Apples vs. oranges

Charter schools designed to serve struggling students can’t be compared to regular schools, writes Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute in response to the New York Times story.

Because so many charter schools are specifically targeted to struggling students, a large percentage of their minority and poor students face obstacles greater than students of similar demographics in regular public schools.

Manhattan Institute researchers “compared test-score gains in charter schools serving the general student population to those of their nearest regular public schools.”

When we make this fairer comparison, charter schools outperform regular public schools by 3 percentile points in math and 2 percentile points in reading for students at the 50th percentile over a one-year period. Charter schools might not be trouncing regular public schools, as some overzealous advocates claim, but when we make fair comparisons charter schools are significantly better.

Charters could raise test scores easily by targeting suburban students. But what’s the point of that?

Chester Finn, who helped talk the feds into testing charter students, discusses the charge that the National Assessment of Education Progress hid the data (on its web site).

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Joanne, I’m reading a story this morning about a study done at Duke comparing yearly gains of kids in traditional schools versus the same kids in charters that claims they do worse in charters. What’s the deal there?

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    I found some really interesting tidbits by following the Chester Finn link to Education Gadfly.

    “Third, when judging a school, one ought not settle for absolute test scores alone. (This is a shortcoming of NCLB, too, at least as currently interpreted by the Education Department.) ”

    This is EXACTLY what is being done to our public schools. Don’t believe me? Ask any Texas teacher.

    In speaking of Hispanic and black students “Their kids aren’t doing worse in charter schools. (Unfortunately, they’re also not doing better. ”

    Now there’s a great reason to gut the entire American educational system, to replace it with a system that works about the same.

  3. Andy Freeman says:

    > This is EXACTLY what is being done to our public schools. Don’t believe me? Ask any Texas teacher.

    Would these be the same Texas teachers who claim to have NO responsibility for education policy? They spend millions on lobbying, a significant fraction of state legislatures and Congress does what they want (that’s what “highly rated” means), they write the education plank of a national party and dominate its delegate list, and then turn around and say that they’re not responsible? Right….

    MiT doesn’t get it. No one is claiming that a specific high-stakes testing program is the best possible scheme.

    We’re pointing out that schools are failing and there’s a serious lack of accountability.

    As long as MiT denies the former and doesn’t come up with a better way to make schools accountable, he’s part of the problem.

    And no, caring and not stealing won’t cut it.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    American schools educate more people and do a better job of it than the schools in any other country in the world. No one has the open door policy that we have.

    The problem is we have too many people who have no idea how to teach butting in with their nonsense opinions and ideas. If Texas teachers really had the influence Andy claims (without any evidence) than the 73% of us who think high stakes testing as done in Texas is a detriment to education would’ve have long ago gotten rid of it.

  5. Andy Freeman says:

    > If Texas teachers really had the influence Andy claims (without any evidence) than the 73% of us who think high stakes testing as done in Texas is a detriment to education would’ve have long ago gotten rid of it.

    Does MiT really think that if teachers don’t get their way on every question that they have no influence? I ask because that’s what he’s arguing.

    As before, I’ve provided evidence for that claim, as has MiT. (He confessed that Texas teachers sold out kids for $5k.) He also helpfully provided a link to the Texas Teacher’s association web site, where we find evidence of the influence that MiT denies.

    For a nice example of how the Dems jump when teacher’s whisper, see http://www.tsta.org/DeerPark/legislativeupdate.shtml .

  6. Mike in Texas says:

    No where in your link do I see anything related to massive teacher power over the Democratic party. This is hardly the “proof” you claim to have.

  7. Steve LaBonne says:

    MiT, here’s a link from the American Federation of Teachers, no less, that documents that fact that in math, we do NOT do as good a job as a number of other countries, let alone better than any country in the world. http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/downloads/teachers/Policy10.pdf

  8. Tim from Texas says:

    High stakes testing works. It forces school districts to establish a real curriculum, forces them to establish plans, approaches that work, and a continuity K-12. It forces teachers at all levels to meet and know what all others are doing, make adjustments where warranted for the common goal. It forces teachers out and away from their classrioom fiefdoms. The teachers and districts that teach to the test don’t want to do the work it takes to establish a good curriculum,but just as important a good curriculum destroys the teacher’s classroom fiefdom. A good curriculum k-12 destroys the excuse for teachers that the teachers at the lower level didn’t do their job. These are the reasons, for the most part against high-stakes testing for many teachers whether they want to admit it or not.

