Jewish World Review August 31, 2004 /15 Elul 5764
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Study schools that are successful too
When the American Federation of Teachers unveiled its analysis of new federal data on charter schools, it looked at first like a big score for charter school opponents against the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" education reforms.
But, alas, nothing in the world of education reform is quite that simple.
Here's the story: Billed as the first national comparison of test scores among children in the two types of public schools, the study found charter school students are "often doing worse on math and reading tests than their counterpart students in regular public schools," as The New York Times put it.
That sounded like bad news for the No Child Left Behind law, which encourages states to hand over failing schools to non-profit community groups or to for-profit companies that want to run the failing schools as charter schools. The AFT, a major critic of charters, mined the data out of the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress study and provided it to the Times.
And it wasn't helpful that the U.S. Department of Education released the data online without a public announcement of its own. Instead, the Times trumpeted the story on Page 1, headlined with the AFT's spin. "Charter schools trail in results, U.S. data reveal."
But, as it happens with many big journalistic revelations, the further you read, the less the story backs up its headline.
You don't need to read very far into the AFT report, for example, before you discover that the gap in test scores between charter and public schools disappears when you take race into account. Compare white students with white students and blacks with blacks and Hispanics with Hispanics and the gap in scores between the charters and traditional public schools goes away.
That's important because charter schools enroll a higher proportion of minority students. More than half of charter school pupils were black, Hispanic or American Indian in the 1999-2000 academic year, compared with one-third for all public schools, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
Charters also enroll a higher proportion of students who were not doing well for one reason or another in public schools, which makes the stories of successful charters all the more amazing.
For example, students at the 5-year-old Amistad Academy, a New Haven, Conn., charter school on which I reported for a recent PBS documentary, "Closing the Achievement Gap," tend to enter at least two years below grade level in math and reading. But after two years at Amistad, most of these students are achieving above their grade level. After its first three years, state assessment test scores of the almost totally black and Hispanic school, which serves 5th through 8th grades, were not only matching but surpassing those of their predominantly white suburban counterparts.
How do they do it?
A big part of it is attitude. Amistad students wear khaki pants and green polo shirts as a sort of uniform and regularly recite the school's "REACH" values--"Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, Hard Work."
In a school that respects them, they learn to respect education.
After three years, something unexpected happened, according to Doug McCurry, director of Achievement First, which New York City has contracted to replicate Amistad's achievements in five schools. "The first class of 4th-year students began to mentor and coach the 1st-year students," he said. "They came up with their own ideas and school traditions. Suddenly we were beginning to teach us some things about teaching and learning."
Amistad is not alone. A closer look at the NAEP study reveals that 4th-grade students in Arizona, California and Colorado charter schools actually outperform their traditional public school counterparts in their states in reading, the pro-charters Washington-based Center for Education Reform found. Eighth-grade charter students in the District of Columbia outscored all other public schools in the district in reading. California's 8th-grade charter school students also outscored their public school counterparts in their state in reading.
Eighth-graders in Colorado and Delaware charter schools outperformed 8th graders at all public schools nationally in reading and math.
Reform takes time. Charter schools usually contract for five years. That's more than enough time for some, not enough time for others to succeed. Either way, we should not make too many judgments based on one study that only looked at 4th graders and only tested 1 percent of the nation's 600,000 charter school students.
Sure, some charter schools have failed. That only shows the need for close oversight and accountability. Shutting down charter schools that don't work is as important as maintaining the ones that do.
How accountable, by comparison, are traditional public schools? At least when a charter school fails to perform, it can be shut down. Public schools that fail to perform too often continue to non-perform year after year.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on Clarence Page's column by clicking here.
08/264/04: Why does America continue to refight the war in Vietnam?
08/24/04: A man for all racial reasons
08/03/04: Obama's drama and our dreams: Getting back on track as the United States
07/29/04: Quick refresher: Politics according to the Clintons
07/08/04: At colleges, immigrants are 'minorities' too
07/06/04: 40 years of opportunities
07/04/04: The 'no-sex' scandal
06/24/04: Freedom Summer of '64
06/17/04: When a diversity plan works too well
06/01/04: What Bill Cosby meant to say
05/18/04: Ashcroft has made murder of Emmett Till a federal case
04/29/04: A surprise running mate for Kerry: Calling Colin Powell
04/22/04: Did loyalty finally trip up Colin Powell?
04/15/04: Kerry needs a vision to win votes for the presidency
04/09/04: As much as our American presidents say "Never again" with heartfelt passion, the reality too often has been, "Yes, again," to mass killings
04/06/04: Finding hope in America's bleak racial statistics
04/05/04: Pop star's thriller on Capitol Hill
03/31/04: Pressure building to warm up cold case
03/26/04: Authentically self-hating: Today's standards of being cool on a destructive path
03/23/04: To get its groove back, the religious left needs to come up with some new ideas and a new vision for curing persistent social ills
03/16/04: Jayson Blair's new career: Scandal star
03/11/04: Blacks eye that John Kerry guy
03/04/04: In this instance, life should imitate art
02/12/04: What a friend Bush has in Sharpton
02/10/04: Unspoken conflicts: America's blacks and Latinos are struggling with a new racial paradigm for the new century
02/03/04: When pundits blab, blab, blab
01/29/04: Reparations on trial briefly: Now it's time to address blacks' biggest problems
01/15/04: If MLK lived, would he still be a hero?
