"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mayor Mike and His Big Charter School Lie

Could Bloomberg be in training for the Presidency? With whoppers like this one that he offers repeatedly in conjunction with his piss-and-vinegar bullying attitude, he would seem to be positioning himself to become the next Angry-Simpleton-in-Chief. From the New York Observer:

At a press conference on Monday about charter schools, Mike Bloomberg said (pointedly, I thought) that he wanted to let voters know who supported legislation creating more charter schools, and who didn't.

I asked him at the time if that meant he'd do what Eliot Spitzer did in his "Bring the Budget Home" tour, which was to go around the state personally blasting lawmakers in their home districts. Or if was he going to do a 'tell your Assemblyman' kind of mailing, which 1199 did during the health care fight.

Bloomberg didn't offer any specifics then and I, along with the city press corps, didn't bother writing about it.

But during Bloomberg's radio interview this morning, he re-stated his intention to single out legislators that didn't support charter schools. For what it's worth, he sounded like he meant it.

Charter schools, he said, are something that "parents want, it's proven to work and there are people who vote against it. And I said and I mean this, I think we should go out and tell the voters in every district who stood up for parents choice. Who is really trying to help the kids and who is just trying to get some support from one organized group that may give them a little bit of money or stand up with them at the polls."

Look, Mayor Mike. Look, look, look. See the evidence. See the evidence speak:

A special over sample of charter schools, conducted as part of the 2003 fourth-grade NAEP assessments, permitted a comparison of academic achievement for students enrolled in charter schools to that for students enrolled in traditional public schools. The school sample comprised 150 charter schools and 6,764 traditional public schools. The report uses hierarchical linear models (HLMs) to examine differences between the two types of schools when multiple student and/or school characteristics are taken into account. After adjusting for student demographic characteristics, charter school mean scores in reading and mathematics were lower, on average, than those for traditional public schools. The size of these differences was smaller in reading than in mathematics. Results from the second analysis showed that in reading and mathematics, average performance differences between traditional public schools and charter schools affiliated with a public school district were not statistically significant, while charter schools not affiliated with a public school district scored significantly lower on average than traditional public schools.

More evidence, Mayor Mike! Listen, listen, listen:
Contrary to common wisdom, public schools score higher in math than private ones, when differences in student backgrounds are taken into account.

That was the conclusion of researchers Sarah and Christopher Lubienski in a study last year of data from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Now they’re back with similar and more-extensive results in a follow-up study of the 2003 assessment, drawing from a much larger national data sample of 13,577 schools and 343,000 students.

The results, the researchers said, raise further questions about the assumed academic benefits of private, as well as charter, schools. The results also raise doubts about how effectively parental choice can influence school quality.

“The presumed panacea of private-style organizational models – the private-school advantage – is not supported by this (NAEP’s) comprehensive dataset on mathematics achievement,” the Lubienskis, education professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote in a summary of their recent study.

A paper on the study was posted today (Jan. 23) on the Web site of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE), based at Columbia University. The study was funded through a $100,000 grant from the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education.

“More and more states are looking at voucher programs, or trying to organize public schools on a private-school model, and this study brings up serious questions about that approach,” Chris Lubienski said. “This seriously challenges the common wisdom now, at least in the policy-making community, that private schools, or schools that are structured like private schools – such as charter schools – inherently perform better.”

The researchers looked at achievement and survey data from NAEP’s 2003 national sample of 190,000 fourth-graders in 7,485 schools and 153,000 eighth-graders in 6,092 schools. The schools in the sample were categorized by NAEP as public (non-charter), charter and private, with the private schools broken down further by Catholic, Lutheran, conservative Christian and “other private.” . . . .
Mayor Mike is getting sleepy. Goodnite, Mayor Mike.

In the meantime, Bloomberg's inspiration, Jeb Bush, leaves a legacy of failing charters in Florida. A recent audit showed them collectively $2 million in debt, as they shutter up one by one. From the Sun-Sentinel:
A fading yellow sign sits on the school's doors like a tombstone over a grave: "North Lauderdale Academy High is officially closed. If you need further information, please contact..."

Only 12 people did.

And so marked the death a year ago of North Lauderdale's charter school. There were no funeral dirges and few mourners. Only city officials lamented the school's demise.

Broward School District officials say the vacant building at Kimberly Boulevard and Rock Island Road, which is now for sale, should serve as a warning for Broward's other cash-strapped charter schools. When bank accounts become hollow, experts say, schools close, as 76 have in Florida and more than 400 have nationally since 1996. North Lauderdale's school was about $2.6 million in debt when it closed. . . .

1 comment:

  1. Of course Mayor Mike has no interest whatsoever in evidence of any sort. The important thing is to set up as many non-union shops as possible.

    Sadly there are few in the media to stand up to him, and even UFT President Randi Weingarten, showing the utter lack of vision that defines her leadership style, supported mayoral control.