Friday, August 07, 2009

Charter schools should be eliminating segregation

Unchecked, charter schools tend to worsen
already high levels of racial and economic segregation.

The Obama administration holds up charter schools as the hope of reform for the educational system. But charter schools could be doing much more to change problems that go beyond academics in American education, write two researchers from the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. Charter schools should be tools to reverse the isolation of student groups affected by segregation and income inequalities, they write.

This from Education Week:
A review of research measuring the promise of charter schools against what actually happens to children in real classrooms strongly suggests that it is unrealistic to expect that charter schools, alone, will reverse the vast and growing educational inequalities in the United States. In fact, there is no solid evidence that these schools—just by virtue of being charters—do any better for students than traditional public schools. As a rigorous and, unfortunately, widely misrepresented 2009 Harvard/MIT study on Boston showed, some charters do better than the city’s regular public schools. Some do not. This is a common finding. But another finding—that in some places, charters generally do worse than their traditional counterparts—is also commonly recorded. A recent Minnesota study, for example, showed that students in charters either did less well than similar students in public schools or the same as those students. A report released in June by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes featured similar findings.


Richard Innes said...

Actually, if you read the Stanford report carefully, you learn that charters in some states do notably better than in other states, which imply that state laws could play an important role in the way charters actually work. There needs to be more research on why this happens, but it may be that charters as a concept are sound, but specific implementations may be the problem.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone should shove this data under Mr. Obamba's nose since he is pushing charter schools. I guess it wouldn't matter since he doesn't seem to listen to anyone but himself or perhaps Nancy Pelosi.

Richard Day said...

Richard & Anon,

Yes, but, if we were to look at the implementation of anything, would we not find that some states do better than others?

I just don't see compelling evidence that, taken as a whole, charters are any better. But neither do they look like the end of public schooling.

I have been surprised by Obama's push for charters exactly because of its disequalizing nature - the same thing that ought to cause us pause in Kentucky because of our constitutional language.


Anonymous said...

I must confess I don't even know what it takes to found a charter school. Are there any in Kentucky? Inquiring minds want to know.

Richard Day said...

There aren't any.

Kentucky does not have a law permitting them but there re a couple of exceptions. The legislature created the Gatton School (Math & Science...did I get that name right?) at WKU by specific legislation. It operated kinda like a charter.

And a former commissioner told me that Simmons University in Louisville has been allowed to open some kind of a school but I've never check into that.

Some will tell you Model Lab School at EKU is a charter, but they're wrong.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm aware that Model Lab is not a charter school. Too bad, UK no longer has one. Those were the good old days....

I'd rather work for the university than for Mr. Silberman. You see, for me, "It's about learning."