Charter Schools Cherry Pick Students & Call it Choice – PART 1: The “I Didn’t Do It!” Excuse

Screen Shot 2019-10-18 at 2.22.17 PM



It takes a certain kind of hypocrite to be a charter school champion.




You have to deny any wrongdoing one minute. And then admit you’re guilty but explain it away with the excuse “Everyone’s doing it!” the next.

Take cherry picking – one of the most common admonishments leveled against the school privatization industry.

Detractors claim that charter schools keep enrollment low and then out of those who apply, they pick and choose which students to accept.

Charters are run by private enterprise but funded with public tax dollars. So they are supposed to accept all comers just like the authentic public schools in the same neighborhoods.




But charter schools don’t have to follow the same rules as authentic public schools. They pretty much just have to abide by whatever was agreed upon in their charter contracts. Even then states rarely check up on them to make sure they’re in compliance.




So critics say many of these institutions are circumventing enrollment procedures. They’re welcoming the easiest kids to teach and dissuading others from enrolling – even to the extent of kicking out hard to teach children or pretending that an “unbiased” selection process just so happened to pick only the most motivated students.




Charter school supporters usually respond to this critique in one of two ways.




(1) Cherry picking!? How dare you!? We don’t cherry pick students! The demand to get in to our schools is so great that we put all the names in a hat and let chance decide!








(2) Cherry picking!? Why of course we cherry pick students! But so do the public schools with their discipline policies and magnet schools!

You’d think these folks would suffer from some cognitive dissonance. Imagine if the Oscar Mayer company claimed that their hot dogs don’t contain any rat feces only to backtrack a minute later saying that their wieners have no more rat feces than the leading competitor’s franks.

And make no mistake – the charter school response is very much like a hot dog company’s damage control – a corporate press release written by various billionaire-funded think tanks to protect the industry’s market share.




It’s like a spoiled child saying, “I didn’t do it! And even if I did do it, there’s nothing wrong with it!”




Thankfully, there are these pesky things called facts that show both responses to be… well.. baloney!


Let’s take a look at each and examine why they’re wrong.





In Part 1, we’ll focus on the first excuse that charters don’t cherry pick students. In Part 2, we’ll look at the excuse that it’s okay for charters to cherry pick students because the authentic public schools do the same.









Short answer: There is plenty of evidence that shows you did.





Long Answer:


Selecting the students you want to teach instead of families selecting the school they want their kids to attend is sometimes called cherry picking or creaming, and it comes in at least three varieties.





(1) Charter schools do things to encourage only the most motivated families to apply and discourage anyone else. This can involve long applications that may deter uneducated, non English-speaking and/or immigrant parents.





(2) Charter schools literally handpick students with higher test scores and sterling academic records.





(3) Charter schools “counsel out” or expel difficult students during the school year.










The international news organization Reuters found evidence of the first type to be widespread at U.S. charter schools.





Reuters documented the following:





  • “Applications that are made available just a few hours a year.




  • Lengthy application forms, often printed only in English, that require student and parent essays, report cards, test scores, disciplinary records, teacher recommendations and medical records.



  • Demands that students present Social Security cards and birth certificates for their applications to be considered, even though such documents cannot be required under federal law.



  • Mandatory family interviews.



  • Assessment exams.



  • Academic prerequisites.



  • Requirements that applicants document any disabilities or special needs. The U.S. Department of Education considers this practice illegal on the college level but has not addressed the issue for K-12 schools.”





For a specific example, take a look at the online application form for 2016-17 at Roseland Accelerated Middle School, a charter school in Santa Rosa, California.





Applicants must fill out several dozen pages before a student is accepted, according to the website.





Students must write five essays that are each two pages in length using complete sentences covering a variety of topics including family background. One essay even asks applicants to write an essay beginning with “The qualities and strengths that I will bring to school are… .”





But that’s not all. Parents have to write seven small essays of their own and fill out their child’s medical history including medications the child takes (which some critics say violates federal privacy law).





Finally, students must write a minimum three-page autobiography, typed, double spaced and “well constructed with varied structure.”





This is all required BEFORE applicants are accepted to the school – a taxpayer funded school, by the way, that is supposed to accept everyone who applies unless too many enroll. Then the school is supposed to use a lottery to determine who gets in.
Funny how the lottery winners always seem to be those with the best essays and the lowest academic, psychological or medical needs.





Of course, that’s just one school.





The Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with Public Advocates looked at the application policies of 1,000 of the state’s 1,200 charter schools.





A quarter of them (including Roseland) had policies in violation of state law that could exclude some types of students. In particular, these charters are selecting against children from families with lower incomes or poorer English skills by requiring parents to volunteer, demanding students’ academic histories and/or failing to provide services for special-education students.





