Charter Schools And Porridge

I’ve been getting a lot of emails wondering why nothing on the blog about the recent Washington Post package on D.C. charter schools.  Short answer:  I’ve been underwater with a few other projects.  

But, briefly, I found the first story too hot.  It looks like Tom Nida may not have been as careful as he should have been around fully disclosing all intersections of interest between his work and his D.C. charter board service.  However The Post’s treatment was, I thought, over the top because that doesn’t equate to self-dealing and unless that can clearly be shown this isn’t a conflict of interest story but rather a more complicated story about the confluences of interest that frequently arise around public markets and must be managed appropriately.  The second story was, on the other hand, too cold.   Sure, many charter schools are providing good public options for students in D.C. and helping leverage some broader changes in the city’s schools.  And, charters are unfairly maligned in D.C. and elsewhere.   But after that story a reader could be excused for not realizing that there are also some lousy charters in the city, too, and some messes that need cleaning up.   The story was too enthusiastic and they didn’t dig deep enough into the data.

So, all that is why I liked Saturday’s editorial on the whole thing.  It was just right.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008 @ 8:59am

One thought on “Charter Schools And Porridge

  1. Michael Robbins

    I think the second story was disingenuous as well. Yes, it points out that on the whole students in DC charters significantly outscore their peers in DCPS; but it ascribes this success to “ample funding.” In fact, the uniform per student funding formula in DC allocates identical funding for similar types of students in charters and DCPS. DCPS also frequently receives supplemental appropriations ($81 million last year) that are not also passed on to charters in the per pupil funding formula. Both DC charters and DCPS benefit from private philanthropy.

    It’s not ample funding that makes DC charters work, it’s having the autonomy and flexibility to allocate funding where it has the greatest impact on student success. I’m hopeful that DCPS is also heading in that direction.

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