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Are charter schools better?

A groundbreaking study offers new insights into charters: Are they outperforming traditional public schools, or are they failing their students?

By Carol Lloyd

Charter schools. In some education circles, these two words are enough to ignite a spitting match of statistics and impassioned rhetoric.

They are ruining our school system - they take resources away from public schools!

Since the public school system has abandoned our most needy children, charters are our only hope for reforming public school education.

Research shows that, on average, charter schools don’t outperform traditional public schools – they’re just another attempt to privatize education!

Test scores don’t lie. High-performing charter schools are closing the achievement gap.

On and on the arguments go, drawing on the same old, selectively chosen facts to prove vastly different points of view. Amidst this increasingly heated clamor over charter schools, it’s no surprise that many parents respond to the debate with the deer-in-the-headlight stare my friend gave me the other day when the subject came up: “I don’t know how I feel about charters,” she muttered. “I mean, are they bad or good?”

The good, the bad, and the promising

According to today’s groundbreaking report by the California Charter Schools Association, the answer to my friend’s question is: both.

"Portrait of the Movement" provides an in-depth analysis of California’s 720 charter schools (new schools without data were not included), comparing them to traditional public schools along three important variables: their absolute test scores, their test scores relative to the students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, and their improvement over time.

The results, which were released Wednesday, February 23, 2011 with endorsements from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and reformer Michelle Rhee, offer a glimpse into the complex reality of charter school performance in one of the biggest states in the nation. In addition to a searchable map comparing all charter and public schools in the state, the report includes an interactive scatterplot of charter schools and sortable spreadsheet of all the state's charters.

What emerges is a simple fact: charter schools are not all created equal. But the not-so-simple truth about charters is that compared with traditional schools, they are both more likely to outperform and more likely to underperform their predicted outcomes.  As CCSA's Myrna Castrejon put it, the report offers "cause for celebration and cause for concern."

Helping some, hurting others?

As a rule of thumb, at public schools the more privileged kids — those in the upper socioeconomic brackets — get the highest scores. The most disadvantaged — those in the lower socioeconomic brackets — attend the lowest-performing schools and score worse. But with charter schools, there are more outliers: some schools are doing substantially worse than comparable public schools. But some charter schools — especially those serving kids from disadvantaged backgrounds — are doing substantially better.

In this sense, the report unpacks the much touted finding that taken in aggregate, charter schools aren’t better than their traditional counterparts. Such findings were an important caveat that charter schools are no panacea, but broad generalizations about mediocre charter school performance occludes the lessons that exceptional individual charter schools can offer.

As CCSA is eager to underscore, the report’s key findings suggest that the charter school experiment shows remarkable promise, even though some of those schools are failing their students.

More excellent outliers than terrible outliers — Over all, there are more outperforming charter schools than underperforming ones. (Charters are four times more likely than non-charters to over-perform their prediction, while only twice as likely to be underperformers.) Given that the low performing schools tend to be smaller than the high performing schools, the positive effect is amplified -- with 2.5 times as many students served in the top performing 5% than the lowest performing 5%.

The right direction — Over time, the number of out-performing charters is increasing, while the number of underperformers is decreasing.

Excellence is replicable — Schools in Charter Management Organizations – like KIPP, Aspire, Alliance — have a better track record of excellence than charters that have no CMO-affiliation.

Classrooms still work — So-called “classroom-based” charter schools outperform non-classroom based charters, which comprise the highly volatile world of virtual academies and home school charters that may not compare well with traditional schools.

Closing the achievement gap — Charter schools serving low-income kids are outperforming comparable traditional schools.

Your takeaways

Does this mean you should run out and find a charter school for your child to attend? Would that choosing a school were so easy! But “charter” shouldn’t be taken as a short-hand for good, or even decent. Each school — be it charter, private or public — needs to be assessed carefully according to its merits and your child's needs. What this report does elucidate is the varied performance of the vast array of charter schools — from a girl logging onto her computer in her pajamas to a collection of boys dressed in suits and ties and chanting their multiplication tables millitary-style.

No doubt, CCSA has a stake in findings that shine a rosy light on all their member schools. But the broad offerings that make up charter schools, including online homeschool programs to academic-intensive prep-style academies, are far more diverse than the public schools they are compared to — for better and for worse. In the process, CCSA has begun to set its own criteria for what good enough looks like.  In the report, it identified 30 charter schools it will not endorse for renewal.