It should be obvious why this is unfair.





No family should have to do more to apply for a K-12 school than would be expected at a private college or university. We should not allow schools that are funded with public tax dollars to select against low-income students and families or foster children. No family should be forced to disclose their child’s medical histories as a prerequisite for enrollment so that school administrators could decide if asthma or a leukemia diagnosis makes the child a bad academic bet. No family should have to divulge members’ immigration status, religion or culture to apply to a school. Frankly, this is not the school’s business. No parent should have to volunteer on campus. Low income parents work two or more jobs, have younger children at home or just don’t have the time. And when you require parents to write essays, too, you’re really just trying to gauge family literacy and the ease of educating the student applicant.










The good thing about the first type of selective enrollment is that you can see it on school applications which are free and open to the public.





The problem with proving the other two types of cherry picking is the lack of transparency at most charter schools.





Charter schools are notoriously tight lipped about what happens behind their closed doors. Unlike authentic public schools that have several monthly open meetings, open documents, and frequent state audits, charter schools don’t have to share hardly any of this with the public – even though we pay for their school.





The public is not allowed into the room where charter operators pick and choose students because of test scores or academics. Nor are many people allowed into private meetings with students and parents where children are highly encouraged to seek their education elsewhere or even given the boot.


However, there have been numerous studies that show this happens.





To be fair, there are competing studies that show it doesn’t happen. However, those studies are often paid for by the very industry under investigation. Their funding is predicated on finding a certain result and – GASP! – that’s what they usually end up finding.





It’s like the National Apple Institute funding a study that concludes “Pears suck.” It’s not a real study. It’s an advertisement.





The studies that DO show evidence of the second and third type of cherry picking, though, are independent and peer reviewed.





Here are a few results:




-Vasquez Heilig, J., Williams, A., McNeil, L & Lee, C. (2011). Is choice a panacea? An analysis of black secondary student attrition from KIPP, other private charters and urban districts. Berkeley Review of Education, 2(2), 153-178.

This paper concludes that charter school dropout rates – especially for black children – are much higher than at authentic public schools in Texas. In particular, KIPP charter schools claim that 88-90% of their students go on to college. The evidence does not support this claim. In fact, even though KIPP does spend 30-60% more per student, it still has a higher dropout rate and a higher rate for students transferring to other schools. Moreover, Texas charter schools were found to serve fewer black children than authentic public schools.




-Vasquez Heilig, J., LeClair, A. V., Redd, L., & Ward, D. (in press). Separate and Unequal?: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations in Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools. Stanford Law & Policy Review, XX(X), XXX-XXX.

An analysis of charter schools in large metropolitan areas finds that authentic public schools have much greater rates of high needs students than charter schools in the same areas.



-Frankenberg, E., Siegel-Hawley, G., & Wang, J. (2011, January). Choice without equity: Charter school segregation. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 19(1). Retrieved from

An examination of charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia found widespread evidence that charter schools are much more segregated by race and class than authentic public schools.





In particular:





“This analysis of recent data [2007-08] finds that charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation.  In some regions, white students are over-represented in charter schools while in other charter schools, minority students have little exposure to white students.  Data about the extent to which charter schools serve low-income and English learner students is incomplete, but suggest that a substantial share of charter schools may not enroll such students.”




-Garcia, D. R. (2008). Academic and racial segregation in charter schools: Do parents sort students into specialized charter schools? Education and Urban Society, 40(5), 590- 612. doi: 10.1177/0013124508316044





This study found little evidence that charter schools were more segregated because of parental choice. “…parents enroll their students into charter schools with at least the same degree of academic integration as the district schools that students exited.” The segregation found at charter schools is due to some other source.




-Lacireno-Paquet, N., Holyoke, T. T., Moser, M., & Henig, J. R. (2002). Creaming versus cropping: Charter school enrollment practices in response to market incentives. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 145-158. doi: 10.3102/01623737024002145

School choice makes disparities of race and class worse – not better – by selecting the easiest to teach in enrollment.





In particular:





“…competition for students will pressure individual schools into targeting students with the highest performance and the least encumbered with personal and social disadvantages. We suggest that some charter schools, by background and affiliation, are likely to be more market-oriented in their behavior than others, and test the proposition that market-oriented charter schools engage in cream-skimming…”





Market-based charter schools are not serving high needs students. They are “…skimming the cream off the top of the potential student population, [and] market-oriented charter schools may be “cropping off” service to students whose language or special education needs make them more costly to educate.”




