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Group of children standing in classroom
Charter schools shouldn't get to pick which of these kids deserve an education.
Powerful forces, from politicians to billionaire donors, are promoting charter schools aggressively, saying charters are the answer to the (alleged) crisis in American education. The problem is the results don't measure up, and instead of admitting that, charter proponents, many of them in very powerful positions, institute double standards or just close their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears when it comes to solid evidence of what's going on. Here are just a few recent stories demonstrating the double standard that benefits charter schools, even as they fail to measure up educationally:
  • New York City is planning to move a public high school for at-risk kids to a building without science labs, a gym, or daycare facilities for the children of students, in order to make room for an elementary-level charter school run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. Screw at-risk kids, apparently. Eva Moskowitz is politically connected.
  • In New York state, many charter schools are refusing to turn in teacher ratings as the state has asked. Even though the charter schools aren't being asked to turn in the same kind of evaluations as public school teachers are subject to, still, they have a million excuses about why this shouldn't apply to them at all. (Because they're special.)
  • A Chicago expo supposed to highlight exciting, great new schools put the double standard on display. Charter schools just aren't expected to meet the standards to which traditional public schools are held:
    But a WBEZ analysis of the more than 100 new schools featured at the expo this year shows 34 percent of them are rated Level 3 by the district, the lowest grade given. Schools receiving the designation include campuses run by some of the largest charter networks in the city, including UNO and the Chicago International Charter School. This is the first year the district has graded charters on the same scale as traditional schools.

    In recent years, the district has closed neighborhood schools rated Level 3, citing poor performance.

    But the person running the expo doesn't think such standards should apply to charters, because they're so good in ways not measured by tests. Except that her organization promotes those very standards when it comes to traditional public schools.
  • It's a good thing for charters they aren't being held to the same standards as traditional public schools, because yet another study, this one from Wisconsin's Forward Institute, finds they aren't measuring up:
    • It is clear from the results of this study that overall, charter schools are underperforming at the core level of their mission—student excellence and achievement.
    • The data clearly show that public schools are doing a better job offsetting the effects of poverty on education than their charter school counterparts. A concerted effort should be made to ascertain how and why this is the case, replicate that effort in charter schools, and reinforce those standards and methods.
  • One of the major criticisms of charter schools is that they exclude the most disadvantaged kids, leaving traditional public schools to educate kids who face more challenges and need more resources, and giving charters an advantage when schools are compared. Charter supporters often claim this isn't true, that their schools serve a similar proportion of special education students or homeless ones. But here's more on how charter schools under-enroll special education students.
  • Similarly, one of Diane Ravitch's readers rebuts a New York Daily News claim that charters in two New York City school districts are performing better than traditional public schools despite having equivalent student bodies. The reality?
    District 7 non-charter public schools
    Special education students: 27.7%
    Highest need special education students: 11.9%
    Economic need index: .93
    English Language Learners: 21.5%
    Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.83
    Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 52.4%
    Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 53.6%

    District 7 charter schools
    Special education students: 12%
    Highest need special education students: 2.3%
    Economic need index: .78
    English Language Learners: 12.6%
    Incoming student Math/English scores: 3.08
    Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 34.7%
    Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 31.5%

    Does that look equivalent to you? Traditional public schools in that district serve more than twice as many special education students. More than five times as many highest need special education students. Substantially more English Language Learners and students arriving already having scored in the bottom third of students citywide in both English and math. Can you see how maybe the traditional public schools in that district are facing more substantial challenges in getting students to do as well on tests? But if you read the New York Daily News, you'd believe that the charter schools face the same challenges and are just doing better, while the public schools are just that bad.

The fact that charter schools do not admit—and are allowed not to admit—some of the students who most need education and attention and help to get through school and be ready for productive adulthoods should, to my mind, disqualify charter schools from the praise they get. Big funders like Bill Gates and the Walton family and politicians from the 2010 class of Republican governors to President Barack Obama want to remake American education in the image of charter schools, but it's an image that excludes disabled kids and kids who don't arrive in school speaking fluent English. Charter advocates rarely admit that, but the numbers are clear. I get how this is appealing for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, but Obama?

Similarly, testing and testing-based teacher evaluations are thrust on traditional public schools, then when charters fail to measure up, the very people who've been promoting testing tell us that testing shouldn't be the be all and end all for charters, because they offer other benefits. And it's true! Testing as it's currently done in the U.S. is an unreliable, profit-driven enterprise that doesn't necessarily measure what we're told it measures. But applying a terrible standard to traditional public schools and not to charters is just an excuse to shift resources from one to the other.

There's a lot of profit in charter schools for some. And for others, tearing down the public good of education for all kids is a treasured political goal. But if you believe in education for all kids, with a minimum of corporate profit, it's past time to drop the double standard and stop insisting that anyone who calls attention to their multitude of failings is a blind supporter of the status quo or doesn't care about kids or doesn't care about education. It's past time to admit that charter schools are not performing as advertised.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Teachers Lounge, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Charter Schools are much cheaper to Operate... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gator, suesue, semioticjim, Sharon Wraight

    ..And that's why so many Dem mayors and governors have jumped on the bandwagon.

