Charter schools are the answer. Joel Klein says so. Mayor4Life says so. Arne Duncan says so. Heck, even Oprah says so, so you know it must be true.
Except it isn't. Most charter schools fare about the same as public schools, and 37 percent of them are worse. Klein and Bloomberg have always wriggled around this statistic (didn't these guys used to love data?) by claiming that charters in NYC were a different story. When the revised test scores came out a while back, NYC charters dropped more than public schools. And now, charter schools have fared worse than public schools on the city's very own measure of quality--progress reports. It seems charters scored ten points lower than public schools on a scale of 100 points. It's going to be awfully hard for BloomKlein to put a positive spin on these numbers, considering they created the system themselves.
But surely there were bright lights among the charters, weren't there? Perhaps, but I decided to take a look at the Harlem Children's Zone schools, run by Geoffrey Canada, hero of the film Waiting for Superman. Surely these schools escaped the carnage, with their smaller class sizes and multi-million dollar facilities?
The Promise Academy Charter School got a B.
The Promise Academy II got a C.
My school got a A. And we're one of those nasty "traditional" public schools.