Positioning Charter Schools in Los Angeles: Diversity of Form and Homogeneity of Effects. Douglas Lee Lauen, Bruce Fuller and Luke Dauter American Journal of Education Vol. 121, No. 2 (February 2015), pp. 213-239





This study finds:





“Charter school students were less likely to be Black, Latino, LEP, special education, and low income and were more likely to be White, academically gifted, high achieving, and have more highly educated parents. For example, about 12 percent of the parents of traditional public school students attained a college degree or higher, compared with 35 percent of the parents of charter school students.”





Researchers also concluded that despite serving more advantaged students, Los Angeles charter schools did not have much effect on student test scores.





In fact:





“We report no statistically significant positive effects of attending a charter school on achievement growth. For the first three cohorts studied, charter school effects on test score growth were negative and significant. For the last cohort studied, the effect was negative, but not statistically significant.”




-Government Accountability Office. (2012). Charter schools: Additional federal attention needed to help protect access for students with disabilities. Washington, DC: Author.





This study found that charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional public schools.





In particular:





“In school year 2009-2010, which was the most recent data available at the time of our review, approximately 11 percent of students enrolled in traditional public schools were students with disabilities compared to about 8 percent of students enrolled in charter schools.


“GAO also found that, relative to traditional public schools, the proportion of charter schools that enrolled high percentages of students with disabilities was lower overall. Specifically, students with disabilities represented 8 to 12 percent of all students at 23 percent of charter schools compared to 34 percent of traditional public schools.”





Researchers could not prove a reason for this discrepancy but they did consider that “…some charter schools may be discouraging students with disabilities from enrolling.”




-Jabbar,  H. (2015). Every Kid is Money: Market-like competition and school leader strategies in New Orleans. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.


“This study examines how choice creates school-level actions using qualitative data from 30 schools in New Orleans. Findings suggest that school leaders did experience market pressures… [and some] …engaged in marketing or cream skimming.”




-Hirji, R. (2014). Are Charter Schools Upholding Student Rights? American Bar Association. Available online at





The study concluded:





“The structures that allow charter schools to exist are marked by the absence of protections that are traditionally guaranteed by public education, protections that only become apparent and necessary when families and students begin to face a denial of what they were initially promised to be their right. [Charter operators] may encourage charter schools to push certain students out and make it easier to deny them the benefits of a publicly supported education.  The perception that charter schools are open to all students is being called into question by increasing evidence that children who are disadvantaged by a disability, poverty, or being a member of a minority group, or who have been accused of an offense, may not have the same access to charter schools as those [who] are not.”



-Taylor, J., Cregor, M., & Lane, P. (2014). Not Measuring Up: Massachusetts’ Students of Color and Students with Disabilities Receive Disproportionate Discipline, Especially in Charter Schools. Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Available at:





“…A significant number of charter schools, particularly those in the Boston area, had high discipline rates. Roxbury Preparatory Charter suspended 6 out of every 10 students out-of-school at least once… all for non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug offenses– for each suspended student.”




Civil Rights complaints and documents from the Katrina Truth (Education) page may be accessed here:





“Accountability for what’s happening in New Orleans schools has been sorely lacking. While 92% of students are now enrolled in charters, many charter schools have failed to accommodate students with disabilities or limited English proficiency, violating federal law and prompting civil rights complaints to federal agencies. Making matters worse, students enrolled in New Orleans charters are subject to harsher charter-specific discipline policies aimed at pushing out even more students. Suspension rates at New Orleans charters, especially for out-of-school suspensions, are among some of the worst in the nation, with several schools above Louisiana’s already high statewide average and a select group at “rates of 40, 50, 60% and more each year.”





There is much more in comprehensive reports like Pushed Out: Harsh Discipline in Louisiana Schools Denies The Right to Education.





-Henig, J. R., & MacDonald, J. A. (2002). Locational decisions of charter schools: Probing the market metaphor. Social Science Quarterly, 83(4), 962–980. doi:10.1111/1540-6237.00126

The study examined why charters chose to locate in the District of Columbia (D.C.).





Researchers concluded:





“Charters are more likely to locate in areas with high proportions of African–American and Hispanic residents than in the predominantly white neighborhoods, and more likely to locate in neighborhoods with middle incomes and high home ownership than in either poor or wealthy areas of the city. This is especially true of those operated by for–profits…”




-Jennings, J. (2010). School choice or schools’ choice?: Managing in an era of accountability. Sociology of Education, 83(3), 227–247.


Looking at New York City charter high schools, researchers concluded:





“Although district policy did not allow principals to select students based on their performance, two of the three schools in this study circumvented these rules to recruit and retain a population that would meet local accountability targets.”




-Corcoran, S. & Jennings, 2015. The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment. 2015. NCSPE.


“Though many studies have investigated the extent to which the racial, socioeconomic, and academic composition of charter schools differs from traditional schools, no studies have examined whether charters enroll and/or retain a higher fraction of girls.



