LA Charters – Performance Not Mixed…Janus Spin, Bible Study, Weather Report…

In The Times Dana Goldstein takes a look at the charter school situation in Los Angeles post-strike. Good look at the stakes but Richard Whitmire has an addendum. I’d suggest the description of performance differentials – on standardized tests – are about as much of a soft sell as you could do without just saying results are mixed.


A 2014 Stanford study that compared traditional and charter schools in Los Angeles found that 48 percent of charters outperformed traditional schools in reading and 44 percent of charters outperformed traditional schools in math; the rest of the charter schools were either similar to public schools or lower performing.

Here’s verbatim from the CREDO study referenced:

Based on the findings presented here, the typical student in a Los Angeles charter school gains more learning in a year than her TPS counterpart, equal to about 50 additional days in reading and 79 additional days in math. These positive patterns emerge in a student’s first year of charter attendance and persist over time. Black and Hispanic students in poverty especially benefit from attendance at charter schools.

A substantial share of Los Angeles charter schools appear to outpace TPS in how well they support academic learning gains in their students in both reading and math. Over 48 percent of Los Angeles charters outpace the learning impacts of TPS in reading, and 44 percent do so in math. Across Los Angeles, about 13 percent of charter schools have results that are significantly worse than TPS for reading, and 22 percent of charter schools in math are underperforming. These results show that a relaxed regulatory environment does not guarantee that every charter school will outperform its traditional public school competitors. It merely establishes conditions that can be fruitful. However, a refined policy environment combined with careful authorizing and strong accountability, such as is seen in Los Angeles, can produce a large proportion of charter schools with superior results.

Goldstein also mentions NAEP data favorable to charters, but I put less stock in that relative to CREDO. This sure seems germane to the debate about charter schools there? It’s also hard to miss how many of LA’s charter schools are social justice oriented and that the results are stronger for black and Hispanic students than white students – more on that in the report above and it’s something we see elsewhere. The support among parents bears that out, yet the special interest politics are pretty much the inverse…

Elsewhere in charters – Massachusetts looking at enrollment.

Here’s an assessment of Denver.

In the Washington Post Dana Milbank falls for teachers union spin about how Janus was actually good for them. As we’ve discussed here a few times, the teachers unions are playing their post-Janus hand pretty masterfully, in particular they are finally engaging with their younger members. If you were a teachers union you’d basically want to do what they’ve done. But, what we’re seeing is probably a dead cat bounce. The effects of Janus are real but slow moving and there are more lawsuits coming both about Janus implementation but also about future organizing questions like exclusive representation. None of this augers well for the unions and here’s a more balanced take about where we are. Here is background on Janus via Bellwether.

And, of course, in the background is the coming demographic fiscal trainwreck that makes all of this look penny ante.

You cannot serve God and the eduwonks? (That’s Mathew, adapted). It seems pretty clear this push for Bible studies in school is thinly veiled culture war stuff and President Trump getting involved hardly helps. But, it would be good if schools did more to each about religions, not just the Bible but all the world’s major faiths. Hard to make sense of a lot of contemporary and historical global affairs absent that.

The land of ice and snow…