August 11, 2021

Shawgi Tell: Idaho’s Segregated Charter Schools

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Shawgi Tell is the author of Charter School Report Card. Here he talks about the true state of Idaho charter schools.

The crisis-prone charter school sector has been highly segregated for three decades. No amount of charter school disinformation has been able to conceal this harsh reality.

Non-profit and for-profit charter schools are notorious for selective enrollment practices even though they are said to be “public” schools “open to all.” Many have been investigated for discriminatory enrollment practices. Indeed, numerous charter schools oppose efforts to diversify their student body. This cherry-picking of students is also how numerous charter schools secure students that score well on educationally unsound tests produced by large corporations. Such a set-up allows privately-operated charter schools to claim they are “high-performing” while simultaneously demonizing and scapegoating public schools.

On August 5, 2021, Idaho Ed News reported that Idaho’s charter schools “underserve the state’s minority and poor populations.” As in other states with charter schools, Idaho’s charter schools also underserve English Language Learners and students with special needs.

Idaho’s charter schools also come up short in other critical areas. For example, “At least 12 charters haven’t provided federal free- and reduced-price meals in recent years. Others have opted out of busing services, making it harder for kids who can’t get to school on their own to enroll.” The refusal to provide transportation to a school that is supposedly “public” and “open to all” is common in many charter schools across the country.

It is also worth noting that “Idaho charters also consistently rank among the state’s lowest performing schools”

About 23,000 students are currently enrolled in 62 charter schools in Idaho.  These privately-operated schools run by unelected individuals deprive public schools of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The state does not cap the number of charters that operate within its borders. Idaho established its charter school law in 1996.

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