Charter Schools Versus Public Schools

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Diane Ravitch, about whom I just posted, argues that charter schools are no better than public schools. Any evidence to the contrary is the product of charter schools gaming the system by omitting poorly performing students from the data, she claims. Ravitch is apparently right, but she need not worry about misleading evidence; the most recent evidence actually shows that, at least in cities like Milwaukee, charter schools are not doing as well as public schools. Of course, mere evidence does not persuade ideologically driven proponents of the anti-public school program. Here is the AP report, as published by the Oshkosh Northwestern

MILWAUKEE — Supporters of a Milwaukee school-voucher program say they’re not deterred by test results showing that kids in those programs perform worse than students in public schools do.

The test results were released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They show that voucher students are nowhere near their public school counterparts.

Gov. Scott Walker says the overall voucher program is “exceptional.” He says the priority should be to give more money to the top-performing schools.

State Rep. Robin Vos says the test scores don’t tell the whole story. The Rochester Republican says some of the students came from poor schools and are still catching up, and that graduation rates are a better measure.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards says the state should stop investing in a program that yields “questionable results.”

Diane Ravitch: Republican Apostate On Education

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As Assistant Secretary of Education under George Bush Sr., Diane Ravitch wholeheartedly championed charter schools and the No Child Left Behind program, but she has since come out as a staunch opponent of such policies: her new book is entitled, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education“. In her view, which seems plausible to me, the main cause of poor student achievement in U.S. schools is poverty, not incompetent teachers. In her interview with Steve Paulson on WPR’s excellent weekly show/podcast, “To The Best Of Our Knowledge”, she also explains how charter schools can game the system to make it appear as if they are more effective than traditional public schools. Here’s that 10 minute segment, from the “Question Austerity” episode.