Report: Close bad charters, expand good ones

Urban charter schools outperform traditional public schools in five cities, concludes Searching for Excellence, a Fordham report conducted by Public Impact. However, urban charter students trail students in their home states, who are much less likely to be living in poverty.

The study looked at charter performance in Albany, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, and Indianapolis. In each city, charter quality varied greatly from school to school.

 . . . there are deeply troubled charters—some whose academic results can’t even match up with their long-suffering district peers. but on the other hand, there are fantastic charters—some whose academic performance competes with the best schools in their states.

Fordham calls for closing the worst-performing 10 percent of charters and expanding the top 10 percent.

In Cleveland, the policy of closure and aggressive replication of high-performing schools would, Public Impact estimates, result in charter schools vastly outperforming the district schools in five years. Moreover, this policy would put Cleveland’s charters on track to perform on par with the state average by year five.

Charter schools educate 30+ percent of public school students in seven cities — New Orleans, Detroit, Washington, DC,  Kansas City, Flint, Gary; and St. Louis — and 20+ percent in 18 cities.

Success without whites: Is this a problem?

Albany’s charter students (85 percent poor, 96 percent black or Latino) are outperforming students in district-run schools (68 percent poor, 80 percent black or Latino), reports the Albany Times Union. But those poor, little, high-performing charter kids are racially isolated, the Times Union charges in a front-page story. There aren’t enough white students in their classes.

That’s because the Brighter Choice Foundation, which runs all of Albany’s charters, opened schools in the neediest neighborhoods, writes Jason Brooks of Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability.

After nearly a decade accusing Brighter Choice schools of “creaming” the best students, it takes chutzpah to accuse the schools of segregation, writes Peter Meyer, who wrote an Ed Next story on Brighter Choice’s success.

Now that nearly a quarter of Albany’s public school kids, the ones local teacher unions and Albany Public School administrators said were uneducable (because they were poor and black) – now that the creaming issue is off the table and those same kids are beating the socks off even their white counterparts on academic achievement tests, we get S-E-G-R-E-G-A-T-I-O-N.

Can’t poor black kids catch a break here?

Albany’s public schools aren’t models of integration, the Times Union concedes.

An independent auditor recently found that advanced classes at Albany High School were highly segregated with few minority students. Superintendent Raymond Colucciello said the district is now working to reduce that racial isolation at the high school as well as at magnet schools, but that charter schools lack the same sort of oversight. He said that flies in the face of the Brown decision.

Advanced classes at the charter schools have nearly all minority students. Would oversight fix that?

Charters receive 13 percent of district funding, the newspaper complains. But charter students make up 23 percent of public school enrollment.