NYT Charter School Tendentiousness. Part Whatever…

Today’s New York Times manages to turn a pretty straightforward story into another pop at charter schools. Because of the growth of charter schools (now more than 3,000), federal researchers will now only survey a sample of charter schools for the Schools and Staffing Survey. Traditional public schools and private schools are surveyed via sample now.

The NYT take? First, reiterating — still with no nuance — the claim that charters are generally doing poorly and implying that, in light of this, something is not right with this new policy to bring the charter methodology in line with how other schools are sampled. Worth nothing, the decision to do this was apparently made several years ago. Eduwonk would like to see more research, too, but this is a defensible position.

Incidentally, the NYT also again claims that charter schools, “are likely to grow tremendously under the federal No Child Left Behind Education Act, which prescribes conversion to charters as a remedy for chronically failing traditional schools.”

Is it just too hard to add the words “as one remedy among many?” Few charter school supporters advocate widespread or automatic conversion of low-performing schools to charters and NCLB does not require it.

Olympic Afterthought: Don’t miss this great quote, it’s a 9.5! “If we’re going to get to the bottom of the lower performance of charter students, we need to understand how the quality of charters differs from public schools,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley. A summersault followed by a hard pike wrapping tendentiousness in the guise of genuine scholarly concern. Not just anyone can pull that off, must be a good training regimen!

Update: A very experienced Democratic PR hand –sympathetic to the Bushies on this issue — writes Eduwonk to point out that, “facts don’t matter in cases like this. It’s the perception, and this looks bad.” That’s probably right. But it probably wouldn’t be so right if, across the board, the Bush Administration had not built up a genuinely remarkable record of being untrustworthy. Still, aren’t newspapers supposed to ferret out the facts anyway?

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