ConnCAN Can't Support its Claims
Brief provides one-sided arguments for change in Connecticut's charter school law
EAST LANSING, Mi., (March 10, 2010) – A recently released issue brief argues that lifting the charter school cap and increasing funding for charters would raise low-income student achievement in Connecticut. A new Think Twice analysis of brief finds that it is one-sided, ignores relevant research on charter schools and offers no evidence to support its claim.
The brief, published by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), Connecticut's Charter School Law and Race to the Top, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Syracuse University professor Robert Bifulco.
In his review, Bifulco explains that the brief is fundamentally an advocacy piece that is "designed to promote a specific view of charter schools, and does not help policymakers or the public think carefully about what a charter school program should be trying to achieve and how best to achieve it."
The ConnCAN issue brief claims that "charter schools have demonstrated sustained success, especially among low-income students" and calls those schools "an essential part of closing Connecticut's achievement gap." The brief advocates lifting the Connecticut charter school cap and creating a funding mechanism that pays charter schools the same per pupil rate as that pupil's home school district.
Though Bifulco praises the brief for pointing to funding questions that may deserve attention, he identifies several major shortcomings. The brief fails, for instance, to use any peer-reviewed, empirical research on charter schools, even though such research is ample and relevant. Additionally, Bifulco observes that simply lifting the charter school enrollment cap across the board, as the ConnCAN brief recommends, ignores the fact that charters can already exceed the cap in Connecticut—but only if they demonstrate a record of student achievement. Changing that law to allow expansion for charters that do not have such a record may not, as the ConnCAN brief contends, place the state in a better position to receive Race to the Top dollars.
Overall, the brief is described by the reviewer as providing "a rather one-sided and incomplete analysis of the issues at stake."
Find Robert Bifulco's review as well as a link to the ConnCan issue brief at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org
About The Think Twice Project
The mission of the Great Lakes Center is to improve public education for all students in the Great Lakes region through the support and dissemination of high quality, academically sound research on education policy and practices.
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