Pennsylvania's charter schools are a disaster on average, a very expensive experiment gone badly wrong. In fact, Pennsylvania's charter schools are the second worse in the nation, only surpassed in failure by those in Nevada. That is the stunning conclusion of Stanford University's 2013 study.
Get this. Standford University finds that, on average, children attending charter schools in Pennsylvania are getting a much worse education than those in traditional public schools.
At page 52-53 of the study, Stanford finds that children in Pennsylvania's charter schools on average lose the equivalent of 50 school days in math and 29 school days in reading, when their performance is compared to those attending traditional public schools. Those are devastating numbers for our children and our taxpayers.
Pennsylvania's local and state taxpayers are paying about $1 billion per year to educate students in charter schools. They are spending an incredible $366 million for 16 cyber charter schools and 100% of them do not meet the federal student performance standards of Adequate Yearly Progress.
Why are Pennsylvania's charter schools on average so bad? Huge amounts of money have been given to start up schools without transparency or accountability. Starting any business is tough. Starting a school is especially demanding.
To make matters worse, some charter school operators have stolen the money. Still others have made large profits that is their real primary objective.
Given how bad most charter schools are in Pennsylvania, it is important to note that some charter schools do an excellent job educating children. They are important successes and have earned financial support. Unfortunately, just 29% of charter schools meet federal student performance standards.
At this point, Pennsylvania's mad rush to charter schools is doing more harm than good. It violates the first principle of good medicine--first do not harm! For example, 30,000 students have left parochial schools to attend charter schools and the averages indicate that many are now getting a worse education.
Pennsylvania must immediately stopped funding the 71% of its charter schools that are not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress. That will save about $700 million per year that should be used at public schools and good performing charter schools to fund 3 reforms that raise student performance.
Our school year must be extended to 200 days and 1 hour added to our school day. Early childhood education must be expanded in every school district. And intensive teacher training to improve teaching must be the norm in every school.