ERIKA BERRY: Public charter schools offer partial solution

With more and more parents across the nation viewing public charter schools as their schools of choice, the question must be asked how well these innovative and independent public schools are serving children.

Recently, a leading education research center at Stanford University released a comprehensive study looking at the academic performance of students in public charter schools compared to their traditional school peers in 27 states.

The results of this study deliver promising news for students in Mississippi whose needs are not currently being met, especially for the two-thirds of our public school students who are growing up in poverty. Across the nation, charter school students living in poverty gain the equivalent of an extra 14 days of instruction in reading and 22 days in math each year compared to their traditional public school counterparts. African-American students in poverty who attend charter schools see an even larger gain with the equivalent of an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math per year when compared to their traditional public school counterparts.

These findings, showing public charter schools are better serving students who are most in need, are not alone. Since 2010, four national studies and 11 regional studies from across the country found positive academic performance results for students in charter schools compared to their traditional school peers.

Of course, the most important measure of a transformational education is whether or not students are graduating prepared for college and career.

How do public charter schools fit in that equation? Mississippians must ask that question, especially considering we have one of the lowest social mobility rates in the nation.

Daily Journal
3/17/14