By: Sharon Aron Baron
We recently published compelling data that shows Broward County Public Schools are outperforming their charter schools as a whole. One of the surprising things discovered was that two top charter schools, despite telling the public they were doing a better job, were not serving students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
When studying the socioeconomic makeup of Coral Springs Charter School and Pembroke Pines Charter Schools, it was discovered that they were not representative of their nearby Broward County Public Schools. Yet, despite higher socioeconomics, their performances were equal or only slightly better on the 10th grade reading results.
Data Analyst and charter school parent Andrew Ladanowski believes some schools may be misleading the public into thinking they are doing a better job than others when the truth is, it is the socioeconomic makeup of the school population.
This did not sit well with Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo who called our data “disingenuous and slimy.”
The data showed that Pembroke Pines Charter High School only had 12 percent of all students on free lunch compared to 30 percent at nearby Flanagan High school. Data
For the study, we used free lunches as the benchmark for socioeconomic status. According to the USDA, the income eligibility guidelines for a family of two is $20K, for a family of three it’s $25K. The data, which was taken from the State of Florida, was used to measure the students that attend either Broward County Public Schools or charter schools by socioeconomic factors via the free lunch program. What Castillo was upset about was that our data did not include “reduced” lunch data.
“First, I have three college degrees and am the one teaching you about charters. So you should listen more,” said Castillo. “I’ve been reading statistical reports for a living for the past 30 years. Secondly, the category is free and reduced lunch because irrespective of their income deviations they are a category together. Nobody separates these that’s why they get reported together. They are constantly referred to together as a category because it makes sense.”
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, when students apply for free and reduced meals, there are separate income requirements to qualify for each of these two different programs. See separate income requirements for free and reduced Parents that apply on behalf of their children bring in the documents to the schools which are verified, according to Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness.
Ladanowski says that by combining the data of “free and reduced” is misleading the public, and it’s too wide of a range.
“When we look at the schools, we should separate three criteria to really see how children are doing at all them: measure them by those that are on free, free and reduced, and regular students. This will give you the big picture.”