Ultimately, however, the report spells good news for the charter movement. Not because it proves that charters are always better, but because in all their diversity, they offer a picture not only of what works, but what should be avoided. If nothing else, it shines a light toward future success. Many of these schools — among them the CMOs like Alliance that are dedicated to closing the achievement gap — have made extraordinary strides in disproving those who believe that income level equals educational destiny. And that's good news for everyone.

is the executive editor of GreatSchools and mother to two raucous daughters, ages 9 and 13.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/13/2012:
"I work at a charter school in New England and it is amazing! We represent the poorest, urban community in our state and 85% of our students go on to college. Kids meet with their advisors twice a day. The school stays open for homework club on Saturdays and during school vacations. We run a summer enrichment program. Almost all of the teachers, including myself, went to an Ivy League college. We are a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the leading school reform movement in the US. We care so much. We are able to do our jobs because we don't operate under the same restraints as regular public schools. If you don't support charter schools, please reconsider. We make a differance. "
01/30/2012:
"Charter Schools are an amazing source of education. I have learned so much. I haven't bullied ever since I came to a charter school. "
03/14/2011:
"The public school system in general pretty much sucks. The bottom line is charter, private and christian schools are creating competition for public schools which increases the amount of quality sources of education and of course the unions don't want thier money for precious public schools going to anyone else but them. It is amazing how liberalslove choice as long as it is theirs. They do not like choice when it comes to vouchers and tax credits for non-public schools and charters that take money away from their budgets."
03/9/2011:
"Charter schools can't choose students. At least they can't here in South Carolina. There is required open enrollment or it goes to a lottery, as required by law. My sister is a special needs student and has made significant gains at her charter school, even though she is in a mainstream classroom. This school has been the best option for her and has served her well. It has also allowed her to be in a normal classroom. They would have placed her in a self-contained classroom in a regular public school. At her charter school, that isn't even an option due to lack of funding. But charter schools are like public and private schools. Some are good. Some are bad. My sister's just happens to be excellent."
03/9/2011:
"This was very interesting since it did not mention parent involvement. Do charter schools mandate parent involvement? YES!!! DO charter schools have a right to say we do not want your child at our school because he or she is a behavior problem? YES!!! Public schools do not have this. WOrking in low socioeconomic areas the kids score low. It is a known fact and has been researched. Charter schools here can choose their students. They have the choice of who they want."
03/9/2011:
"Do any of these studies take into account parental involvement? Do charter schools do better because the students' parents care enough to seek out alternatives and go through the application process? These parents obviously take education seriously. Everyone points to the schools needing reform. What about apathetic parents? Stop playing the blame game and make a difference!!!"
03/9/2011:
"In California the Gulen Managed Charter schools are the best: Magnolia Science Academy, Pacific Technology and Bay Area Technology. http://www.magnoliascienceacademy.blogspot.com"
03/9/2011:
"Instead of selecting a few schools to raise up (charters), how do we serve a generation of students by improving the public education system which will serve the vast majority of our children? Charters can select their students based on their own criteria and funding availability. Public schools have to take whoever walks in the door. As a parent, I can see the attraction. We want the best for our kids, right? When a parent volunteers in a classroom, they raise the quality of education for every student. What will happen if all the motivated parents with the time to spare abandon public education? We need smaller class sizes, but no one wants to face that economic reality. There is a limit on what a teacher can do with 30 students versus 15. How can a teacher inspire excellence in an overcrowded class with children who haven't had breakfast yet? There are bad teachers just as their are bad plumbers, but overall teachers take on an impossible task and do it for mediocre pay a! nd against terrible odds."
03/9/2011:
"This is a very skewed representation of results and highly inaccurate. Charter performance tends tends to mirror performance at ANY school. It breaks down along socioeconomic lines, whether charter or not. And the charters that outperform tend to be those stacked with higher performing students. Their greatest legacy is going to be the ghettoization of traditional public schools, which will damage society overall for the benefit of a few. This article greatly diminished any impression of credibility I held of greatschools.org."
03/9/2011:
"As already mentioned here, not all charter schools are the same. I made the mistake to send my daughter to a charter high school run by Aspira here in Chicago and it was an awful experience. Teachers began quitting shortly after the school yr began and continued all thru the yr with no explanation from the administration. Needless to say, my daughter did transfer to another school. On the other hand, my 2 other children attended schools run by Noble Street Charter and their experience was truly a positive one. The teachers and administration were very involved with the students and the families all working towards the success of the kids. My advice to all parents is that you do your homework first and find out as much as you can before you enroll your child in a new school. With patience and your good instincts you will make the right choice for your child."
