The American Federation of Teachers made a splash in the NYT last week, releasing a study that purportedly showed the underperformance of charter schools. The Commonwealth Foundation takes the AFT to task in a commentary:
As in so many matters of education policy, the AFT release is one part meat, and three parts bologna. The meat is that charter school test scores usually do fall below traditional district school test scores, even after controlling for some student characteristics...
But do low scores mean that charters provide children with a lesser education than do traditional district schools? Hardly. Quite simply, parents whose kids are doing great in traditional district schools rarely choose charters. Instead, charters educate children—many with special needs—who were floundering in traditional public schools.
The Center for Education Reform has its own rebuttal, which includes state figures and other studies from non-teacher union sources. So why is a teacher's union running down charter schools that are serving a challenging population of kids well? Robert Maranto of Commonweath:
As in so many aspects of public policy, to understand why traditional district employees and labor unions so hate charter schools, you have to remember that education policy is all about the grownups, not the children.