The Little Rock School District has compiled an "exit" report, which lists where students who transferred out of the district are attending school this year. The e-STEM and LISA Academy charter schools led the pack, along with unspecified private schools.
Interesting to me: How many students left schools that are known by reputation and test scores as high-performing schools. We already knew from e-STEM that most LR students it enrolled were meeting proficiency standards while in LR schools. Thus, many new charter students left schools that weren't failing and neither were they.
In theory, charter schools were established by the legislature to serve unmet needs and provide alternatives for children in failing schools. That's undoubtedly happened in many cases, but the figures so far would indicate that number may not be in the majority in transfer decisions.
My fondest dream remains a true test of the charter educators. Take the lowest scoring school in Pulaski County. Turn it over to Roy Brooks and Co. There'll be no application process. No parental interviews. The staff will serve the students delivered up to that school by normal assignment rules. To whatever extent charter schools may have more operational flexibility -- and I think this is an oft overstated benefit, save the lack of punishment for failing to meet all certification requirements for teachers -- let them have it. That would be an interesting experiment. KIPP Academy comes closest to this model, by intentionally seeking to serve at-risk demographics -- poor minority students. But KIPP gets an undeniable benefit from a self-selected student body driven by motivated parents who commit to longer school days and weeks and other requirements.
It's the old three-legged stool. Lose one leg -- committed teacher, student or parent -- and you have a wobbly foundation. Have them all and you have something.
UPDATE: Speaking of KIPP, John Brummett's Saturday column lauds the expansion of the KIPP school in Helena-West Helena to other Delta communities.