03/9/2011:
"I had a daughter in a charter school in Michigan. She was badly bullied. The school had no bullying policy. The school wanted to sweep the bullying problems under the rug so parents would continue to enroll/send their children to the charter school. In this day and age to NOT have a bullying policy and to ignore a child being bullied is unbelievable. Needless to say, my daughter no longer goes to a charter school."
03/9/2011:
"Charter schools--good news for everyone? I don't think so! As a parent, I don't WANT to figure out which school is good, which school is bad. What I want is a good, reliable public school system that is a solid institution. I don't want to figure out which particular little enclave is good. I want my kids to walk to a good and safe neighborhood school. I don't want to comparison shop. It's exhausting, and my questions I have about school are never easy to see if they are answered at all. What is the creativity index of the school? How is bullying treated? What is the leadership style of the principal? Will my quiet older child, and my very active younger child be able to survive in the same school? I'd like a good solid public school--reliable---Why not improve what we already have?"
03/9/2011:
"I look forward to reading the whole study. My youngest is in a charter school with a genuine lottery. It is a broad swath of kids from all socio-economic backgrounds and consistently scores #1 or #2 in the entire district. It's an Aspire school where every child begins in Kindergarten with the belief that they are going to college. That mindset highlights a huge difference that grows wider as the kids get older. Parental involvement is a huge part from getting the application initially to homework each night and Saturday schools. Perhaps that parental piece is the big difference. It's a hard charging environment that sets high expectations and makes sure the kids achieve them. It's great to see the progress. Something needs to provide competition to the traditional model that doesnt seem to be keeping us competitive against a global educational yardstick."
03/9/2011:
"Thanks for your article. I wonder how results would look if they were not tied exclusively to test scores. After all, is real life a scantron test? I've taught for 30 years in a traditional public school and for 5 in a public charter school. I have my dream job now, at last. But one thing is true. Schools are about human beings. We can test coffeemakers and running shoes effectively, but not human beings. Parents need to choose what is right for each of their children. Having options is a wonderful thing."
03/9/2011:
"I work for a charter school and have three children attend, at one time or another, public, charter, magnet, and private schools. The teachers are often better than those in public schools because they have choice in how they teach - they often leave public schools with administrators who tell them what, where, and when to teach what. As far as the statements that charter schools can choose their students...NOT true - they have to abide by the same laws that public schools do - but the teachers have more freedom to be able to differentiate instruction to reach all learners, not just the middle."
03/9/2011:
"I'd like to know more about Charter Schools in northern NJ. Are there any studies or research on the success/failure or assets/deficits of these schools?"
03/9/2011:
"Not made clear in this article is how the evaluations made were established, the criteria used. Was it test scores? How were similar schools determined? In my experience, the enthusiasm shown in the charter movement is similar to that demonstrated in the new, small school movement of the 1990's. Many of these established small schools survive and thrive to this date. Why some, not all? Why charter, not conventionally funded and founded schools? As a founder of a small school, I recall that the UFT/AFT was quite supportive, carefully so but supportive. Why make it a business? On the other hand, competition is probably good for the public school systems as they try to become more responsive and agile in meeting the needs of their communities."
03/9/2011:
"My understanding is that public charter schools only receive only $10K per per student vs $14.5K at a regular public school. This aspect should also be taken into account when benchmarking performance."
03/9/2011:
"I have to agree with one of the previous comments that stated that charters get to select their students. They can choose not to enroll a student. Moreover, if a student can't meet their selective criteria, they can choose to force a student out. I am speaking from experience, as I've worked in two charters. I also worked in a public school that served at risk youth. Both experiences were heartbreaking. I thought working at a charter school would allow me to truly teach and save all of the children that weren't being taught in our regular public schools. Boy was I wrong! I think I saw more children fall through the cracks at the charter schools, than at the regular public school. I became a teacher through the Teach for America program and really thought that I could make a difference. It was sad to see how many great teachers quit the program after they realized what they were up against. In order to fix our education system, we have to find a way to hire and retain qualifi! ed teachers. Our system of paying the veteran teachers more and firing our novice teachers when the budget gets cut is no longer valid. "
03/9/2011:
"I really wish I had looked at GreatSchools before enrolling my child in a charter school. We are attending one of those rare, underperforming charter schools. I think the main problem for our school is lack of funding which means not all the teachers are the best. The reason the funding is so low is that there are tons of charter school options in our town. It's too hard to spread the money over all of them."
