Journal of Educational Controversy


Monday, September 28, 2015

More on Charter Schools

Editor: In light of our recent post on the Washington State Supreme Court decision finding charter schools unconstitutional in our state, I thought readers would find this website on educational policy and current research to be of interest.  Readers can find the National Education Policy Center website at  Below are the most recent comments on charter schools that the center just sent out on its listserv today.  Check out their website for more complete information.

Problems with CREDO’s Charter School Research: Understanding the Issues

Andrew Maul’s rejoinder to CREDO’s response

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Andrew Maul, (805) 893-7770,

URL for this press release:

BOULDER, CO (September 28, 2015) – Earlier this summer, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) published a response to professor Andrew Maul’s review of CREDO’s Urban Charter School Study. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) today released Maul’s reply, in which he thanks CREDO for the response yet explains, point-by-point, why he stands by the following eight concerns he had earlier raised about that study:

1.     The nature of the comparison between charter and traditional public schools in the CREDO studies is not clear;

2.     The matching variables used in CREDO’s studies may not be sufficient to support causal conclusions;
3.      Some lower-performing charter students are systematically excluded from the CREDO studies;
4.     CREDO’s reasons for the systematic exclusion of lower-scoring charter students do not address the potential for bias arising from the exclusion;
5.     The “days of learning” metric used in the CREDO studies is problematic;
6.     The CREDO studies fail to provide sufficient information about the criteria for the selection of urban regions included in the studies;
7.      The CREDO studies lack an appropriate correction for multiple significance tests; and
8.     The CREDO studies have trivial effect sizes.

Maul’s original review and his short rejoinder are published by the NEPC, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Maul, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focuses his research on measurement theory, validity, and research design.

Find Maul’s original review of CREDO’s urban-charter report and his full rejoinder here or go to:

The original CREDO report, and the CREDO response to Maul’s review, are currently available at the following urls:
Original report:
Peterson’s Response:

 The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested. You can learn more about NEPC and sign up for publication updates by visiting To learn more about the Think Twice think tank review project, visit

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Washington State Supreme Court Rules Washington Charter Schools are Unconstitutional

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the charter school law in the state of Washington violated the state constitution.    After three earlier defeats at the voting booth, Washington voters, in a campaign that was heavily influenced by the backing of big money, narrowly voted for initiative 1240 in 2012, an initiative that created charter schools in the state.

 In a decision that came down yesterday, the High Court found that charter schools do not fall under the definition of common schools as defined in the state constitution.  "Because charter schools under I-1240 are run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization and thus are not subject to local voter control, they cannot qualify as 'common schools' within the meaning of Article IX" [of the state constitution], Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote on behalf of the majority. Indeed, the High Court stated, “Under the Act (I-1240), charter schools are devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operations.”

Because charter schools do not fall under the Washington State constitution’s definition of common schools, funds intended for the common schools cannot be diverted to charter schools.  I-1240 “relies on common school funds as its funding choice,” Madsen wrote.  “Without those funds, the Act cannot function as intended.” 

The High Court found that diverting public school funds to charter schools was a violation of the state constitution.

 Madsen made clear that the issue before the court was not about the “merits or demerits of charter schools,” but only if the voter-approved initiative was in compliance with the state constitution.

 Chief Justice Madsen was joined in the ruling by Justices Charles Johnson, Charles Wiggins, Mary Yu, Debra Stevens and Susan Owens.

 Appellants in the case were a coalition of groups including the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, El Centro de la Raza, and the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.

 Readers can read the full decision at:

 The decision follows another one that we reported on in the post below.  In that decision, the court had ruled that the Washington State legislature had failed to adequately fund public education in the state and imposed a $100000 daily sanction on the legislature. See our earlier post