Have charter schools lived up to their promise?

“A new national study of charter schools finds some improvement in school performance, but shows students at charters still aren’t doing as well as students in traditional public schools,” reports Tim Post of MPR News.

Critics of the charter movement in Minnesota say it is further proof that charters are not living up to their promise. But charter supporters say the study is too narrow in scope and does not take into consideration other ways charters are helping students.

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University published its first study on charter schools back in 2009. That study showed more than a third of charters across the country performed significantly worse than traditional public schools, and fewer than half did as well as their district counterparts.

In the latest study those numbers have improved by several percentage points and finds that charter schools across the country and in Minnesota are doing a better job than district schools at helping students improve their reading scores during the year.

“We find that there has been slow and steady progress,” said Margaret Raymond, the center’s director and author of the report.

However, Minnesota charter schools are not doing quite as well as district schools in helping students gain during the year in math.

When it comes to year-end final testing, charter school students still are not scoring as high as their district counterparts.

Today’s Question: Have charter schools lived up to their promise?

  • I stopped by Porky’s Bar last night. No one happened to be playing e-pulltabs during the time I was there. This bar doesn’t seem to draw a crowd with a lot of disposable income. The regressive nature of this form of taxation is really pathetic. But, the NFL doesn’t seem to care as long as they get their corporate welfare.

  • Minnesotan

    How does this work? Does the stadium fund get part of the proceeds or a tax on the proceeds? The charity listed for Porky’s is MLBA Children’s Fund.

    • As I understand the breakdown, 20% of the net receipts go the named charity, so the $10,439.50 gambling losses at Porky’s Bar generated $2,087.90 for their charity. The remaining $8,351.60 extracted from Porky’s Bar clientele went to a combination of the Vikings stadium corporate welfare fund, the e-pulltabs manufacturer, and the bar. The largest slice goes to subsidize the NFL followed by the e-pulltabs vendor, then the charity, and last the bar.

      • I believe that 20% is the old figure. The tax rate is now a formula in law that I am at a loss to explain in brief. It looks like a quasi-sliding scale to me. You can find it here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=ccrhf2958A.html&session=ls87. The tax rate discussion starts at line 44.18. Bar fees also depend on whether they have a booth or are run by bar staff. The largest e-pulltab vendor has a sliding fee, with a volume discount – counter to the tax formula. Charities also say they don’t get a guaranteed cut and only keep what’s left after all the bills are paid. The bottom line: there is no one-size-fits-all formula, and I don’t think you can figure out any one piece of revenue just by looking at the net.

  • david

    What’s the point of comparing charter schools to standard public schools? Or even the ideological driven private schools that prefer to teach superstition and myth over science and fact. How about we wake up and look outside our boarders for a little insight? America is in a race to be the best of the third world, if we’re not already there. Are our schools even in the top 20 when compared to everyone else? I doubt it. We are barely in the top 50 for medical outcomes, but we pay the most for that privilege. We live in a fairy tale land with not enough grasp of things like facts to even have a valid debate if charter schools are working or not. It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice, and neither cat is doing its job.

  • AlecMN

    I would like to see some additional analysis on things like discipline and suspension dismissal rates at charters. We have seen a recent flood of stories of how our traditional public schools are suspending and dismissing too much. It would be nice to see how the charters used to bash traditional schools are handling discipline.

  • Emery

    Many of the successful charter schools in poor neighborhoods are successful because they attempt to overcome habits established in homes and earlier schools, habits of language, dress, respect, and discipline. They attempt to be an island of the best of middle class morality and ambition in the midst of a poor neighborhood that lacks both.

    Allowing a charter school into a neighborhood and sending your kids to it requires
    parents to admit that the schools which educated them were deficient and are
    deficient. That can be a knock to the collective ego of the neighborhood. The
    neighborhood has to decide something is deeply wrong first. There are a lot of
    middle class towns in America that would benefit from charter schools, but very
    few who will accept this fact. It will be a while yet before American parents
    are ready to welcome true reform in their schools.

  • Jim G

    If you look at the studies and the numbers the answer is… no. But is this enough to throw the baby out with the bath water? Charter schools are an attempt to mitigate the damage poverty does to children, but charter schools continue to fail students where it counts: in producing greater growth for their students than they promised twenty years ago. The learning gap persists, not for lack of effort, sometimes heroic effort, but because the effects of poverty are so overwhelming. The gulf between middle class and charter schools students caught in the jaws of poverty is wider and deeper than the resources these public schools are given.There are good parts to charter schools: smaller class sizes, smaller schools, a sense of community, teacher autonomy, Alas, they suffer for the most basic underlying flaw…they are underfunded, as are all public educational institutions in Minnesota. I believe we must properly fund education in Minnesota especially for those students impacted by the disease of poverty or continue to watch the educational gap persist.

  • Sue de Nim

    No, and the reason is simple but hard for some folks to admit: the ideology of free markets produces less than optimal outcomes in the education of young people. The most important factor in making free markets work well is competition; in education it’s relational trust. Competition is inimical to relational trust. Education works best when all parties think of themselves as being on the same team working toward the same goal of raising kids to be good citizens. We should learn from Finland in that regard.

    What produces excellence in human endeavors is challenge, and competition is simply an easy way of introducing challenge into a system. That’s why free market competition produces good results in manufacturing, agriculture, retail, shipping, communications, and most other goods and services we pay for. In areas of human endeavor where competition is problematic (education, law enforcement, health care, national security, etc.) other ways of challenging the system to improve should be sought.

  • Pearly

    I think some have. Have public schools lived up to their promise? And public schools have had a 100 plus years head start.

  • JQP

    the entire process of scholastic performance measurement (SPM), in any school, is to find and maximize the flaws in the system to the greatest degree possible. the only productive outcome of SPM is the faux-data used by anti-school marketing campaigns.

    Schools are run backwards. After 12 years of “manufacturing and production” – the goal is set ans assessed. Ha ha ha ha … you failed.

  • rumadyet

    I have not seen anything positive with charter schools. I have seen large amounts of student left behind in the name of public education, most do not know how charter schools are funded. The public doe not realize that only a chosen few make it, and yes it is who you know and how well. It is a way the rich have created private schools with public monies for them. I have seen this with my own eyes. The schools hand pick students and if the public really knew this is with there tax dollar and all were welcome it would change. It use to be all kids got a decent education none were left out, but with charter schools the majority is left out so the rich can be educated. Public charter schools are a disgrace and the true form of discrimination. People refer charter schools as private, some of these comments don’t get it. it is public education, but just for a few….. I have been told by parents of a charter school here, (ONE O THE BEST) it is not for everyone, just the parent and kids who really want to achieve. really? Wake up learn how public charter schools are funded, and not open to all.

  • rumadyet

    Education needs and overhaul but these schools are not it. When more than money is talked about we will win this battle. Hopelessness for the entire family, leaving the news on and kids hearing the gloom and doom, why be hopeful. We need to change a lot of things , Parents need hope( JOBS). and than education will matter, I would like to hear from student who had charter school in 1996 and see where they are today.