Charter Schools Put Parents to the test

Stephanie Simon:

Charter schools pride themselves on asking a lot of their students. Many ask a great deal of parents, too.
Nearly 40 percent of charters nationwide do not participate in the federal subsidized lunch program, often because they don’t have space for a kitchen or don’t want to deal with the paperwork, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.
That can leave low-income parents scrambling to find a way to feed their children. Nearly half of American school kids are eligible for subsidized meals, and more than 90 percent of traditional public schools provide them.
Most states don’t require charter schools to offer transportation, so that’s often up to parents, too.
And then there’s the forced volunteerism. Traditional public schools can and sometimes do ask parents to help out, but they can’t force the issue. Scores of charter schools, however, require parents to work up to 40 hours a year – or forfeit their child’s seat. To meet the mandate, parents might chaperone field trips, keep order at lunch or direct traffic in the parking lot.