by Edd Doerr (arlinc.org)
Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes has just released a new study of charter schools. But press coverage of the report has been rather weird. Here are the major headlines on June 25 ---- New York Times: "Charter Schools Are Improving, a Study Says." Wall Street Journal: "Charter Schools Receive a Passing Grade." Bloomberg News: "Stanford Study Says Charter Schools Outperform." Huffington Post: "Charter School Performance Study Finds Small Gains." Education Week: "Charters Show 'Slow and Steady Progress,' Multistate Study Finds." Washington Post: "Report questions effect of nation's charter schools." And finally, the Deseret News (Utah): "Study: Majority of US charter schools perform equal or worse than traditional schools."
It turns out that the Deseret News and Washington Post headlines are the most accurate. While the study does show that charter schools have shown some improvement since Stanford's 2009 study, the bottom line is that the vast majority of charter schools are actually worse than or no better than regular or traditional public schools. Further, the new study deals only with reading and math. So what about art, music, science, social studies?
Still further, "Labor Lawyer", a frequent commentator on educational matters in Education Week, pointed out in that journal that charter schools serve a larger percentage of kids of more "concerned/functional" parents than do regular public schools, this giving them a "skimming" advantage.
Finally, let me call attention to the new 2012 book from Teachers College Press, "Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education: What's at Stake?" by Michael Fabricant and Michelle Fine, with a foreword by prominent education expert Deborah Meier.