Thursday, January 07, 2010

Studies Show ...Expanding Charter Schools on the Merits - & Getting Paid For It

Another definitive study came out this week which provided demonstrable evidence that charter schools in New York City are improving student academic achievement and outperforming comparable students in the City's district schools.

The study by Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University examined student test scores in 49 charter schools and found after three years they outperformed district students by 15 points in math and by 4 points in reading. The study was reported by New York Public Radio (here).

The author of the study, Professor Margaret Raymond, conducted similar charter studies in other states and the results were not as favorable. The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, liked to cite CREDO's work to downplay charter schools (e.g., here). No such luck in New York.

Today's New York Post includes an op-ed piece by James Merriman, head of the New York City Charter School Center, who points out that Prof. Raymond's methodology is different from that of Prof. Caroline Hoxby, also of Stanford, but not part of CREDO. Nonetheless, both studies of New York City charter schools (Hoxby's study is here) arrive at the same favorable conclusions.

Case closed. Charter schools in New York are a big success story.

Now Legislature Must Act
If ever the New York State Legislature should do something on the merits, it should be in favor of charter schools. They should expand charters and provide funding parity with facilities support, among other steps. The state Regents--whom the legislature, not the Governor, appoints--recommended these and other pro-charter school policies to be adopted in time for the state's submission of the Race to the Top application for $700 million in new federal education funds.

Imagine that: Different studies have shown charters' success, and the state increases its chances to get paid $700 million to use for district schools if they expand charters.

A no-brainer.

Legislative Resistance to Charters - Still
Would that life was that simple and obvious.

There remain many--too many--state legislators that simply oppose charter schools and tune out any favorable discussion of them, no matter the source. Many of these members "represent" hundreds if not thousands of constituents that benefit from charters or want them. The United Federation of Teachers looms large in these legislative minds, and the UFT is on a mission this week to scuttle any favorable action on charter schools.

This is what gubernatorial and legislative leadership is all about -- bringing the votes from otherwise recalcitrant colleagues to do the right thing for the state.

It will be an interesting next few days in Albany's statehouse.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard

Disclaimer: The Chalkboard is hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) as a place where members, public education advocates and others can view and respond to informed commentary on timely public education and charter school issues. The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the NYCSA, its board, or of any of its individual charter school members. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog. To comment on anything you read here, or to offer tips, advice, comments, or complaints. please contact TheChalkboard.