'Not Doing the Job'? Top Researchers Say Charters in Detroit Should Serve as Models of Success

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer recently wrote that charter schools “aren’t doing the job” in the effort to reform public schools.

Kaffer wrote: “There have been reforms — and this is where things get tricky — to offer alternatives to traditional public schools, such as charters or online education, that aren’t doing the job.”

She added: “Here in Michigan, the push for school choice has encompassed the creation of charter schools, schools of choice that accept students from other districts, the elimination of the cap on charters and repeated attempts to legalize vouchers, a mechanism that allows parents to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private school. These are all components of a broad national agenda premised on the idea that free-market principles can improve education. Reformers intent on school choice promised that the marketplace would reward good schools and force bad ones to close. But that’s not how it’s worked.”

ForTheRecord states: Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a report in March that stated that charter schools in Detroit should serve as a model for other communities. The CREDO study reported that students in Detroit charter schools every year receive the equivalent of a few weeks to as much as several months of additional learning in reading and math compared to peer students at conventional public schools.

CREDO cited Boston, Detroit, the District of Columbia and Newark as cities with charter schools that outperformed conventional public schools in both reading and math.

“These four communities of charter schools provide essential examples of school-level and system-level commitments to quality that can serve as models to other communities,” the report stated.

Not all charter schools are the same. CREDO released a study in July that stated charter schools in Texas show less progress in both reading and mathematics compared to their conventional district peers.