Many people recognized, particularly teachers’ unions, from the start that Charter Schools are a sham and a tax payer rip off with little or no accountability to the public or the parents. Despite the publicity about children being dropped from these schools because of learning disabilities or alleged disciplinary problems and fudged statistics about their success, many states, like New York, are still touting their expansion. However, other states, such as California, are recognizing that charter schools are not only failing the students but costing the state a lot of tax money that is going into the pockets of the businesses that manage them and bankrupting local cities with limited revenue.
When the Great Public Schools Now Initiative, the $490 million blueprint to turn half of Los Angeles’ public school system into charter schools, was first leaked to Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume, it triggered an uproar among the city’s education community. The Los Angeles Unified School District already has more charter seats than any school system in the country, though at a lower percentage (about 16 percent) of total enrollment than Oakland’s — which, at roughly 25 percent, is proportionally the state leader. And like Oakland, and many other urban school systems in the U.S., LAUSD is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
This comes at a time when charter-supporting philanthropists, led by the Broad, Walton Family and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations, have been aggressively pushing charter schools across the country under the banner of “parent choice.” The initiative, which originally surfaced with a cover letter signed by Eli Broad and is often referred to as the Broad Plan, argues its case by charging that the country’s “urban school districts are not serving students. This failure is particularly acute for low-income and minority students who are in the greatest need of a quality education.” But contrary to the plan’s claims, the charters’ overall report card has not been so stellar.
According to University of Colorado, Boulder professor Kevin G. Welner and others, charters have been shown to offer no tangible academic advantages over traditional public schools. Welner, who is director of the National Education Policy Center, told Capital & Main, “If we’re talking about test scores, we’re not seeing any real meaningful differences between charter schools as a whole and noncharter public schools.”
The evidence is growing despite charter school associations attempt to doctor the facts.
Growing Evidence that Charter Schools Are Failing Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams
In early 2015 Stanford University’s updated CREDO Report concluded that “urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their TPS peers.”
This single claim of success has a lot of people believing that charter schools really work. But there are good reasons to be skeptical. First of all, CREDO is funded and managed by reform advocates. It’s part of the Hoover Institution, aconservative and pro-business think tank funded in part by the Walton Foundation, and in partnership with Pearson, a leading developer of standardized testing materials. CREDO director Margaret Raymond is pro-charter and a free-market advocate.
The 2015 CREDO study received much of its input, according to a Louisiana source, from the New Orleans Recovery School District and charter promoter New Schools for New Orleans, who together had “embarked on a bold, five-year journey to standardize, validate and export the New Orleans charter restart model…addressing the problem of failing schools by restarting them with schools operated by charter operators.”
Regarding national findings, a review of the CREDO study by the National Education Policy Center questioned CREDO’s statistical methods: for example, the study excluded public schools that do NOT send students to charters, thus “introducing a bias against the best urban public schools.” [..]
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has confirmed that math and reading skills have improved for all levels of public school students since the 1970s, with the greatest gains among minority and disadvantaged students. Other results indicate that our schools achieve even greater success when properly funded.
But the education reformers, who have a lot of money but little knowledge of the real world of education, don’t want to provide that funding. They frighten America with words from people like Rupert Murdoch: “The failure rates of our public schools represent a tragic waste of human capital that is making America less competitive.”
A better reason for fright is the rapid progress made by the charter school reformers. They want our children to be their human capital.
John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” did his homework and exposed charter schools for what they are – failures for the students, success for business.
The inadequacies of charter schools have been confirmed by other recent studies, one of them by CREDO itself, which found that in comparison to traditional public schools “students in Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics.” Another recent CREDO study of California schools reached mixed results, with charters showing higher scores in reading but lower scores in math.
In a study of Chicago’s public schools, the University of Minnesota Law School determined that “Sadly the charter schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker.”
Oliver specifically looked at charters schools in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, noting the high failure rate — some fold after 6-7 weeks — lax approval process, and a shockingly high number of administrators arrested for theft or embezzlement. He spent a few minutes shaking his head over online charters, which serve 180,000 students, and ended with a look at the argument, like that put forward by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), that public schools should face competition, like “pizza shops.” “The problem with letting the free market decide when it comes to kids is that kids change faster than the market,” Oliver said. “And by the time it’s obvious a school is failing, futures may have been ruined. So if we are going to treat charter schools like ‘pizza shops,’ we should monitor them at least as well as we do pizzerias.”
Google your children’s charter school before you entrust them with their education.