Boston Globe to Charters: XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Blinded by love, the Boston Globe can forgive and forget when charter data doesn’t add up

To: Education reporters

From: Globe editorial staff

Re: Great idea for even more positive charter stories

As you know, it’s graduation season, which means that we have a great opportunity to highlight the outstanding-ness of charter schools in Massachusetts. Note: be sure to mention high graduate rates and ambitious plans of new grads. Best to avoid issue of how many students fail to complete all four years as poor results make charters seem less outstanding than we all know that they are. If you need an expert to quote just give a holler. Paul Grogan is an EXCELLENT source and we have him on speed dial.

Full disclosure: this is not a real memo from the crack editorial staff at the Boston Globe. But can you blame EduShyster for her fevered imaginings after encountering this recent graduation season puff piece? In short, the reporter is celebrating the fact that nearly all 34 graduates of the new Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett are moving on to top colleges, not to mention having raked in more than $3 million in scholarships. Certainly an impressive accomplishment, even EduShyster had to concede.

But no sooner had I finished licking the envelope on the last of the 34 congratulation cards when a thought occurred to me: I wonder how many of the students who started at Pioneer in 2008 made it all the way to graduation? Being what our edu-crat leaders like to call “data driven,” I had my answer in a flash. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, the class of 2012 started out with 58 students. Which means that Pioneer Charter’s graduation rate is a rather less impressive 59%. Ooops!

Now, obviously that’s still better than Everett High, right? I mean everyone knows that Everett High, like all non-innovative and teacher-union stifled public schools, SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS. But according to the state, the graduation rate at Everett High is 77%. That’s pretty impressive considering that 46% of the students attending Everett High speak a first language other than English, compared with 27% at Pioneer Charter. And 69% of Everett High’s students are low income, compared with 56% at the charter.

As the air began to hiss out from the Globe’s puff piece, I couldn’t help but wonder: would the romance between the Globe and charter schools–or their ‘chomance’ as I’ve come to think about it–survive the data equivalent of TMI? Somehow I suspect it will…