One Colorado district is taking that problem head-on:
GREELEY — A showdown is brewing over charter schools' responsibility for educating low-income children.
On Dec. 6, the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education will hold a special meeting to hear proposals from two charter school organizers asking to expand or build from scratch.
Union Colony Preparatory — the district's first charter school — wants to expand its sixth-to-12th-grade school to include kindergarten through fifth grade.
Newcomer West Ridge Academy wants to start a kindergarten-through-ninth-grade school.
However, district officials say neither school appears willing to meet the needs of the district's poorer students, many of whom live on Greeley's east side.
The District Accountability Committee is recommending the school board only approve one of the schools and that the school must "mirror the overall demographics of the district."
Of District 6's 19,000 students, more than 59 percent are Latino and 61 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, a common measure of poverty.
Officials say the city's three existing charter schools are examples of a disturbing trend of charters nationwide that are not serving lower-income kids.
All three charters are at or near the bottom of a list of enrollment of nonwhite students, those receiving free or reduced-price meals, or those learning English as a second language.
"These charters simply have not taken on the responsibility of teaching these kids like other schools have taken on," said board vice president Bruce Broderius. "They are just segregated in a very serious sort of way."
Charter operator Pat Gilliam says that charter school doors are open to all students but poor and minority students don't want to work as hard as the white students so they often leave.
Not exactly a strong selling point for the charter school movement - "Hey, come to our Academic Excellence Charter School for white people and nonwhites who are willing to work hard!"
Here in NYC, charter schools are almost completely filled with minority students, but they are still accused of exclusivity - skimming the most motivated students and the students with the most support from parents and/or family.
In both cases, the problem with charter schools is the same - they are NOT educating the same groups of students that traditional public schools are educating.
And despite the statistical advantages charters have by excluding students and skimming preferred students from the rest of the district, they STILL don't outperform traditional public schools.
So good for Greeley for limiting the charters that can open and forcing them to educate all students.
In three to five years, the district ought to re-evaluate the charters and if they're still miles apart statistically from the rest of the district demographics, they ought to be shut down and turned into traditional public schools where every student can be educated, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic class, parental support, or skill level.