Debating charter schools | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 15, 2010

Debating charter schools

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 6:40 AM

The New York Times has assembled four expert viewpoints on charter schools. They include committed advocates for charters, but also some push-back to the notion that if its name is charter it automatically must be good. Such as Richard Kahlenberg:

Scholars have discovered that success stories like KIPP are unrepresentative. Stanford University researchers, backed by pro-charter school funders, found that nationally, only 17 percent of charter schools outperform comparable public schools, and 37 percent underperform. Much smaller studies, most notably Caroline Hoxby’s analysis of New York City public schools, have found positive results, but her study has been criticized as methodologically flawed.

Teachers have also soured on charter schools. Education Secretary Arne Duncan correctly notes that the late teacher union leader Albert Shanker was an early supporter of charters. But as I outline in my biography of Shanker, he envisioned charters as a vehicle for enhancing the teacher’s voice and grew disillusioned as they became a vehicle for bypassing union representation. Lacking voice, charter school teachers are 132 percent more likely to leave the profession than teachers in regular public schools.

Civil rights groups are also increasingly concerned given new evidence that charters are even more racially isolated than regular public schools. Charter school supporters respond that today providing a good education advances civil rights, whatever the racial makeup of the school, but that retort ignores the fact that charters rarely provide a superior education.

Indeed, the disappointing academic record of charters is surely linked to longstanding research finding that racially and economically separate schools are rarely equal.

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