There are few more important factors impacting the long term health and happiness of our children than their education. Thank you for visiting the issue in your article.
I think the positive impact of your article would be strengthen by quoting more fully from the Stanford study you cite. It appears from a reading of that study that charter school performance, as compared to traditional public school performance, is consistently superior in some states, consistently inferior in more, and consistently comparable in most.
As you say, charter schools represent different experiments to find ways to improve education. We are all agreed that we want improvement. As in other fields of experimentation, most experiments in education will fail. The drug development effort exemplifies the phenomenon - the vast majority of attempts to innovate fail. But we don’t evaluate the idea of trying to improve disease cures through multiple new drug developments in terms of the average percentage of attempts that succeed. Instead we scale up the rare successes and accept, with disappointment, that the “cost” of finding those winners included having to try approaches that turned out to be losers.
The alternative to trying new things in any field, most of which will not work, is to not improve.
The Stanford report makes plain that some states have charter schools that are performing better than their traditional public school “virtual” counterparts on all the aspects Stanford measured. Charter schools, it appears, are not the same from state to state in operation or results.
Getting a social return from the charter school experience to date, I think, begins with acknowledging that the charter schools in each state are operated differently from those in other states and that the educational results are also different state to state and then examining those that are plainly and consistently working for useful patterns and lessons.
Rather than highlighting Stanford’s averaging of results of all the different approaches to charter schools, why not lead with the fact that Stanford found that a sizable minority are consistently outperforming? Charter schools that are not or cannot produce better results for kids than the traditional public schools should be closed. But we should be at least actively curious about and encouraged by Stanford’s reportedly statistically valid evidence that some states have developed many charter schools superior to their own traditional public schools. There may be something important to be learned from the successful charter schools that we will overlook, to the detriment of our kids, if we bury the successful examples in a failing average.
Thanks again for putting the broad topic on the front burner.
All the best,
Posted by Jerry McLaughlin on Mar 24, 2012 at 3:59 AM
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Posted by ronald donovan on Mar 28, 2012 at 5:30 AM
I agree we don’t evaluate the idea of trying to improve disease cures through multiple new drug developments in terms of the average percentage of attempts that succeed. Sometimes we scale up the rare successes and accept, with disappointment, that the “cost” of finding those prepaid cell phones winners included having to try approaches that turned out to be losers. Thanks for the read.
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