For reasons that have more to do with politics than education, charter schools remain a topic of controversy in some quarters.
Those quarters being, of course, the headquarters of various teachers’ unions around the country, including here in New York. Teachers’ unions despise charter schools because they operate outside the strictures of union control. Worse yet, the charter schools actually work, which is more than a little embarrassing for the unions. Charter-school students in the city score almost 20 points higher than their peers on standardized math tests and nearly 25 points higher on English exams.
A recent study by Stanford University shows that students in charter schools perform better not because the schools admit only motivated students (they admit all types of students), but because the classroom instruction is better in the charters. Children who attended a charter outperformed those who applied but who were not accepted because of space limits.
No wonder parents love these schools. What a shame that they literally have to win a lottery to get their kids into these progressive, exciting schools.
Teachers in charter schools don’t waste their time filing grievances and playing union politics. They teach. And the results speak for themselves. Union leaders should give up their campaign to discredit these institutions. Instead, they should see what their members might be able to learn from their charter-school colleagues. Assuming, that is, that pedagogy remains a priority.
New York needs more charter schools, but the state, ever mindful of the power of the teachers’ unions, will allow no more than 200 around the state. That has to change. The Stanford study proves that these schools work, and that we need lots more of them.