Some of Kentucky’s public schools – especially some in Louisville – perform so poorly that education commissioner Terry Holliday told the Kentucky Senate’s Education Committee today that he doesn’t think the situation “could get any worse.” Holliday told the committee he wants to add public charter schools to the mix of tools he has to fight this serious problem.
Even Holliday’s backing didn’t stop Maryann Blankenship, Executive Director of the Kentucky Education Association, from testifying before the committee in opposition to Senate Bill 176, however. SB-176 would add a badly-needed charter school option for Kentucky to cope with continuing failure to improve in too many of Kentucky’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools.
Desperate to derail this badly needed legislation, Blankenship boldly proclaimed to the committee, “More students actually do worse in charter schools than do better.”
Pressed by a doubting committee member for research supporting her comment, Blankenship mentioned a several-years-old report from a Stanford University research group.
Well, I think Kentuckians deserve something better than out-of-date data. How about current charter research from “Who Attends Charter Schools and How Are Those Students Doing?” a December 2012 report from the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).
This new report analyzes data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAGB’s study shows students in charter schools in inner cities around the country have been making advances and now outperform their public school counterparts. The differences in favor of charter schools are particularly pronounced for black students, who are of special concern in Louisville, where Kentucky’s most troubled schools are located.
A few of the new NABG report’s findings:
• …the findings tend to favor charter schools when one focuses on black, Hispanic, and low-income students within the large cities. In many subject/grade combinations students in these subgroups in charter schools performed significantly better in 2011 than those in regular public schools. By contrast, in 2003/2005 these subgroups performed similarly in charter and regular schools, and in one case (low-income students in grade 4 math), the regular schools were ahead.
• The performance of black low-income students attending charter schools in large cities is particularly striking. This group has shown a large increase in scores. In 2011 their achievement was significantly higher than that of similar students in regular large-city schools in grade 8 reading and grades 4 and 8 math.
• In the large cities, the only significant subgroup findings in favor of regular schools in 2011 were for Asians (in grade 4 math) and whites (in grade 4 reading).
• When we look more closely at a few large urban districts, the 2011 results clearly favor charter schools. In the four cities where NAEP data permitted comparisons (DC, Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee), students in charter schools significantly outperformed their peers in regular public schools in many of the subjects/grades analyzed. In those four districts, there are no subjects/grades where regular schools significantly outperformed charter schools.
We need educational performance like this in Louisville. We don’t need a lot of union self-serving standing in the way of our kids finally getting that performance.