Comments about ‘Study: Majority of U.S. charter schools perform equal or worse than traditional schools’

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Published: Monday, June 24 2013 10:00 p.m. MDT

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Chuck E. Racer
Lehi, UT

If the traditional districts would make their schools the same size as the charter schools, they would smoke the charters. That is a charter school's biggest advantage.

If we divided our big districts into community-sized districts, we would be more likely to get this size of school and a more supportive public as well.

DN Subscriber 2

Some trust parents to choose what is best for their children, and to compare between the servvices and learning at a Charter School and traditional public schools. They have a vested interest in THEIR child's success for a lifetime.

Others trust the "village" and the "government skools" to warehouse kids and indoctrinate them in the tenants of political correctness, and sometimes old-fashioned stuff like reading, writing and math. The teachers unions love to keep the numbers enrolled as high as possible so they can demand more money and more teacher [union] jobs. Many teachers are wonderful and truly care, but too many are not, and they are a far greater danger than any possible gap between what takes place in public schools and what takes place in Charter Schools.

Two more questions for the CREDO folks at Stanford--
1- How do home schooled children compare with their peers in public schools.
2- What is the ultimate failure to graduate rate for public and charter schools? Are your results skewed by eliminating those who are totally failed by the schools? (Although a large portion of the blame for failure belongs to the student and their parents.)

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT


And the pro voucher crowd wants more of this?

No thanks.

Charters have failed. Vouchers clearly don't work. Back to the drawing board folks!

provo, UT

Our charter school here in Saratoga Springs (Lakeview Academy) is much better than the public schools in the surrounding areas. The discipline is better, the learning atmosphere is better, morality is better, etc. Our kids feel safe at the charter school where at the big middle school it was like a jungle.

Washington, UT

This is bogus. Charter schools are light years ahead of regular public schools in the quality of education. The study reveals its bias when it let slip that "poverty" and "poor students" was the real driving thesis. The whole point of the charter school was to get the students away from the "poor" and "poverty" thing and teach students to excel instead of being dumbed down to the poorest students. I am personally aware of several charter schools, and all of them are far superior to the regular public schools, there is just no comparison.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

I guess if you disagree with the results of the study it's easy to merely shrug it off and call the study, "bogus."

The truth is, the gig is up. We aren't drinking the charter school Kool-aid. Nor the voucher nonsense. The pro-voucher folks were just hit hard. Instead of dealing with it they prefer to put their heads in the sand and call this study, "bogus."

It's pretty obvious how silly some folks are being.

Saint Louis, MO

The important part of the study is in regard to "low income, disadvantaged, special education". These groups showed definite improvement with charter schools. Whites and Asians appeared to regress. As someone who is a retired urban high school teacher, I would say that the charter schools offer discipline for students who have none in their home life. The parallel public schools offer an education plan modeled on John Dewey which emphasizes freedom of development. School children are begging for guidance and the charter schools appear to give that to them. Charter schools would lean toward the model of education stressed by Hyman Rickover who was a heavy critic of Mr. Dewey and who also was the father of the modern American Navy.


Oh, How Informative. A totally unbiased study by a major university about charter schools. If charter schools struggle, it is because they are trying too hard to emulate public schools.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Chuck, you hit on something there. Little kids (even high school kids) get lost in huge schools.

Syracuse, UT

I wonder how environment fits into all of this.

North Ogden, UT

I think we're all missing something obvious here. Look at the infographic and then ask yourself what you think about the headline. Here's a hint:

81% of charter schools are significantly better or not significantly different in reading
69% of charter schools are significantly better or not significantly different in math

This is not, of course, what the headline focused on. It is, of course, factually accurate, since

75% of charter schools are significantly worse or not significantly different in reading
71% of charter schools are significantly worse or not significantly different in math

By any reasonable standard, the data are inconclusive at best, but if you had to choose a direction you should probably add up the "better or not different" and get 150% and add up the "worse or not different" and get 146% and conclude that the "better or not different" would win and focus on that. The data doesn't suggest a strong conclusion either way. An unbiased author would probably conclude that "Data suggest that most charter schools are not significantly different from their traditional public counterparts in English and Math." It's frustrating to have people drawing conclusions about this story without understanding the data.

Kaysville, UT

Charter school processes are to have a business manager run a school, usually not an educator. They look for efficiencies but that doesn't necessarily include educational background. Parents are lured to the "other" school process and then come 1 October the parents want to change their children back to the public school for one reason or another, and then the normal "public" school district cannot get the money for the school the children will be attending, "again". The charter schools use enticement, marketing, and other PR tools to get their "students" through normal business methods.

Normal "public" schools teach the children that the charter schools don't want that would lower their scores such as challenged children of various backgrounds and status.

Though charter schools may say they are public schools due to receiving funding, they are a form of private schools in the thought and educational processes.

Parents in some environments use the "huge" school as a rationale for moving children. They sometimes don't want to have to be involved in the normal public school process as that lowers their status symbol that their children are just normal kids.

Normal public schools provide for everyone under the law.

Tooele, UT

Re: "Charters have failed. Vouchers clearly don't work."

Yeah, yeah. Same old UEA/NEA party line.

