Sunday, November 18, 2012

I want my red pen back

Sometimes, you read something that makes you really want your red teacher pen back, so you can write in the margins comments like "This does not follow" and "You have no support for this conclusion."
And so it is with the latest report from the Pioneer Institute.

The report is titled Enrollment Trends in Massachusetts: An Update and so far as that goes, it makes some reasonable points. Student enrollment across the state is recently down (you can find DESE numbers here). It is down more in some sections of the state than others. The Chapter 70 formula isn't constructed to handle drops in enrollment.
Population across the state is also down, of course, which is why Massachusetts lost a House seat in the last census.
However, if you look at the chart on page 6, Worcester isn't alone among urban districts in recently growing. That gets mentioned, but doesn't really fit the narrative, so not much is made of it. The report  comments "it is not clear why regional demographics are changing," which would seem to be somewhat important if we're going to make anything of enrollment changes, particularly as regional demographics have much to do with how Chapter 70 is allocated.
The real stunning leap, however, is in the conclusions around charter schools. Charter school populations are also not growing as quickly; how it is that this necessarily means that they are "bumping against the cap" (rather than just not gaining students) is not explained or cited.
Nor is anywhere anything made of the growth in urban district public schools, like Worcester, where charter school additions have been focused over the past several years. We are having more charter schools thrust upon us, in many cases schools of questionable worth, and the public school enrollment is increasing at the same time. No wonder these districts are not mentioned.
Pioneer makes the leap that enrollment across the state is dropping, therefore....we need more charter schools?
I suspect I need not point out the relationship with the previous post, but, seriously, people: you've got to do better on your leaps of logic here, or I'm going to dig out my red pen.

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