A Considered Refutation of the “Success” of the Charter School Movement

Jersey Jazzman: The New Segregation in the New Newark
This is a response to my post, in which I expressed support of Superintendent Cami Anderson’s overruling the school board decision to keep from leading school buildings to charter schools.

Now it is true that some charters do seem to “beat the odds”: they do better than expected given their student populations. But are the odds any better for charters – as a whole – than public schools? And can those high-flying charters scale their success to all students? Increasingly, the answer seems to be: “No.”

In the case of Newark, I’m afraid the evidence is quite clear: “successful” charters are “successful” because they serve different student populations than the public schools surrounding them. TEAM has a different student population. North Star has a different student population. Robert Treat has a different student population. These are the charters we hear about; the ones our politicians and pundits love to brag on:

By overruling the board, Superintendent Anderson is operating from the perspective that building a network of charter schools will provide better choices for Newark parents and builds upon the successes of those schools.

Duke, a public school teacher himself, argues that charter schools are not a panacea for Newark’s poor student performance. The crux of his argument is that charter school success is not the result of better incentives for teachers, better teaching methods, or technology.

Rather, charter schools do better because they select for wealthier students with parents who are engaged in their children’s education.

It’s a sobering, clear-headed takedown of the PowerPoint success stories that my wife and I were shown during our own search for a kindergarten for our daughter.

If you care about Newark kids, this article is a must-read.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.