by David Safier
Minnesota was the birthplace of charter schools 20 years ago (Yes, they're that new).
The Institute on Race and Poverty produced a report on the state's charters. The results
Orfield's research team gathered test scores and other data from all traditional public and charter schools in the Twin Cities. That other data included poverty measurements, as a way of lining up schools in similar economic situations.
What they found was charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools.
The report also looks at schools' racial make-up, and includes a map that plots all metro area charter schools. It shows segregated schools far outnumber integrated – and in some cases, predominately white schools are surrounded by predominately non-white schools.
The article explains the reasons for some of the poor results. Basically, when you compare the standard public schools with the charter schools, it's a wash.
These results have been repeated in study after study around the country. I find them discouraging. I like charter schools as a concept, and I know some of them are truly excellent. But anyone who thinks they point to the future of education, or they indicate that vouchers would be a good idea, think again.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Education is a very, very tough business that no one really understands. No one knows the magic formula to success. People who proclaim, "I know the solution to our educational problems" are either lying or deluding themselves. I say this not to be pessimistic, but to be realistic. We need to be both idealists and hard-nosed realists when it comes to educating our youth.
(I was led to this study and other fascinating tidbits I'll write about in the future in a post by Phoenix Woman on Firedoglake. Thanks to the always interesting and ever mysterious AZBlueMeanie for sending me the link.)