A few weeks ago the Boston Globe published a thought-provoking editorial about the need for charters in Massachusetts to retain more students with special education and English language learning needs. As the Globe‘s editorial board puts it in a memorable conclusion, “Charter schools place great value on their independence from bureaucrats and teachers’ unions. In keeping with that value, they shouldn’t depend on district schools to absorb their failures.”
The editorial follows a report that the Massachusetts Teacher Association released earlier this year which found extraordinarily high rates of student attrition at many high-scoring Boston charter schools. That report concluded that based on the number of students who left the charters before graduation, some schools which had been praised as model learning environments for urban students could actually be considered “drop-out factories” under current federal and state guidelines.
As New York decides how to implement its own new charter law’s provision about the recruitment and retention of students in the state’s public charter schools, it would be useful for them to consider the Massachusetts and make student attrition an important factor in deciding whether or not to label charters as successful.