by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Ann Doss Helms of the Charlotte Observer lays it out,
At a meeting to discuss whether Matthews town officials should pursue their own charter schools Tuesday, facilitator Cyndee Patterson opened with a startling statistic: 50 percent of charter schools fail.
She didn’t cite a source, and no one questioned the number. The uncertainty of investing in an independent start-up school was one of the reasons Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members urged town leaders to abandon that path and work together to strengthen traditional public schools.
But there’s no evidence that failure rate is accurate. [Emphasis added.]
When asked during a break about the source of that number, Patterson — hired by Foundation for the Carolinas to facilitate talks between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the town of Matthews — said Superintendent Clayton Wilcox provided it. Wilcox agreed, saying it was a national number he had heard somewhere.
When the Observer asked Wilcox to provide the source of that number, Wilcox said he couldn’t find anything and “might have been confused with new business starts.” About half of all business start-ups fail within five years, according to national statistics.
Of course, Wilcox and Patterson should apologize. If they do, I will pass it along to Locker Room readers.