NPR ran a story this morning entitled, “Florida Charter Schools Failing Disabled Students.” From the headline, you might guess that disabled students in charter schools were showing poor test results, perhaps as a result of neglect. You might also draw the conclusion–one favored by the teachers’ unions at the core of the Democrat political machine, whose interests NPR promotes–that public schools are doing a better job.
In fact, the story is not about “failing” performance, but about access. The vast majority of charter schools in Florida do not have disabled students–and that’s no surprise, given the fact that charter schools are still a new phenomenon, opposed by teachers’ unions and Democrat politicians at almost every turn. The NPR story, produced in cooperation with a hostile Miami Herald investigation, admits that the primary problem is funding, and that many traditional public schools do not enroll students with disabilities:
Even in the traditional public schools, not every school is expected to provide every service. About half don’t serve a single child with a severe disability. Instead, they’re sent to neighboring schools with specialized programs.
That does not stop NPR from accusing the Florida charter schools of “segregation,” which the story explicitly–and erroneously–compares to racial and gender segregation.
The Miami Herald investigation focuses on the profits being made by a private company that manages charter schools in Florida. The story raises questions about conflicts of interest involving rent that the company is collecting on tax-exempt school property, and asks whether company trips were taken using public funds (without evidence that they were).
Those are legitimate questions, but the fact remains that the charter schools in question are serving the needs of students and their families. Even the Herald story must allow that the schools “consistently get high marks for academic achievement, with some schools earning national recognition.”
The overarching goal of the NPR and Miami Herald stories appears to be to raise public suspicion about charter schools, to smother the facts about their success inside suggestions of “segregation,” corruption, and failure. The real “problem” is not that there might be flaws in parts of the charter school system; the problem, apparently, for many in the mainstream media, is that charter schools exist at all.