Charter snapshot

Eduwonk explains a new U.S. Education report on the federal charter schools program, which finds students are less likely to meet state performance standards.

The utility of the data on performance is limited because it’s now several years old and because in the case of two states, TX and NC, better quality studies that consider growth are available.

Eduwonk says the New York Times’ story, though somewhat misleading, isn’t a hatchet job.

The New York Post disagrees, taking a shot at the Times in its editorial on the report.

Get ready for another round of malevolent hand-wringing from the enemies of school choice.

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday made public a report showing that kids in charter schools in five states — Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado and Illinois — are slightly less likely to meet state performance standards than those attending traditional public schools.

No surprise there. Charter schools take on a disproportionate number of the most difficult students; the schools are largely targeted at urban black and Latino students, and they often serve as escapes for children struggling in the traditional public-school system.

The DOE makes this clear — calling the data “limited” and noting that more sophisticated studies have shown kids in charter schools making faster progress than other students.

But count on those caveats to be ignored by the enemies of choice: teachers unions in general — and The New York Times in particular.

The Education Department doesn’t yet have studies showing how charter school students progress over time.

Ryan Sager, a Post columnist, points out the Times continues to ignore the Hoxby study of charter schools.

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  1. Yeah, but Hoxby’s an economist, and while she’s done some smart work on schools, I think it’s always good to take a close look before signing on. I happen to think her work is terrific, but this piece has drawn a lot of talk.

    Unfortunately, I think the charter report is accurate. I said why in a post:

  2. Andy Freeman says:

    The “good school” function has more than one variable. So, even if a new charter school is likely to be worse than a new or existing public school, the population of charter schools can still be better than the population of public schools.

    The reason is that bad charter schools get shutdown while bad public schools linger.

  3. It makes no sense to argue against school choice unless, of course, you are in favor of the school monopoly currently controlled by bureaucrats and the teachers union. It is exactly these two groups that are the most vocal opponents of school choice.

    If you don’t have a self-interested stake in the power structure, than I can’t understand why you would be afraid of choice. In any other segment of society, free markets bring increased choice and a more efficient distribution of goods. In the case of our schools, having choice and a controlled market will result in a more successful school system. It isn’t just a matter of charter schools having to be more successful than the monopoly-controlled schools. Rather, charter schools have opened up the debate on teaching methods and have made the monopoly schools accountable for their results. This alone has made the the charter school venture worth it.

    In addition, the monopoly-controlled schools have drifted philosophically to the left over the years, and this has bias has entered into the classrooms. As a parent, I resent the fact that I have to send my kids to a leftist dominated school system with marginal teaching results. I’m not part of the “Christian right”, but I am generally annoyed at schools who spend more time working on my kids self image than their ability to read. I pay taxes; why should I be forced into a system I don’t like. I’m in a lower income bracket, so private schools are out of the questions.

    Thankfully, Colorado has charter schools and I’ve found one that suits my 3 kids. It isn’t a perfect school by any means, but one that emphasizes learning over self-esteem. To be honest, it is least suited for my middle child who does have some self-esteem issues. However, as a parent I have to help him work through his issues with home “counseling” and lots of effort. This is my responsibility and I accept it.

    At any rate, please don’t fight to take away my choice. I welcome you to debate methodology, results, structure, and anything else you feel strongly about. but allowing your ideas, as well as mine, to play themselves out in the school “marketplace” will result in better schools for everyone in the long run.

  4. Sorry JennyD, but charter schools are the panacea that some thought they would be. All you have to do is define “panacea” appropriately.

    If by “panacea” you mean putting the authority for a child’s education in the hands of the person/people most likely to have that child’s best interests at heart – parents – then charters are a panacea.

    If you define “panacea” as a sudden, borderline mystical, improvement in learning then you’ll be disappointed or your preconceptions will be validated, depending on whether you’re ignorant or prejudiced.


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