“…Analyzing enrollment data for all charter and public schools from 1999-00 through 2006-07, we find that charters enroll a significantly higher fraction of girls, an imbalance that is largest in the secondary grades, and has grown steadily each year.”


“…While attrition from charter schools is higher in all grades than from traditional schools, we find that boys are only slightly more likely to exit charter schools once enrolled. This suggests that much of the gender enrollment gap occurs at intake.”








This really just scratches the surface. There are hundreds of more peer-reviewed studies and reputable news articles documenting that the second and third type of cherry picking takes place at many charter schools.





This is a problem even for charters that don’t engage in this practice because the laws governing the industry allow for selective enrollment.





Even charters that don’t cherry pick today could do so tomorrow and there’s nothing we could do about it.





Allowing schools that are publicly financed the freedom to pick whichever students they want to educate is like giving a match to an unsupervised child. It’s only a matter of time before something catches on fire.





In Part 2, we’ll examine the second excuse charter school advocates proclaim when confronted with the evidence above. Namely, that cherry picking students is okay since the authentic public schools do it, too.




NOTE: This article owes a debt to the research of Julian Vasquez Heilig whose Cloaking Inequality Website is an essential resource in the fight for equity in our schools.


Like this post? I’ve written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!


33 thoughts on “Charter Schools Cherry Pick Students & Call it Choice – PART 1: The “I Didn’t Do It!” Excuse

    • Lloyd, you’re the second person to point this out in less than an hour! And I was thinking the same thing when I wrote it! I thought I was being so mature not saying anything. Oh well. Cat’s out of the bag now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yo! Stevo! Look I didn’t read the entire thing because I’m confused. You should be happy that they cherry pick students. That means the kids that don’t get in can attend one of the fabulous public schools you champion. But I get it. You want the charters gone all together. They take public money so they meen to follow the public school rules. Why don’t they? Does the government demand that they follow the same public school enrollment standards? If not then you shouldn’t villainize their enrollment practice. They aren’t public schools. That’s the whole point. I’m glad they cherry pick and prefer students from families that are more serious about education. It makes for a better learning environment. You should write about that. You should take your bullhorn into the inner city and tell them that they matter and that their community matters and that even though they are economically challenged they can still make a difference and that their personal choices make all the difference in making a change in their community. That’s what will make the public schools better. When parents start taking the lives and future of their children seriously. So many have bought into the delusional that more government spending is gonna fix that but after decades and billions of dollars wasted on failing programs we have seen very little progress. It’s not a money issue. It’s a morality issue. I’m particularly addressing the inner city schools because of the economic challenges they face and we tend to think that upper middle class neighborhood schools are better. They are. But not simply because they have more funding but because there is more stability. Fewer broken homes. Fewer unwed mother. Fewer single parents, etc. Continue your onslaught against charter schools but don’t be deceived. More money won’t fix what’s broken and neither will eliminating charter schools.


    • Mark says, “More money won’t fix what’s broken and neither will eliminating charter schools.”

      True, but it is a GREAT place to start. Next step, learn from Finland and let the professional, highly educated teachers make the decisions from the bottom up.

      FIRST: adequality fund public schools.

      SECOND: stop funding the private sector charter schools with public money

      THIRD: Let the teachers teach without top-down mandates from idiots that know nothing about what it takes to teach a child.

      FOURTH: stop all high stakes, rank and punish tests. Let teachers use their own tests to help them improve how and what they teach and do not use the results of those teacher made tests beyond the classroom.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, Lloyd. (No insults this time, wink wink) That sounds great but where is this money going to come from? I graduated in 1987 and Los Angeles Unified didn’t have enough money even then. Every class was over crowded, not enough books, gang fights, teachers assaulting teachers. Not much has changed. The gangs are not prevalent anymore but somebody has to tell the politicians to spend the money designated for schools ON THE SCHOOLS. I vote but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference. They just replace one guy for another just like him. Charter schools weren’t the problem in the 80s. It was and still seems to be incompetent people at the top that don’t care about our kids.


      • Mark, why is it that the only time anyone asks “where is the money going to come from” is when that money is for public education or healthcare?

        Have you ever asked “where is the money going to come from” for the endless wars the United States has been fighting since the end of WWII and to fund the largest defense budget in the world? There is no dedicated revenue source for funding those wars.

        If the U.S. Kleptocratic Empire stopped pretending to use its military as the world’s police force, and cut defense spending to be only twice what China spends on its military annually, then there would be more than enough money to adequately fund health care for all.

        As for adequate funding for public education:

        Revenue and taxes at the state level pay for more than 90-percent of the costs of public education on a state-by-state basis. What would it take for a state to come up with a revenue source that would adequately fund that state’s public schools – a higher tax rate for state citizens that earn more than $250k annually, add an additional 1-percent to the state sales tax, and look at other revenue streams and see what adding’ a fraction of a percent to each would raise to adequately fund the public schools?

