Per the post below, here’s an article I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t had time: There is a Maslow’s hierarchy at work in urban school reform and it complicates efforts to deal with low-performing schools. Just like we all have basic and higher needs, parents have basic and higher education needs.
Basic ones are things like safety and higher are things like student achievement. Where these needs come into collision is when schools that are safe but not producing sufficient learning gains are threatened with closure or substantial changes. That’s likely to surface in Philadelphia if a move is made to pull some of the private mangers, especially Edison, out because parents in a lot of those schools are really happy that things are more orderly and so forth. That’s understandably more immediate to them than what fraction of a standard deviation achievement moved over the last few years. Same issue recently in D.C. with the closure of Southeast Academy, a charter school that wasn’t getting it done academically but was safer than surrounding schools in the traditional system or Reisenbach in New York.
It’s also one reason why having enough good schools is key to any strategy to close lousy ones (pdf). It’s the best way to get parents on board.