03/9/2011:
"All teachers need to be moved out of the unions so they can be judged on the merits of teaching, then schools would have a more level playing field. Seniority/ tenure should not be the criteria for maintaining a job; excellence in your field needs to be the criteria.- We send our child to a private school, the teachers are accredited and credentialed and they are removed when they do not perform; simple. A performing teacher is the most inspiring way for a child to learn. If the teacher is not inspiring excellence, then that person should find another profession. They were smart enough to become a teacher, they are smart enough to find another profession.- Public, charter, private, it does not matter where you teach or send your child, what matters is the person teaching and if they fail at excellence, they need to be removed swiftly to stop the damage."
03/9/2011:
"It does not at all suprise me that kids from lower income homes thrive and succeed in a charter school environment because of the level of parental involvment that many charters require. Even the very 1st step, enrolling the child in the school, or submitting the child's name in a lottery, is a hurtle that perhaps some parents might not take. So a lower income parent that is willing to take those extra actions is, in my opinion, a parent that is likely going to see that their child is putting forth some effort in their school work. "
03/9/2011:
"It's simple really. Active parents make for better schools. Simply by opening their doors and providing an alternative, a charter won't be better than their neighborhood school. Smart charters will appeal to the parents with a theme or rules that appeals to those families. The active parents will scrutinize and sign up their children. In neighborhoods with awful schools, other issues might keep the schools from being phenomenal. But parents should be able to dictate how many hours are required for volunteering, what philosophies are taught, and how to You couldn't make me send my kid to a KIPP school, because I'm not interested in a 10-hour day. But find the right charter that emphasizes math and science and offers a proven track record of passing the AP tests through Calc BC, and I'll be happy to look. And schools that require parent involvement and require certain attendance criteria, and I'm very interested. Until public schools start raising the bar, active, involved parents are going to look for alternatives. "
03/9/2011:
"A peer-reviewed independent research study was done in 2009, which showed 17% of charter schools nationwide outperform public schools and 37% do worse. In 46% of charters, there was no significant difference. Links to the study available here: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/16-3 What you present above is a sponsored study by the charter school promotion team. Are you pretending this is independent research? Do you think your readers are stupid, or that they will believe anything?"
03/9/2011:
"charter schools should do better because they do not have the constraints of traditional public schools. charter schools are allowed to limit class size, choose by lottery, have few, if any, special ed. students(all categories),in some states the teachers aren't certified, no unions, longer class day/school year, able to offer classes in art, music, gym(classes eliminated in traditional public schools), and able to get donations that the traditional public schools can't take. all charter schools should be better."
03/9/2011:
"Just what are charter schools? ........ My answer - private public schools. For the most part charter schools start with motivated students/parents/families - an advantage right from the start."
03/9/2011:
"Any time a study is done I question who put up the funding for the study and research. I believe the source requesting the research can influence the outcome of the study and the ares of focus. My children are in a great charter school and thriving, but I don't believe Charter schools are a good fit for all children and all learning styles."
03/9/2011:
"One cannot compare the low SES children or families in charters to their low SES public school peers. Any family who looks for an alternative to their default public school, solicits the application, fills it out, and submits it on time, is different. IMO, this is a major, insurmountable flaw in this study."
03/9/2011:
"I honestly feel the whole better vs worse scenario is ridiculous. Saying charter schools are better or worse than traditional schools is like saying private schools are better or worse than public schools or Christian schools are better or worse than secular schools. One school may well be better than another, but the factors that make that so are all the factors about that school. Being a charter or being any other kind of school does not in and of itself make it better or worse. My son is in a charter school that is excellent. It was excellent as a traditional school. There are charters in our community that have failed. There are traditional schools in our community that have closed. There are good public schools and bad ones here, good private schools and bad ones. "
03/9/2011:
"This study is making a dangerous claim. Just because charter schools outperform non-charter schools, doesn't mean the school is the cause. I couldn't find whether this study accounted for the possibility that kids whose parents choose to send to charter schools would have done well at a non-charter school anyway (due to parent involvement, personal motivation, etc). It's not enough just to look at charter schools on the macro test score level, which the authors of the report acknowledge."
03/9/2011:
"Very interesting! I'm impressed that the study identified virtual and homeschooling charters, as well."
03/9/2011:
"My child went to a charter school. The low quality of the teachers just ruined the school. Great teachers are the key. All the really great students quit."
03/9/2011:
