I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Charter Sexism?

Gordon MacInnes makes a good point:
The Department of Education is correct to assert that the poverty rates in charter schools are significant enough to take nothing away from those that perform dramatically well, such as Robert Treat Academy (45 percent free lunch), TEAM (60 percent), and North Star (52.9 percent) in Newark. Nevertheless, that does not justify the claim that charter schools should replace district schools to improve educational outcomes or that anyone should expect similar results in schools with much more concentrated poverty.
NAEP draws one-to-one comparisons for another subgroup, girls and boys. In 1992, girls scored 8 points better than boys on the fourth grade reading test (221 vs. 213). Seventeen years later the gap had closed by a single point. The gap on the eighth grade reading test was nine points in 2009 test (down from 13 in 1992). Incidentally, New Jersey mirrors the national numbers, as expected.
Why is this indisputable gap important to the charter discussion? First, gender is ignored in the DOE report. Second, at three of four of Newark’s consistently highest-performing charter schools, the over-enrollment of girls contributes materially to their improved performance.
At North Star almost three in five students is a girl (59.6 percent); at TEAM, the ratio is only slightly lower at 57.8 percent; and, at Gray it is 57 percent. In the Newark public schools, meanwhile, boys outnumber girls 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.
Acting commissioner Cerf promises expanded "quantity and quality" of data for greater transparency. He might show a little curiosity about the connection between gender and achievement.
MacInnes goes on to talk about the disparity in percentages of "English as a second language" students as well. Read the entire thing.

Again: I have no problem with charters - I started in a charter. This issue remains whether they are replicable. The data increasingly says no. Yet the corporate reformers continue to push them not only as a real solution for urban education, but as a necessary change for students throughout all school districts.

Sorry, but they just won't work at that breadth. They are good for certain types of students in certain situations, but they won't fix the root causes of trouble for poor kids.

Fixing those causes requires that conservatives give up long-held convictions about taxation, income inequity, and the role of government. Anyone see that happening any time soon?

ADDING: More on how charters skew their populations to get better test results. How many more stories like this do we need before the charter "movement" gets called out for its spin?

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