10 Things About Charters (I'll Give You #10)

10. Even great teachers can only do so much.

Much of the public debate over charter schools focuses on teacher performance and the ability to fire ineffective teachers – something that’s more difficult at a traditional public school where teachers are typically union members. While it’s true that teachers represent the most important in-school factor affecting student performance, out-of-school factors matter more, Ravitch says. “The single biggest predictor of student performance is family income,” she says. “I certainly wish it were not so, but it is.” Children from higher-income families get a huge head start thanks to better nutrition, a larger vocabulary spoken at home and other factors, she says. The narrative that blames teachers for problems that are rooted in poverty “is demoralizing teachers by the thousands,” Ravitch says. “And you don’t improve education by demoralizing the people who have to do the work every day.”
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