"My son moved from a traditional public school to a charter school, and he's thriving. Does that mean that this environment is for everybody? On the other hand, there are other kids who did not thrive in the charter environment and happily returned to traditional public schools. Therefore, in choosing a school, the student's individual needs are a better indicator of whether or not a charter school is better than are stats or even curriculum. "
03/9/2011:
"I have four kids, 2 went to the local traditional high school, 2 went/still going to a Chater HS - one graduated from Summit Prep (featured in the film WFS). The short answer, it depends upon the student and depends upon the school. I know for sure, my student at Summit Prep received a great education and better than my two students who attended Sequoia HS (also where I went to school - not a bad school, but not great either). But he was also more motivated. Summit is an exceptional school and replicable as our youngest attends Everest Public High School (also by the Summit Foundation). The core characteristics at both Summit school are more than just a motto. They are put into practice. While I would not recommend Summit for all students (there are downsides as well), in our personal experience, it has been a great alternative - especially for students who need a little extra attention."
03/9/2011:
"As a public school teacher, I believe in public schools and charter schools. However, when looking at data regarding charter school performance, please remember that charter schools can pick and choose, in other words, deny enrollment to a student. They do not generally have special needs students enrolled; hence, charter schools should have higher test scores as they can deny enrollment to special needs students. Many charter schools do! Public schools cannot deny special needs students enrollment."
03/9/2011:
"I had a daughter in a charter school in Michigan. She was badly bullied. The school had no bullying policy. The school wanted to sweep the bullying problems under the rug so parents would continue to enroll/send their children to the charter school. In this day and age to NOT have a bullying policy and to ignore a child being bullied is unbelievable. Needless to say, my daughter no longer goes to a charter school."
03/9/2011:
"Do any of these studies take into account parental involvement? Do charter schools do better because the students' parents care enough to seek out alternatives and go through the application process? These parents obviously take education seriously. Everyone points to the schools needing reform. What about apathetic parents? Stop playing the blame game and make a difference!!!"
03/9/2011:
"This was very interesting since it did not mention parent involvement. Do charter schools mandate parent involvement? YES!!! DO charter schools have a right to say we do not want your child at our school because he or she is a behavior problem? YES!!! Public schools do not have this. WOrking in low socioeconomic areas the kids score low. It is a known fact and has been researched. Charter schools here can choose their students. They have the choice of who they want."
03/9/2011:
"Charter schools--good news for everyone? I don't think so! As a parent, I don't WANT to figure out which school is good, which school is bad. What I want is a good, reliable public school system that is a solid institution. I don't want to figure out which particular little enclave is good. I want my kids to walk to a good and safe neighborhood school. I don't want to comparison shop. It's exhausting, and my questions I have about school are never easy to see if they are answered at all. What is the creativity index of the school? How is bullying treated? What is the leadership style of the principal? Will my quiet older child, and my very active younger child be able to survive in the same school? I'd like a good solid public school--reliable---Why not improve what we already have?"
03/9/2011:
"I work for a charter school and have three children attend, at one time or another, public, charter, magnet, and private schools. The teachers are often better than those in public schools because they have choice in how they teach - they often leave public schools with administrators who tell them what, where, and when to teach what. As far as the statements that charter schools can choose their students...NOT true - they have to abide by the same laws that public schools do - but the teachers have more freedom to be able to differentiate instruction to reach all learners, not just the middle."
03/9/2011:
"This is a very skewed representation of results and highly inaccurate. Charter performance tends tends to mirror performance at ANY school. It breaks down along socioeconomic lines, whether charter or not. And the charters that outperform tend to be those stacked with higher performing students. Their greatest legacy is going to be the ghettoization of traditional public schools, which will damage society overall for the benefit of a few. This article greatly diminished any impression of credibility I held of greatschools.org."
03/9/2011:
"I'd like to know more about Charter Schools in northern NJ. Are there any studies or research on the success/failure or assets/deficits of these schools?"
03/9/2011:
"In California the Gulen Managed Charter schools are the best: Magnolia Science Academy, Pacific Technology and Bay Area Technology. http://www.magnoliascienceacademy.blogspot.com"
03/9/2011:
"As already mentioned here, not all charter schools are the same. I made the mistake to send my daughter to a charter high school run by Aspira here in Chicago and it was an awful experience. Teachers began quitting shortly after the school yr began and continued all thru the yr with no explanation from the administration. Needless to say, my daughter did transfer to another school. On the other hand, my 2 other children attended schools run by Noble Street Charter and their experience was truly a positive one. The teachers and administration were very involved with the students and the families all working towards the success of the kids. My advice to all parents is that you do your homework first and find out as much as you can before you enroll your child in a new school. With patience and your good instincts you will make the right choice for your child."
