What Are the Public Obligations of a Charter School?
I've got to be careful what I write here because I don't want to breach any confidences, but what exactly are the obligations of a charter school to the general population of students that it claims to serve? Can a charter school in Massachusetts pick and choose its students rather than be open to the general population? Can a charter school "wash-out" those students who it finds undesirable or difficult to educate?
Is it ethical for a school that bills itself as a "public school" to suspend and expel students who violate homework policy? Is it ethical for a school that is funded by tax dollars to declare that it is a "college prep" school and toss kids with behavioral and emotional issues "under the bus?"
You might have guessed that I have reasons for asking these questions, and, no, they have nothing to do with my own child (or the poor little schmuck who is in that priceless photo. Heh!) However, as a taxpayer and as a parent in general, there are stories floating around out there about kids who need help rather than the back of the hand that bother the crap out of me.
Are the scenarios I painted above legal? Ethical? Do I fail to grasp the requirements of public education? Do charter schools have a completely different obligation to their students, parents and community than the neighborhood public school?
I like the concept of charter schools (I hate the punitive local funding mechanism), but if Massachusetts law allows charter schools to act like the exclusive private schools and kick kids to the curb for relatively minor issues that your typical public school has to deal with, I think that my endorsement has been misplaced.
UPDATE: Ok, after several days and a few insightful comments I will acknowledge that the language of the above post is far too inflammatory. My intention was to ask blunt questions rather than make subversive accusations. Unfortunately, with a more sober re-reading, my off-the-cuff commentary appears to do both, which diminishes its efficacy. I regret using phrases such as "kicked to the curb" and "under the bus." They create a tone in this post that make it combative rather than intellectually provocative and have understandably ticked-off some readers instead of spurring reasoned discussion.