    In defense of teachers, that classroom fiefdom m.o. was all they had to grasp in the past and in many cases still is, because the administration at all levels want to stay in their fiefdoms, because change is hard and they deal almost exclusively with the political side of the community.Example, the position of principal of a school, especially at the middle and high-school levels is a poltical position. This too must change and high stakes testing will do it.

    Public school teachers are wary of charter schools because the playing fields and rules haven’t been leveled. I say they shouldn’t be and won’t have to be if they pick up a curriculum and run with it. There are plenty of resources for it, and then most of them will be considered good teachers. They just need to get to a program and work together.

    Accountability will come as long as we stick to course with the high stakes testing and as long as the correct higher difficulty level is reached at the proper time. This is already on the way there. Along the way the students will realize we, the adults, mean business and they will certainly learn and also let it be known who is not teaching and where good teaching does not occur.

  9. Andy Freeman says:

    > No where in your link do I see anything related to massive teacher power over the Democratic party.

    One relevant excerpt is:

    >> With the Democratic Leadership blindsided and the vote called so swiftly that messages of opposition could not be logged in, the CR passed handily. The CR now goes to the Senate floor where efforts are already underway to strip the voucher provision.

    Note – the unstated assumption – Dems do what the teacher’s union says. Dems missed their first swing, but they’re still working.

    I call 40-45 reliable votes in the US Senate significant influence.

    Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to posting the percentage of “highly rated” legislatures for a couple of states.

    I forgot to cite the huge fraction of Dem delegates that were teachers.

  10. Mike in Texas says:

    >I forgot to cite the huge fraction of Dem delegates that were teachers.

    Another unsubstantiated statement.

    >the position of principal of a school, especially at the middle and high-school levels is a poltical position.

    What planet did you get this info from?

    Help me out Andy. The little excerpt you posted, which was not on the link you provided, seems to indicate the seems to say the Republicans were responsibile for what is going on.

  11. Mike in Texas says:

    Andy,

    Let me tell you how much power teachers have in Texas:

    Texas ranks 39th (I believe) in teachers’ salaries.
    The state of Texas has not voted teachers a raise in over 4 years.
    3 years ago Texas teachers were given a $1000 yearly insurance supplement, meant to enable us to have health insurance on par with state employess. Since that time the state has since reduced the supplement to $500 and beginning Sept. 1 it can no longer be used to pay for health insurance or taken as income but instead must be put in a “Health Reimbursement Account”, which costs each Texas Teacher a small monthly payment to Aetna to “manage” for us, to the tune of $22 million dollars for Aetna each year.
    We work in a system where we are expected to produce 100% passing rates while the state readily admits it only supplies 55% of the necessary funding to achieve this goal.

    Yeah, we’re powerful all right. Better be careful with your comments Andy or we’ll send someone over to take care of you 😉 (that means I’m kidding)

  12. Tim from Texas says:

    Planet earth, specifically Texas. Through observing what principals, for the most part, are compelled to do, and by the fact, that although they are not elected as such, they are selected through a process which reflects the politics of a district’s community is in a general sense how one can describe the position of a school principal as political.

  13. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Texas ranks 39th (I believe) in teachers’ salaries.

    Come on Mike, that’s a number that means precisely nothing. What’s the cost of living in Texas? How do Texas teachers compare with other, similarly educated Texas professionals? How does that ranking stack up against teachers in other states?

    The state of Texas has not voted teachers a raise in over 4 years.

    If you’re a teacher I can see how that might be precieved as a grevious injustice but I’m not. I’m a tax payer and if you want more money you’d better have a better reason for expecting it then that you haven’t gotten more in 4 years.

    3 years ago Texas teachers were given …..

    Wrong. Three years ago Texas teachers bargained for some benefit. If the Texas board of Ed has renigged on the agreement then take them to court. If this is part of the agreement and you’re not happy about it, bring it up at the next meeting of the local. Run for union rep.

    We work in a system where we are expected to produce 100% passing rates while the state readily admits it only supplies 55% of the necessary funding to achieve this goal.

    So, if Texas increased education expenditures by 82% then the passing rate would go up to 100%? Come on Mike, who’re you trying to kid? Yourself?

    Must be because no one’s ever found a coorelation between expenditures and results in the public education system.

  14. Mike in Texas says:

    Actually Allen the Texas politicians have reneged on a promise to teachers, but Texas Republicans don’t seem too concerned about a backlash of votes from Texas teachers.

