No, Governor, the evidence is not overwhelming

Governor Baker cares about the education of all the Commonwealth’s students. He cares so much that whenever he talks about education the only thing he can talk about is charters.

In an address on Friday, he stated that the “evidence was overwhelming…” that “charter schools in Massachusetts have delivered a very strong and high-quality product to kids here in the Commonwealth.”

But if he read the state auditors report on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Oversight of Charter Schools, he would see that the opposite is true. According to the state audit, the demographics of the kids in charters schools are different

Drawing at the ICA Boston
Drawing at the ICA Boston

from the demographics of public schools. Charter schools are not educating the same proportion of special needs kids and English language Learners. And because of this, it is impossible to know if any academics gains are because of student population as opposed to the schools themselves.

Furthermore, there is reason to believe that charters “cook the books” by pushing out students who do not test well. Here is a link to a series of graphs that show that the rise in MCAS scores strongly correlates to high attrition rates at the schools. Some charters push out 75% of the cohort by graduation time.

This hardly seems like overwhelming evidence to me, Governor Baker.

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