03/9/2011:
"Instead of selecting a few schools to raise up (charters), how do we serve a generation of students by improving the public education system which will serve the vast majority of our children? Charters can select their students based on their own criteria and funding availability. Public schools have to take whoever walks in the door. As a parent, I can see the attraction. We want the best for our kids, right? When a parent volunteers in a classroom, they raise the quality of education for every student. What will happen if all the motivated parents with the time to spare abandon public education? We need smaller class sizes, but no one wants to face that economic reality. There is a limit on what a teacher can do with 30 students versus 15. How can a teacher inspire excellence in an overcrowded class with children who haven't had breakfast yet? There are bad teachers just as their are bad plumbers, but overall teachers take on an impossible task and do it for mediocre pay a! nd against terrible odds."
03/8/2011:
"I live in Los Angeles and I have 2 kids in an excellent LAUSD elementary school. Just as not all charter schools are the same, not all public schools are the same. To divide up the charter schools into high and low performing, and not do the same for traditional, it's clear your article is biased. There are many charter schools who say they will accept children with learning disabilities and IEP's, then once they are in the ADA, they are counseled out and told that traditional schools will be better suited to meet the needs of their child. Traditional schools seem to be the only ones that are willing to educate ALL children. So until all charter schools are meeting the needs of ALL children, then there is bias in all the test results. This is in addition to the bias that many people below have stated (more involved=better scores)."
03/7/2011:
"I take it GreatSchools.org picks and chooses what comments it posts. What happened to my comment favoring the creation of more charter schools for low income children that benefit greatly from them?"
03/7/2011:
"I read a similar article a couple of months ago about whether charter schools are meeting the mark. This information is very promising as I am planning to open a charter school in the city of Atlanta for low income students. I plan to use alternative methods of learning for children who typically don't benefit from a traditional learning/teaching style. I think all children deserve an opportunity to learn in a nurturing environment to improve their chance for success. I'm hopeful..."
03/7/2011:
"This report was useless. Its like reading a 3 year old kid who is lying about something but is a very poor liar. Do I know which school is better public or charter....I still do not have a clue. Shame of the person who wrote this article. "
03/2/2011:
"I'm a retired teacher from a conventional public school. If Charter schools are better, why are all public schools not patterned after charter schools? I really need the answer."
03/2/2011:
"I think what people fail to see that in low economic areas, children in charter schools may perform better because the parents are more involved in their education. They are actually seeking a better opportunity for their children-you'll probably see the same in private schools that are in the same neighborhoods. However, sadly enough some children you attend public schools in these neighborhoods have little parent involvement. The key to improving education is improving the parents' education and involvement. A task that is immense."
03/2/2011:
"A lot has to do with parent involvement and pretty much by definition a parent who is interested in a 'different' school for their child is already very invested in that child's education. Also, teachers who are opting to teach in a 'different' academic setting typically have more interest and investment in their teaching careers. You always need to keep in mind that test scores are not the be all and end all in academic performance or knowledge of a student."
03/2/2011:
"I have lately been hearing this Charter school. And, I would like to get more information about it. Where I will go to, who I will talk with. My son is in a special class and we're living in Las Vegas. I will appreciate your suggestion and information on this matter. Thank you. "
03/1/2011:
"I don't believe it is your responsibility as to how your child performs.A lot depends on his/her teacher. His behavior can be yours and the teacher's responsibility as well as the child. Evey parent must decide what they expect from education. Visit the public schools, sit in on classes and talk to teachers and administrators. Does their philosophy agree with yours? Visit charter schools and do the same. The comment in the article about charter schools in 'aggregate' don't fare well is only accurate if you compare it with public schools in aggregate and find the same results. The difference with charters is if they fail within 5 years to accomplish the states' requirements, they close. If traditional public schools were held to the standards, they too would close."
03/1/2011:
"I'm having a hard time with my sons present Elementary school. I live in East Atlanta, Ga currently & can't make a decision on a good school for my son. He has been dx with Mild Autism/ADHD but with that his BIGGEST issue is focusing. I don't agree with medications because he is such a JOY & loves to learn, & don't want to effect that. I have looked into the Charter Schools & what it seems to me & was told that Charter schools wouldn't benefit him. But I can't afford Private schools. But I am willing to relocate to for his education for the next school year. REALLY I'M CRYING FOR HELLLLPPP...."
02/28/2011:
