Selected readings on US charter schools
The new mayor has to help, not hurt, charter schools
The mayor-elect is on the cusp of tapping a new chancellor to lead New York City’s largest-in-the-nation, 1.1 million student public education system. One bellwether of the new educator-in-chief’s determination to stand with the kids will be his or her approach to charter schools.
Bill de Blasio’s rhetoric on this score has been deeply disheartening. He must be as flexible and results-oriented in selecting a chancellor as he was in naming Bill Bratton police commissioner after campaigning so vigorously against the NYPD’s stop, question, frisk program.
New York’s 183 charter schools educate 70,000 kids who live in that second, poorer, oft-forgotten city de Blasio talks so much about. Open to all by lottery, they predominantly operate outside the teachers union contract. That freedom, plus a motivated corps of educators, plus a drive to innovate, has produced stunning results.
On the tough new Common Core exams administered last year, students at Success Charter Network, which operates 20 schools, soared. An amazing 82% passed the state math exam; 58% passed the English exam. All passed in science.
By comparison, on average citywide — in schools that serve rich, poor, and in between — an abysmal 26% of students got over the bar in English, and just 30% in math.
The average charter school had an 11-percentage-point advantage over its peer schools on the English tests – and a 3.7-point advantage in math.
Charter school performance varies, just like anything. But the best — which happen to be those with the biggest targets on their backs — are outstanding. And almost all stand out as islands of innovation and give parents and children precious alternatives. No surprise: They are forced to turn away thousands of applicants.
Still, there’s intense opposition to charters. Fomented largely by the teachers union, pols have falsely characterized them as draining resources from traditional schools. De Blasio has bought into this fictional us-against-them narrative.
He says he wants to charge charters rent when they use space in school buildings. Other public schools pay zip — proving this is a purely punitive move that will force charters to serve fewer kids.
He wants to freeze charter co-locations, whereby charters share space with district schools — again singling out charters for a practice that’s long been common among many district schools.
When you’ve got a good thing going, you should help it to grow and flourish. Many candidates for New York City schools chancellor will understand that. Some will not.
De Blasio must choose wisely, and begin to back off his anti-charter school brinksmanship.
Source: New York Daily News – Editorial