        In fact, if professional, highly educated public school teachers were paid what they are worth, most of them would spend that money and it would help generate other jobs in every community across the country.

        What teachers are paid recycles through the economy creating other jobs and profiting the businesses they shop at.


      • I’m only goimg to adress one thing. We ARE the world’s police, like it or not. This is a simple fact. One of the worlds superpowers are going to jump into that role. The world isn’t this nice place where everyone is going to do what they’re supposed to do. Bad thing happened all the time but lot of wicked things don’t go down in that world just because they know the U.S. will poke it head in the door and ask “What’s going on here?”. I’m suprised that a Marine questions this. Take your pick, Lloyd. Russia? China? Maybe you prefer the E.U. to the U.S.. Personality, I’d like us to stay in the unofficial role of World Police because as imperfect as we are I trust us more than the alternatives. And I don’t wanna here about what bad stuff the U.S. has done. Every nation does bad things according to their ability. America has done much more good in the world than bad. So I don’t oppose military spending and growth considering that there are wolves at the door and at those of our allies waiting for us to downsize. So where is the money going to come from, Lloyd? We have it. It just needs to come from somewhere else.
        And “Empire” Lloyd? It’s hard to take you seriously when you start throwing those words around.


      • You’re the ignorant one, Lloyd. You really believe that if the United States doesn’t police the world that someone else won’t do it. You really believe that. And you sincerely believe I’m ignorant on the issue. I know you do. You probably think I’m a fool. Look in the mirror. I’ll tell you a secret, Lloyd. You can make a study that supports whatever idea you want it to support. But you already know that. That’s why I don’t put my faith in studies. There’s always more to consider than just poverty. I hate to say it but you’re really naive about poverty in the inner city. I don’t care how poor you used to be, you’re out of touch. I meet people like you almost everyday it’s unfortunate that you know so much and so little at the same time. But it’s the burden that elitist academics like yourself have to bear. You don’t really want to know the truth. You only want to feel good about your efforts and get a pat on the back. If you really wanted to help you’d stop relying on your silly studies and actually update your knowledge base on what’s really happening in these inner cities by spending some time there with these families and seeing with your own eyes. But academics usually have blinders on and can’t see the forest for the trees. You can’t school me, Lloyd. But good luck making progress with your study info.


      • Here is a sample history of the U.S. policing the world after WWII, and the world never had a choice.

        Definition for “policing”:

        the maintenance of law and order by a police force
        The enforcement of regulations or an agreement.

        I claim that the United States has failed repeatedly to achieve those goals around the world, not even once. Every attempt has been a failure and it has cost the United States trillions of dollars to be the failed world police.

        >>>>Korean War and the United States didn’t fight this war alone. There were 17 countries including the U.S.

        This war lasted 3 years, 1 month and 2 days.

        Total dead and missing: 178,405 dead and 32,925 missing (162,394 South Koreans, 44,499 Americans, 3,867 others)
        Total wounded: 566,434

        Total dead and missing: 398,000–589,000 dead and 145,000+ missing (335,000-526,000 North Koreans, 208,729 Chinese, 299 others)
        Total wounded: 686,500

        Total civilians killed: 2–3 million (est.)[43][44]
        South Korea: 990,968 killed/wounded
        373,599 killed[17]
        229,625 wounded[17]
        387,744 abducted/missing[17]
        North Korea: 1,550,000 killed/wounded (est.)[17]

        The result: After all those killed and wounded, North Korea is still ruled by a brutal dictator from the same family and our Great Leader Donald Trump admires him while Kim continues to build missiles and nuclear weapons and threatens the U.S., South Korea and Japan every chance he gets.

        If the U.S. had really policed Korea, there would be no North Korea.

        >>>>The Vietnam War lasted 19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day, and I fought in that one in 1966 as a U.S. Marine. What a total waste of money and people that U.S. policing effort was.

