A bad idea just got worse. The bad idea was the Legislature’s recent enactment – over TSTA’s opposition – of Senate Bill 2, which will significantly expand the number of charter schools in Texas over the next several years. Potential problems with the new law just got highlighted with the release of a new study from Stanford University showing that the existing charters in Texas, on average, are still performing more poorly than traditional public schools.
According to the study by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education, the average charter student in Texas received the equivalent of 22 fewer days of learning in reading and 29 fewer days of learning in math per year than students in traditional public schools.
The study, which covered several school years through 2010-11, measured the impact of charters on academic growth for Texas, 24 other states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, charter students realized an average of eight additional days per year of learning gains in both reading and math, but results varied widely among the states that were studied, with Texas among those on the short end.
You can read the entire report, including its methodology, by clicking on the link at the end of this post. The bottom line is that charters are still unproven for many states, including Texas, and are not the magical solution for educational problems, as supporters of SB2 claimed.
SB2 will allow the granting of as many as 305 additional charters – some with multiple campuses – in Texas by 2019. This would more than double the number of charters Texas has now, at a time when the Texas Education Agency doesn’t have enough resources to adequate regulate existing charters.
This expansion also was approved at a time when traditional public schools, which is where the vast majority of Texas students will continue to be educated, remain underfunded.