Powered by TypePad

« A Valentine To The .38 (And The Officers Who Carry Them) | Main | A Gift Suggestion For Paul Krugman »

December 16, 2004




I wouldn't trust the conclusions of the NYT on this issue without a serious reputable analysis of the raw data. It's so easy to fudge statistics that there's nothing worthwhile that can be garnered from them without this review.


Not to beat a dead horse-but, since you've previously noted the DOE won the political battle over its survival and then had its budget increased 70% since 2002-Explanation (4) is actually corect. Somewhat disconcerting, but true.


"In reading, the report said, over all there was no statistically significant difference between students in charters and in regular public schools. However, when students in special education were excluded, charter students scored significantly lower than those in regular public schools."

My initial assumption would be, then, that charter schools have uncommonly good special education programs. Special ed, it seems, should be a fairly small chunk of most schools' populations.

"the comparison is still apples to oranges, since the kids in charter schools are different in some important way"

Perhaps a great deal more special ed students, leading charter schools to focus more attention on them? Mere speculation on my part, of course.

Pete the Elder

I am still trying to figure why people are lumping all charter schools into one group. Isn't the whole point of charter schools that each is unique and gets to make its own rules? Are any of the individual charter schools doing better than the other schools nearest them?


Well, of course that's it.

The Public school principals are not completely stupid. . . if they can find ways to exclude more of their difficult students by labeling them as special ed, then, they will do so.

The NCLBA has created a cottage industry in manipulating the numbers earch year.


"no statistically significant difference between students in charters and in regular public schools."

I suppose this doesn't really matter -- but aren't charter schools generally cheaper (however measured, cost per student or cost per school or cost per average point scored on SAT?) than traditional public schools?

If Medicare were getting the same quality drugs and recovery rates for expensive name brand USA-manufactured drugs AND for cheap generic Canadian imported drugs -- but no better -- would there be clamor to stop importing drugs from Canada?

Is the health of our elders more cost-sensitive than the education of our children?

Patrick R. Sullivan

It's very definitely a comparison of apples with bubble gum. As Carolyn Hoxby points out:

"Because charter schools enroll only 1.5 percent of students, it is important to include nearly all of them in a study. Results based on only a small sample of charter school students (for instance, studies that rely on the 3 percent sample of the National Assessment of Educational Progress) cannot be used to draw conclusions about states' charter school policies. A study that relies on a 3 percent sample of 1.5 percent of American students is a study based on only 0.045 percent of students. "

What Hoxby's study does is to compare lottery winners of seats in charter schools with lottery losers of those places who had to go to the regular public schools. She finds the winners did better on the standardized tests.

Something else that Hoxby found in one of her studies is that the more charter schools compete with ordinary public schools, the better the regular schools perform. Thanks to the competition. Which is another way charter schools "work".

Mitch H.

How likely is it that this is a complex effect derived from the "boredom effect"? If a charter school is interduced into a school system, the theory-crazed loons naturally gravitate towards the place where they can experiment to their hearts' content, thus lessening the burden imposed on normal schools by the logistical and performance burden of said theory-crazed teachers. The charter school drops like a rock, while the rest of the district floats a little higher above the waves, having dumped their morons on the now-swamped charter school.

Nigel Kearney

Maybe if your kid is doing fine in a public school you might choose to leave them there, but if they are struggling you might try a change of school?

And if public schools put kids with 'behavioural problems' in special ed., then that's part of it too.


Excellent commentary by Eduwonk (www.eduwonk.com)one of my favorite sources on education reform. Bottomline - its mixed bag so far but spun very negatively by the NYT (suprise, suprise).

Geek, Esq.

Any way of comparing parental attitudes/behavior in the two groups?


Geek, Esq:

I saw the headline on this piece and couldn't wait to scroll down and add my brilliant opinion to this issue, and damned if the very last comment (yours) stole my thunder!

My father was a public school teacher for 35 years, and in his later years, he became indignant about the claims that "private school" (which, generically, I understand are different from charter schools) have better teachers, and that's why they product better students.

He preached the point (with all other teachers he knew of in total agreement), that better students (on average) reflect better, more involved, and caring students. Any parent who will spend $50 to $350 PER MONTH to place their kid in a private school is displaying interest in their kid, and is significantly more likely to interact with the kid via homework, teacher conferences, etc.

As good parents more and more move their kids out to private schools, it leaves the public schools with a higher percentage of poorly-parented kids. My father went so far as to say that parenting was a more significant factor that the quality of the teachers, themselves.

So surveying parent interest and dedication to helping their kids with school should be an integral component of ANY survey comparing schools.

The comments to this entry are closed.