Would a moratorium on charter schools help close the achievement gap?
It’s a simple question. Yet, tellingly, Connecticut Federation of Teachers (AFT-CT) President Melodie Peters met this question with silence when it was posed to her at a public hearing last month.
No doubt she was left stumped for several seconds because the truth isn’t convenient for those want to “put the brakes” on charters – and yes this is still a possibility.
Certain state legislators have hinted that they would like to impose a de facto moratorium by cutting the state’s funding to charter schools.
If these legislators succeed, more than 2,000 children would lose their chance at a seat in a public charter school, according to the Hartford Courant. Included in that number are nearly 300 additional spots in Bridgeport.
To what end? While Connecticut still has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country, over the past ten years charter schools have defied the odds.
According to the State Department of Education, 86 percent of charter schools students outperform their district counterparts. In fact, students from traditionally under-performing groups – such as minority and low-income students – also outperform their traditional public school peers.
Take for example low-income students in Bridgeport. If you compare the most recent state performance data, looking specifically at students who receive free or reduced price lunch, only 33 percent of eighth graders going to traditional public schools met grade level goals on the math portion of the CMTs in 2013. At Bridgeport’s charter schools, 54 percent met grade level goal.
This isn’t isolated either.
Low-income students in Bridgeport’s charter schools did better than their district peers in almost every grade level, in both reading and math. The same is the case for African American and Hispanic students.
So, again, I have to ask: Would a moratorium – de facto or otherwise – help close the achievement gap? Or would it only serve to cut families off from opportunities for their children to receive the best education possible?