Spotlight

Paul Hewitt’s Rebuttal

Charter school proponents want to argue they produce greater academic achievement than traditional public schools. My colleague Bob Maranto touts the 2010 Mathematica study of KIPP charters to claim KIPP does not “weed out” low performers, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.

 

Hewitt HeadshotPaul Hewitt

I am concerned about research bias resulting from the fact that KIPP funded this study. In another 2010 study of charter schools by Mathematica, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the results showed “on average, study charter schools did not have a statistically significant impact on student achievement” (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104029/pdf/20104029.pdf).

The idea that KIPP does not weed out students is not supportable. In a study completed in 2011, Gary Miron and his colleagues at Western Michigan University examined 60 KIPP schools (www.edweek.org/media/kippstudy.pdf), finding 15 percent of the students disappear from their grade cohort every year. Between grades 6 and 8, 40 percent of African-American students leave the KIPP schools. Miron concluded, “The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking.”

It is hard to argue with my colleague that bullying doesn't occur in public schools. It also is hard to argue that a few insensitive school administrators don't exist. i would be the first to admit our public schools aren't perfect. But setting up a parallel school system of quasi-private charter schools that will cater to only the most capable students is not the best answer. Let's deal with the challenges, not run away from them.