs of students that schools serve."

As a result of the shortcomings of its data and analyses, the report's recommendations related to charter school facilities and charter school finance inappropriately support policies intended to expand the number of charter schools in the short run at the expense of policies that will strengthen charter schools in the longer run.

The report is on stronger ground, Miron finds, in three areas: its call for the federal government to support and encourage the collection of more data and for charter school lotteries to be overseen by independent agencies; its proposal to set aside a portion of federal charter school funding for charter school authorizers and to make federal charter school funding contingent on rigorous oversight; and its call for a careful examination of unintended consequences in existing federal regulations on charter schools.

In the end, Miron says, federal policies that will strengthen charter schools in the long run "need to be based on a more representative body of evidence and a process of formulating recommendations that includes more voices and more than a day of conversations."

January 2011

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan

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