02 May 2010

Bad News for Conservatives (1) ~ Charter Schools are a Bust

I've decided to initiate a "news digest" calling attention to news items that show the failures of conservative social engineering. I know conservatives claim not to believe in social engineering, but that is what they are up to much of the time. So this is the first in a series.

From The New York Times today we find a report about how wealthy folks with money to throw around seem not to be terribly 'reality based' ... too many foundations are eager to keep pushing Charter Schools in the face of more or less their complete failure to out-perform public schools:
"Charters have . . . become a pet cause of what one education historian calls a billionaires’ club of philanthropists, including Mr. Gates, Eli Broad of Los Angeles and the Walton family of Wal-Mart.

But for all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. Last year one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that fewer than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local schools, almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.”

Although “charter schools have become a rallying cry for education reformers,” the report, by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, warned, “this study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well” as students in traditional schools."
When is an experiment a failure? Even if we accept the conservative criteria for evaluation - student performance on standardized tests - and even if we control for features that would advantage Charters - like longer school days and more engaged families - the "Charters" seem to be a shining example of a failed experiment.
P.S.: Just an observation: Do the folks at The Times really think that being from the second largest city in the U.S. is equivalent to being from the largest retail chain?

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Blogger Buster said...

Great idea for a series. I'm looking forward to future posts.

03 May, 2010 02:28  
Blogger Public Squalor said...

Sorry to be a one-note tune on this topic, but Democrats Richard Daley, Arne Duncan and Pres. Obama should be counted among those conservative social engineers.

It's on an issue like this where one must wonder why to bother voting at all - Democrats and Republicans are equally awful.

It looks like Obama's domestic legacy will be to dismantle public education the way Clinton's was to eradicate much of the economic safety net for poor people. Seems like we can count on Democrats to do what most Republicans could never accomplish.

Thanks for pointing to this article.

- peace

03 May, 2010 18:32  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

PS ~ I agree. As you know, I am the last (maybe second to last after you!) to suggest that Democrat = progressive ... One need not be a Republican to be conservative .... Part of the insidiousness of the conservative agenda is that it has come to define the 'moderate' position as something considerably to the right of center.

03 May, 2010 19:08  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for posting this--although, a suggestion, it would be helpful when referring-to/citing-a source if you would provide a link to the original so that we can read the whole piece.

05 May, 2010 11:37  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Sorry about the missing link - I usually provide them. In fact, I thought I'd done so this time. Oh well. But it is there now. JJ

05 May, 2010 14:35  
Blogger eugev44 said...

I think it is also important to note that often the underpinning of a charter school is essentially legal segregation.

In the Philadelphia school district, where I currently work, there are 2 important things to note. One charter school recorded astronomical test improvement in 1 year, thus claiming that their model was a successful one for future adoption. Needless to say, Arne Duncan and Obama are all over that as positive evidence. What they don't mention however, is that worst performing students were kicked out when the charter took over, and were rejected if they re-applied.

Finally, there is murmur of a charter to be run by UPenn, which essentially would be a public school for the rich center city kids. Currently, those parents are forced to send their children to private schools, and are essentially clamoring for a private school , conveniently in their neighborhood, disguised as a public charter.

06 May, 2010 10:53  

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