Are Anti-Charter Folk Engaging in “Statistical Gibberish?”

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Check out today’s editorial in NJ Spotlight by Rick Pressler, interim head of New Jersey Charter School Association. Here he addresses the insistence of anti-school choice lobbyists (in this case, Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools and Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman) on perseverating about whether charter schools enroll students who are “really, really poor and disadvantaged” or just “poor and disadvantaged.”

The data, as presented by Weber and Rubin, obscures the larger picture of public-education equity and, as such, represents statistical gibberish. It ignores the centrality of effective education in addressing all the other ills that plague our urban centers. It also fails to address the significant positive impacts of charters in communities where district schools have failed multiple generations of students. And it does not offer any rationale for why public education in many of our urban areas largely failed parents during the 40 years before charters even became an option.

Pressler catalogues the various forms of school choice that exist in New Jersey, including those that cater to high-income families like traditional public schools in wealthy communities and magnet schools with strict admissions policies that proudly “cream off” the highest-performing students and enroll virtually no students with disabilities or Early Language Learners.

 Pressler:  “What is the effect of this unabashed “creaming” on the concentration of poorer, needier students — not to mention lower-performing students — in their sending districts? Weber and Rubin’s exclusive focus on charters in this regard again reveals the anti-charter bias of their analysis.”

For more on segregation within N.J.’s magnet schools and high-income districts, see my Spotlight piece here.

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1 Comment

  • kallikak, December 17, 2014 @ 5:23 pm Reply

    Recommended reading: Julia Rubin's response to Rick Pressler's Op-Ed:


    Editorials like this, full of inaccurate information and personal attacks, do not move us any closer to a solution to the problem of charter vs. district segregation, which is significant and needs to be addressed.

    It is an indisputable fact that New Jersey charter schools educate smaller percentages of low-income students, special-needs students, and English language learners than local district schools. And, the special-needs students in charter schools have classifications that are less expensive to manage.

    This increases segregation and results in these more expensive and challenging-to-educate students being concentrated in the district schools, making it much more difficult to give them a high-quality education.

    The report Mark Weber and I wrote details these differences. The report is based on data provided by the individual charter schools to the New Jersey Department of Education.

    The report can be found here:

    Mark and I did not evaluate charter school performance in the report and we did not cast blame for the segregation. We simply detailed what the differences were, in order to facilitate a policy discussion of how to address this problem.

    As the interim President of the NJ Charter School Association, you have an opportunity to show leadership on this issue.

    The Edward J. Bloustein School and NJ Spotlight are co-hosting an event on January 13th to move this conversation forward and to find solutions that all sides think are fair and appropriate. I invite you to attend and put forward ways to correct the demographic differences between charter and district schools.”
    Posted by julia rubin on December 17 at 6:28 AM

    You can see my response below the story on NJSpotlight.

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