Lessons for Colorado from Study on Boston Charter School Success

The argument only grows stronger that charter schools work. While some will dwell on the exceptions, the big picture becomes clearer and clearer. A new study by the Boston Foundation finds that in their city “charter school students consistently outperform their peers at pilot schools and at traditional schools.”

As Core Knowledge blogger Robert Pondiscio notes, even factoring out the selection bias of more motivated parents shows charter schools doing more to improve student achievement.

And the well-read Dr. Greg Forster puts the Boston study in context to note that “charters are an improvement over the status quo, even if only a modest one, as a large body of research has consistently shown.” He observes that “more freedom consistently produces better results, and more unionization consistently doesn’t.” Charter schools are one good way to bring more freedom to the education system so good ideas and practices can blossom while bad ones are rejected.

Though there are some good theories out there, it would be good to see more rigorous analysis of exactly why charter schools tend to perform better. It could only help to improve education policy for the benefit of students like me. Officials and leaders of other public schools would do well to take notice.

Bringing it closer to home, the legislative session here in Colorado is now underway. Are there still any lawmakers out there who are willing to open their mouths (or type on their keyboards) to say ill-informed – possibly obnoxious – things about charters? Are there any willing to plot an attack to weaken our state’s successful charter school experiment?

If so, studies like this new one from Boston and others should be handed back to them as a homework assignment. At the local level, the study should be required reading for leaders of the Aurora school system. Following the Boston example, they have staked a lot on the success of pilot schools while giving the cold shoulder to local charters.

Let the debate flourish.