Of Course

The local radio news this morning reported on  study of charter schools.  They want to take a closer look into charter schools that are producing superior results to see what they’re doing right and, they also noted that some charter schools show not significantly different results and others appear to be worse than public schools.

Competition in education is a good thing for students and parents and the country.  But, we get too hung up on categorical solutions.

Of course some charter schools will be about the same as public schools, some will be worse and some better.  That’s a natural distribution that occurs in everything.  Even within public schools there’s a distribution.  Some are better than others – even within the same district.  Some teachers are better than others – even within the same school.  Some students are better than others – even within the same class.

Some fried chicken joints are better than others, some hamburger places are better than others, some retailers are better than others, some jeans makers are better than others, some computers are better than others….of course they are.

Over time, the better ones attract customers – be they hamburger consumers, jeans buyers or students – and the worse ones either go out of business because they can’t attract enough people to pay the bills or the adopt some of the best practices of the better places and get better.

If you do a study on anything at any given point in time you will find this natural distribution of effectiveness.  That’s like discovering that water is wet.  The key question is how much better off is everyone since the competition began, but that’s a tough question to answer with statistics.

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