November 25, 2015
By Sara Mead
Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton told a South Carolina audience that "most charter schools ... don't take the hardest-to-teach kids," accelerating an already heated public debate about charter school discipline policies and the role of charters in education reform. Unfortunately, much of the media coverage has focused on the political horse-race dynamics at play here: In the ongoing intraDemocratic debate over education, do Clinton's comments mean she's taking the side of teachers unions who have opposed charter schools over that of education reformers who have supported them? There's been far less honest analysis of the accuracy of Clinton's comments.
Yet, to see hard data on whether charters are serving all students, Clinton – and the reporters covering her campaign – don't have to look far beyond the White House she once called home and is now seeking to occupy again. Last week, the District of Columbia released its annual school equity reports, which provide transparent information on the race, ethnicity, economic status, special education status, discipline and mobility rates for students in all District public schools – both traditional and charter. The results call into question the idea that charters don't serve all students.
First, charter schools in Washington actually serve a higher percentage of low-income and racial and ethnic minority students than the city's schools as a whole. In 2015, 78.6 percent of charter school students come from economically disadvantaged families, compared to 74 percent of students citywide; 91.8 percent of charter students in Washington are African-American or Latino, compared to 87.3 percent of students citywide.
Read the full article at U.S. News & World Report: Clinton's Baseless Charter School Claim