    I merely state these points b/c Andy is always giving teachers and their unions mystical powers to completely control what goes on in schools.

    As far as cost of living, I really can’t tell you how Texas compares. I would say a nice 3bedroom in a good neighborhood, where I’m from, would run you anywhere from 80 -100K

    There was no bargain deal offered to teachers on our insurance supplement. It was intended to lure more people into teaching, some areas of Texas are facing critical teacher shortages, and then when the state ran short of money to the tune of 10 big ones they took it away.

    I’ll be the first to tell you (from an insiders perspective) there is HUGE wastes of money in public education. However, it is not wasted by teachers. Those big beautiful gyms and football stadiums do come at a cost to general education.

    As I’ve often said, you can blame the politicians and the educrats, they have made the bad public schools into what they are.

  15. “As far as cost of living, I really can’t tell you how Texas compares. I would say a nice 3bedroom in a good neighborhood, where I’m from, would run you anywhere from 80 -100K”

    You’re kidding, right? In Silicon Valley the median home price is around $500K.

  16. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Texas Republicans don’t seem too concerned about a backlash of votes from Texas teachers

    That might be because there are a lot of Texas voters who, by electing a Repub majority, have served notice on the party most closely associated with teacher’s unions that there’s a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the way things are being done in the Texas education system.

    Andy is always giving teachers and their unions mystical powers to completely control what goes on in schools.

    Now your being disingenuous.

    Andy’s reiterating the widely held and pretty accurate summation of the political power of the teacher’s unions. Nothing mystical about it and earned the usual way by electing candidates sypathetic to the views of the teacher’s unions and beholden politically to the teacher’s unions. That’s why the teacher’s unions were referred to as the 800-pound gorilla of American politics much to the satisfaction of teacher’s union officials and, I’m fairly sure, the majority of members.

    As far as cost of living, I really can’t tell you how Texas compares.

    OK, so then all you’re really saying is that you’d like to be paid more. I can certianly understand that. I’ve got bills of my own. But it’s not much of a foundation for a moral crusade.

    It was intended to lure more people into teaching,

    Then the only question is “did it work?” Since it wasn’t bargained for why would you think that this particular benefit would last a second longer then it had too?

    However, it is not wasted by teachers.

    Sure it is. A system which places no value on efficiency is a system in which everyone wastes. Some players can waste tens of millions because of their position in the hierarchy and others can only waste hundreds or thousands because of their position in the hierarchy. The only people who don’t waste do so for their own reasons and, since teaching is no different then any other profession, they suffer for their preference for efficiency. Makes the rest of the profession look bad by contrast.

    As I’ve often said, you can blame the politicians and the educrats

    Wrong again, Mike. A system that does not punish failure or inefficiency is a system that can have nothing but both.

  17. Mike in Texas says:

    >But it’s not much of a foundation for a moral crusade.

    Amazing, no where have I demanded more money for the job I do, but somehow I’m accused of starting a moral crusade for it?

    >Some players can waste tens of millions because of their position in the hierarchy and others can only waste hundreds or thousands because of their position in the hierarchy.

    My classroom budget for the year, out of which I must pay for supplies students can’t afford and any copies I will need, not to mention things the school district doesn’t supply like novels and classroom decorations, is $100. Oh yeah, I’m blowing hundreds of thousands a year.

    >A system that does not punish failure or inefficiency is a system that can have nothing but both.

    There’s an example of someone who’s giving teachers more mystical powers. We have absolutely no power to punish failure or ineffeciency outside of our classroom.

    >Andy’s reiterating the widely held and pretty accurate summation of the political power of the teacher’s unions.

    Did you read my post at all about all the wonderful things my powerful union has gotten for me? If you think teachers’ unions are powerful then how do you explain NCLB, which is almost univerersaly despised by teachers? Not b/c the goals it puts forth aren’t worth reaching but b/c the processes it uses will not work.

    >Does MiT really think that if teachers don’t get their way on every question that they have no influence? I ask because that’s what he’s arguing.

    No Andy, but if we were that powerful, than the issues like this one, that really hurt children, we would win on.

  18. Mike from Texas wrote:

    Amazing, no where have I demanded more money for the job I do

    So further up the thread where you wrote:

    Texas ranks 39th (I believe) in teachers’ salaries.
    The state of Texas has not voted teachers a raise in over 4 years.

    and that was more in the way of imparting information then of protesting the shabby treatment by the state of Texas of Texas teachers?

