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September 24th, 2009 10:09 am
“We Have To Perform Well, Or We Lose Our Charter”
Posted by Print

“We have to perform well, or we lose our charter.  It makes us step up our game.”

Those are the words of Stacey Gauthier, principal of a New York City charter school, explaining why charter schools have so significantly outperformed public schools in a study released this week

The study, by economics Professor Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University, demonstrates that poorer, inner-city students who spent their elementary school years in charter schools excelled compared to counterpart students in New York’s public system.  Remarkably, these charter students’ achievement scores even matched those of more affluent suburban students. 

The reason that Professor Hoxby’s study is particularly enlightening is that critics of charter schools and vouchers typically argue that their students are somehow selected from “the cream of the crop.” According to these apologists for public teachers’ unions, more ambitious students and families are the ones who selectively gravitate to charters.  But Professor Hoxby compared only students who were similarly-motivated: those who actually attend charters versus students who were motivated to seek entry to charters but were denied random lottery applications to do so.

Imagine how much public schools could improve if faced with the choice described by Principal Gauthier – perform well or lose your charter.

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