May 22nd, 2009

If KIPP is 'Whole Foods,' what's a public school?

kippkidsIn “Food for thought: Building a High-Quality School Choice Market,” a new report released by Education Sector, Erin Dillon explores an analogy where charter schools are the ‘Whole Foods’ of the school world, challenging the local corner markets to compete.

But is the presence of charter schools increasing achievement in traditional schools, as charter advocates argue they will? Of Washington, DC (a breeding ground for the charter movement) Dillon writes:

Despite the fact that over 20 percent of the public schools in the neighborhoods surrounding KIPP are charter schools, the traditional public schools in the area still post some of the lowest student-achievement results in the city.

Government programs that bring in private sector firms like Giant or nonprofits like KIPP can increase the supply of market options in low-income communities. But such subsidies will not, in and of themselves, ensure that all of those options will be high-quality. Nor will they guarantee that consumers will make good choices and utilize the newer, better options that come along. Functioning, well-designed markets improve higher-quality supply and higher-quality demand.

Education Sector

Read the full report here

Related Program: Michelle Rhee in DC [Video]

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