In the Des Moines Register Hawkeye Chad Aldeman calls for more charter schools in Iowa. In U.S. News Richard Whitmire and I call for closing the lousy charters but helping the good ones grow via Arne Duncan’s third way move on the issue. And in Tennessee the Democratic leadership in the legislature just released Democrats to vote however they want on the charter school bill there, now it’s on the move. Don’t believe the face-saving, it’s apparently pretty much the same bill the Senate passed.
New CREDO study on charter schools (pdf), mentioned in the USN piece, like other studies mixed news, more on that later.
Update: Three thoughts on the CREDO study (which was produced by an ES board member, Macke Raymond).
First, it confirms other studies: The performance variance among “charters” is high, to the point where it’s becoming unproductive to lump charters together since some have so little in common with others besides sharing charter enabling legislation. Second, there are two buried ledes in the report that didn’t get a lot of attention: High schools don’t do as well as other charter schools and the results look a lot different (and better) after students are in charter schools for multiple years. I suspect as analysts digest the report those issues will get some attention. Third, I’d hazard guess that the finding about multiple authorizers being inversely related to school quality will turn out to be more complicated as time goes on and states improve their charter school policies. Many of the states in the sample with multiple authorizers also had other aspects of their charter oversight that were problematic. The report highlights a prime one, authorizer “shopping” that allows weak schools to seek out weak authorizers. Those elements, rather than the presence of multiple authorizers per se seems a more likely culprit. The best authorizers in the country have turned out the be the “professional” authorizers.