by Locker Room contributor
As you may have heard, the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research released a report today that 1) discredits charter schools and 2) calls for the cap to remain in place. The N&O’s WakeEd blog reported in March that the Center planned to release a report that recommended maintaining the cap of 100 charter schools.
Without going into much detail, the report argues that 1) charter schools are low performing schools, 2) are not racially balanced, 3) do not transfer their innovations to the local school systems, and 4) are mismanaged.
First, the easy ones. Unlike district schools, charter schools close when mismanagement occurs. And let’s face it, we should not be surprised that district schools are not much for innovation. You can lead a horse to water…
When it comes to racial balance, Senator Eddie Goodall said it best: the report argues that some charter schools (37 schools) have too many (over 50 percent) black students and that two schools have too many Native American students. I suppose that the Center should be in favor of bussing more white students to these schools in order to achieve racial balance.
As for student performance, the report is clearly not an apples to apples comparison of charter and district schools. The report compares charter schools with graduating classes of fewer than 25 students to district schools that have graduating classes in the hundreds. In this case, a straight percentage comparison is meaningless.
The report also does not separate alternative charter schools from regular charter schools. Six out of the 10 lowest performing charter schools are alternative schools but the report buries this information in a footnote. Five out of the 10 lowest graduation rates among charter schools belongs to alternative schools, but the report does not acknowledge this in the table.
Finally, student performance is “measured” superficially. The Center’s researchers mostly just report end-of-grade test results, and do little analysis of their own.
Ran Coble, director of the Center, says that the state needs to show taxpayers that their investment in charter schools is sound. I say that the same idea applies to district schools. Are district schools “good stewards of the people’s funds?” Nope.
My policy report on charter schools is a much more complete and compact analysis. Get it here.