        Casualties and Losses:

        North Vietnam & Viet Cong
        65,000–182,000 civilian dead[29][30][31]
        849,018 military dead (per Vietnam; 1/3 non-combat deaths)[32][33][34]
        666,000–950,765 dead
        (US estimated 1964–74)[A 2][29][35]
        600,000+ wounded[36]
        Khmer Rouge Unknown
        Laos Pathet Lao Unknown
        China ~1,100 dead and 4,200 wounded[16]
        Soviet Union 16 dead[37]
        North Korea 14 dead[38]

        Total military dead:
        Total military wounded:
        (excluding GRUNK and Pathet Lao)

        South Vietnam
        195,000–430,000 civilian dead[29][30][39]
        254,256–313,000 military dead[40][41]
        1,170,000 wounded[42]
        United States
        58,318 dead[43] (1/5 non-combat deaths)[44]
        303,644 wounded (including 150,341 not requiring hospital care)[A 3]
        Laos 15,000 army dead[50]
        Khmer Republic Unknown
        South Korea 5,099 dead; 10,962 wounded; 4 missing
        Australia 521 dead; 3,129 wounded[51]
        Thailand 351 dead[52]
        New Zealand 37 dead[53]
        Taiwan 25 dead[54]
        Philippines 9 dead;[55] 64 wounded[56]

        Total military dead:
        Total wounded:
        (excluding FARK and FANK)

        Vietnamese civilian dead: 627,000–2,000,000[30][57][58]
        Vietnamese total dead: 966,000[29]–3,812,000[59]
        Cambodian Civil War dead: 275,000–310,000[60][61][62]
        Laotian Civil War dead: 20,000–62,000[59]
        Non-Indochinese military dead: 65,494
        Total dead: 1,326,494–4,249,494

        And after all those casualties and deaths, the North Vietnamese Communists that the U.S. fought still rule that country. The United States failed again to police that pat of the world.

        >>>The Iraq War lasted 8 years and 8 or 9 months.

        Casualties and Losses:

        Iraqi security forces (post-Saddam)
        Killed: 17,690[23]
        Wounded: 40,000+[24]
        Coalition forces
        Killed: 4,815[25][26] (4,496 U.S.,[27] 179 UK,[28] 139 other)[25]
        Missing/captured (U.S.): 17 (8 rescued, 9 died in captivity)[29]
        Wounded: 32,776+ (32,252 U.S.,[27] 315 UK, 212+ other[30])[31][32][33][34] Injured/diseases/other medical*: 51,139 (47,541 U.S.,[35] 3,598 UK)[31][33][34]
        Killed: 1,554[36][37]
        Wounded & injured: 43,880[36][37]
        Awakening Councils
        Killed: 1,002+[38]
        Wounded: 500+ (2007),[39] 828 (2008)[40]
        Total dead: 25,285 (+12,000 policemen killed 2003–2005)
        Total wounded: 117,961

        Iraqi combatant dead (invasion period): 7,600–10,800[41][42]
        Insurgents (post-Saddam)
        Killed: 26,544 (2003–11)[43]
        (4,000 foreign fighters killed by Sep. 2006)[44]
        Detainees: 12,000 (Iraqi-held, in 2010 only)[45]
        119,752 insurgents arrested (2003–2007)[46]
        Total dead: 34,144–37,344

        Estimated deaths:
        Lancet survey** (March 2003 – July 2006): 654,965 (95% CI: 392,979–942,636)[47][48]
        Iraq Family Health Survey*** (March 2003 – July 2006): 151,000 (95% CI: 104,000–223,000)[49]
        PLOS Medicine Study**: (March 2003 – June 2011): 405,000 (95% CI: 48,000–751,000), in addition to 55,000 deaths missed due to emigration[50]

        Documented deaths from violence:
        Iraq Body Count (2003 – 14 December 2011): 103,160–113,728 civilian deaths recorded,[51] and 12,438 new deaths added from the Iraq War Logs[52]
        Associated Press (March 2003 – April 2009

        The Result: Iran is still there, next door to Iraq, threatening the entire Middle East and thanks to our Great leader, Donald Trump, Iran might have nuclear weapons soon. You know, the same type of weapon Donald Trump wanted to use on a hurricane to see if that would stop it.

        >>>Afghanistan War: a war that is still active after more than 18 years.

        Casualties and losses:

        Afghan security forces:
        62,000+ killed[35][36][37]
        Northern Alliance:
        200 killed[38][39][40][41][42]
        Dead: 3,561
        (United States: 2,419, United Kingdom: 456,[43] Canada: 159, France: 89, Germany: 57, Italy: 53, Others: 321)[citation needed]
        Wounded: 22,773 (United States: 19,950, United Kingdom: 2,188, Canada: 635)[44][45][46]
        Dead: 3,937[47][48]
        Wounded: 15,000+[47][48]
        Total killed: 69,698+ killed[35]

        Taliban: 60,000–65,000+ killed[35][26][49][50][37]
        al-Qaeda: 2,000+ killed[31]
        ISIL–KP: 2,400+ killed[51]
        Civilians killed: 38,480+ killed[52][53]

        The Result: the Taliban are still there blowing up people

        >>>Syrian Civil War:

        The major parties supporting the Syrian Government are Iran,[155] Russia[151] and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

        Syrian rebel groups received political, logistic and military support from the United States,[156][157] Turkey,[158] Saudi Arabia,[159] Qatar,[160] Britain, France,[161] Israel and the Netherlands.[162][163] Under the aegis of operation Timber Sycamore and other clandestine activities, CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have trained and armed nearly 10,000 rebel fighters at a cost of $1 billion a year since 2012.[164][165]

        The Result: Our Glorious Leader Donald Trump pulled our troops out of Syria recently on Putin’s birthday, giving that country to Russia and Iran. Was that a birthday gift from President Trump to Putin?

