In NZ too – Teacher Unions against helping if they lose control

The opposition and teacher unions continue to rail against charter schools despite mounting evidence overseas that charter schools massively help amongst the poor and disadvantaged.

Forbes magazine has an article about charter schools that shows that charter schools are doing well for their student and the unions are a road block to success.

They look at a recent CREDO study that found:

While overall charters and public schools compare relatively closely, both the 2009 and 2013 study found that charters did better for students in poverty. In addition, performance gap is growing over time:

Charter school impacts with students in poverty and English language learners were positive in 2009 in both reading and math. These positive results have sustained and in fact increased in 2013.

And the results are especially strong for black students in poverty. As the CREDO study reports:

“Black students in poverty who attend charter schools gain an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math per year over their [traditional public school] counterparts (see Figure 30). This shows the impact of charter schooling is especially beneficial for black students who in poverty.”

You see this result repeated on other studies as well. Using randomized study results from charter school lotteries in Massachusetts, Angrist, Pathak, and Walters find that non-urban charters don’t outperform public schools and may even do worse, but urban charter schools benefit black students and poor students:

Black and Hispanic students benefit considerably from urban charter attendance in middle school, but the estimated math gains for whites are smaller, with no increase in whites’ ELA scores. Urban charter middle schools appear to produce especially large achievement gains for students eligible for a subsidized lunch and for those with low baseline scores.Attendance at urban charter high schools increases math scores in every group and raises reading scores for everyone except whites, though estimates for small groups are imprecise.

It’s hard to imagine it another policy being called a failure because it only benefitted poor students and black students but the overall scores were held down by non-urban schools and white students.  

The emphasis is mine but accurately sums up precisely where the jihad against charter schools in NZ goes wrong. Every time the union and the opposition open their gobs to oppose charter schools what they are saying is that the poor and under privileged don’t matter to them, and union hegemony of our education is more important than the kids.

As a result, I think charter critics who draw on empirical research that compares outcomes are fighting a losing battle. The charter sector is outperforming public schools by some measures already, but more importantly they are getting better over time. I have little doubt that the next CREDO study will show charters making even more gains. Critics determined to oppose charters should start to pivot now, because they are standing on a leg that will give out eventually.

The charter sectors’ ability to do better for poor students and black students is important given that they disproportionately serve them. I remember when I was an undergrad in the early 2000s, the debates on charter schools were far more theoretical than they are now. Back then I frequently heard the concern that charter schools were just going to engage in “cream skimming”, be a way for middle class white families to escape urban school systems, and thus serve as one more form of segregation in this country. This concern has not come true, and currently 53% of charter students are in poverty compared 48% for public schools. Charters also serve more minority students than public schools: charters are 29% black, while public schools are 16%. So not only do they serve more poor students and black students, but for this group they relatively consistently outperform public schools.

What’s odd is how often these facts go ignored. If the opposite were true, and charters served less minority or low-income students than public schools then it this would be trumpeted constantly and presented as perhaps the most important evidence in this debate. Or if charters showed strong positive results overall but didn’t benefit poor students or black students they would be condemned as institutions that further inequality. I’m not accusing anyone of conscious bias here, but I think if the empirical research on any other policy showed similar results that charters do for poor students and black students it would be far more widely embraced, and the average effects would be downplayed as less important.

I doubt Chris Hipkins has the wit to look at the empirical evidence, much less analyse it to see that his implaccable opposition of charter schools on behalf of the teacher unions is not only wrong headed, but wrong based on the available facts.

 

– Forbes


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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