Here at Classroom Struggle, we take a critical view of the charter school approach to improving the quality of K-12 education. While the larger arguments about what kind of education system we want and why our current one is flawed are important, it’s crucial first to have a grasp of the numbers.
In what will be an ongoing effort on this blog, we’re going to collect important statistics on charter schools in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota because much of this information is scattered and difficult to find. We believe that the numbers lend themselves to deep critiques—we’ll get to these in future posts—of the charter school movement, but for now take a look at the data for yourself:
- [Note: All data is from the most recent statistics, and as some data isn’t collected annually or is slow to be released, latest statistics might be from before 2013.]
- Minnesota has 148 charter schools, which enroll 20% of students in the Twin Cities and 6.8% of students in Minnesota. (Sources: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (for the 2nd link, pg. 5))
- Minnesota has one ‘Education Management Organization’-run charter school, meaning it is run by a for-profit organization. (Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)
- According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Minnesota is ranked #1 out of 43 states in terms of favorable charter school policy. (Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (pg. 54))
- Since 2010, the Walton Family Foundation, set up and overseen by the founders of Walmart, have given $1.72 million directly to charter schools in the Twin Cities (this does not include other funding, which is thought to be significant, to local pro-charter school advocacy groups and think tanks). (Source: Charter School Partners)
- 18% of Twin Cities district schools students are designated having ‘special needs’. 12% of Twin Cities charter schools students are designated having ‘special needs’. (Source: TC Daily Planet)
- Charter schools are increasingly more segregated by race than district schools. The number of black students in predominantly black schools has risen to 88% for charter schools and declining to 44% in district schools, and the respective statistics for white students are 73% and 51%, for Hispanic students are 76% and 38%, for Native American students 54% and 38%, and for Asian students 82% and 38%. (Source: Institute for Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota (pg. 6))
- Since 2012, Students First, a national pro-charter school organization founded and run by Michelle Rhee, has spent $112,000 lobbying at Minnesota’s state legislature. (Source: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board)
- Since 2012, MinnCAN, a pro-charter school organization, has spent $136,000 lobbying at Minnesota’s state legislature. (Source: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board)
- In 2013, none of Minnesota’s charter schools had teachers unions. In January of 2014, the Twin Cities German Immersion School, a charter school, voted to unionize. Now, 0.6% of MN charter schools are unionized (Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Star Tribune)
- As of 2011, 12.3% of charter schools are unionized nationally. (Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)
We hope to continue to add to this to create a public database of easy-to-find, accurate information about charter schools in our communities. If you know of good sources of information for Minnesota charter schools, please post them below!