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Achievement Gap

Friendly Reminder: Charter Schools Are Public Schools

A recent post on our blog pointed out that Kentucky, as one of the few states yet to allow charter schools, has the opportunity to create a truly robust charter law, filled with transparency and accountability. Which is why the flagrant misinformation found in a recent post in the Lexington Herald-Leader by Marty Solomon is so infuriating. Solomon makes sweeping and inaccurate declarations about what charter schools “are” without checking his facts. He seems unaware that charter laws are incredibly different state-to-state, or that Kentucky is in the enviable position of being able to mitigate the pitfalls of other states. For instance, he writes:
Charter schools are essentially private schools, run by private operators, under private rules, with private teachers, operating with far less accountability than public schools, and are exempt from all state statutes and administrative regulations. (1) Not true. Charter schools are public schools that receive public dollars and are held accountable to the public. (2) As of 2011, over 81% of charter schools are run by individuals or non-profit organizations. (3) Kentucky has the opportunity to be thoughtful about the accountability and flexibility provisions of its law. The state would have absolutely no control over them. Because they swipe public funds from public schools to operate, they misleadingly call themselves public schools to hide their private nature.
He goes further, cherry-picking performance data from the 2013 Stanford University CREDO study:
The largest study of charter schools ever performed was by Stanford University in 2013. It included 95 percent of all charter school children in the U.S. It found that while there are some good charter schools, 71 percent of them were either worse than or no better than public schools.
Actually, the same study also found that “students attending charter schools have eight additional days of learning in reading and similar learning gains in math compared to their peers attending traditional public schools.” Finally, CREDO also found that the “biggest impacts are among Hispanic students who are English-language learners; they gain 50 additional days of learning in reading and 43 additional days in math from charter attendance per year. Black students in poverty at charter schools gain 29 additional days in reading and 36 additional days of learning in math.” These academic gains cannot be ignored, especially when these are the students so frequently left behind by the public school system.

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