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Tina Trujillo: (510) 642-6272,
Teri Battaglieri: (517) 203-2940,

Review: Center for American Progress Report Biased, Ignores Facts

Report cherry-picks evidence to promote charter school agenda, new review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 13, 2011) — A Center for American Progress (CAP) report that advocates for turning struggling public schools into charter schools is biased and ignores extensive contrary evidence, according to a new academic review released today.

The report, Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around the Nation's Dropout Factories, was written by Melissa Lazarín, CAP's associate director of education policy. Lazarín's report was thoroughly reviewed by Dr. Tina Trujillo, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, for the Think Twice think tank review project.

The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Charting New Territory argues that charter school operators should have a more prominent role in "fixing" America's consistently low-performing high schools. The report based this recommendation on the experiences of the Los Angeles and Philadelphia school districts. However, Lazarín overlooks preliminary research on Philadelphia's charter "turnarounds," which showed an increase in the number of uncertified, inexperienced teachers.

Lazarín's report calls for expanding Charter Management Organization autonomy over all aspects of school operation. The recommendations include weakening union contracts, ensuring financial support for turnaround schools, relaxing regulations on these schools, and cultivating greater public support for such arrangements.

However, the report's recommendations and findings were based mainly on conversations with charter school operators, district administrators, education "reform" consultants and charter school advocates lacking previous turnaround experience, according to Trujillo's review. Trujillo also found that the report also drew heavily on a variety of non-scientific sources such as blog posts, charter operators' marketing materials, and ideologically oriented think tank publications, thus making it a dangerous guide for policymakers looking to turn around struggling schools.

Furthermore, the "reforms" suggested in Lazarín's report would do nothing more than turn our nation's neediest schools into "laboratories for educational experiments, notwithstanding existing evidence that the experiments will not succeed," according to Trujillo.

Trujillo's review and a link to Lazarín's report are available at

The Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:


The mission of the Great Lakes Center is to improve public education for all students in the Great Lakes region through the support and dissemination of high quality, academically sound research on education policy and practices.

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