because charter schools are such a highly contentious issue in the
The debate around charter schools centers on their success
rates. The concern is that while some charter schools do exceptionally
well, that is not characteristic of all charter schools. In fact, many charter
schools fail to deliver results any better than traditional public schools.
There is a wide distribution of success rates for charter schools, because
not all charter schools are created equal or managed with the same
expertise. Education scholar Diane Ravitch points out that “To date,
charter schools have not fulfilled the hope that they would produce
superior academic results. There is a wide variation among charter
school just as there is a wide variation among public schools” (174).
While many reform critics harp on this wide distribution of
success rates, and pro-charter advocates try to ignore the figures, few
stop to consider why the data might be distributed in this way, an
approach that could enlighten policy discussions. This variation in the
success of charter schools is largely due to internal school management.
The only commonality between all charter schools is that they are public
schools that operate separately from the district school system. Charter
schools do not have to comply with all of the normal district rules and
regulations that apply to public schools. Charter schools are not all
managed in the same manner, with the same consistently, or with the
same level of expertise, however, which is vital to understanding why
there is such a discrepancy between the success rates of various charter
schools. The success of charter schools requires efficient internal
management and the employment of effective teachers who have the
resources to help their students flourish.
The counter reaction to Waiting for Superman has been a
grassroots effort in which a group of New York teachers and parents
banded together to produce a response documentary entitled The
Inconvenient Truth of Waiting for Superman. This film seeks to debunk the
“myths” put forward in Waiting for Superman, such as charter school
success rates. It also defends teachers and teachers unions. While the
film does not have Hollywood quality or style, it makes many important