Robin Lake takes a look at special education and school choice. It points up two important issues.
First, the under-serving of special education students is a sector-wide problem and when advocates reduce it to one part of the sector (charters, privates, public magnets) it obscures the real challenges that too many special education parents and students face.
Second, with charters, as the sector grows it will have to address issues like special education in a more systemic way. As Robin notes, there are efforts underway to do that. Contrary to mythology traditional public schools do not serve every special education student on a school-by-school basis. Charters can’t be expected to either. But, when charters reach 25, 30, or 40 percent plus of student enrollment in a jurisdiction the charter sector should be expected to serve an equitable percentage of different kinds of students and authorizers have a crucial role to play here. That’s a complicated conversation though in general and then particularly in today’s hothouse political climate surrounding charters.