        Human toll:

        3.8 million have been made refugees.[202] As of 2013, 1 in 3 of Syrian refugees (about 667,000 people) sought safety in Lebanon (normally 4.8 million population).[212] Others have fled to Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Turkey has accepted 1,700,000 (2015) Syrian refugees, half of whom are spread around cities and a dozen camps placed under the direct authority of the Turkish Government. Satellite images confirmed that the first Syrian camps appeared in Turkey in July 2011, shortly after the towns of Deraa, Homs, and Hama were besieged.[213] In September 2014, the UN stated that the number of Syrian refugees had exceeded 3 million.[214] According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Sunnis are leaving for Lebanon and undermining Hezbollah’s status. The Syrian refugee crisis has caused the “Jordan is Palestine” threat to be diminished due to the onslaught of new refugees in Jordan. Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham claims more than 450,000 Syrian Christians have been displaced by the conflict.[215] As of September 2016, the European Union has reported that there are 13.5 million refugees in need of assistance in the country.[216] Australia is being appealed to rescue more than 60 women and children stuck in Syria’s Al-Hawl camp ahead of a potential Turkey invasion.

        And this is only a sample of the results of the United States “policing” the world.

        I still think Mark is willfully ignorant based on his confirmation bias, but that is just my opinion.


      • You ignore the reason we left Vietnam. We should have stayed and finished. All those casualties and we didn’t finish the job. It dishonors those who list their lives. The baby boomers were fools. You ignore the prosperity of South Korea because we fought. We had really nothing to gain by helping the Koreans. You’d let the Hitters of tge world run wild so you can claim the moral high ground? Don’t use the civilian and soldier casualties to make a fool’s point. The world isn’t a nice place. Bad things happen all the time. We don’t dissolve the police departments of this country because they are flawed. That’s what you’re suggesting. But what should we do? You ignored my question. Who do you want to police the world if we don’t? Somebody is going to do it. What’s your answer? Us or somebody else? I’m guessing you’ll ignore the question again. But it’s ok because we’re way off topic for this blog and I want to respect Stephen’s objective here so I’m not going to respond to anything else unrelated to education but feel free to email me if you want to vent. Sorry, Steven.


    • Mark, thanks for commenting though I do hope you’ll find time to finish the article. It’s long but important. I DO have issues with how charter schools are funded. When it comes to money, they want to be public schools and get taxpayer funds. But when it comes to everything else, they want to go their own way. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. But taking taxpayer money SHOULD have certain strings attached. For example, you should have to prove your spending that money wisely. It’s my money and your money, after all. Shouldn’t we have some guarantee that it isn’t being wasted? I say make charters fully public schools. Take away the special rules – the charters – and see what happens. Most would probably close very rapidly.

      When it comes to cherry picking, yes, that can provide a better learning environment. When you’re surrounded by motivated, well-resourced peers, you tend to do better. Yet charter school kids DON’T do better than public school kids. Even with this advantage they don’t outperform public school students. That speaks to deep problems at charter schools in terms of pedagogy, teaching, resources, etc.

      What you describe as “morality” I would call living with poverty. When you have less money, you have to work harder just to survive. That means parents not being around to parent. That means food insecurity. It means less reliable healthcare. It means so many things – none of which is the fault of the kids involved.

      We DO need more money for these kids. And their parents need secure jobs. It’s funny that the solution to other peoples problems are never more money but the problem to our own always is. Money is not everything but it makes a huge difference.

      Thanks again for engaging.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Steven. I don’t totally disagree with you and I really wish I had confidence in my local public schools. I’m an engaged, working parent. I’m looking more deeply into the public/charter school issue thanks to your blog. We disagree at points but at the end of the day I just want kids to have the opportunity to get a good education, preferably in a public school. Charter schools are only attractive to parents when a decent public school isn’t available. We’re looking for anything that might be better and sometimes the alternative isn’t. Can you blame us? I sympathize with the public schools and the parents that just want a place where they feel comfortable sending their children. Many parents don’t even have a basic understanding of issue. They just want more for their kids. I hope something good happens in the near future that’s satisfactory for most.


      • Mark said, “We’re looking for anything that might be better and sometimes the alternative isn’t.”

        How do you determine what might be better – test scores and/or how many children at a public school are labeled living in poverty?

