New Study Reveals Phantom Charter Students as well as Students Who “Roll Over” Year to Year
There has been much written about the size of charter school waitlists. At one point we were told by the pro-charter folks that the number of students on the charter school waitlist was in the mid-50,000 range. Then we learned that that that estimate included ghost students, duplicates and triplicates, and students– like Charlie on the MTA –who got on the list and never got off. Turns out there are a lot of Charlies. See the following excerpts from a new, groundbreaking report from Citizens for Public Schools following:
“Charter school promoters are making vastly exaggerated claims about students “trapped on waiting lists” in their campaign to lift the cap on charter schools, a Citizens for Public Schools analysis shows. Charter school promoters say the waitlists show high demand for charter seats that cannot be met without lifting the caps on how much public funding can be diverted from district schools to charter schools.
“But a CPS analysis of state data suggests the number affected by the cap is less than 15,000, probably thousands less. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) confusing and opaque reporting system makes it impossible to be precise, but CPS found:
- The waitlist count includes schools that are not Commonwealth charter schools and would not be affected if the cap were lifted.
- Of the students on waitlists for Commonwealth charter schools, many were taken from old lists, rolled over from past years with permission from DESE, even after state Auditor Suzanne Bump warned DESE against this practice.
- For most of the students on waitlists, the charter cap has nothing to do with why they were not offered seats. Lifting the cap would not affect them.
“…This year, the number of Boston students on district school waitlists is comparable to the number on Commonwealth charter school waitlists…”
The BPS, by the way, has an extensive wait list of students, too, waiting for their first choice. The list totals nearly 21,000 students, who, as of now didn’t get one of their first three choices for the current school year.
Counting real, unique students — unlike the charter methodology — there are no less than 7,000 BPS students on a wait list for their top choice, and considering that some of these students are not on three separate wait lists (it is impossible to know this exact number) there are probably closer to 10,000 unique BPS students on a wait list for their first choice.