Michael Q. McShane

Mark Twain is credited with the saying, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

For years now, critics (and even some supporters) have known for sure that charter schools had harsher discipline policies than traditional public schools and suspended or expelled students at much higher rates. According to new research from Nat Malkus of the American Enterprise Institute, that just ain’t so.

Malkus used data on school suspension rates collected by the federal government to compare charter schools to the traditional public schools that surround them. As Malkin's graphic (above) shows, in most cases, there is no substantial difference in the rate of suspensions between traditional public schools and charter schools. In fact, while 17 percent of charter schools do see rates higher than neighboring public schools, 29 percent see rates that are significantly lower.

It’s time we put to bed the idea that charter schools are draconian institutions where the joy of learning is taken from students and where harsh punishment is meted out for the most minor of infractions. The data do not back that story up.

About the Author

Michael McShane
Senior Fellow of Education Policy

Mike McShane is Senior Fellow of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.