01/08/04: GOPers would be wise to woo blacks those who vote and don't
01/02/04: Vicious, vicious Dems
01/02/04: It was a banner year for the pompous and peculiar
12/24/03: Al Gore's new campaign pal
12/12/03: Going for the political heavy hitters: Can Gore's new pal survive the veep's endorsement?
12/09/03: When is force excessive?
12/02/03: Medicare reform: A real turkey of a package
11/25/03: Colleges helping student athletes score diplomas
11/18/03: Soccer moms vs. NASCAR dads
11/13/03: Hunting 'terrorists' in Vegas strip clubs
11/11/03: America's peculiar 'passing' fancy
11/06/03: Dean waves wrong flag, Dems see red
10/28/03: No more excuses for the parents
10/23/03: Box Cutter Kid did us a favor
10/17/03: So long to a misguided gag rule on the medicinal use of marijuana
10/14/03: Does the election of Ah-nuld mean anything more than the obvious?
10/02/03: The wages of luck in a 'jobless recovery'
09/30/03: Looks like Clark should go back to basic training
09/18/03: The amazing clout of lobbyists swarming around Capitol Hill
09/16/03: Hearing hip-hop's pathetic message
09/12/03: What teenagers really want
09/09/03: Lessons from an anthropologist
09/02/03: Put term limits on airport security rules
08/14/03: Schoolchildren of all races at risk without parental guidance
08/08/03: Colin Powell is the 'odd man out' again
08/05/03: Black parents must teach their kids to succeed
07/22/03: Presidential politics: A time to pander, a time to push away
07/15/03: Deeper realities of Baker's dust-up
07/10/03: Formerly aloof, Bush now embraces Africa
07/08/03: Wrestling with the Q-word in Iraq
07/01/03: If you are reading this column, you aren't being filtered!
06/10/03: The 'Industry of Hillary' raises bucks for both sides
05/30/03: Dems grope for glimmer of hope
05/28/03: Reefer sanity vs. puritans in the White House
05/22/03: Turns out race was a factor in the NYTimes scandal a very big one
05/06/03: Closing the college graduation disparity
04/22/03: Fighting for privacy in an era of terror
04/22/03: Don't mis-underestimate the prez: Give him the 'props' he deserves
04/21/03: Sitting on scoops at CNN
04/15/03: After Saddam? Watch out, Syria
04/11/03: 'Hammer time' for Castro
04/08/03: Post-Hussein: Winning the true peace
04/03/03: Right story, wrong TV station
04/01/03: Remembering Moynihan's mind
03/27/03: A fog of war words: Shocking and awesome
03/21/03: A Moranic moment bites peace movement
03/18/03: Viewers beware when tv networks don't care
03/14/03: Powell's battle for Bush's ear
03/10/03: 'Embedded,' but not 'in bed with'
02/28/03: Bridging the black gender gap
02/19/03 Braun vs. Sharpton: A Dem dilemma
02/14/03: Bush's clean-up man
02/11/03: How feds fooled marijuana trial jurors
02/06/03: Time to re-think space shuttle's value
01/31/03: Why corporations like diversity, too
01/28/03: Shaq vs. Yao, a new world diss-order
01/23/03: Affirmative action will be remarketed under new name
01/13/03: Bond movie offers clues to Korea crisis
01/07/03: Dr. Frist to the rescue … of his party
01/02/03: Feeling a 'draft,' but not much
12/17/02: To rob a burning cross of its power
12/03/02: Closing black-white test-score gaps
11/19/02: Uncle Same wants your data
11/15/02: Marriage vs. 'player' impulse
11/11/02: How Oz can help the Dems
11/05/02: We reserve right to be complicated
10/22/02: What the pro-gun lobby and anti-gun lobby have in common
10/18/02: Take Sharpton seriously? For Prez??
10/15/02: A beauty and the bullies
10/08/02: Time to start 'fingerprinting' bullets
10/08/02: Poet laureate hater fell for Internet hoax
10/04/02: Keeping it real, despite howls from black 'leaders'
10/01/02: Revisiting the 'Jogger' horror
09/27/02: Sometimes freedom is a necessary nuisance
09/13/02: Foil Fidel with free trade
09/10/02: Measuring the myth of 'super weed'
09/06/02: A year later: A reality-check
09/03/02: Make better choices before some jury somewhere does
08/20/02: Bid farewell to the Cigarette Century
08/16/02: Rights matter, even in circus trials
08/09/02: Jousting with Rumsfeld's fog of wit
08/06/02: Covert action is cool again
08/01/02: Powell's premature obituaries
07/30/02: A common sense tip on internal snooping
07/18/02: Jacko plays race card badly
07/12/02: Last flight for a pioneer airman
07/08/02: Dems will miss Watts, too
06/28/02: 'Supreme Court reads polls, too
06/25/02: 'The Body' bites, then bows out
06/21/02: Punishment first, then the crime?
06/18/02: Reporting still risky for Haiti's press
06/14/02: Bush's security plan leaves large gaps
06/04/02: Fix FBI's culture gap first
05/28/02: Fidel's new apartheid for tourists
05/21/02: Now McKinney's lunacy sounds like the Democratic Party line
05/19/02: A paradox of historical proportions
05/14/02: 'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy
05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks
© 2001 TMS