A rather odd article by Jamie Vaznis of the Globe on charters and pilots. The Boston Foundation-commissioned study does exactly what Vaznis notes in the first sentence: “A new study indicates that Boston charter schools significantly outperform the city’s traditional schools, but raises new questions about the city’s experimental pilot schools.” But then he goes on to use most of the rest of the article to question pilots. A little more of the clearly good news about charters would have been helpful–and less story fishing.
The story is very good–just so heartening as to our ability to address the achievement gap. By comparing students who got into charter schools by lottery against those who were not chosen by lottery, the study gets past a great deal of the motivated student, or so-called creaming, argument.
Charters do significantly better across the board than traditional district and pilot schools. And the size of the effect of charters in middle school math is especially encouraging. The study also clarifies the racial composition of charter student cohorts, special education numbers, and all the rest.
One would think that it would convince the Education Secretary S. Paul Reville, who has long called himself an agnostic on charters, to reconsider his views based on the data. Unfortunately, the most he could bring himself to say was that the results for pilot schools were “disappointing.” After which, according to Vaznis, Mr. Reville “reaffirmed the governor’s commitment to developing the so-called readiness schools, which would in part draw on the pilot school model.”
We believe pilot schools can be very helpful in advancing reform. We also believe that charters have long proved themselves but that our current leadership, starting with the Secretary, want to bury their heads in the sand. Pretty sad. This does not strike me as ideology, because the Democratic party nationwide is increasingly embracing charters.
We are way past the point of agnosticism; rather this is likely a case of “thickheadedness.” Mr. Reville never liked charters even when they were included in the 1993 Education Reform Act. He would like to be right. Problem is, he is wrong, and the longer he takes trying to prove himself right, the longer inner city kids will have to wait to gain access to the keys to the American Dream.