CREDO: Keep the Controversies Coming

By Jason Bernal

It’s been over 3 weeks since the CREDO study on charter school effectiveness was released and it’s caused a lot of controversy and brought up a lot of questions.  Earlier this week, NPR aired “The Charter School vs Public School Debate Continues” with the opening question:  “But one key question lingers: Do kids in charter schools learn more than kids in traditional public schools?”

As an organization whose mission is to increase the number of low-income students graduating from college, at YES Prep we’re excited at the findings that African-American, Hispanic, and ELL students are benefitting from impactful charter schools across the country. 

And, in a way, we’re just as excited that the controversy over charter schools continues.

If charter schools are working relentlessly to improve and show strong student achievement results and traditional public schools are striving to become more progressive and prove that they are the best option for students, then kids win.  In a society that revels in competition and an education reform movement full of over-achievers, the friction of the struggle keeps us all moving forward in the service of children.

Houston is a prime example.  A hub for charter schools, Houston has many that are getting strong results with their students.  At the same time, Houston ISD is leading the way with some of their innovative programs.  And in 2012, YES Prep won the inaugural Broad Prize for Charter Management Organizations while HISD was a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban School Districts.  We couldn’t be happier for the children of Houston.  The charter school debate is alive and well in Houston and the beneficiary of that struggle has been the students.

The Houston education community is now bringing the debate to a new level.  With YES Prep and KIPP partnering with Spring Branch, and YES Prep’s new partnership with Aldine ISD in Houston, the battle is no longer “us versus them” but rather “all of us versus the opportunity gap.”

If kids are achieving at high levels in traditional public school districts and public charter schools—kids win. Too many great schools and high quality options wouldn’t be a bad problem to have.  So please, keep the studies coming, keep the controversies coming, because at the end of the day, these spur a better educational ecosystem of options for students.

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