Do charters pass the test?
A recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals could result in the transfer of $20 million from Baltimore's traditional public schools to charter schools. The decision, which upholds the Maryland State Board of Education's position on the funding of charter schools, also removes the ability of the city's school board to try to achieve an equitable funding balance between the two systems.
Although they are popular with the public, there is no conclusive evidence that charter schools perform better than traditional schools. In fact, one of the largest studies - of almost 400,000 students - released in August 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education reported that fourth-graders in traditional public schools performed better in reading and math than students in charter schools.
Amy Stuart Wells, a researcher at Columbia University's Teachers College, recently wrote, "Those of us who study research findings realize that the promises made by charter school supporters nearly a decade ago to increase student achievement, choice and innovation have not been fulfilled. We need to pay more attention to the data than rhetoric."
This article appeared in the October 4, 2007 edition of the BaltimoreSun.com.