Recent editorials have promoted charter schools as a solution to bridging the achievement gap and overcrowding in Fairfax County Public Schools. Unfortunately, this suggestion reflects a lack of understanding of our schools, the students we serve and the academic growth that has been achieved over the past four years.
Nationally charter schools have not been the panacea that some suggest. The failure rate for charter schools and the subsequent impact on students poses a great risk for students in Mount Vernon and the County. Between 2001 and 2013, 2500 charter schools were authorized and either failed to open or closed. Over 288,000 students were impacted by the closures nation wide. Locally, Washington D.C. saw 26 charter schools shutter programs and campuses between 2012 and 2018. Of these, 18 closed due to academics and 8 due to financial deficiencies.
According to a 2014 Tulane University study, the risk of disrupted school education caused by a charter school closure is 2 ½ time that of a public school student. Closures impact the dislocated students tremendously including decreasing the chance of graduating from high school by 10%.
The 2016 GradNation Report showed that on average charter schools have an on-time graduation rate of 70%, with 30% of all charter schools graduating less than 67% of their carefully selected students. Fairfax County Public Schools graduates 91.5%. of its students on time.
A University of Illinois study identified school closures as a contributing factor to high rates of youth incarceration. At a time, when the current School Board has focused on stopping the school to prison pipeline by adopting a new School Resource Officer MOU and changing our discipline policy to focus on partnering with parents, changing behaviors and keeping kids in school, introducing a high risk policy such as charter schools would undermine the progress we are making.
A fundamental difference between charter schools and public schools is that here in Fairfax County Public Schools we educate all children that come to our doors. Charter schools select the students they want to educate and those that they choose to show the door. Statistically, charter schools have not demonstrated a greater success in closing the achievement gap than public schools. The most recent reports from Ohio demonstrated that although charters make up 10% of the schools in Ohio, close to 40% of the schools that received F grades for closing the achievement gap were Charter schools.
Here in the Mount Vernon Magisterial District, our school staff are focused on ensuring that each child is able to achieve their potential. Achievement gaps continue to be a challenge here, across the county, the state and the country. However, progress has been made over the past 3 years because of our targeted interventions and supports under the Project Momentum program. Preliminary results show improvements have exceeded 10% at a number of schools in multiple categories including:
Now is the time to stay the course, and focus on providing our students the world class education that they deserve.
Karen's campaign is a community effort. Karen Corbett Sanders is here to represent you and your Mount Vernon family at the county level.
Did you know that whenever Karen meets students from Kindergarten up that she always introduces herself the same way? She invariably tells constituents, young and old, "I work for you." You should see the wide eyes of the elementary school students when they hear that!
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