The New Zealand teachers union went into a very curious rant against chartered schools in a letter to the Dominion Post today. Instead of saying that they do not improve student outcomes, the usual propaganda, the author of the letter focused on system-wide outcomes after the introduction of charter schools.
It is usual for the teachers union to say that the schools themselves fail rather than argue that adding five or 10 schools to a system of thousands of public schools in New Zealand will through competition from these few schools to lift the entire system. For example, the teachers union sets a very high standard for the charter schools:
The United States has had charter schools for a more than a decade and there has been no measurable improvement in that country’s overall performance in literacy, maths and science. The United States lags far behind New Zealand on recent performance tests in all those areas.
It is unwise to say there is no evidence because that leaves you open to the cheap shot that will find one piece of evidence and then ask why you making things up. For example, the Maxim Institute found that:
The evidence from the small body of research that exists is mixed: some studies have found the presence of charter schools to have had a small negative impact on pupil achievement in regular state schools, while other studies have found charter schools to have had either a negligible or small positive impact…
There my work is done. All I had to show was that there was some evidence showing that charter schools improved the performance of neighbouring schools.
Why is the teachers union pretending that this evidence is not there when it can be found and so easily on the Internet?
Is the reason that the evidence that charter schools improve the outcomes of students that go to them is so strong that they have to move to new reasons for opposing them? The evidence is some chartered schools do very well and in particular for minority students. Their greatest strength is they are closed if they fail. No similar standard applies to failing public schools.
At a minimum, the teachers unions have conceded that the charter schools seem to work and that they do no harm to the rest of the system? If there was evidence of that, they would be quick to put it forward.
HT: Stephen Franks