Charter school gains aren’t a slam-dunk

July 4, 2010

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RE “JOHNSON to name nonprofit as partner’’ (Metro, June 30): It is true that a growing chorus of politicians are impressed with charter schools. They disregard a growing chorus of parents, teachers, and researchers who are not.

Last week, Education Week reported on a new national study of charter middle schools. The headline: “Study finds no clear edge for charter schools.’’ This is just the latest in a series of studies that conclude most charters perform similarly or worse than traditional public schools, with a minority posting high test scores.

There is also solid evidence that charters do not serve the most challenging students and find ways to encourage struggling students to leave. These include holding students back a grade, a practice shown to increase the risk of dropping out. These claims were reported as the opinion of teachers unions and “hotly contested by charter schools,’’ but why couldn’t the Globe investigate and find out the truth?

If politicians are going to blindly push us on the path to private management of our public schools, and away from the mission of public education including all kinds of students, it seems critical for the public and the voters to know about what is actually happening in these schools.

Lisa Guisbond

The writer is on the board of directors of Citizens for Public Schools.

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