Over the past 20 years, both charter schools and prekindergarten have taken on increasingly prominent roles in the schooling of America’s children. Charter schools in 43 states now serve more than 2.6 million students — roughly six percent of all students attending public schools. And more than two-thirds of four-year-olds attend some form of public or privately funded preschool, with 1.4 million of them enrolled in state-funded pre-k programs.
As separate reforms, charter schools and pre-k produce strong, positive results for high-need children. But what happens if we marry high-performing charter schools with high-quality pre-k? Could the combination of these two reforms produce a result better than the sum of its parts?
For the last three months, the Success Academy charter network has refused to sign a mandatory pre-k contract with the NYC Department of Education. The contract – which every other city pre-k provider already signed – would allow NYC DOE to oversee Success Academy’s five pre-k classes.
Success Academy hasn’t said why they’re not signing the contract. Some critics suggest that the network is trying to avoid program oversight, or is picking a fight with the city, or is just being difficult.
Another standoff between Success Academy and Mayor Bill de Blasio
But I don’t think that’s what’s happening. It’s more likely that Success Academy doesn’t want to be considered a “vendor” to the NYC DOE program – and with good reason. Continue reading →
Charter schools should offer pre-k. Sometimes they can, and sometimes they can’t. One reason they can’t: Policies in ten states privilege existing pre-k providers. When these states allocate pre-k funding, they allocate funding first to providers that are currently serving children, leaving little — if any — funding for charter schools that aren’t existing providers, which many aren’t. So the providers that have the money, keep the money. Continue reading →