by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Yesterday, I wrote about a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study written by researchers at Duke University. In “The Growing Segmentation of the Charter School Sector in North Carolina” by Helen Ladd, Charles Clotfelter, and John Holbein, the authors speculate that “white flight” is responsible for raising student achievement in the state’s charter schools.
To be fair, they mention other possible reasons, including charter closures and the planning year requirement. Nevertheless, it was the “racial balance” aspect that got the attention of the Washington Post, which published an article titled, “White parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to secede from the education system.” There is no race baiting in that title! The truth is that parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to provide a better public education for their children.
If we agree with Ladd, Clotfelter, and Holbein’s findings, where do we go from here? They conclude,
As would be predicted by the standard market model of competition, the charter school sector in North Carolina will undoubtedly continue to evolve. In this case, however, state policy makers have both the power and the responsibility to influence that evolution. In particular, they have the authority to limit the number of entrants or to alter the authorization and review processes. The question is whether they will use that authority to assure that the sector serves the public interest and not just the private interests of those who send their children to charter schools.
Apparently, the “private interests” of parents, including the choices they make, do nothing but harm. As such, the authors want the state to issue fewer charters in the name of the “public interest,” thereby rescuing parents from themselves.