Today, more than 1 million students are enrolled in public charter schools in the 41 states (and the District of Columbia) that have charter laws, with almost 4,000 charter schools in all. Most, if not all, of these schools have encountered some form of bureaucratic resistance at the local level. That resistance may take place at the school’s inception, when it first looks to purchase a building and comply with municipal zoning laws. It may come when opponents play games with a school’s transportation or funding, or when legal barriers are tossed in the way, or when false information about charter schools is widely disseminated. Despite the obstacles, many charter schools are thriving. It’s worth taking a look at the forces on the ground that would have it otherwise and the myriad ways they attempt to stymie the charter school movement.
Here are a few of the Colorado situations I've heard about:
1. A charter school application states the school will provide all its own Special Education services because the school is designed to serve high needs students. The charter application is approved, but then during the last meeting negotiating the charter contract, the district says they will provide all Special Education services.
2. A charter school purchases transportation services from its district. The school serves low income students and needs to transport their students in order for them to access a quality education at the charter school. After providing transportation for several years, the district states they can no longer cross school district boundaries to transport students to the charter school.
3. A charter applicant proposes a charter school in rural Colorado. The animosity from the school district is so strong that district staff attending the appeal hearing drag chairs to the "district side" of the room. The charter school never opens.
4. A school district Board of Education revokes the charter of a school only to then be recalled through a petition drive. Charter school parents are elected to the school district board.