"I believe it is my responsiblity how my child performs!!!! It is not the teachers responsiblity. It is also my responsiblity to choose for my child and how they are educated. I know my childs teacher and the first one to change classes if I find the teacher is not for us... I do not drop my child to the curb and expect my child to be someone elses responsiblity!~"
02/28/2011:
"My daughter has had the wonderful experience of attending a Charter School, Imagine School, wow what a difference! The staff and Teachers are there because they want to teach. It's a school where my child is a student not a number. We will always go to Charters Schools."
02/28/2011:
"Parents should research any charter schools they are considering for their child, but my kids went to a great charter school here in Austin and it is amazing. My two oldest kids have grown out of the school and are now in public school. While the public schools here are having their problems, my two oldest are stand outs because they were so well prepared in elementary school. "
02/28/2011:
"I am a teacher in a charter school and love it. I work for an Imagine school, I believe it is the way to go! "
02/28/2011:
"Charter Schools in Miami FL = CA Ching! Students are mules that provide revenue. Good teachers leave because the schools are not required to abide by class size amendment. (One of my friends was actually attempting to teach English/Grammar to 39 eighth graders per class x five classes = nearly 200 essays to read.) Profit = God for charter schools, therefore quality of education clocks in at the bottom of the list. I quote from my own experience in meetings: 'Mrs. (Principal), these kids are in 5th grade and can't multiply. I can't teach them anything until they can multiply.' Response from Mrs. Principal: 'Don't worry about that, you can't teach them how to multiply, you've got to teach them fractions. They'll catch on.' Or try this one on: (Mrs. Principal)'You've got too many students failing your class.' My response: 'When they figure out where the submit box is and submit work, they'll probably start passing.' Response from Mrs. Principal: 'Well, if you don't pass them, I will.' My response: 'I'm not passing anybody on speculation. I am not signing anything.' Manipulation of state mandated tests will easily produce desired scores... My advice: As a parent, regardless of what school your child goes to, you had better monitor their education. Just because they're scoring 'A's and B's' does not mean they are learning the information. You know your child's potential, make sure they are working up to it. If they're sliding through with good grades, you better high tail it down to the school and meet with the teacher. You'd better require him/her to produce evidence of your child's successes/failures."
02/28/2011:
"This issue will continue to be debated, but you can't deny public and charter are not created equal. Until the shackles that public schools are cut, little will change for them. I'm talking about public schools holding parents and kids accountable for the work ethic and cooperation that is needed to create a productive citizen. The public can continue to criticize, but they must spend sometime in their own school to really see the change needed. Walk in The Teachers Shoes "
02/28/2011:
"My question, why aren't all schools patterned after charter schools and yet remain public if they out perform regular schools? I never received the answer."
02/28/2011:
"Good article. It could have included the benefit of parents having a choice of how they want their children educated. Too many young parents are indoctrinated with the idea that charter schools care only about academics and nothing else. In my state, we have a variety of charters; some of which are dedicated to the arts. Many of these schools have numerous sports programs as well. Parents need to visit both traditional public schools and charters before their children are ready to enter school. They need to decide what is best for their own children. In charters, you will find structure, teachers who believe children should master the basics before moving ahead and lots of character development. This philosophy is missing in too many traditional public schools today. The reality that must be emphasized is that charter schools are given 5 years to prove their worth. If they fail, they are gone. How many traditional public schools would survive that scrutiny?"
02/28/2011:
"If all parents got involved in ANY SCHOOL SYSTEM, their child would successful. Too many kids in public school have parents who do not help them do homework or do not have a good education themselves. Do charter schools have a place? Yes they do, but are they the answer for every child? No they aren't. If you have a child, communicate with their teachers, teach them that education is important through your actions, not just your words, and do whatever you need to do to help them get the best education possible! The key is the parents being involved and letting the teachers/school know that they won't settle for a second rate education for their child!"
02/28/2011:
"'among them the CMOs like Alliance that are dedicated to closing the achievement gap' We can do without the regurgitation of these private companies press releases please."
02/28/2011:
