The Charter Blog

Susan Aud Pendergrass

Recent Posts

“A coordinated effort to decimate public schools” – did I read that right?

Oh my goodness – “A coordinated effort to decimate public schools” – did I read that right?

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Posted in Research, Parents, Truth About Charters, Wait Lists, Parent Demand

It’s Absurd to Suggest that Parents Choosing Charter Schools Caused the Pension Debt Crisis

Many of our cities are in a state of crisis—just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan. Some cities have filed for bankruptcy protection and others would if they were not constitutionally barred from doing so. A recent article in US News points to one of the major contributing culprits to these crises: underfunded public pensions that are on the brink of insolvency. The total unfunded liability for all public pension plans has reached a staggering $1.7 trillion dollars. And, as Don Boyd of The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY points out, teacher pension plans make up a large share of these plans.

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Posted in News

Don’t Let the Headlines Fool You: Discipline in Charter Schools

This week in Denver, there is a fantastic academic conference happening with super smart people trying to figure out the most pressing issues in education. The papers at this conference are typically peer-reviewed research that can be a bit complicated for a general audience. In fact, there is an entire session devoted to school discipline, where in-depth papers titled “Finding a Systemic Remedy to Excessive Discipline in Schools: Efforts in DC and New Orleans to Bring Coherence and Consistency Across Autonomous Schools,” and “The Timing of SNAP Benefit Receipt and Disciplinary Incidents,” ground the discussion.

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Posted in News

Los Angeles Charter Schools Outperform District-Run Schools in 2015 NAEP TUDA Results

Public schools in our nation’s cities face immense challenges. Nearly 70 percent attend public schools in which more than half of the enrollment qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch. This type of concentrated disadvantage can make it difficult to provide a quality education that improves outcomes for these children.

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Posted in Charter Schools, NAEP TUDA, LA Schools

More Cities Empowering Parents with School Choice Options

For at least a century, affluent parents have informally exercised school choice by moving to a city or neighborhood that they perceive to have “good” schools. And, indeed, depending on which poll you select, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the public believe that choosing a school that can best serve your child should be a fundamental right—regardless of income—just as Medicaid recipients can choose their doctor and food-stamp recipients can choose their grocery store.

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Posted in Research

Good Reasons to "Go Long" on Charter Schools

I saw The Big Short last weekend and it was both fantastic and disturbing. We all remember the subprime mortgage collapse. But, this movie was about the guys who saw it coming. These guys knew that the share of junk mortgages inside the derivatives was growing and the banks were just hiding them inside bundles. The good guys visited half-built neighborhoods in Florida with huge homes that had nothing but lawn furniture in them. In the end, the banks went down (well, one), the guys who predicted the collapse made billions, and the mortgage industry was all cleaned up (well, sort of). I told my college-age son as we left the theatre, “Movies like that make people want to be the first to find the next bubble.”

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Charter Schools Point the Way to Higher Achievement in LA

As we have previously reported, the most recent results of the NAEP – the Nation’s Report Card – make it clear that charter schools in Los Angeles have been doing an outstanding job of educating their students. Researchers at Stanford have also found that, after controlling for student characteristics, charter school students in Los Angeles gain about 50 additional days of learning in reading and nearly 80 days in math over their non-charter school peers – and the relationship is especially strong at the middle school level.

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Posted in Research

Having More School Options Can Be a Win-Win for Cities and Parents

When charter schools first opened, some believed, these new public schools were created to kill public education in the US by letting public school students take some of their public education funding outside of the district system. For others, charters schools were going to be beacons for innovation that would create education laboratories and develop thousands of unique approaches to teaching students. Twenty-five years later, public education isn’t dead and, while lots of amazing innovative ideas have been seeded and grown in charter schools, their role as beacons of change has materialized mostly in our most troubled urban districts.

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NAEP Has Good News for DC Students and Families

Although much of the news was negative at Tuesday’s release of 2015 NAEP results, there were a few bright spots. The District of Columbia was one of two “states”[1] to record a gain in both 4th grade reading and 4th grade math.  It’s no secret that DC, like many of our nation’s cities, has struggled to provide a high quality education to its students. And its total enrollment fell by nearly 20,000 students between the late 1980’s and the year 2000. However, enrollment in DC has been making a comeback, partially due to the growth of charter schools and partially due to improved performance by both charter and non-charter public schools.

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Los Angeles Charter Public Schools Shine in New NAEP Results

New results from NAEP –the Nation’s Report Card – were released yesterday, and for students overall the news was less than stunning. In 3 of the 4 assessments – 4th and 8th grade mathematics and 8th grade reading – students did worse in 2015 than they did in 2013, the last time the test was given. In 4th grade reading, students did no better or worse than the last time.

Some charter public schools, however, bucked the trend.

Through the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), NAEP is administered in 21 urban school districts, where some of our most pressing educational needs exist. In five of these districts, we can directly compare results from charter schools to results from non-charter schools. And the results show that in some of those cities, students who attend charter public schools are outperforming those who don’t.

Some of the biggest difference were in Los Angeles, where charter school students scored higher than the district’s non-charter school students, higher than all students in California, and higher than the national averages of all students in all four tested areas (4th and 8th grade reading and math).

This was the first year that Los Angeles participated in TUDA at the 4th grade level. More than half (51 percent in reading and 54 percent in math) of LA charter school fourth-graders scored Proficient or higher in reading, compared to 17 percent of non-charter school students in each subject. For perspective, 36 percent of all US students were Proficient or higher in reading in 2015 and 40 percent were in math.

The results in 8th grade were similar. The percentage of LA charter school students Proficient or above in math was triple that of non-charter school students (45 percent vs. 13 percent) and exceeded the national average (33 percent). In reading, 47 percent of LA charter school students scored Proficient or above, compared to 17 percent of non-charter school students and 34 percent of students nationwide.

And while the overall drop in scores is being attributed to changing demographics, nearly 75 percent of LA charter school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and 85 percent are Black or Hispanic. Los Angeles charter public schools – like so many charter schools across the nation – are delivering outstanding results for students who have been poorly served for too many years.

An effort is underway to greatly expand charter school capacity in Los Angeles so that up to 50 percent of public school students have the opportunity to attend a charter public school. As these results show, parents and city leaders have good reason to support charter school expansion in LA.

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Posted in Research