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STUDY FINDS CHARTER SCHOOLS LOW ON RESOURCES: Unqualified Teachers and Little Federal Funding Plague Charter Schools

A new study finds that the funding crunch that many schools throughout the country are feeling is also affecting our nation’s charter schools. The study found that many charter schools face a dearth of federal funding and have a high percentage of teachers who lack certification. ThePolicy Analysis for California Education (PACE) at Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, analyzed federally produced data on 870 charter schools in the 1999-2000 school year.

According to the report, 48 percent of charter school teachers lack a teacher certificate, compared to 9 percent in regular public schools; charter school teachers instruct 20 percent more students each day than their regular school counterparts; and California charter school teachers make an average $38,000 a year, compared to the state public school average of $52,000.

Charter school quality may disproportionately affect minority students. In charter schools the minority enrollments reach 80 percent, while comparable schools are more integrated with a high of 54 percent minority. In charters that have predominately minority students, 60 percent of teachers lack credentials and two-thirds of students come from poor families. Although 43 percent of these students qualify for subsidized lunches, only about 5 percent of them actually receive subsidized lunches due to low federal assistance to charter schools.

The study has drawn disapproval from charter school advocates such as the Center for Education Reform (CER) and the California Network of Educational Charters. Some believe that the study’s data is flawed, breaks little ground, and does not accurately reflect the current state of charter schools. According to the New York Times, CER argues that traditional state credentials have no connection to quality teaching and that the study ignored achievement gains documented in charter schools.

The report is available at: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/04/08_charter.shtml.

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