by Josh Dwyer
Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) is a vigorous opponent of charter schools. Karen
Lewis, CTU President, made this perfectly clear at the news conference
announcing the strike that held the city hostage for over a week in September.
school will not be open Monday.”
recently released report on the success of charter schools, A model of success: Chicago’s charter schools hold
the top nine spots for 2012 ACT scores, makes it clear why Ms. Lewis and her friends at the CTU work day-in and day-out to limit the number of charters operating
simply, charter schools are doing better a job at raising student achievement
than traditional public schools.
is the truth behind 4 charter school myths CTU members and other charter school
skeptics commonly use to criticize studies like ours.
Myth #1: Charter schools can decide
which children attend their schools.
A charter school is legally required to accept anyone that applies to the
school and gains entrance through a lottery. If the charter school breaks this
law, its charter will be revoked.
Myth #2: Charter school students are
demographically different from students at traditional public schools.
According to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS), charter school students primarily come from
low-income backgrounds (91 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch),
represent mostly racial minorities (60 percent African-American and 35 percent
Hispanic) and must overcome a range of challenges (9 percent are English
Language Learners and 12 percent have special needs).
to the CPS Office of Strategy, Research and
Accountability, CPS students also
primarily come from low-income backgrounds (85.9 percent of students qualify
for free or reduced-price lunch), represent mostly racial minorities (41.6
percent are African-American and 44.1 percent are Hispanic) and must overcome a
range of challenges (15.8 percent are English Language Learns and 12.2 percent
have special needs).
Myth #3: Charter schools are
selective because the parents of charter school students are more likely to be
involved in their child’s educational life than the parents of a traditional
public school student. This is why they score better on standardized tests.
have been conducted comparing students who won entrance to a charter school via
a lottery versus students who entered the lottery but lost. Those students that
entered a charter school did better. This study dispels the myth that parental
involvement is the main driver of success at charter schools.
which looked at the test scores of siblings who attended different schools,
found that siblings enrolled in a charter school did much better than their
brothers and sisters who didn’t.
Myth #4: Charter schools expel
problem students at a higher rate than traditional public schools. This is why
they score better on standardized tests.
completed by the Illinois Policy Institute in 2010 showed that the percentage
of students who transfer out of charter schools is roughly half that of the
neighborhood public schools charter students would likely otherwise attend.
conducted by CPS found that charter schools are no more likely to “push out”
low-performing students than traditional public schools.