Note that this study also found, ". . . the charter school sector is getting better on average and . . . charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged and special education students . . . ."

Which certainly is NOT true of mainstream, trade-union-controlled public education.

It's not surprising that charter schools would be pronounced a failure by "educator" trade-union activists, since their "judgment" is more informed by personal, pecuniary interests, than by concern for students.

Since non-union charter schools do as much or more for students, at lower public cost, than union-controlled public schools, only disingenuous union bosses could call them failures.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

It is hilarious to read the comments from the people with their head buried in the sand. This is just one of many studies saying the same thing. Charter school generally perform worse than regular schools. The people that are usually touting how great they are usually have some kind of financial interest in saying so.

What it comes down to is who is teaching at the school. I don't want to make too big of a generalization but many of the teachers at charter schools are the ones that couldn't get hired at a regular school for whatever reason. I don't know of a single teacher that dreams of one day working at a charter. It is less stable and that is a huge factor in the teaching profession.

Of course ask your local charter parent how their school compares to the local public school and they will tell you the charter is light years ahead of the other school. I hear it from my own neighbors. Then I ask if they have compared test scores. The charter is on average 7-10% lower in ever category.

The truth hurts but that doesn't change it.

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

Judi Clark's statements in the article are little worrisome. She completely denies the statistics and facts and throws out the "thousands of families are on waiting lists". This seems to be the favorite line of the pro charter crowd. I frankly don't believe it. The charter by me sends out flyers advertising their school. They can't get enough students. Their teachers leave the first chance they get to move into a normal school.

Parents should have choice but parents need to do their homework. Don't just follow a fad. If a charter school is the right answer for your family, do your research and make sure you know what you are getting into. As the report and data show, charter definitely doesn't mean better. There are a few good ones out there but there are even more bad ones showing up all the time.

West Jordan, UT

Charter Schools have a "elected" governing board of directors made up of parents - some of whom are educators. This board selects the principal of the school, not the district. The principal selects the teachers, not the district. From what I've seen there is a greater accountability for teaching in charter schools than what I've seen in regular public schools. Principals and teachers who don't perform and educate don't last very long in the charter environment. No education assosciation contracts that bind schools to reward nonproducting teachers or administrators.

Give me administrators and teachers who are committed to really educating our youth anytime over those how just put in their time.

Pleasant Grove, UT

What an unfortunate headline. The bias of either Mr. Wood or the paper's editors is clearly on display and is disappointing. While the headline the story runs under is true:

- "Majority of U.S. charter schools perform equal or worse than traditional schools"

even a cursory look at the data shows an that opposite headline is also true:

- "Majority of U.S. charter schools perform equal or BETTER than traditional schools"

When both headlines are accurate, calling out the poor performance of some schools in the headline clearly reflects a conscious choice to focus on the negative instead of the positive when it comes to charter schools.

When you remove the schools whose performance is not significantly different, what does a direct comparison of schools reveal? 1713 of the charter schools in the study were significantly worse than other public schools in their local market, while 1827 of the charter schools in the study were significantly better than other public schools in their local market. In other words:

- Among charter schools whose performance differs significantly from other public schools in their local market, the majority of charter schools are significantly better than the other public schools in their local market.

Tooele, UT

Re: "There are a few good ones out there but there are even more bad ones showing up all the time."

Which flies in the face of the study being reported.

It specifically found that there wasn't much difference in performance, that charter schools are getting better all the time, and that they are meeting the needs of those most at risk.

And, if teachers leave charter schools the first chance they get, it only illustrates the fact that public schools are paying too much.

Providence, UT

Since charter schools provide choice, charter schools are important. How much better can they be, though, than public schools otherwise? Only as much as their having to deal with the same problems as public schools do will allow them to be. If their teachers are overburdened (class size, mixed student abilities, and total daily student load), undercompensated (as are all of Utah's K-12 teachers by ANY measure applied), underappreciated as true professionals who must continually improve themselves through additional coursework and seminars, how much better can charter schools really be? If the playing field is truly level for public and charter schools, there can be no significant differences in outcomes.
The subject is a big one and deserves a series of investigative articles incorporating on-line learning, home-schooling, themed schools ("collegiate" high, "tech") where self-selection is by interest, school populations affected by non-native speakers, and so on.
Also there's a lot of evidence from economists who have as much as predicted the current "crisis" in America's K-12 education due to failure to plan for the long-term financially and in the training, recruitment, and retention of teachers. The record in America has been abysmal.

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

I love how the Dnews has buried this story so quickly. It doesn't fit their pro-charter, pro-voucher, anti-public ed editorials so to the back of the line goes this story.

procurador, you lost all credibility when you claim public schools are paying too much. If that were the case, we would see a LONG line of people lining up to become teachers. That just isn't happening. There are a few that think it will be an easy job, just rake in the money while babysitting a bunch of kids. Then they start working and realize it is much more than anyone realizes. Those are the teachers that usually leave the profession in 3 years or less. I think it is now around 50% that leave within the first 3 years.

I've seen some good charter schools and some bad ones. Parents need to do their research to see what they are getting their kids into before making the leap.

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