An issue the news media doesn't care about because Democrats don't care about it is school choice. An interesting report was released today by the Washington-based Center for Education Reform that throws cold water on the notion that Oakland is the showcase for school reform. A combination of tons of private donations, charter schools and determined leadership helped the schools system there recover from the economic and performance abyss.
However, as the report indicates, some may be misinterpreting the results to suggest that money was the driving force behind the change. Far from it. The thorough report shows that the fundamentals of competition, political will and perseverance are more important than money. And it points out that even with the gains, test scores in Oakland still have a long way to go, compared to other California schools.
But holding up Oakland as a national model for its inputs alone, even though it is still not clear those inputs are capable of leading to the kind of academic outputs for students that one might expect for $500-plus per student, is potentially damaging to districts that decide to emulate that model. What the nation needs right now are education models with proven success, not good ideas that come accompanied by loud (even if well-intentioned) cheerleaders alone.The report ought to be a big boost for the charter school movement. Now, back to presidential campaign and discussions about Obama girls, $300 hair cuts and fired fundraisers.