Charter advocates here might be embarrassed by the praise, as they prefer to call themselves “public schools.”
The Economist recognizes that charter schools are experiments in privatization, not simply another form of public school.
Unfortunately the magazine distorts the research on charter schools beyond recognition to justify its praise of privatization and free markets.
After a lame attempt to discredit the CREDO study–the one that found that only 17% of charters outperformed a matched neighborhood public school–the magazine nonetheless portrays charters as the sure cure to “save” black inner-city children. It seems that only private entrepreneurs know the secrets to educating poor black children.
Even charter advocates in the U.S. usually acknowledge that the academic results of charters are mixed, at best. There are some that get high test scores, some that get low test scores, and most that get scores no different from public schools.
The Economist articles do not acknowledge that charter schools typically serve fewer children with disabilities, and fewer children who are English language learners. They also exercise the right to remove students who don’t comply with their strict disciplinary code and return them to public schools.
And in the magazine’s lavish praise of New Orleans charters, it conveniently overlooks the fact that New Orleans is the next-to-lowest ranked district in the state of Louisiana, 69th out of 70. It is a very low performing district in a low performing state.
Also, the magazine ignores the disastrous results of the fastest growing segment of the charter world, and that is, the for-profit cyber-charters.
Why do charters require so much hype and spin to thrive? Why not admit that they face the same problems as public schools if they enroll the same children? Why not admit that the most successful charters spend more money than regular public schools? Why so much pretense?