Cane argues that charter schools actually serve a higher proportion of minority students than public schools, and that those students do better than they do in public schools.
"People don't leave schools for no reason," he said. "People don't like to change schools. They do it for a reason. We're not anti-school system. We'd be delighted if the school system got better and could hang onto students, because all we care about is that every student gets a better education, but for some reason--or reasons--the school system has not been able to make that happen."
Thelma, who declined to give her last name, will graduate from Spingarn in the spring and plans to join the military. The 18-year-old doesn't think she's learned enough to succeed in college and says she's not sure closing the school and redistributing the students is such a bad idea.
"Some of the kids are really disrespectful," she said as she hoisted a backpack over her shoulder after class.
But the reality that this particular school will no longer be theirs come June still upsets some of the students.
"I don't like it," Kevin, a 16-year-old junior said as he headed for track practice. He's worn a Spingarn jersey for three years, but if he plays sports next year, he'll be wearing a Woodson uniform instead.
"Spingarn is my school," he said. "I love it. There's just something about it. I'm really sad to see the school close."