In the latest stubborn attempt to blast charter school opponents, Boston University assistant education professor Cara Stillings Candal yesterday dropped a hot shit pile on the Herald op-ed page. Her piece, "Charter school foes would cost us," begins with this bit of sweet irony: "Myths have long surrounded Massachusetts charter schools."
I agree. In fact, Candal used the grandest myth of all as evidence to back her thesis: "Two high-performing Boston charters - MATCH and Academy of the Pacific Rim - report dropout rates of zero." In reality, both of those schools graduate less than 50 percent of the students they take in. When they claim 100 percent graduation rates, they essentially mean that 100 percent of kids who show up on graduation day get diplomas.
If Candal was just another bandwagon charter school advocate pontificating on a foreign subject - which is the case with about 90 percent of reporters out there - then this mistake might be understandable. After all; charter school administrators do often lie about attrition on their web sites. But as the author of "Putting Children First: The History of Charter Public Schools in Massachusetts," she should know better. I bet she does, but the truth hardly helps her argument.
In the weeks following my publishing "Boston Public School Apartheid," I received more than 100 letters and emails accusing me of shilling for the Boston Teachers Union and much worse. I have no problem with the hate mail, but it was discouraging to see how many fools out there have a Manichean perspective when it comes to charters. In reality there is no definitive answer.
The truth is that I like the bill passing through the Statehouse right now. Somehow it seems the clowns on Beacon Hill may have managed to consider the needs of all concerned parties. But I'm still amazed at how drones on both the right and left - across the country - blindly agree that charter schools are the answer to all of our education problems. It's the popular position du jour, and it's dangerous - especially when citizens and pols are feasting on the sort of self-serving fiction that Candal publishid in the Herald yesterday.