Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The New York Charter Schools War

In a better world we would look at the academic underperformance of inner city children and ask ourselves what we can do to improve it. Alas, we do not live in a better world. At least, not in New York City.

Dare we mention that tearing down statues of confederate generals does not really improve anyone’s ability to do algebra. Marching for social justice, ranting about white privilege, insisting on different standards for different students… none of them really improves anyone’s ability to excel in high school.

As it happens, we do know that charter schools in New York City achieve far better performance ratings than do public schools. Our governor Andrew Cuomo has recognized this truth. The vice chancellor of the State University System, one Meryl Tisch has seen it. She just recommended that the state legislature lift the cap on the number of charter schools.  Heck, even the Trump administration department of education has earmarked more funds to New York’s Success Academies, charter schools whose students perform better than most of the state’s suburban high school students.

And yet, alas, the enemies of educational opportunity and academic achievement have lined up to fight the good fight against these bastions of academic excellence. Led by Comrade de Blasio and teachers’ unions, New York City is doing everything in its power to stunt the growth of charter schools.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized on the subject this morning. It begins with the facts:

Most children at urban public schools aren’t learning what they should. So it’s encouraging to see New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ask fellow Democrats who run Albany to lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York.

The state now caps the total number of charters statewide at 460. But in New York City, where the demand is greatest and where 235 charters are now teaching 123,000 students, the subcap has already been reached. New York public schools teach about 1.14 million students overall with a budget of some $25 billion.

Why cap the number of good schools? The most recent state test results for grades 3-8 show that while the majority of New York students attending traditional public schools are not proficient in either math or English language arts (ELA), a majority of charter school students are.

It’s not just New York:

The New York City results reflect evidence elsewhere. A study released this month from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas examined eight big cities—Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, New York City, San Antonio and the District of Columbia—to determine which type of public school offers the better return on the educational dollar.

Their finding? In all cities, charter schools outperformed traditional public schools in standardized test scores—despite receiving less funding per pupil. Charters were more cost effective and delivered a greater return on investment.

In New York the mayor and the teachers’ unions are standing in the way of educational opportunity for minority children. If Republicans had been doing this, you would be hearing them denounced for racism:

Even when permitted to open, charters are often held hostage by political leaders—such as Mayor Bill de Blasio—who are backed by teachers unions that don’t like charters because they’re exempt from union work rules. The Success Academy charters, one of the highest performing, notes that though it’s willing to open its doors to thousands more children, it can’t expand because the city refuses to provide space—even though the city has 212 half-empty school buildings.

But, they’re Democrats. They have the right feelings. So we cannot tax them with cosigning children to academic underperformance.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Teachers' Unions will not allow Charter Schools to break the union teachers' rice bowls.
(H/t, The Sand Pebbles.)