    Oh yeah, I’m blowing hundreds of thousands a year.

    First, what I wrote was “hundreds or thousands”.

    Second, the point I was trying to make was that since there’s often little in the way of a downside to wasting money the wonder is when money isn’t wasted. How much money any particular individual wastes is less a function of any punishment for waste as it is how much money that individual controls and what kind of a person they are.

    Did you read my post at all about all the wonderful things my powerful union has gotten for me?

    Sure I read your post. What exactly are you upset about? That the State of Texas made certain promises that you’re quite certain they’ve since renigged on?

    If you’ve got a case, take it to the courts. If you don’t have a case then get used to the fact that you aren’t going to get whatever it is you seem to think you deserve.

    Either way, it doesn’t appear that your union is involved and, by the way, being powerful, in any realistic sense, isn’t the same thing as being omnipotent. Even Joseph Stalin didn’t always get his way and he could kill people who annoyed him. The NEA doesn’t have summary execution as one of its options so they have to compromise commensurately more often.

    But that isn’t the same thing as being powerless. Depending on the part of the country and office, the teacher’s unions can still exert quite a bit of influence and no politician in their right mind would cross them without careful consideration.

    By the way, since you dismissed Andy’s observation about the representation of the teacher’s unions in the Democratic party as “Another unsubstantiated statement” maybe you could site some authoritative source for your assertion that NCLB is almost univerersaly despised by teachers?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Allen,

    Here is a link to a 60 minutes story on the subject of high stakes testing and the state of Texas, which of course is being used as the model for all states to follow. You will find the source for the statistic I quoted in the article.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/09/07/60minutes/main231464.shtml

    The point I was trying to make was that contrary to what Andy thinks, Texas teachers unions are not all that powerful. I was pointing out the many shortcomings in Texas education, shortcomings that are the result of politicians and educrats.

  20. Andy Freeman says:

    > >the position of principal of a school, especially at the middle and high-school levels is a poltical position.

    > What planet did you get this info from?

    I didn’t get it from anywhere – I didn’t post it.

    Is this stuff really that difficult for MiT?

  21. Mike in Texas says:

    The statistic is mentioned again in this link:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/09/10/60minutes/main232069.shtml

    If you’re too lazy to read it, “In a recent survey, only 27 percent of them thought that rising TAAS scores reflected real gains in learning.” TAAS is the older version of the TAKS which is the state mandated test in Texa.

  22. Andy Freeman says:

    > >I forgot to cite the huge fraction of Dem delegates that were teachers.

    > Another unsubstantiated statement.

    Actually, it’s a true statement – I did forget.

    But, if MiT is so sure that the NEA members were in the noise at the Dem convention, perhaps he’ll be so good as to say so plainly.

    That might motivate me to post the link showing him to be wrong. On the other hand, he’s wrong on so many things that are easily checked that I still might not bother.

  23. Andy Freeman says:

    > Help me out Andy. The little excerpt you posted, which was not on the link you provided,

    Actually, it is. Does MiT have trouble scrolling past the first screen?

    > seems to indicate the seems to say the Republicans were responsibile for what is going on.

    Were the words too long in my explanation?

    The Repub leadership pulled a surprise that the NEA wasn’t happy about. The Dems, doing the NEA’s bidding, didn’t react quickly enough in the House and have promised to do better in the Senate, where it isn’t going to be a surprise.

    The Dem reaction and promise of future action demonstrates that the NEA has significant influence over the Dems. We’re not talking about the Greens – having the Dems in your pocket, as the NEA does, is significant political influence.

  24. Andy Freeman says:

    > I merely state these points b/c Andy is always giving teachers and their unions mystical powers to completely control what goes on in schools.

    Straw man – Andy never wrote anything like that.

    I note that MiT isn’t mentioning the $5000 that he claims the state used to buy off teachers a while back. I believe that he used the phrase “sold their soul” or somesuch.

    If Texas teachers had no influence, they wouldn’t be bought off.

    > If you think teachers’ unions are powerful then how do you explain NCLB

    (1) Backlash against teachers unions
    (2) Failing to win them all is not proof of no influence.

    We’re coming up on the elections. Most, if not all, teachers unions will be distributing rating cards.

    I wonder if MiT will post a summary of the one from his association, perhaps listing the fraction of races involving at least one highly rated major party candidate.

    Or, does he want to dispute my characterization of the term “highly rated”?

