Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis posted interesting comments about charter schools in an interview she recently conducted with Jessica Hiler, president of the Fayette County Education Association. The union leader trotted out most of the union’s anti-charter arguments, but Ms. Davis clearly wasn’t buying.
When Hiler said that charter schools don’t produce higher achievement than traditional public schools (TPS), Davis pointed out that, “Black and poor kids tend to do better academically in charter schools.” Meanwhile, Davis added, “In traditional public schools, the achievement gap for black, Hispanic and poor kids is growing.”
Readers of this blog know from our series of articles that started on January 5, 2015 that white minus black gaps have indeed have been growing in Kentucky.
When Hiler said TPS teachers wanted to close “achievement gaps sooner rather than later,” Davis pointed out that it looks like “later is winning” when it comes to actual results in the TPS.
Davis did say that “Some charters are better than traditional schools and some are worse. The rest are about the same.”
Actually, the reports that show these sorts of results may have a bias problem, as we point out in our blog on “Don’t charter schools perform about the same as regular public schools?” As this blog points out, recent research shows that if students stay in charters long enough to have a reasonable chance to benefit, the charters do a notably better job for them than the TPS would do.
Union head Hiler talked about high teacher turnover in charters.
There is a bit of pot calling the kettle black in that. Hiler should have been at the School Curriculum, Accountability and Assessment Committee (SCAAC) meeting I attended last week. As reported by the State Journal’s January 14, 2015 article, “New teacher retention is statewide issue” (subscription needed), there was a lively discussion and considerable concern about the high loss of new teachers in Kentucky’s TPS. By year three, Kentucky is losing more than half of its new teachers from our TPS system.
In closing, I think Ms. Davis got one of her closing comments exactly right when she said:
“What we have, despite the wants and desires of teachers, is not working. Something has to change.”