Kaplan's Jay Mathews is back pushing the charter school bandwagon this week in the Washinton Post, citing an unpublished study that purports to demonstrate that charter schools are beneficial for student behavior. With no academic benefit to recommend charters over the public schools not making AYP that the charters were intended to replace, charterites are hard pressed to come up with some legitimate reason that the American public should give up tax dollars to support schools with no oversight from publicly-elected school boards.
In his piece this week, Mathews goes once more to the well on the charters-are-cheaper argument, the line followed by bean counters interested only in making school systems more "efficient." Heck, man, if we can get the same test scores and save 20 percent in teacher salaries in the meantime, doesn't that make charters better? It's truly amazing how the AYP issue moves to the background for Jay Mathews when saving 20 cents on every tax dollar that goes to poor kids comes to the foreground.
Mathews' new insight on the value of charters springs from a piece of unpublished research by Scott Imberman. The research report was made available on the Web on September 28, and Jay Mathews reports on it on October 2. Now that is some hot research, even if it has not been published in a journal, peer reviewed or otherwise.
Anyway, the big finding? Charter schools have fewer discipline problems than public schools, so then that is what makes them better. What Dr. Imberman does not report in his paper is that most charter schools do not allow discipline problems, since any violation of the rules will get you booted out. Running on the playground or walking outside the white lines (hmm) are code violations in many of these "schools."
Today's example? From Detroit, where the ACLU has sued the Old Redford Academy on the behalf of Claudius Benson, dismissed for having hair longer than the discipline code allows. His reasons? His mother says that for religious reasons, she has not cut Claudius's hair since he was four years old.