Compare And Contrast

One of the Public-Education pimps’ big chanting points is that “charter schools don’t perform as well as public school!”.

And in terms of top-line statistics, there’s something to that. Many charter schools – especially ones catering to low-income, inner-city, immigrant and Native-American students – have lower standardized test scores (although as I showed several years ago in delivering one of my uncountable drubbings to Nick Coleman, many charter schools beat the pants off their public district neighbors).  The reason, I suspect, is that in most cases those students have already been chewed up and spat out by the public system, and are going the charter route to try to get back on track.  It was certainly true in the charter schools my kids attended.

Indeed, I think the only really meaningful measurement would compare differences in improvement or deterioration in individual students before and after transferring from public to charter schools, compared with comparable students that stayed in the public system.

But beyond that?  You’ll look long and hard for these figures in the mainstream, DFL-allied media:

And as all of us both brace for more “paying for a better Minnesota” and simultaneously watching the cities’ public schools slide even further into disgrace, this next bit (emphasis added) is fun reading:

As if these scores weren’t impressive enough, Best, Friendship, and Harvest are able to achieve them with much less money than the Minneapolis Public Schools district. Here is a comparison of 2012-13 per student spending in the district versus at these schools:   MPS = $23,020   Best = $11,987   Friendship = $13,677   Harvest = $10,958   One has to wonder: Would these schools have been able to achieve these results under the aegis of the large bureaucracy of the school district? Or, does their independence help generate and inspire creative solutions that often elude large systems?   Not all charters work. But the students at Best, Friendship, and Harvest would tell you that theirs do.

And so would their parents.

(BONUS QUESTION for MNGOP “Strategists”:  Why is it, again, that you refuse to have Republican candidates approach charter parents in the city, to tell them that the DFL wants to destroy the charter school system?  That’s gotten you what over the past seven years, exactly?)

10 thoughts on “Compare And Contrast

  1. Tripped right over it, Mitch:

    MPS = $23,020
    Best = $11,987
    Friendship = $13,677
    Harvest = $10,958

    Tom Dooher ain’t gonna furnish his lake cabin by cutting his take by 1/2.

    Besides, those are black kids…their guaranteed Democrat vote is highly contingent on keeping them uneducated and dependent on what falls from the lilly white hand of the liberal elite….for their own good, of course.

  2. Did you catch the lady (mother) on the news last night? A parent of a student at Mpls south after the racial attack. Wait, it was African-Americans vs American-Africans, so not racist. But she said “My kids aren’t safe here. What are we supposed to do? Home school our kids?”


  3. I’ve never been clear on the concept of charter schools. However, I’d assume that enrollment in one is optional, requiring the input from and permission of the prospective enrolee’s parent(s).

    That in itself may go a long way to help explain the success of those students; their parent(s) care, are proactive in the child’s educational process, and seemingly are not just using school as daycare. I wonder if these students would stll show some success in the public school system when compared with the usual “honor students” (who only seem to earn that title posthumously) due to this factor?

  4. Joe,

    Charter schools get each of their individual students’ allotment of public funding. They elect their own board, and are sponsored by an organization that’s involved in education; community groups, colleges, whatever.

    Many – in the city, probably most – kids who go to charter schools are kids that don’t thrive in the public system. The won’t succeed in a public school situation, and indeed they’ve already not only failed, but had any interest in learning drummed out of them.

  5. Thank you for the clarification. I had always assumed the opposite. In my neck of the woods our schools for kids like that tend to have more descriptive names.The success rate of charter schools you describe is even more amazing to me in that light. I appreciate the enlightenment.

    I also need to call myself on the comment I made in the same post regarding “honor students”. There is nothing clever about dead kids. To use them as a means to make a point or sound funny was completely inappropriate. Please excuse my remark. I will try to avoid such things in the future.

  6. I’ll bet there are only about half the teachers in the MPS universe who could make sense of this graph. If, however, you show the pay scale graph between rookie teachers and, say, master plumbers, they’d make a placard and have it at their next rally.

  7. I attended private schools (Catholic) all my young life, However, at that time they were very inexpensive as they were subsidized by the diocese and were in no way looked upon as prestigious; just an alternative to the public system. While everything you’ve heard about nuns is true, there is something good to be said about a teacher motivated by their calling vs. their contract.

    Unfortunately, these schools are pretty much gone now and the tuitions of those which have survived are beyond the reach of most families.

    Chuck: I missed the coverage of the food fight in MPLS a few days ago. Seems to have died quitely. However, I was innundated with coverage of the story on the “dark skinned” doll which was found hanging in another MPLS public school. I was interested in the “dark skinned” description of the doll. From that I assume that it was not conclusively a “Black” (by race) doll. None the less, the outcry from the parents of students in that school seemed to be on a similar, or greater, level as the food fight.

    Again, the obligatory “fear for my child’s safety” parent was featured. I find it interesting to see what seems to trigger these parental responses compared to what doesn’t seem to trigger them.

  8. You know, I think that the teachers’ unions have a good point. End any schools after a couple of years in the bottom quintile.

    Bye bye, Chicago Public and DC Public! Bye bye, Minneapolis Public!

    What’s not to like? We can recharter all the time, they have a little more trouble.

  9. The Charter Schools which have been successful in poor areas of the country (mostly inner cities) have taken children, dressed them, adjusted their manners, adjusted their appearance, adjusted their use of their free time, and instilled a variety of habits which are foreign to their homes. In short, they have taken poor kids and transformed them into middle class kids without money. The kids that result often do not relate well to their family and neighbors, for obvious reasons. They find fault with others who lack their newly formed work habits and self discipline. In Black neighborhoods, they are accused of acting ‘white’, but they aren’t so much white as middle class, acting as would be expected if their mother was a doctor rather than a cashier at Walmart.

    This is what it takes to deliver equality of opportunity to poor kids. When this happens in a voluntary charter school, parents can choose to embrace the transformation of their children or reject it. But if you tried to transform the entire public school system to do the same, the community would quite likely rebel at such manipulative schooling. It doesn’t take money as much as it takes a willingness to change your kids for the better by teaching them to not be like you, which is hard to swallow. The only realistic path in a liberal democracy is to provide the option of a transformative education to every poor child, but many will not take it. The poor will always be with us, as some will not take the difficult path to improvement, and we can not and should not coerce them to do so. We owe it to the poor to make it possible, and to pay for it.

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