Doug Ross, a charter founder in Detroit, wrote an opinion piece for the Detroit News in which he shows that Detroit charters outperform the much abused Detroit public schools. This’s is no surprise since charters are free unlike public schools) to choose their students and to push out the students they don’t want. The public schools must enroll the students not wanted by the charters. This is hardly a meaningful comparison.

Ross wants to make the point that the charters get better results than public schools—without acknowledging the fundamental difference mentioned above—but he does acknowledge that the charters are far below the statewide averages on every measure (except high school graduation rate, which is easily manipulated). No charter miracles here.

Curiously, the Detroit public schools have higher SAT scores than the charters.

The Detroit charters perform far worse than the state averages in math and reading.

The percent of students rated proficient in reading in grades 3-8 is 12.3% is public schools; 23.6% in charter schools; and 47.3% statewide.

Ross concludes:

“The next few years are not about DPSCD-charter competition. They are about learning together across DPSCD-charter lines about the best ways to help Detroit children get the education they deserve, and providing the quality public schools the city urgently requires if it is to continue to move forward.”

He is right. Where we part company is on the basic concept of charters, that they have the freedom to choose their students while the public schools take the kids unwanted by the charters.

That is not a formula for high quality public schools or for equity.