Charter Schools

Kristen Buras Responds to NBER Paper About Charters

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A few weeks ago, a reader asked me to comment on this paper:


It says, in summary, that students in schools subject to charter “takeovers,” who were “grandfathered in,” saw substantial academic gains. That is, they did not enter the charters by lottery but were kept enrolled after the school turned from public to charter. The two districts studied were Néw Orleans and Boston.


I sent the link to Kristen Buras, who spent ten years studying charters in Néw Orleans.


This was her response:


Hello Diane:


I am astounded by this paper’s assertions. To my knowledge, there is no foundation for the claim that New Orleans students attending a closed school have the right to be “grandfathered” into the newly chartered school.


First, I am unaware of any such legislative mandate (and if there is, it’s certainly not enforced).


Second, I am very aware that the reality on the ground is just the opposite.


When charters takeover, they gut the entire school of teachers and students and then redesign to their liking through an array of methods.


Time and again, the community has complained in public forums that claims about charter operators “transforming” schools in New Orleans are bogus because the charter operators rarely serve students who originally attended the school.


In fact, to avoid such a burden and to start anew, charter operators in New Orleans often open the school with only select grade levels offered, generally the grade levels exempt from state testing, and slowly build from there. The paper’s authors have built on a model disassociated from reality, but I’m sure there are lots of fancy formulas in the paper that look really impressive.


All my best,




Director | Urban South Grassroots Research Collective


Kristen L. Buras
Associate Professor of Educational Policy
Educational Policy Studies
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3977
Atlanta, Georgia 30302-3977
United States
[email protected]

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