Phoenix, AZ-In a report released today, "Do Charter Schools Measure Up?" the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) calls for a moratorium on charter schools. However, the AFT report itself fails to "measure up" to sound standards of research and should be dismissed. Robert Maranto, a Goldwater Institute Associate Scholar who has published dozens of articles and books on charter schools, including School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools, offers these observations:
1) The AFT ignores parent, student, and teacher satisfaction. This is a telling flaw. Imagine publishing a comparative study of the automobile industry without including safety ratings or customer appraisals. According to the National Study of Charter Schools published by the U.S. Department of Education, students and parents who went from district schools to charters found the charters safer, friendlier, and more effective academically. Teachers in charter schools report greater job satisfaction than do their peers in district schools.
2) The AFT says charter-school students "generally score no better (and often do worse) on student achievement tests than other comparable public school students." This claim is true in some states, but test score data from Arizona, which has the nation's largest charter-school marketplace, show children enrolled in charters improve with each passing year. Lew Solmon, author of a landmark Goldwater Institute study on academic results in charter schools, reports, "Students enrolled in charter schools for two and three consecutive years have an advantage over students staying in traditional public schools for the same periods of time." The Goldwater Institute study remains the most comprehensive study of achievement in Arizona charter schools.
3) The AFT ignores key research on the impact of charter schools on district schools. Peer-reviewed research published by Columbia and Harvard Universities finds that where strong charter laws exist, districts respond to competition by working harder to please parents with leadership changes, more program options, and better customer service.
The AFT report has also been dismissed by six leading national education organizations, including the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Center for Education Reform, the Education Leaders Council, and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
For more information on the AFT study, contact Dr. Maranto at (610) 519-7142, or write to: Robert.Maranto@villanova.edu. For further information on the Goldwater Institute study, contact Dr. Solmon at (310) 998-2610. For a copy of the Goldwater study, contact Tom Jenney at (602) 744-9603, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For a thorough review of research on charter schools, go to www.edreform.com/charter_schools/res01.pdf.