Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Charter Schools

The Christian Science Monitor just published a report on charter schools, much more positive than the Brookings Institute report last year which declared that charter schools performed worse than their peers. Here are some interesting excerpts:

...But despite a wide variety in charter schools' degrees of success, some experts say the changes they'll make to public education in the long run may be far more dramatic than can yet be imagined.
The movement began with a burst of energetic growth, with the number of charter schools jumping from zero to almost 3,000 in just 10 years. But growth appears to be slowing now, and many say the number is still hardly noticeable among the 92,000 traditional public schools in the United States.

"There just aren't enough charter schools right now to make a difference," says Terry Moe, professor of political science and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. Most districts that have them, he points out, have just one.

And yet, despite small numbers and wide swings in quality, other experts who follow charters say the contribution they are making to US education should not be overlooked.
For one thing, charter schools and their hiring practices are benefiting the teaching profession, says Caroline Hoxby, an economics professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

"A slightly different kind of person is being drawn to and staying in charter schools," Professor Hoxby says. Her research shows that charter schools are more likely than traditional public schools to hire teachers from selective colleges, and also more apt to attract teaching candidates with better-than-average academic records.

In addition, charter-school teachers tend to work differently. A survey that Hoxby administered shows that charter-school instructors spend more hours on academics - tutoring, preparing lessons, grading homework - than their peers in regular public schools.

Charter schools also have more flexible pay scales. Traditional schools must adhere strictly to pay schedules that honor length of service. But a charter is free to simply offer more to the teachers it most wants to keep.
In a few districts where charter schools have clustered, there have been signs that the surrounding schools have suddenly begun listening more to parental requests.

One Minnesota district opened a public Montessori grade school. Officials had long said that would be impossible, but they made it happen after a group proposed opening a charter school using the Montessori method.

In a Michigan district, the public elementary school trimmed the size of its classes and began offering Spanish, art, and computer science - all innovations parents had clamored for - when local charters began draining enrollment.

And a Connecticut district, also threatened by new charters, began writing to parents, asking for feedback on how to better meet their needs.

This new eagerness to please may be limited so far, but its potential to change the system in broader ways, says Christie, "is huge."

Full Text

Muy interesante indeed.


Post a Comment

<< Home