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

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Thoughts On "Ed Reform 101 - Charter Schools & Vouchers"

There is one more piece coming in the Ed Reform 101 series, but today is my last day; someone else is writing the recap, which I'm really looking forward to.

So I'm going to quickly give some additional thoughts here on my final post, "Charter Schools and Vouchers," and then tell you what comes next in the series.

This post was just about getting to the facts, and they are pretty straight forward: charters are not the miracles the corporate "reformers" say they are. They can be good schools; they can be bad schools; they can be average schools. But they are not head-and-shoulders above the schools in their region, if you account for student characteristics.

This, of course, is the key. It is astonishing to me that Chris Cerf and Chris Christie came out crowing for charters' "successes" without accounting for this. Even the charter schools' spokesman admitted there are differences in the populations: charters serve fewer kids in poverty, fewer special needs kids, and fewer kids who don't speak English as their first language.

That's not to say that there shouldn't be a place for charters; it's only to point out that selling charters as reform that will increase overall student achievement is simply not correct.

Now, I can't believe the very, very wealthy backers of DFER and B4K and HCZ and KIPP and all the rest don't know this. If they don't... well, that's just astonishing. This is a simple matter well within the understanding of laypeople - especially those from the world of finance who play with numbers all day.

Which leads me to believe that they do know, but they're pushing charters hard anyway. Why? Well, perhaps they adhere to some notion of "saving" a child if you can. The lucky winners in Davis Guggenheim's lotteries get to go on to success, and everyone else...

I find this view off the world disturbing, but I suspect it comports with the view many wealthy people have of themselves: that there's nothing wrong with living in opulence, even if the rest of the world suffers.

Personally, I have no problem with rich people: I just think we ought to tax the crap out of them, like we did back in the '50s, when we had a huge economic boom and a stable middle class. Just like I think every child should go to a great school with a well-paid, highly-educated staff with a rich curriculum and small class sizes. Funny how my two beliefs seem to complement each other, just as the opposites seem to be the beliefs of the charter cheerleaders.

Something for you to chew on this Labor Day...

As to the rest of the series:

We'll start with a wrap up from another writer at Blue Jersey tomorrow. We'll then have several guest posts, by some especially esteemed people in the education policy world; I'm very excited about that.

After that, we'll see where things take us...

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