Charters Expand Despite Lack of Evidence for Their Success

Diane Ravitch’s Blog, 11/14/12

Joy Resmovits has a good article at Huffington Post describing the growth of charter school enrollments and the absence of adequate oversight.

Currently, about 5 percent of all American students are enrolled in these privately managed schools. In some urban districts, the proportion is much larger. The districts with the greatest number of students in charters are New Orleans, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, and Flint, Michigan. In 25 districts, at least 20 percent of students attend charters.

With the support of a bipartisan combination of President Obama, Congress, conservative governors, and rightwing groups like ALEC, these numbers are sure to grow. And the privatization of one of the nation’s most essential public services will continue.

The article mentions that local school boards “argue” that charters reduce their funding. That’s not an argument, that’s a fact. When students leave to attend charters, the public schools must lay off teachers, increase class sizes, cut programs. The more charters open, the more the public schools decline, especially when they lose their most motivated families and students. This is not simply a matter of transferring money from Peter to Paul, but crippling Peter to enrich Paul.

If charters had a stellar reputation, the logic might be on their side. But there are few studies that show charters outperforming public schools even on the crude measure of test scores. With only a few outliers, most studies show that charters do not get different results when they have the same kinds of students.

Chester-Upland, Pensylvania, schools may be an example of what happens when well-funded charters (funded by the district’s own revenues) grow as the host dies. …

continue reading at Diane Ravitch’s Blog


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