Charter school advocates are calling for more investment from South Carolina, according to Jamie Self at The State (Columbia, SC):
South Carolina’s public charter schools struggle to find and pay for space, and often end up without access to kitchens, libraries, or places for kids to play – a problem the S.C. General Assembly needs to address, according to a new report.The challenges that the state’s 49 brick-and-mortar public charter schools face are outlined in a new report, published with help from the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina by the Charter School Facilities Initiative, a partnership of federal and state charter school organizations.
Charter schools in SC, however, are proving to match the growing body of evidence that charter schools produce similar patterns of measurable student outcomes when compared to public schools and that charter schools share and even increase the rising re-segregation of schools in the U.S.
Should SC increase charter school investment? The short answer is, No. But to answer this question fully a few factors should be considered.
First, charter school advocacy is itself a problem; as I have explained before:
Like medicine, then, education and education reform will continue to fail if placed inside the corrosive dynamics of market forces. Instead, the reform of education must include the expertise of educators who are not bound to advocating for customers, but encouraged, rewarded and praised for offering the public the transparent truth about what faces us and what outcomes are the result of any and every endeavor to provide children the opportunity to learn as a member of a free and empowered people.Education "miracles" do not exist and market forces are neither perfect nor universal silver bullets for any problem - these are conclusions made when we are free of the limitations of advocacy and dedicated to the truth, even when it challenges our beliefs.
Next, if charter schools are a fiscally responsible investment, they should be producing outcomes that distinguish themselves from traditional public schools. However, analyses from two years of report cards for charter schools in SC reveal the clear picture that more investment is not justified (see below for complete analysis of both years' comparisons):
- Using 2011 SC state repost cards and the metric "Schools with Students Like Ours," charter schools performed as follows: 3/53 ABOVE Typical, 17/53 Typical, and 33/53 BELOW Typical.
- Using 2013 SC state repost cards and the metric "Schools with Students Like Ours," charter schools performed as follows: ABOVE Typical 2/52, Typical 20/52, BELOW Typical 22/52.
In other words, almost all charter schools in SC perform about the same or worse than the public schools they are intended to either motivate through market forces to perform better or offer parents better options; neither is likely occurring.
SC should not invest further in charter schools, but should begin decreasing charters while also seeking ways to fund fully and equitably our community public schools—while also abandoning wasteful investments in new standards and testing.