Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cheer up, it could be worse 

I've complained about Minnesota schools, but at least they're not this bad.
In terms of numbers, charter schools are barely a blip on the Massachusetts radar screen. Of the nearly 1,900 public schools in the state, only 50 are charters. Of the 980,000 children enrolled in public education, only 19,000 - fewer than 2 percent - attend charter schools. The tiny shadow cast by these schools is actually mandated by state law: They are barred from enrolling more than 4 percent of Massachusetts students or from spending more than 9 percent of the education budget in any given school district. And just to make sure they never grow fruitful and multiply, there is a firm ceiling on the number of charter schools permitted statewide - 72 and no more.

But if Massachusetts charter schools are few and small, they are also in great demand. Each one has a waiting list. Some 14,700 students in regular public schools are hoping a spot opens up at a local charter school. Unless Beacon Hill eliminates the caps that keep the number of charter schools so low, the majority of those kids will never see the inside of a charter-school classroom.
Meanwhile, Minnesota continues to lead the nation in charter schools, sometimes with silly ideas and others that work well even when they seem leftish while educating an immigrant population.