Grassroot Perspective – Aug. 19, 2003-Statewide Union Ordered to Fully Disclose How Teachers’ Compulsory Dues Are Spent; Give Charter Schools a Fair Evaluation

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Statewide Union Ordered to Fully Disclose How Teachers’ Compulsory
Dues Are Spent

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled that affiliates of the Pennsylvania State
Education Association (PSEA) union must
have their books independently audited to
justify how they spend teachers’ compulsory
union fees. The ruling came in a case brought
by Marsha Otto and six other non-union
Pennsylvania teachers who challenged how
PSEA union officials were spending their
compulsory dues. The teachers, who were
represented by attorneys with the National
Right to Work Foundation, charged union
officials were illegally using their forced dues
to pay for non-collective bargaining activities
while refusing to provide meaningful
financial disclosure.

Above article is quoted from the Heritage Foundation, The Insider May

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Give Charter Schools a Fair Evaluation

By Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster

For years the defenders of the education status quo have bashed charter
schools by claiming their test scores don’t measure up to those of
regular public schools. But comparing charter schools to regular public
schools is like comparing apples to zebras, since many charter schools
target disadvantaged student populations. A new study by the Manhattan
Institute, the first-ever national empirical evaluation of charter
schools, shows that when we compare apples to apples charter schools
produce moderately better test score improvements.

Charter schools are public schools that are schools of choice (rather
than having assigned students). They are also exempt from many of the
procedural regulations that apply to regular public schools. There are
now nearly 2,700 charter schools across the country educating more than
684,000 students.

Until now little has been known about their academic performance. That’s
because in most states the process by which charter schools are created
gives preference to schools for disadvantaged populations like at-risk
youth and disabled students. While it is understandable that school
reforms would target underserved populations, this makes it problematic
to accurately measure charter schools’ performance. Since charter
schools tend to have many more educationally disadvantaged students,
drawing a simplistic comparison between all charter schools and regular
public schools is unfair.

Not that this has stopped the education establishment from drawing such
comparisons. They trumpet charter schools’ lower test scores without
saying much about the demographic realities that underlie those scores.
For example, Francis X. Clines pointed out in a recent New York Times
article that nearly two-thirds of Texas schools rated as low-performing
are charter schools. Clines made no mention of the enormous number of
Texas charter schools that are targeted to at-risk youth and other
educationally disadvantaged populations. His readers were left with the
impression that charter schools have lower scores because they provide
an inadequate education.

A new study by the Manhattan Institute shows just how unfair such
comparisons are. Unlike previous national studies of charter schools, we
exclude all schools that are targeted to educationally disadvantaged
(or, much less frequently, educationally advantaged) populations. Our
study includes only charter schools that serve student populations that
are comparable to those found in regular public schools. To further
ensure that we are comparing apples to apples, we matched each charter
school with its nearest regular public school.

We find that charter schools show test score improvements over a
one-year period that are moderately better than those of regular public
schools serving similar populations. Charter schools’ improvements were
better than those of regular public schools by the equivalent of 3
percentile points in math and 2 percentile points in reading for
students starting at the 50th percentile. The difference is modest, to
be sure, but it is statistically significant.

There are several possible explanations for the greater gains in charter
schools. With fewer burdensome regulations, charter schools may be able
to teach students better. As schools of choice, charter schools may also
allow more efficient matching of particular students’ needs with
particular schools’ capabilities.

But the modest size of the charter-school benefit suggests that charter
schools still face significant obstacles to more effective reform.
Charter schools, though exempt from many regulations, are still subject
to significant regulatory burdens. Another possibility is that
curriculum innovation may be limited in states where charter schools are
required to give a high-stakes test geared to a state curriculum.
Finally, the most important factor limiting the performance of charter
schools may well be their newness. As charter schools get older, their
advantage over regular public schools may grow.

In any case, the teachers’ unions and their allies should stop using raw
test scores to claim that charter schools provide an inferior education.
When we compare only the test score improvements from schools that serve
similar populations, charter schools are not only just as good as
regular public schools, they’re better.

Jay P. Greene is a senior fellow and Greg Forster is a senior research
associate at the Manhattan Institute’s Education Research Office

Above article is quoted from The Manhattan Insitute, Apples to Apples:
An Evaluation of Charter Schools Serving General Student Populations

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“Chicken recognize chickens by their looks. Penguins recognize penguins
by their squawks.” — Editor note: How do politicians recognize one

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy
from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent
that will reach to himself.” — Thomas Paine

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’