Jersey Jazzman, aka Mark Weber, is a teacher in New Jersey who took the time to earn a Ph.D. So he could decipher the studies and research usedto make decisions about schools.

In this post, he explains to the media how to cover charter schools.

He noticed that Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal to ban for-profit charter schools unleashed a wave of commentary about charter schools. Many people have no idea what they are. They don’t know that they are privately managed but publicly funded and that most charter schools operate with little or no oversight. It’s a sweet deal to get public money with no one checking the books.

He writes:

I can’t say I’m surprised, but it looks like Bernie Sanders’ latest policy speech on education – where, among other things, he calls for a ban on for-profit charter schools and other charter school reforms — has generated a lot of fair to poor journalism that purports to explain what charters are and how they perform.

Predictably, the worst of the bunch is from Jon Chait, who cheerleads for charters often without adhering to basic standards of transparency. Chait’s latest piece is so overblown that even a casual reader with no background in charter schools will recognize it for the screed that it is, so I won’t waste time rebutting it.

There are, however, plenty of other pieces about Sanders’ proposals that take a much more measured tone… and yet still get some charter school basics wrong. I’m going to hold off on citing specific examples and instead hope (against hope) that maybe I can get through to some of the journalists who want to get the story of charters right.

The first warning is not to accept the claims that CREDO makes, especially not its assertion that it can measure “days of learning.” It can’t.

Second point, don’t accept the assertion that “charter schools are public schools.” They get public money but bot everything that gets public money is “public.” Like Harvard and Boeing.

Third point, do charter schools strip funding from public schools? JJ is not sure but Gordon Lafer is. See his study here on the fiscal drain that charters impose on public school. 

4) The “best” charter sectors get their gains through increased resources, peer effects, and a test prep curriculum — and not through “charteriness.”

Read the rest for yourself. JJ is always worth reading.