  25. Mike in Texas says:

    Geez Andy, at least get your facts straight. I said the teacher’s unions sold their souls, not the teachers. And it was for $3000, not 5.

    I was not a union member at the time. Also at the time I did not recognize it for what I believe it to be today, a bribe to keep the Texas teachers’ unions quiet. As I have previously stated, the only reason I belong to a union is b/c I need the liability insurance and I need the legal protection from unfair administrative practices.

    In the 3 years I have been a union member I have never received a summary of the elections and the “highly rated” candidates. So what if the unions do it? Does it prove malfeasance, dereliction of duty, or lack of competence? No it doesn’t in the least.

    One of the local state representatives, who I’m sure is “highly rated” by the teachers unions, wrote the law that tries to provide equitable funding to all Texas schools. How could we as teachers support such an evil person (heavy sarcasm)?

  26. Andy Freeman says:

    > Geez Andy, at least get your facts straight. I said the teacher’s unions sold their souls, not the teachers.

    No difference. Teachers pay for teachers unions and elect the leaders.

    MiT may quibble about some of the policies, but those quibbles are less important to him than the insurance.

  27. Andy Freeman says:

    > I need the legal protection from unfair administrative practices.

    Those of us who don’t work for monopolies have figured out that the best protection is the ability to work elsewhere.

  28. Andy Freeman says:

    > In the 3 years I have been a union member I have never received a summary of the elections and the “highly rated” candidates.

    MiT misses the point.

    The scores on the list demonstrate that teachers unions get lots of legislators to vote for what they push, something that MiT denies.

    The distribution goes only to the point of whether MiT should know about said demonstration.

  29. Mike in Texas says:

    We’re going to disagree on this one till we’re blue in the face Andy. For every instance you come up with about teachers’ supposed powers I can provide you with 2 examples of things being done against the wishes of teachers.

  30. Andy Freeman says:

    > For every instance you come up with about teachers’ supposed powers I can provide you with 2 examples of things being done against the wishes of teachers.

    Yet, few of the things that MiT would list seem to have made it onto the list of legislative priorites of teachers. (We’ll accept, for the purposes of this argument, that those things would help education.)

    If they tried these things and succeeded, great. If they tried and failed, that failure would support MiT’s position that teachers don’t get what they want.

    Instead, they simply don’t try those things. (It could be that MiT is wrong about the value of those things.)

    But, it doesn’t matter – I’ve shown that teachers unions do have a lot of political support for what they want, so they have a lot of responsibility for the results of education politics. Since teachers control teachers unions, they’re responsible.

    If he doesn’t want to accept responsibility, he can either change what he’s responsible for or abandon the influence.

  31. Mike in Texas says:

    You have shown nothing but the fact teachers’ unions keep score on politicians; this does not equal influence.

    You have yet to site one specific instance where teachers and their unions have gotten their way in the political arena, much less one specific instance where we got something that was detrimental to children. Name [B]one[B] instance where we have gotten a benefit that will harm the children we are charged with educating.

  32. Andy Freeman says:

    > You have shown nothing but the fact teachers’ unions keep score on politicians; this does not equal influence.

    I didn’t write that keeping score cards proved my point because there are scores that would show that teachers don’t get what they want. However, the actual scores show that teachers are reasonably successful at getting what they want.

    > You have yet to site one specific instance where teachers and their unions have gotten their way in the political arena

    Interestingly enough, the score cards show many instances where teacher-supported positions won. That’s called getting your way and that’s how the score cards support my position.

    We’ve established that teachers often get their way in the political arena. That makes them somewhat responsible for education politics. MiT happens to be right on one point – education politics has failed kids. As major players in education politics, that makes teachers partly responsible for said failure.

    Few of the instances of teacher responsibility for said failure are as blatant as the one the MiT provided, where Texas teachers sold out kids for $3k. (Not knowing the details, I’ll take his word on that point.)

    > Name [B]one[B] instance where we have gotten a benefit that will harm the children we are charged with educating.

    The $3k incident qualifies, but MiT misses the point. It isn’t enough to not steal. It isn’t enough to care. Teachers are partly responsible for the failures of the system because the system is failing and they’re partly responsible for how said system works.

    That responsibility does not depend teacher self-benefit. Heck, it doesn’t even depend on spending the money on bad things – they’d be responsible even if the system was failing because all of the money was being spent on food for starving children in East Timor.

    MiT may find it hard to believe, but “I don’t steal and I care” isn’t anywhere close to “good enough” outside the public schools.