Monday, December 12, 2011

Why the New York Times Failed

Here's Sara Mead (see below for a chart of the NAEP data she refers to):

What's changed is that, while buying expensive homes within the boundaries of these schools was once one of the only ways D.C. families could access higher-performing schools--putting them out of reach of the vast majority--now families in many other parts of the city have access to quality charter school options, including some of the city's highest poverty and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, such as Achievement Prep and KIPP schools in Ward 8, or the Center City school in Trinidad.

And don't take my word for it: Look at the data. District of Columbia students have made dramatic improvements in NAEP TUDA since 2003. While they still rank near the bottom of urban districts, they're no longer dead last, and if recent trajectories continue, they won't be there for long. Both DCPS and charter schools also made progress this year on the D.C. CAS state assessment.

Hopkinson is also dead wrong when she states that "The charters consistently perform worse than the traditional schools, yet they are rarely closed." Charter schools do not consistently perform worse than DCPS schools. The current portfolio of charter schools includes both some of the city's highest performing schools as well as some very low-performers and a large number of schools roughly on par with DCPS. But charter schools are making real gains in student performance--outstripping DCPS this year--and over the past two years the DC Public Charter School Board, on which I serve, has moved aggressively to close down half a dozen low-performing schools. But the New York Times apparently didn't find it necessary to look at this data before publishing Hopkinson's column.

Contrary to Hopkinson's assertions, all the available evidence suggests that the past decade of reform efforts has improved, not worsened the quality of educational options available to D.C. students.


Why the New York Times Failed

By Sara Mead on December 5, 2011 10:37 AM

If you want evidence of the sorry state of journalism and public discourse around education reform in the United States today, look no further than this op-ed piece by Natalie Hopkinson in Sunday's New York Times.

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