"Our ability to decide what makes a school better than other schools and then to measure 'better' is in its infancy. All we do now is administer standardized tests to children or look at the results of SATS and then decide that one school is 'better' than another based on that remarkably limited data. There's so much more to a school than those few numbers... The real measure of a school likely lies in part in its students' faces rather than their test scores. Are the children eager to return to school the next day? Do students and parents alike feel comfortable with the school? The real proof of a school's success as with any institution has to lie in the satisfaction of its constituents. If parents and students are equally unhappy with their neighborhood school, there's a strong message in that regardless of what the test scores say. A school should first and last be a pleasant place to go to each day. A school should have a sense of community. Teachers as well as students and parents should seem happy to be there. Those things are not as easily measured but they are critical indicators of a good school. What the charter schools do is offer choice. Until the charter schools, families had more choice about where to buy their washing machine than they did in where to send their children to school. Why should America abound with different kinds of stores and washing machines but not abound with different kinds of schools? An education is at least as important as a washing machine. When we finally stop trying to blindly defend our existing system of education, we can devote energy to refashioning and reforming it. And let's remember our charter schools are public schools too."
02/28/2011:
"Having a student in a charter and teaching at the same school, I can say that so much depends on the leadership and infrastructure of the school. If you don't have a solid group with a background in education leading the way,it can be a disaster. A lack of oversight and accountability can lead to increased teacher turnover and poor moral. I think just like regular public schools - you have some bad ones and some good ones. I would recommend reading Diane Ravitche's book 'The Death and Life of the Great American School System' It has some interesting information. "
02/28/2011:
"Can you tell me about the good, bad and ugly in regards to charter schools in Nashville, TN? How can you petition for more Diversity among teachers and staff at Charters school, some of them appear to be family ran organizations. "
02/24/2011:
"Is there any data on charter school teacher salaries, years of experience and turnover/burnout rate? "
02/24/2011:
"A lot has to do with parent involvement and pretty much by definition a parent who is interested in a 'different' school for their child is already very invested in that child's education. Also, teachers who are opting to teach in a 'different' academic setting typically have more interest and investment in their teaching careers. You always need to keep in mind that test scores are not the be all and end all in academic performance or knowledge of a student."
02/24/2011:
"Charter schools--good news for everyone? I don't think so! As a parent, I don't WANT to figure out which school is good, which school is bad. What I want is a good, reliable public school system that is a solid institution. I don't want to figure out which particular little enclave is good. I want my kids to walk to a good and safe neighborhood school. I don't want to comparison shop. It's exhausting, and my questions I have about school are never easy to see if they are answered at all. What is the creativity index of the school? How is bullying treated? What is the leadership style of the principal? Will my quiet older child, and my very active younger child be able to survive in the same school? I'd like a good solid public school--reliable---Why not improve what we already have? "
02/24/2011:
"This was very interesting since it did not mention parent involvement. Do charter schools mandate parent involvement? YES!!! DO charter schools have a right to say we do not want your child at our school because he or she is a behavior problem? YES!!! Public schools do not have this. WOrking in low socioeconomic areas the kids score low. It is a known fact and has been researched. Charter schools here can choose their students. They have the choice of who they want. "
02/24/2011:
"It comes down to survival of the fittest. The good charter schools should survive and grow or have good ideas borrowed from. The bad schools need to change or shut down. Throwing money at a school won't improve it. Finding the best teacher's (and eliminating the worst) as well as discovering what works best for certain classrooms is what will advance our schools. There are so many great ideas and passionate teacher's that to get in their way with regulations and standardized testing is a shame. If the students are learning and the parents are happy then that is what matters."
02/24/2011:
"I think all schools could be great if all parents were involved and helped with homework and spent time in the classroom and demanded what was best for their children cummulatively. That's not quite reality though- for lots of different reasons(not intending to do a new blame game here). I do think that you have to find a school that is a good fit your your own childs needs. Where we live there are some high performing public schools and some I would not ever let my children attend. We have 2 charters, one with an average GS score, one with a high score. Our oldest starts kindergarten next fall and she's going to go the the neighborhood public elementary where I'm sure she'll have a wonderful school experience. And if that turns out to be an incorrect assumption we'll find a place that meets our needs. Her father and I are very involved and she's always had me at home with her. I understand how people that are trying to do everything they can for their kids educations! could get frustrated and choose charter schools, it makes sense that they would want to be in a group of similar minded parents. My guess is that's why some charter schools are so successfull-it's the teachers, administration, and parents that are all very proactive for the students that make the place great. "
02/24/2011:
"This is a very skewed representation of results and highly inaccurate. Charter performance tends tends to mirror performance at ANY school. It breaks down along socioeconomic lines, whether charter or not. And the charters that outperform tend to be those stacked with higher performing students. Their greatest legacy is going to be the ghettoization of traditional public schools, which will damage society overall for the benefit of a few. This article greatly diminished any impression of credibility I held of greatschools.org. "
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