The numbers of minority students in Manchester and Nashua public charter schools (a lower percentage than in other city schools) are neither surprising nor should they be considered discouraging. Charter schools are all about providing innovative alternatives to the traditional public school system. Getting the message out to everyone, especially in those cities, is akin to the challenges public health officials face in reaching, and convincing, some in poorer areas of the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a Sunday News article on the subject this week, a spokesperson for a leftwing organizing group speculated that pressure on charter school parents to raise money for a school was a barrier to low-income families. She offered no examples; and that hasn’t been our experience with charter schools.
These schools often ask for help in ways other than money. The organizer cited lack of bus service as another roadblock but that’s not the case in Manchester, where the school district provides bus service to charters as it does to all public schools.
One thing that would greatly help charter schools, and low-income parents, is to have public monies for schools “follow the child” rather than parents being forced to pay for traditional public schools that have little incentive to improve their own performance. That idea, of course, is anathema to big-government liberals and public school unions.
Charter schools vary widely in both curriculum and quality. They are by nature experimental. They need to be tracked so that their pluses can be copied and their failings addressed. They most certainly offer an alternative to disadvantaged students of all sizes, shapes, and colors. The Manchester and Nashua school boards should get the word out by providing a charter presentation to parents who may not be aware of them. We have the perfect venue: the auditoriums of some of their other public schools.