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Home » Commentary » Another Look at NBC’s Big Charter Mistake

Another Look at NBC’s Big Charter Mistake

(Newswire, June 19, 2018)

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH… Last Sunday night NBC News aired a charter school story that argues charters are increasingly geared to support “white flight.” If the claims weren’t so outlandish and unfounded, it would be laughable. The producer, who was incredibly open to receiving information countering these allegations, based his report on an analysis performed by the Hechinger Report. In one of the documents CER supplied, we demonstrated Hechinger’s bias against charter schools, as well as the folly of the argument.

Indeed, Hechinger claims to have used NCES data to calculate racial balance in charter schools across the country that justify erroneous claims that increasingly charter schools do not reflect the racial balance of surrounding schools. However, as we pointed out, no researcher can make such statements based on NCES data. One needs at least 4 data points (see link for explanation: https://www.edreform.com/nbc-charters/) and further review, analysis and study, to make any legitimate comparisons.

In the case of the school they use as their prime example, George’s Lake Onocee Academy, originally boundaries were drawn around the school based on a development that was responsible for its existence. The other public schools in the district were failing, and developers wanted to offer a better school to the community. The district was opposed to the creation of the school. And while the boundary no longer exists around that school, local leaders have still fanned the flames of bigotry that Hechinger seized to market the sizzling story to its media partner NBC.

The Hechinger Report journalist then called numerous other states and asked about racial composition of their schools. One might ask why they’d have to call states if they thought they had irrefutable data. We don’t fault NBC for viewing Hechinger’s work as legitimate or being misled by their data. The thousands of policies, laws and data points that apply to charter school everywhere are complex and require a trained eye and understanding. However, if one is disposed against charters as Hechinger is because they give parents freedom to make choices rather mandate assignment based on artificial factors, then one will make any conclusion that justified their narrative.

Such is the case in this piece which some charter advocates argue is balanced. Regardless of what is said tomorrow night, there is no balance in any piece which starts with the premise that the very reform that created opportunities for millions of children who were failed by the traditional system, and which serve a higher percentage of at risk and minority children, is creating racial imbalance. Indeed, if mandatory assignment by zip code and busing were the answer, we would not have failed students for 3 generations.

All children deserve the education they need to become exceptional adults. The freedom to make that choice is fundamental, as charter schools have shown consistently since 1992. We hope NBC and other news media will find ways to help the public understand that fact, as well as the enormous need that still exists to bring innovation and opportunity to millions more students trapped in failing schools that Hechinger and its friends in the teachers unions irresponsibility seem determined to defend at all costs, including misuse of data.

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