Some charter schools are doing better than others. Some are succeeding at getting at-risk inner city kids into college. Others are failing miserably.
I'm not really sure why this was a front page story in the New York Times. We've known this for ages.
Of course, bad charter schools should be closed and we need to give more attention to the vast majority of American students who do not attend charter schools, but that doesn't mean that we should write off charter schools. Those successful charter schools are an incredible petri dish for education reform.
Thanks to the successful schools, we have solid evidence that schools can make a difference even with hard-core urban kids, when there are longer school hours and a strong commitment from family to support the school. That's huge. Some of the practices of charter schools could be scaled up and expanded to the public schools.
UPDATE: See Matt Yglesias.