Drawing on recent state test score (MCAS) data, Lehigh notes that charter schools, which have longer school days than public schools, are doing better in terms of scores. He then muses that
At this point, several things should be crystal clear to everyone.
First, more learning time can transform low-income kids into high achievers. Second, charters, which offer a significantly longer day for the same per pupil expense, are a bargain for taxpayers. Third, incremental change in the traditional schools will no longer suffice.
But there are two big problems. One is that there are presumably several things about charter schools that distinguish them from public schools, beyond the length of the school day. No attempt is made here to separate out the independent effect of school day length. More importantly, there is the huge selection effect: students who enroll in charter schools are different, probably in terms of being more motivated to achieve, than those who don’t.
Ok, so I’m just shooting fish in a barrel, right? But it still seems problematic that this is what passes for informed debate when it comes to education policy. I don’t assume to know how education policy develops, but it seems safe to assume that the Boston Globe editorial pages are an important factor.