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Andrea Gabor: It is Worse than Even Gary Rubinstein Thinks

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Andrea Gabor, the Michael R. Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism at Baruch College, read Gary Rubinstein’s analysis of the so-so performance of charter schools in New York City and wrote this post about it.

About that stellar performance turned in by Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charters, Gabor pointed out that Eva’s schools are known for cherry picking their students:

In this post, I showed how Success Academy schools cherry picks students who are less needy economically and have far fewer special needs students and English Language Learners than nearby public schools.

And she noticed something else: there are public schools that outperform the Success Academy schools, with the same demographics.

But, I also noticed that in Rubinstein’s graph, at least five public schools with comparable economic-need statistics performed as well, if not better, than the Success Academy schools. Several more performed nearly as well, with much higher levels of economic need.

A recent post by charter advocate Richard Whitmire is stunningly in sync with Rubinstein’s analysis. Whitmire concedes that of 6,440 charter schools, only 1,200 hundred are living up to their promise of outperforming public schools–i.e. less than 20 percent. Whitmire’s suggestion is to close 1,000 charter schools immediately. I guess its easy to experiment with other people’s children…

Given the decidedly unmiraculous performance of charter schools overall, and the high performance of many outlier public schools, wouldn’t it be more prudent to focus on learning from the outliers–both publics and a small number of experimental charters–how to improve public schools, rather than jettisoning the public system for a decidedly iffy alternative?

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