"It's true that charters overall do not perform better than traditional public schools; and charter schools, of course, are public schools. But the top fifth of charter schools - in other words, the models that have been getting a lot of this publicity and these shout-outs from the president - they perform DRAMATICALLY better. And even if there is this statistical game being played as Diane rightly points out in many different areas, we have enough numbers to know that the successful models - and these are reliable numbers - the successful models do outperform traditional schools." [my transcription]Uh, Jon? It's not really surprising that the top charter schools would do better than the average traditional school. Because, see, the top half of ALL schools perform better than the average.
Here, let Bruce Baker explain it to you.
This quote came from Alter's debate with Diane Ravitch this past week on David Sirota's radio show. The debate was prompted by Ravitch's piece in the NY Times questioning the records of certain schools championed President Obama and other corporate reformers. Alter responded (writing for Bloomberg - gee, what are the odds?) with the usual corporate reform whining: We aren't all right wingers! We have a problem with unions, not teachers! We only want to get rid of bad teachers like in every other profession!
Blah, blah, blah. As Ravitch quite correctly pointed out, the "reforms" being touted across the country are not about accountability, which all decent teachers and their unions want; it is, instead, about removing job protections so that the teacher payroll is reduced, thereby saving the wealthy backers of the corporate reform movement the indignity of having to pay their fair share in taxes.
Alter, like most of the punditocracy, is a dilettante when it comes to education. He hasn't done the work, he relies on the phony corporate reform think-tanks, and he pushes solutions that are bad for teachers and bad for students, but good for the continuing Halliburtonization of American schools. Kudos to Ravitch for continuing to stand up to hacks like him.
By the way, give David Sirota credit for pointing out that giving teachers "incentives" implies that teachers aren't properly motivated. The entire "reform" debate is framed around the notion that teachers are the failing factor in education; never once do we seem to consider that maybe the problem lies with the policy makers.