        Test scores do not reveal how well a teacher teaches. All test scores reveal is how many children that attend that school lives in poverty.

        And we live in a country where even the teachers in the REAL public schools with the lowest high-stakes test scores were and hopefully still are outperforming the rest of the developed world when it comes to teaching children from the country’s poorest families.

        If that doesn’t indicate the quality of this country’s professional, highly educated public school teachers, and I am not talking about TFA scabs than nothing will.

        Stanford Report, January 15, 2013
        “Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds”

        The report also found:

        “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.

        “Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.”

        And those U.S. public schools (labeled failing when only high stakes test scores are used to judge them) are still matching or outperforming most if not all of those so-called superior corporate charter schools.


      • Thats BULL! Poor kids aren’t dumb and test scores aren’t a measure of how many poor kids are in school. Where are you getting this stuff from. IT’S WRONG!


      • Mark, it is obvious your knowledge of public education and what poverty can do to a child’s ability to learn is very limited. You asked me where I was getting this stuff from … Didn’t you click the link to the Stanford Study I quoted?

        The only thing low test scores reveal is that the school has a high number of children living in poverty and poverty the world over, in every country, can create environments where children are not ready to learn what teachers teach.

        Since it seems you do not click links and read, here is a YouTube video that might educate you.

        “A growing body of research shows that the stress of growing up in poverty can have long-term effects on children’s brains and cognitive development. How can so-called “toxic stress” be prevented? NewsHour’s Megan Thompson reports in our latest story from the continuing public media series ‘Chasing the Dream.'”

        Teachers no matter how good they are cannot solve the problems that poverty causes.

        Teachers teach

        Children do the learning but when a child is living in poverty, they are not always ready to learn what the teacher teaches them.

        Parents are supposed to support the teacher and the children.


  2. Steven Singer’s article left charter schools defenders too bare to offer valid retorts. I find his argument sufficiently reasoned and unquestionably convincing. I hope his appreciated effort to educate us gets rewarded with more and more public school defenders using his work to defend their local public schools from the privatization that is threatening them with extinction. That would be the first and much needed step to improve our unfairly maligned public education system. I for one think that this knowledge is invaluable in our defense.
    Corporate reformers do not care about the charter schools valid condemnation for their arbitrary practices or their failing results for that matter. All they want is to continue privatizing for it is their way to obliterate and conquest. And corporate reformers will positively continue privatizing public education in this case mostly because they are profiting while doing it. Their incentives are too potent.
    It is evident for me that charter schools have already achieved the corporate reformers’ desired goals: to become the most effective anti- public school free-market tool. The damage is both ideological and material. Let’s not forget that charter schools first were introduced as a most necessary competition for public schools. According to the free-market advocates, improving public schools would require a businesslike approach. They sold us their ideology in order to get their hands on our schools later.
    Absurdly, since the concept was still nebulous back in the early 2000s, charter schools were allowed to occupy sections of the public school sites they were competing against, and operate independently from them. To this day, I have not read a valid explanation or justification for this hostile practice. Is this particular co-location practice legally accepted in any operating business?
    And as if that were not enough, charter schools became the official replacement of public schools that unwarrantedly were deemed guilty for “failing” to deliver the desired scores in an arbitrarily designed system of evaluation. Accused, judged, and summarily condemned, unfortunate public schools were dismantled and closed, to reopen immediately after as charter schools. I find it disturbing that in just a few years, corporate reformers were able to impose such vicious policy with little or no resistance from public schools stakeholders!
    As rapidly as corporate reformers could, publicly or privately managed, independent or as part of a franchise, and even online charter schools appear and spread in an invasive manner. Concurrently, the charter school advocates created a formidable network of organizations that influence decisively politicians and general public. Charter schools national and state association became instantly powerful players in politics and media.
    After almost two decades of their destructive invasion, the evidence demonstrates that charter schools have failed to live up to their proponents’ goals of improving public schools, teaching, or to provide better education in a cheaper manner. Indeed, the tradeoff has been in favor of corporate reformers and against public schools. Are charter schools cherry picking students (and parents)? Yes, they are! Are the charter schools’ proponents and advocates concerned, worried, or embarrassed about cherry picking? The highly appealing possibility of getting quickly and steadily some of the billions of public schools’ dollars seems powerful enough to dissuade those moral caveats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Sergio. I hope public school warriors will use my articles and arguments to help win the battle against school privatization in particular and neoliberalism in general. I was trying to be definitive here and that’s why the article expanded to the point I had to divide it in half. I hope the second part – which should be forthcoming – will be received the same way. Together I’d like them to serve as a 1, 2 punch knocking out the charter school ideology. We’ll see if my goal is realized or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.