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N.Y.C. Teachers' Union Comments on Charter Schools and ELLs

The United Federation of Teachers says charter schools in New York City don't enroll as many high-needs students, including English-language learners, as regular public schools in the city, according to a New York Daily News story (via Gotham schools).

For example, the article says that a union analysis found that about 9 percent of students in South Bronx charter schools aren't fluent in English, while 22 percent of students in regular local public schools don't have a command of the language. English-language learners are similarly underrepresented in charter schools in Brooklyn, according to the report by the union.

The article says the claim that charter schools don't enroll as many high-needs students as regular public schools is becoming a political football in New York state, as the legislature debates whether to lift a cap on charters so the state has a better chance in landing Race to the Top federal stimulus funds.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog entry, a national study shows that ELLs are not underrepresented on average in charter schools nationwide. But that doesn't mean that they aren't greatly underrepresented in individual charter schools or in many communities. The national report doesn't shed light on whether the ELLs who go to charter schools tend to have better English skills than many ELLs enrolled in regular public schools, a contention that some observers have also made.

A few other New Yorkers have weighed in on the issue of ELLs and charter schools in New York City.

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