It’s really hard to do a fair analysis of charter school performance compared to regular schools. What group of students do you use for the control group?
Now, new research from charter expert Professor Caroline Hoxby works around that problem by comparing the performance of students in New York City’s (NYC) lottery-selected charter schools to the performance of those students who entered the lottery but didn’t win a charter school slot. In effect, it’s a randomized study, the gold standard for this sort of research.
According to the Wall Street Journal summary the comparison of Big Apple charter schools and regular public schools really wasn’t even a contest. The lottery-selected inner NYC charter school kids, who come mostly from poor and disadvantaged families, actually score almost as well as kids from the extremely exclusive Scarsdale school district, a super high wealth school system in NYC’s Northern suburbs that makes Kentucky’s wealthy Anchorage district near Louisville look low-rent.
Those lottery-selected charter kids obviously did far better than the “control” group of kids who entered the lottery but wound up in regular NYC public schools.
It’s no surprise that the local teachers’ union head in the Big Apple tried to downplay charters, but I don’t think she really thought through her comments.
The union head said the charters are not representative because the state charter process makes sure the schools are better than the rest.
That’s the whole point, madam union person. It is possible to create better public schools for our kids. But, union rules and a cumbersome state education bureaucracy bog down regular public schools so kids don’t get that educational benefit. That is particularly true in Kentucky where we don’t even have a charter school law.
The NYC teachers’ union head also cited another study released recently that shows overall charters across America don’t perform better than public schools. Clearly, this union worthy would be upset to learn we know about that report, and among other things it shows is that in certain states charters definitely do outperform public schools. The key is that you can have good, or bad, charter laws – a lesson Kentucky can benefit from as we craft our charter legislation.
More from the news we can use area: Hoxby’s study indicates the most successful charters use the following practices: longer school days, teacher merit pay and a strong disciplinary policy. We need to insure a Kentucky charter school law facilitates these top performance elements.
Maybe the most telling comment of all in the Journal’s article comes from a Harlem hospital manager. She entered her daughter in 10 charter lotteries, but didn’t win any of them. Instead, she enrolled her daughter in a Catholic school for $3,100 per year, saying, “I had no choice. I’d rather pay every last dime than put her in a public school.”
That is, unless it was a public charter school.