Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sad attack on schools that work

Charles Sahm does a nice job of rebutting Ravitch's lies and distortions:

Ravitch opposes lifting the cap on the number of charters statewide -- that is, she's fighting their expansion even while she's arguing that they enroll too few students.

And that 3 percent figure masks the real impact of these schools. Charters were created to offer better options in communities where traditional public schools are failing. In Harlem, for example, parents for decades had to send their children to public schools that ranked among the city's lowest-performing. Today, 20 percent of children in Harlem attend charters, including some of the city's best-performing schools.

Ravitch next testified that charters are ineffective -- and again cherry-picked her data. She gleefully cited a 2009 study of charters in 16 states by Stanford researcher Margaret Raymond, which found mixed results on charters nationally. But it excluded New York -- and Ravitch glossed over the fact that Raymond applied the same methodology to New York City and found that charters here perform "significantly better."

As Raymond wrote in The Post the day before the Perkins hearing, "Nearly a third of New York City charter schools outperform their local peer schools in reading and more than half do so in math." She noted that very few charters perform worse than nearby public schools and that "the rest of the nation can learn from New York." (Raymond was invited to present her research at the hearing but wasn't called upon to testify once it became clear that she'd offer a pro-charter message.)

Ravitch also testified that the federal NAEP tests showed "no significant difference" between charter and non-charter students. Again, other analysts have found otherwise -- and, anyway, the fact that charters hold their own against statewide and national averages should be regarded as a success, not a failure: After all, charters largely serve poor, minority children in urban areas -- a far more challenging mix of students.

Nor did she reference any of the research that found positive outcomes for charters, including economist Caroline Hoxby's much noted 2009 analysis of New York's charter schools. In that study, Hoxby estimated that students who attend a New York City charter school from kindergarten through eighth grade would close 86 percent of the "Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap" in math and 66 percent of the gap in reading.


Sad attack on schools that work

Charles Sahm

Last Updated: 1:02 AM, May 18, 2010

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