You probably don’t know what to do with yourself until 4:30 today. If you’re inclined to blow off your honey-do list, perhaps you’d care to join the growing debate about charter schools that’s raging across the Garden State.
Start with Tom Moran’s piece in the Star-Ledger, which takes us to a “high performing” charter in Jersey City. Give Moran some credit for at least acknowledging the other side of the debate; unfortunately, even though he grants that charters have limited scalability, he’s still sides with Chris Christie’s plan for charter expansion.
I take on his example, however, at Jersey Jazzman, and show that, to a large extent, charter school “successes” can often be accounted for by the fact that charters serve a different student population than surrounding neighborhood schools:
May I make a suggestion, Tom? For your next piece, do what Michael Winerip of the NY Times did, and talk to some families who have not been served well by the charter school experience. Then take another cue from Winerip and look at the charter application process.
You’ve come a long way in acknowledging the other side of this debate, Tom. But take the next step: let’s get this all out on the table before we start cheering on more charters.
Professor Bruce Baker at Rutgers goes deep into the data to prove just that:
When one estimates what I would call a “descriptive regression” model characterizing the differences in proficiency rates across district and charter schools in the same cities, one finds that compared against schools of similar demography, and on the same grade level and subject area tests, the charter proficiency rates, on average are no different than their traditional public school counterparts. [emphasis mine]
And NJ Parents Against Gov. Christie’s School Budget Cuts takes Moran to task for ignoring the data and instead attempting to tug on his readers’ heartstrings:
More and more, NJ parents are seeing through the hype and demanding quality public schools for every child rather than the privatization of our public education system. That’s why Christie couldn’t get his education agenda passed in 2011, and he’s going to run up against some powerful opposition in 2012.
This debate cuts right to the heart of progressive interests: are we a society that ensures that every child gets a high-quality education? Leave your thoughts below.