Via Reason Foundation education policy analyst Lisa Snell comes news of two great developments in the liberation of kids (and their parents) trapped in a K-12 public education system that is spending three times as much in inflation-adjusted dollars as it was in 1970 without any improvement in outcomes.
1. Six large school districts have at least 30 percent of their students in charter schools (publicly funded schools of choice with much-greater autonomy and much-lower funding than traditional public schools). Check it out:
- Six school districts now have more than 30 percent of their public school students enrolled in public charter schools: New Orleans, Washington D.C., Detroit, Kansas City (Missouri), Flint, and Gary.
- 18 school districts have more than 20 percent of their public school students enrolled in charter schools.
- An astounding 70 percent of public school students in New Orleans attended public charter schools in the 2010-2011 school year. Charter schools are the highest performing sector of public schools in the city.
- Los Angeles again tops the list of districts with the highest number of public charter school students enrolled with 79,385 students. To provide a sense of scale, the number of students enrolled in public charter schools in Los Angeles, alone, would place the city's charter schools in the top 45 of the 100 largest school districts in the United States.
- Nearly 100 school districts now have at least 10 percent of public school students in charter schools.
More info, courtesy of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The first charter school opened its doors in 1997 in Minnesota. The average charter school does not out-perform the average conventional public school, but it's better for at least two reasons: First, any kid in a charter is there because their parents want them to be there. School choice is good for rich, well-to-do parents and it's good for less well-to-do folks too. Second, charter schools actually get shut down when they stink up the joint. Students leave a school that doesn't deliver and authorizing agencies are far quicker to pull the plug on failing charters than they are trad public schools. That's a good thing.
2. The country's largest, and most powerful, teachers union is leaking membership. Check it out:
NEA Down 100,000 Active Members Since 2009-10. If the strength of the National Education Association is in its members, then the nation's largest labor union is clearly not as strong as it once was.
According to its latest figures, NEA has lost 100,000 active members since the 2009-10 school year. Active members are working teachers, certified staff and education support employees—not students or retirees.
Officially released numbers from 2009-10 showed total active membership at more than 2,866,000. The union's active membership at the start of the 2011-12 school year stands at just over 2,766,000—a decrease of about 3.5 percent.
The reductions will require some interim cost-cutting measures at NEA headquarters until permanent budget adjustments can be implemented next month. It bears noting, however, that these measures have no effect on the national union's Ballot Measures/Legislative Crises Fund, which is a segregated account for political action at the state level.
More info. Clearly, the NEA is still the 800-lb. gorilla when it comes to calling shots regarding teachers and education policy in most local, state, and federal legislatures around the country. But smaller numbers is a good sign in this case. Maybe rank-and-file teachers are starting to recognize that unions have largely failed to capture much of the huge increase in money streaming into schools; since 1991, per-pupil, inflation-adjusted dollars have increased by 25 percent while teacher salaries have basically kept pace with inflation. What are union dues for if not wage increases?
Click below to see Lisa Snell explain why school choice is #winning in ways that even Charlie Sheen can't match after downing a pint of tiger's blood: