Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses as evidence continues to roll in about the positive impact of charter schools.
Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby recently found that poor urban children who attend a charter school from kindergarten through 8th grade can close the learning gap with affluent suburban kids by 86% in reading and 66% in math. And now Marcus Winters, who follows education for the Manhattan Institute, has released a paper showing that even students who don’t attend a charter school benefit academically when their public school is exposed to charter competition.
Mr. Winters focuses on New York City public school students in grades 3 through 8. “For every one percent of a public school’s students who leave for a charter,” concludes Mr. Winters, “reading proficiency among those who remain increases by about 0.02 standard deviations, a small but not insignificant number, in view of the widely held suspicion that the impact on local public schools . . . would be negative.” It tuns out that traditional public schools respond to competition in a way that benefits their students.
[…]One of the most encouraging findings by Mr. Winters is how charter competition reduces the black-white achievement gap. He found that the worst-performing public school students, who tend to be low-income minorities, have the most to gain from the nearby presence of a charter school. Overall, charter competition improved reading performance but did not affect math skills. By contrast, low-performing students had gains in both areas, and their reading improvement was above average relative to the higher-performing students.
Conservatives love choice and competition, especially in education. We oppose equalizing outcomes regardless of individual liberty and responsibility. Liberals want government to run everything to make sure that everyone gets the same crap level of service. This is what the lazy teacher unions prefer. But conservatives want teachers to be responsive to their customers – the children.