First published on Schools Matter on March 30, 2016
A brief response to a charter school industry apologist encountered on Professor Ravitch's site:
A threadbare trope of the charter industry (profit and nonprofit alike), is that of “lotteries prevent cherry picking”. Cherry picking, or what we term selective enrollment in more learned circles, is far more easily achieved by attrition. High attrition is facilitated through push out policies (e.g. charter school disciplinary practices, onerous requirements for parents, etc.), through counseling out (a practice used by most Los Angeles charter chains for Students With Disabilities (cf. Office of the Independent Monitor. “Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree and the LAUSD Special Education Policies and Procedures”., Los Angeles: Modified Consent Decree., 2009. Print.)), and a number of other practices. Moreover, students lost (a euphemism) through attrition are generally not replaced with students mid-year (revenue hungry charter operators call this not “backfilling”).
In addition to effectively selecting their student body through attrition (the de facto “cherry picking,” so to speak), charters frequently screen children out during pre-lottery enrollment through difficult to understand applications, and/or applications that require disclosure of information that discourage families from the process to being with. For example, in Los Angeles, so-called 501c3 “non-profit” charters were found to require parents “to indicate if their child had an IEP or received special education services. Of these, about two-thirds (64.77%) requested that a copy of the IEP be provided with the application. Similarly, 34.83% of the applications asked if a student had a 504 plan, with 79.03% of these requesting a copy with the application.” (Office of the Independent Monitor. “Findings of the Review of Charter Applications and Enrollment Forms”., Los Angeles: Report on the Progress and Effectiveness of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Implementation of the Modified Consent Decree During the 2010-2011 School Year., 2011. Print.)