Stalwart public schooling defender Diane Ravitch does not like what she saw in School Inc., a three-part documentary series created by former Cato education analyst Andrew Coulson. Of course, she is welcome to disagree with it. But her main complaint—that PBS dared show the documentary in the first place—is concerning from a public debate perspective, while her more substantive critiques of School Inc. illustrate precisely why we need to let all voices engage in debates, not just those with whom we agree.
The latest big charter school study was sweeping in scope, looking at thousands of students in 26 states across three school years.
But the study (and lots of other research on charter schools) uses that data to answer a relatively narrow question: How do students, usually in grades 4-8, perform on math and reading tests compared to students in traditional public schools?
This could be called the “test score horse race.” Some researchers are moving beyond that, to try to understand issues like what specific charter approaches are most effective and how charter schools affect larger communities.
Democrats for Education Reform’s president, Shavar Jeffries, is fighting an uphill battle in trying to convince democrats to support charters and choice. Now that Barack Obama is no longer on the Oval, DFER and other similar groups are out in the open with their hostility toward President Trump’s education choice agenda. “I’ve heard from some folks that DFER is opposed to [U.S. Secretary of Education] DeVos or opposed to certain types of policies because we’re Democrats,” said Jeffries. “We’re like, no we’re opposed to this because we love children.”
In this new era of partisan politics, we’re to believe that only Democrats love children!
Commissioned by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, the study analyzed the economic impact of start-up charter schools on the nearby communities. The researchers looked at home sales from 2004 to 2013, covering 15 school districts that include 52 start-up charter schools.The study found homeowners were willing to pay more to be near new charters with specific attendance zones.
It’s a bit of twisted logic for charter advocates to turn their back on President Trump’s support for charter school in order to ingratiate themselves with anti-charter foes.
“It would be much more valuable for me, frankly, if [the president] just said he hates charter schools,” said Caprice Young, chief executive officer and superintendent of the Magnolia network of charter schools. “The fact that Trump supports charter schools gives the opposition… an opportunity to equate charter schools with the things that Trump cares about, that most Californians are opposed to.”
We know that far too many black children are sitting in classrooms where they are not learning. We know their schools have fewer resources. We know their teachers, on average, are less qualified. We know expectations for these children are set lower than the expectations for students in more affluent suburban schools.
The vision of “education reform” coming from the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos entails cutting direct aid to students, especially those from low-income families, in order to expand the private sector’s financial footprint in education.