Home > Essays > This Just In: Efficient No Excuses Charters Stifle Teacher, Student Creativity… Increase Student Stress… Eliminate Joy of Learning

This Just In: Efficient No Excuses Charters Stifle Teacher, Student Creativity… Increase Student Stress… Eliminate Joy of Learning

May 13, 2021

Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog doesn’t publish nearly as many articles on the failure of charter schools as I’d like to see, especially given their anti-neoliberal slant, but this one by Joanne W. Golann, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University, is a matter-of-fact scathing review of what happens in a no-excuses charter school. In summarizing her 18 months observing practices in this school, Ms. Golann offers ten observations, presented objectively and non-judgmentally. But in the end, here are some conclusions she draws that are crushing for these schools:

  • Their teachers are demoralized because they are expected to be robotic managers
  • Efficiency is prized over interpersonal connections which leads to joylessness for all in the classroom
  • Orderliness is valued over creativity
  • Silence is valued over conversation
  • Despite the efforts to control the behavior of students and teachers, SOME found a way to bend the rules so that humanity could shine through

The most scathing part of the post was Yves’ Smith introduction, which emphasized that there is no evidence that charter schools have made a dent in improving student performance. She writes:

…even with trying to dump kids at the bottom end of the achievement/behavior curve, charter schools do not outperform public schools. From Public School Review:

In evaluating some of the statistical studies that seek to compare the performance of charter and public schools, recent investigations conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reveal that students’ test scores may prove that public schools are now outperforming charter schools. The Stanford analysts compared reading and math state-based standardized test scores between charter school and public school students in 15 states, as well as scores in the District of Columbia. Experts found that 37 percent of charter schools posted improvements in math scores; however, these improvement rates were significantly below the improvement rates of students in public school classrooms. Furthermore, 46 percent of charter schools experienced math improvements that were “statistically indistinguishable” from the average improvement rates shown by public school students.

Another study reported by the New York Daily News found that public schools and charter schools in New York City showed equally “dismal” performance on state assessments aligned to more rigorous standards. Just 25 percent of charter school students achieved proficiency in English, one percent less than public school students. In math, 35 percent of students at charter schools were proficient, as compared to 30 percent of public school students. These most recent scores represent a continuous five-year drop in math and English scores for all schools in New York City.

The conventional wisdom is that “government schools” are the problem… but maybe poverty is the problem… poverty, and the racism that makes it even tougher for schools to get the funding and support they need.

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