Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Charter schools, what are they? [update 3]

A 2007 Cato Institute podcast interview with Herb Walberg, author of book School Choice: The Findings, summarises the American Charter Schools system.

Here’s two take-home quotes from the discussion:

“competition is good for customers … to the degree to which there is choice … they put pressure on public schools to perform better.”

Hence the teacher unions coming out quickly to protect their patch.

However, it’s not all rosy in the garden. There is

“… a crowd-out effect especially in big cities, where …charter schools tend to be eating up [existing private] schools.”


“…in addition to that, parents who … realise their kids are not learning in the public system [remove them] … and so put less pressure on school authorities to improve.”

UPDATE 1Libz Applaud Charter School Development

_McGrath001Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath said this morning he was pleasantly surprised by the deal struck between ACT and the National Party which would allow for the introduction of charter schools in New Zealand.
     “This is a significant move away from the tired and out-dated system of state schools, which are little better than juvenile prisons churning out tens of thousands of functionally illiterate youths each year.”
    “My party is particularly impressed by the adherence to principle represented in this radical reform.”
    “National have stuck true [for once] to their core values of individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, competitive enterprise and limited government. Likewise, ACT’s founding principles state that individuals are the rightful owners of their lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; also, that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not assume these responsibilities.”
    “While the two Davids flounder about in the wake of the worst election result for Labour in living memory, the two Johns have come up with a breakthrough in education that my party hails as a bold move in the right direction - toward greater ownership of education by students and their parents rather than by teachers’ unions.”
    “Let’s hope John Banks can continue to abide by ACT’s liberal values. The Libertarianz Party will cheer him when he does, and pull him up when he veers away from the path of freedom.”

UPDATE 2:  More comment on Charter Schools from Eric Crampton, Charter Schools:

  • First, a note of caution in all the American studies - charter schools operate under regulatory constraints and vehement opposition from American teachers unions, both of which may affect observed results.
  • Upshot: charter schools do better, and because they're outside of collective bargaining and because they face the risk of shutting down if parents don't choose to send their kids there.
  • Other evidence?
    • In another randomized trial, Caroline Hoxby finds substantial gains for students winning entry to charter schools in New York.
    • New Orleans moved heavily towards charter schools after Katrina; outcomes improved.
  • And it's great fun to watch all those who rallied for MMP now whining about post-election coalition deals. You guys should have ticked the box for FPP.

UPDATE 3: Dave Guerin at the Ed Blog has a good roundup,  with links to more blog commentary, of the arguments for and against charter schools.


  1. LabourIsCunliffe6 Dec 2011, 10:02:00

    This is contradicting the Libertarian policy of not getting the state to funding of private schools .

    Yes, Charter Schools, but you guys should advocate that the state must not fund them.

  2. One step at a time, Silent T.

    Every small step toward freedom that has no new coercion involved is a step worth applauding.

  3. Does Charter School apply to Montessori? If so, does Carol consider that as an opportunity to start her own Montessori Charter School? If not, then why not?

  4. Why is everyone obsessed with whether charter schools will succeed or fail when so many state schools are failing? The main point is that they are at least providing some choice, and parents will be able to remove their children if they can see if their children are failing. Under the state system, they can't do that. These dinosaurs in the education unions who think this is the end of civilisation as we know it obviously have never heard of Kura Kaupapa or Kohanga Reo, both started along the same lines as charter schools, before hijacked by the state. Every day thousands of kids go to early childhood centres, parents free to choose. Tertiary students do the same. Why does the state believe the parents of 5 to 16-year-olds are incapable of running their own lives?

    Well, we know why the unionists fear parental choice - it might show up the incapable teachers for what they are.


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