Wandering Eye: Study looks at student performance in charter schools, a local politics pundit says don't sweat the small budget stuff, and more

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes has put out a new study that looked at charter-school performance in 41 urban regions over a six-year period ending in 2012, and found that charter-school students receive “the equivalent of roughly 40 days of additional learning per year in math and 28 additional days of learning per year in reading” than do their peers in traditional public schools. Learning gains in both math and reading were found to be significantly larger for African-American, Hispanic, low-income, and special-education students. “The results,” the study concludes, “continue to build a record of many charter schools operating in challenging environments that repeatedly demonstrate the ability to educate all students to high levels.” Maryland, where new governor Larry Hogan plans to expand charter schools, was not included in the study. (Van Smith)

 

John Walters of the Maryland Public Policy Institute serves up a rejoinder to Luke Broadwater’s piece in Wednesday’s Sun trumpeting a city pension fund manager’s $5,600 trip to London. Titled “Another Conversation About Chump Change,” Walters’ piece says that, in focusing on the $100,000 travel budgets of public pension managers, we’re getting outraged by the wrong thing. “[T]he first step is to stop worrying about the small, reasonable expenses that are invariably incurred when running any enterprise,” writes Walters. “The second step is to stop wasting money on money managers and get the vast majority of BCERS (and all public pension funds) into index funds which cost significantly less and yet often perform better in the long term.” Turns out the Baltimore pension in question underperformed the market by about 3 percent in recent years. That’s $45 million lost, not counting the millions more paid to the fund’s active managers. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Websites that blur the lines between publisher and platform seem to be all the rage these days—think Kinja, BuzzFeed, Medium—but rarely are these platforms actually utilized in a way that really enhances the reading experience. But Matter, an online magazine published on Medium, has found a brilliant way to use Medium's platform features to make a great story even more enthralling. The magazine posted "Eating Jack Hooker's Cow," a tour de force of an essay that was first published in Esquire magazine in 1997, and then used Medium's annotation feature to have two young writers, Collier Meyerson and Durga Chew-Bose, comment on the essay and have the writer, Michael Paterniti, respond to their questions about it. Read the essay once through, then go back and read the annotations for fascinating conversations about race, class, masculinity, Cliven Bundy, and the American Dream. (Anna Walsh)

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