Our guest author today is Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and an historian of education. In addition, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.. Her latest book is The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
In my recent article for the New York Review of Books about “Waiting for Superman," I praised the SEED Charter School in Washington, D.C. (one of the schools featured in the movie) for their high graduation and college acceptance rates. I also pointed out, however, that they spend about $35,000 per student, three times as much as normal schools spend. This fact was not mentioned in the movie.
Nor was the school’s incredibly high attrition rate. Take a quick look at the graph below (hat tip to Leigh Dingerson). They start out with about 150 students in seventh grade, but their enrollment slowly declines to around 30 in grade twelve. This level of attrition is alarming, and it makes any simple evaluation of SEED’s results impossible.