Settling the charter school debate

Whenever the issue involves charter schools, both sides cherry pick data to support their position (“Charter schools are the best way to wipe out educational disparity,” New York Post, June 27).  The best way to settle the debate is to allow traditional public schools to operate under the same set of rules as charter schools with students from the same racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Then compare the results.

I think the outcomes would be most revealing.  Yes, there will always be some who refuse to change their opinions for one reason or another.  They have that right, and I support them.  But I think that most people will get a better understanding of why charter schools on average are able to outperform traditional public schools.

I graduated from a traditional public school and taught for 28 years in a traditional public high school.  But I realize that times have changed.  What was a good fit for me growing up may not be a good fit for others today.  Rather than continue the debate, let’s get better evidence out in the open for everyone to judge for themselves.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Settling the charter school debate”

  1. It would be easier to run a limited experiment in which a few well-known charters have to operate a low-SES inner-city neighborhood public school for say three years while enrolling all the students who would have normally attended that school and only those students. In other words, allow the charters to operate by their regular rules but require them to teach exactly the same cross-section of students as the low-SES inner-city neighborhood public school. Would add the requirement that the charters have to keep the students — they could only expel students in circumstances where the neighborhood public school could expel the students.

    You never hear charters demanding to run this experiment. No surprise.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: I agree, and the results would demonstrate that charter schools are not superior to traditional public schools. The reason they usually outperform is that they play by a different set of rules. Traditional public schools are the schools of last resort.

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