JCPS: No love for charters

This week, public charter school advocates rallied in Frankfort. And former Louisville mayoral candidate Hal Heiner and his charter-loving group, Kentuckians Advocating Reform in Education, released their second charters-will-save-us television spot. In it, kids go from glum and surly looking to gleefully exploding from school house doors with minds full of college preparatory academics. Click here to view.

Will charter school legislation pass this year? Eh, doubtful, despite House Speaker Greg Stumbo signaling some openness to the idea.

Charters are publicly funded schools that operate independently. Rhetoric around the movement would either have you believing they’re:

a) Top notch, dynamic, intimate alternatives to overcrowded public schools that have the ability to pull struggling kids up to grade level and beyond.

b) Mismanaged, unregulated, ineffective profit-driven succubi that drain public dollars away from traditional public schools and cherry pick students.

This month, as talk of charters resurfaced and ads started airing, JCPS’s Department of Accountability, Research and Planning released a “white paper” or policy review entitled, “Charter Schools: Impact on Student Achievement.”

The conclusion? Charter schools are not effective in enhancing student performance or advance reform.

The report culls a couple dozen previous studies to reach that synopsis. The executive summary reads (in part):

” * Findings from the first national evaluation of charter schools (examining approximately 70% of the nation’s charter schools) showed that charter schools performed no better, and often worse, than traditional public schools. A second national evaulation conducted in 2011 yielded a similar finding …

* A recent comprehensive analysis conducted by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA examined data from 40 states … and found that ‘charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation.’

* A Massachusetts study of charter schools showed that charter schools did not serve the neediest students … “

One by one, the report shoots down talking points made by supporters like, “myth” # 2: “A ‘free market’ will increase efficiency and leverage increased quality in public education.”

This official stance by JCPS isn’t a surprise. Jefferson County’s teachers union and district officials have vocally spoken out against them.

You can read the entire paper here.

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