Charter Schools outperform Public Schools in America and Britain

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Public education today is more about politics than education.  Which is why charter schools often outperform public schools.  Because the charter schools focus on education.  While the public schools focus on politics (see A 20-year lesson posted 7/7/2012 on The Economist).

FOR decades too many educationalists have succumbed to the tyranny of low expectations, at least when it comes to those at the bottom of the heap. The assumption has been that the poor, often black, children living in some of the world’s biggest and richest cities such as New York, Los Angeles and London face too many challenges to learn. There was little hope that school could make any difference to their future unless the problem of poverty could first be “solved”, which it couldn’t.

Such attitudes consigned whole generations to the scrapheap. But 20 years ago, in St Paul, Minnesota, the first of America’s charter schools started a revolution. There are now 5,600 of them. They are publicly funded, but largely independent of the local educational bureaucracies and the teachers’ unions that live in unhealthy symbiosis with them.

Charter schools are controversial, for three reasons. They represent an “experiment” or “privatisation”. They largely bypass the unions. And their results are mixed. In some states—Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri—the results of charter pupils in maths and English are significantly better than those of pupils in traditional public schools. In others—Arizona and Ohio—they have done badly.

Yet the virtue of experiments is that you can learn from them; and it is now becoming clear how and where charter schools work best.  Poor pupils, those in urban environments and English-language learners fare better in charters (see article). In states that monitor them carefully and close down failing schools quickly, they work best. And one great advantage is that partly because most are free of union control, they can be closed down more easily if they are failing…

It is pretty clear now that giving schools independence—so long as it is done in the right way, with the right monitoring, regulation and safeguards from the state—works. Yet it remains politically difficult to implement. That is why it needs a strong push from national governments. Britain is giving school independence the shove it needs. In America, artificial limits on the number of charter schools must be ended, and they must get the same levels of funding as other schools.

It remains politically difficult to implement because public education has two goals.  Generate union dues that can fund the Democrat Party.  And to produce Democrat voters.  The proof of the latter is that the youth vote goes to the Democrats.  There’s a reason for that.  And it’s the same reason why school kids hold picket signs with their striking teachers.  These kids don’t understand life, politics or economics yet.  They only know what their teachers tell them.  Who are not exactly unbiased when it comes to their politics.  Or their salary and benefit packages.  Which they put before their students.  At least, based on the success of the charter schools over the public schools.

There are a lot of great teachers in the public school system.  But they aren’t all great.  And it’s all but impossible to get rid of the bad teachers.  Or to close the bad schools.  And it’s impossible to pull the politics out of the educational curriculum.  Kids today can barely name the Founding Fathers or explain what republican government is but they know everything about global warming.  And everything bad America ever did as a nation.  Which just doesn’t prepare students today for the high-tech economy.  

Even the liberal elite admit public education is a failure by the fact that most of them have their kids in private school.  And these are the people responsible for the failure of public education.  They implemented their progressive views.  Because they knew better than we did.  Knew what was best for our kids.  Yet when it comes to their own kids they don’t want anything to do with the train wreck they made of public education.  If there was ever a vote of no-confidence for public education this is it.  They don’t like.  Want nothing to do with it.  But it’s not only okay for our kids but it’s necessary to rescue our kids from our bad parenting.  Because if the public schools weren’t there to make Democrat voters how can they trust parents to do that most important job?

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