Travel day today. So I missed the Sun-Times story about the latest study showing, once again, that Chicago's charter high schools as a group, fail to out-perform the very neighborhood high schools they are supposed to replace under the Mayor's Renaissance 2010 initiative. But my brother Fred picked it up and says what needs to be said.
I'll just add one point. Two weeks ago I was part of a discussion at Loyola's Law School, that included the head of the local charter school association. She used the forum to make wild, unsubstantiated claims about the superiority of charter schools as a class. Obviously, the research doesn't back up her claims.
She got very angry and upset when I argued that charter schools, like other public schools, should not be assessed as a single group, or compared with or pitted against neighborhood schools as a group. Whatever good charter schools have going for them (and there are several good ones in Chicago) they don't necessarily share it with other charters or with other public schools. Also, as Gutstein's study shows, they don't recruit the same proportion of poor kids as do the neighborhood schools.
Charter schools are here to stay and have a role to play, albeit a limited one, as acritical force within the public school system and a place for experimentation and innovation.
What they don't need are any more cheerleaders and invested spinners, exaggerating results and pitting them against other public schools.