Lots of school reform “experts”, including our current Secretary of Education, claim that charter schools, lots and lots of them, are the key to improving American public education.
Unfortunately, the ones we already have are not living up to the hype.
But for all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. Last year one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that fewer than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local schools, almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.”
Although “charter schools have become a rallying cry for education reformers,” the report, by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, warned, “this study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well” as students in traditional schools.
With few exceptions, charter schools use the same curriculum and the same instructional methods, maybe with a few small alterations (longer days, more days), as the public schools from which they draw students and money.
Charters are not reform. They simply repackage the status quo.