Charter schools: data to help us think about comparisons with other districts (9)

(9th in a series on Education)

John Marquette is a retired librarian/archivist, author, historian, and a resident of Bethlehem. His current project is focused on the restoration of the interior of the Archibald Johnston Mansion in Housenick Park. 

Data from a Pennsylvania Department Education report
2018-2019 Building Data Report

Here’s an executive summary:

Bethlehem Area School District has 57.92 percent of its students enrolled in the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program. The program is a measure of area wealth/poverty some agencies and granting institutions use to apportion funds for educational need.

I have ranked BASD’s three tiers (elementary, middle, and high) by ascending percentage of participation so you see the degree of participation by each school’s catchment area. It’s a good indicator of household income.

Fun fact: Liberty and Freedom are about the same.

Allentown School District has 100 percent of its students enrolled in the program.

To the west of us (and note that Bethlehem is classified as a Northampton County school, entitling residents to NCC resident tuition):

  • Parkland School District, which is partly in the city of Allentown, has 24.59 percent enrolled in the program.
  • Salisbury School District, which abuts Fountain Hill/BASD to the east and Parkland to the west, has 41.17 percent in the program.
  • East Penn School District (Emmaus) has 25.71 percent in the program.
  • The wealth winner is Southern Lehigh School District, with 19.02 percent in the program.

To the question of charter schools: if the superintendents of each of the districts I cited answered the same questions as Dr. Roy (THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMPTNESS, DR. ROY!!!), what differences would we see in terms of students leaving their districts for charters?

I am a Southern Lehigh graduate (1973) and am proud of the great public education I received. As a resident of Bethlehem, I’m proud of the effort the teachers and administrators make to turn out great graduates. I appreciate their dedication and understand they have challenges far different from what they may have found in classrooms 50 years ago.


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