The Star-Ledger has up a poll that asks readers, “Are N.J. charter schools better than public schools?” The poll is in the context of the new widely-circulated CREDO study, which found that students enrolled in New Jersey charter schools, at least in Newark, display much higher achievement than those in traditional public schools. (Results in Camden, Trenton, Jersey City, and Paterson are far more mixed.)
Here’s the poll results:
Yes. we need to fix public schools and can learn from charter schools. 40.86% (114 votes)
No. The public school system works. 37.28% (104 votes)
The comparison is too broad. I need more specifics. 21.86% (61 votes)
One explanation for the high performance in Newark may be the dominance of KIPP schools in that city. Indeed, right now the only KIPP schools in New Jersey are in Newark: Newark Collegiate Academy, Rise Academy, SPARK Academy, TEAM Academy, and the new THRIVE Academy. (With any luck there’ll be another in Camden in 2014 because the Camden Board of Education, messily but effectively, approved the KIPP/Cooper/Norcross proposal to build new schools under the auspices of the Urban Hope Act.) Another fine charter school in Newark, North Star Academy, is run by Uncommon Schools, which also has four other sites in New York State and Boston.
Perhaps there’s something to be said for chartering with a organization with a proven track record and lots of experience.