Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 2 of 3

03 Jan

If only 17% of the Charter schools performed better than the public schools, what does that mean?

It means that 901 Charter schools outperformed, on average, 98,800 public schools—but at the same time 1,967 Charter schools performed worse than the average public school.

And if 83% of the public schools performed the same or better than Charter schools that means 82,004 public schools did not fail in teaching America’s children.

To have a better understanding of what the studies revealed it may help to know the numbers for Elementary and Secondary Education in the United States.

In 2010–11, there were about 13,600 different public school districts with over 98,800 public schools—including about 5,300 charter schools. In fall 2013, about 50.1 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools. Of these, 35.3 million were in prekindergarten through 8th grade and 14.8 million were in grades 9 through 12.

Today, the public schools employ about 3.3 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers.

In the private sector there are about 30,900 private schools offering kindergarten or higher grades, and an additional 5.2 million students attended these private schools, and a projected 400,000 FTE teachers worked in this education sector. (

Note: The public school districts are nonprofit and are run by democratically elected school boards that are usually made up of concerned parents whose children attend or attended the schools in the same district. Common sense says that these parents, who are in charge, have a vested interest that the schools do the best job possible under the circumstances. Public schools must hire qualified and trained teachers.

A public charter school is a publicly funded school that is typically governed by a group or organization under a legislative contract or charter with the state or jurisdiction. The charter exempts the school from selected state or local rules and regulations. In return for funding and autonomy, the charter school must meet the accountability standards articulated in its charter.

Private sector schools are not run by democratically elected school boards. If these schools are religious, they are run by the religions that own them. If the schools are secular, they are run by the CEO of a corporation or business that is profit based and the CEO answers to no one but the richest stock holders and investors. The only way a CEO usually loses his job is to die, retire or lose money. If the private schools are operated as a non-profit, the manager is usually paid several-hundred-thousand dollars annually and the costs are higher than public schools. Private schools may hire anyone to teach.

You may be surprised to learn that the charter school concept originated with educators who started in the classroom as teachers. Starting in 1974, Albert Shanker (1928 – 1997) and then Ray Budde (1923 – 2005) had the idea for charter schools and helped launch this concept as a way to meet the needs of the most difficult to teach students. Charter schools were not meant to be an option for every student. The concept was an alternative designed to deal with children who were at risk and difficult to teach.

Albert Shanker, who started out as a substitute teacher; then went on to teach math in East Harlem for eight years, became the president of the United Federation of Teachers in 1964. Ray Budde started as a 7th grade English teacher. (Education

Continued on January 4, 2014 in Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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2 responses to “Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 2 of 3

  1. Lance Freeman

    January 24, 2014 at 16:15

    Private religious schools perform better than public schools, and public charter schools performed no better than regular public schools, according to a new study by William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University at Long Beach and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton.

    • Lloyd Lofthouse

      January 24, 2014 at 18:04

      It’s like comparing bananas to turnips.

      I attended a Catholic school as a child and the parents had to be involved. No choice. But in the public schools it is rare for a parent to be involved.

      The reason a child’s in a religious school in the first place is because of parents who are involved and care or they wouldn’t bother. And if the religious school practices corporal punishment the parents usually support that too or they wouldn’t have the child in the school.

      Private school students typically score higher than public school students on standardized tests, but a 2006 study (pdf) by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which took into account students’ backgrounds, told a different story.

      Public school students in fourth and eighth grade scored almost as well or better than their private school peers in reading and math, except that private school students excelled in eighth-grade reading.

      A Harvard University study (pdf) challenged the results, using the same data but different methods. Researchers found that private schools came out ahead in 11 of 12 comparisons of students.

      Earlier in 2006, an analysis of math scores by two University of Illinois researchers found similar results to the NCES study. “Charter, Private, Public Schools and Academic Achievement” (pdf) states that “after accounting for the fact that private schools serve more advantaged populations, public schools perform remarkably well, often outscoring private and charter schools.”


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