The most misleading statistic in American education is the fact that just 4 percent of American children attend charter schools. A blip, this is! A rounding error! Totally insignificant!
What the national figure hides is the immense variation in charter school “market share” (or “penetration,” if you prefer) in cities around the nation—ranging from 0 percent in Seattle to 76 percent in New Orleans.
But a picture is worth a thousand words. Here, courtesy of a recent report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, is charter-school enrollment as a percentage of total public school enrollment, calculated by district. (The bigger the dot, the bigger the charter-school market share.)
Charter-school market share: The bigger the dot, the larger the percentage of charter enrollment.
Data from NAPCS study.
A few things are noteworthy:
- At least when it comes to market share, charter schools are only a big deal in the Eastern half of the country. That’s surprising, as so much of the “entrepreneurial” charter-school energy comes from the West Coast. California, Arizona, and Texas may have big numbers of charter students, but they are dwarfed by even larger student populations overall.
- The Rust Belt is Ground Zero for charter-school competition. Notice the large, overlapping blobs for Cleveland, Detroit, Flint,
Category: Charters & Choice
Jeb Bush pushed hard for putting the interests of children first.
Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Getty Images
I don’t know whether his hat is edging into the 2016 presidential election ring, but I do know that Jeb Bush gave a heck of an education keynote on Tuesday morning at the national summit convened in Washington by his Florida-based Foundation for Excellence in Education.
At this annual bipartisan-but-predominantly-Republican soiree aimed at state legislators and other key ed-policy decision makers—this year’s was by far the largest and grandest of the five they’ve held so far—Bush pushed hard for putting the interests of children first and did so in language plainly intended to appeal across party lines. A later session, which I had the pleasure of “moderating,” brought much the same message from John Podesta of the Center for American Progress. Though nobody expects Podesta to vote Bush for president (or anything else), in practice they agree on about 90 percent of the ed-reform policy agenda and maybe 70 percent of the strategy for attaining and sustaining it.
Bush opened by citing Charles Murray’s new book and lamenting the loss of upward
It is difficult to overstate the findings from CREDO’s just-released study of charter schools in New Jersey. The stakes could not have been higher, and the results could not have been better, especially in Newark.
Charter opponents will find these results impossible to dismiss.
But first, consider the forces aligned against the charter sector in the Garden State. Charter schools are frequently under attack across the nation, but the aggression has been particularly acute in New Jersey of late.
Critics of reform in Newark accuse charter supporters of trying to “privatize” education and worse. Nearly as fierce has been the assault from anti-charter forces in the suburbs.
Then there are the many powerful establishment organizations—membership associations and so forth—that oppose charters to the hilt.
I seriously, if unwittingly, raised the stakes in recent days. I pointed out the predictably dismal turnaround results from the federal SIG program, arguing that a charter new-start and replication/explanation strategy was far likelier to lead to more high-performing seats.
Then I wrote a piece for the NY Daily News, in which I put the Newark school district on notice, arguing that charters—which provide far better alternatives for the city’s disadvantaged kids—could replace the district.
Finally, CREDO, a Stanford-based research center, was apparently nearing the conclusion of a long-term study of New Jersey charters.
Several years ago, this organization famously found that nationwide, charter results were
I had an op-ed run this morning in the New York Daily News about the strengths of the new union contract in Newark and what to do when the district is still unable to generate improved results. The Economist has interesting thoughts on the contract here.
Evidently, Dr. Ravitch and I agree about something. Along those lines, you might want to spend a little time on this New Yorker magazine article about Dr. Ravitch’s career development and her current views and activities.
Indiana’s high court looks at the constitutionality of the state’s new scholarship program (I spill a good bit of ink on the history of this subject in Chapter 8 of my book). IN was serious about accountability, inclusive of private schools, under State Superintendent Tony Bennett. I hope that the court will take that into account…and that Bennett’s successor is similarly inclined.
Great example from Washington, D.C. of how a charter sector can methodically replace an urban district. Under-enrolled and low-performing district schools are closed and new charters open and expand. I once read a comprehensive playbook for this…
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
Sign Up for updates from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- Core Knowledge Blog
- Daniel Willingham: Science and Education Blog
- Education Next Blog
- Getting Smart
- Gotham Schools
- Jay P. Greene
- Joanne Jacobs
- NACSA's Chartering Quality
- National Journal Education Blog
- NCTQ Pretty Darn Quick
- NCTQ Teacher Quality Bulletin
- Ohio Education Gadfly
- Politics K-12
- Quick and the Ed
- Rick Hess Straight Up
- The Corner
- The Hechinger Report
- Top Performers