More progress for California charters

Bricks-and-mortar charter schools in California outperformed regular public schools and non-classroom-based charters for students studying at home, according to a new report by Edsource, a respected non-profit.

Among schools with data available, 64 percent of classroom-based charter schools met their performance targets in 2004, compared to 48 percent of noncharters, and 44 percent of nonclassroom-based charters.

Here’s a link to the full report on the “coming of age” of California charters, but you have to pay $8 to download it. I don’t think Edsource people quite get the Internet.

About Joanne


  1. trishwilliams says:

    Thanks for the publicity for the new EdSource report on charter schools in California.

    But, are you saying that “EdSource people don’t quite get the Internet” because we are charging a price for the publication to help cover our research, printing, and web site maintenance cost? How is that different from you using your internet site to announce your new book and to charge viewers a price to obtain it? Am I missing something here?

    Trish Williams
    Executive Director

  2. EdSource’s goal is to get its research out in the public eye. You’re not in the business of selling research reports, Trish. You can’t afford to cover postage costs to mail reports for free, but there’s no additional cost to letting people download the report. By charging $8 you greatly reduce the number of people who will read the report, sabotaging your goal.

    If I charged people to read the blog, my readership would go way down, hurting my goal of selling my book. I’ll almost certainly offer free downloads of some chapters, of course. I’m working out now the free content for my book web site, I don’t want to post too much now since the book won’t ship to readers till Dec. 1.

  3. trishwilliams says:

    Actually Joanne, our goal and our business is a little more complicated than you describe.

    While our mission is to provide the public with quality information about California’s K-12 policy issues, a key challenge is to remain financially viable as a nonprofit organization. One way we do that is to diversify our revenue streams. We have earned income streams (eg subscriptions to our publications series and a small charge for each publication, plus contracts for other services) because they supplement the grant funding we receive to pay for the quality of research we put into every report. The major expense related to our publications isn’t the postage — its the R&D.

    Your blog is free — so is the EdSource Online web site (, even though the grant money we get each year targeted to pay for its content doesn’t cover a fraction of the cost of the staff time that goes into the site.

    Just like you, we have a fine balance between what all we provide for free and what we charge a small fee for. We provide a free web site with comprehensive content customized for the site, plus many free publications, including all the parent guides or fact sheets we produce in both English and Spanish. But EdSource Online also has an online “store” where other publications can be purchased. I think the EdSource people “get” the Internet.

    We mail out about 5,000 copies of each EdSource report, the cost of which is paid for in part through fee-for-service and in part by grant funds targeted to inform various audiences (media, legislature, etc). Based upon our web statistics, a very large number of visitors do not find the small fee for downloading our longer, in-depth policy publications a barrier — but we would never let price get in the way of our providing a publication for anyone who wanted it but couldn’t afford it.

    Good luck to you in your work,