Look quickly and you might think that charter schools have it easy, given the celebrated documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” the efforts of reformers like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, and the support of the Obama Administration. That’s why a report out Tuesday is a needed corrective: It demonstrates how government policies regularly discriminate against charters.
Published by Bellwether Education Partners, a reform-minded advocacy group, the report examines the finances of Aspire Public Schools, a network of 30 California charter schools with 9,800 students from kindergarten through high school. With extended school days and years, innovative curricula and other hallmarks of charter autonomy, Aspire ranks as California’s single best school system serving a majority of very poor students. Yet it operates with margins of only 0.6%, or $60 per student, which make it harder to scrape together funds to open new schools.