    Public schools are primarily financed via property taxes.  The value of residential property has dropped about 40%, yet property tax receipts have dropped by about 5%.  This means the average household is paying about 58% more in property taxes, on the same property.  Meanwhile, the median salary has stagnated or decreased.

    So, many Dem lawmakers have decided that they can't continue to increase the property tax rate on an already overtaxed working and middle-class.

    And that charter schools are the answer.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:03:18 PM PST

  •  Charter Schools (16+ / 0-)

    are the Bain Capital model of eduction.

    When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

    by keyscritter on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:03:20 PM PST

    •  why? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ipaman, angelajean

      why can't different methods of teaching compete for the public money?  why not let them take some of the kids who would otherwise go to a different school?

      some people like the choice of different methods of instruction.  I feel that direct instruction failed me so I wanted something like Montessori for my child.  he's doing great in that environment.  I'm not sure if that would be the case in direct instruction method of teaching.  

      I understand that some charter school companies are scams and deserve to be called Bain.  but really?  for Montessori schools?

      Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

      by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:03:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  fairness (10+ / 0-)

        The basic problem is one of fairness. Public schools are held up to unrealistic standards, and when they don't reach those standards, their money is taken away and handed off to private schools (including charters) that aren't judged by the same standards.
        As Laura's article shows, they refuse to be judged by the same standards. But if those standards shouldn't apply, then why use them to assess the publics?

        More importantly, my tax dollars shouldn't go to support a program that every kid in the district can't use. If the charters (and privates) accept every student who applies, and they agree not use public funds for the support of a religion, then they should be eligible to compete for those public funds.

        Those rules don't apply to your kid's Montessori school, or my kid's Waldorf school, or the Jewish School that I attended as a child. I know that those schools shouldn't siphon money away from the very necessary public schools around here. I pay my taxes happily (well, maybe not happily) knowing that I am supporting the public good.

        •  public montessori have to test (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Citizen

          my kid's school takes the same state tests as other public schools, and they do great every year.  granted it's an affluent area and I understand and sympathize with the the other arguments about unfairness of poor kids not being able to drive their kids to school etc....

          but IF and it's a big unrealistic IF I know... but IF money wasn't an issue one day, would you be against alternate methods of teaching being available to parents?

          Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

          by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:28:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  of course not (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RainyDay, bear83, chuckvw, murphthesurf

            That's why my son is in a Waldorf school.

            But it IS all about the money right now: money that is NOT going to public education; money that IS going to private corporations; money that is NOT going to teachers (in both charter and public schools); and so on.

            If infinite public money were available to support education, I would be happy to have parents choose to use it in any viable (non-religious) educational institution.

        •  It's a labor issue (13+ / 0-)

          There are two reasons that the charter movement is bankrolled largely by venture capital and private equity: 1.) Powerful interests want to crush teacher's unions and all unions, and 2.) Powerful interests see a tremendous revenue stream in privatizing public education. There's no reason you can't have different types of schools within a public school system -- my son's progressive public elementary school in NYC is a great example. The argument for charter schools is, in the end, this: Public schools are failing us because of teacher's unions, and if we could only liberate them from the unions and use market incentives to motivate teachers, our children would blossom. The reality is that where public schools are failing us (and you'll notice they're doing just fine in affluent suburbs all over), they're failing us because they're inadequately resourced to address the complex problems of poverty that their students carry to school with them. Either we need to address poverty in a systematic way or we need to give schools in non-rich districts much greater resources to help students (and their whole families) who need not just a little extra attention but things like housing, better nutrition, greater stability at home, etc.

          "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

          by Septic Tank on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:59:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very important points (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murphthesurf

            Besides squashing teachers' unions, it also squashes teachers' salaries.  Wage compression within the teaching profession will result/is resulting.  In the long run, this will cause even more gifted teachers to leave the profession.  

            The real motivator here is corporate profit.  It's about big business getting easier access to our tax dollars.  

            And I absolutely agree that poverty is at the heart of the matter, as well as economic segregation.  Failing schools will continue to fail if we don't address issues outside the classroom as well as inside the classroom.  

          •  Exactly! (0+ / 0-)

            Wish I could rec your post a thousand times.

      •  Montessori School option in Public Schools (6+ / 0-)

        There are public schools that offer Montessori as an option at least for kindergarten but they are few and far between.  I don't understand why the public schools have such an antipathy to Montessori.   We've found that it far surpasses the quality of most public school methods, especially when kids are placed in Montessori classrooms from 2 on.  Those kids fly and not just in terms of academics.

        Another topic altogether - Until the public schools also address the needs of very well prepared and very  high ability students, charter schools will have an audience. As it is,  many public schools are becoming schools for learning delayed and learning disabled students.  Parents of children with other needs find their children don't have advocates or adequate programs in public schools; especially in urban areas.  

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:35:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have a public Montessori school in Minneapolis. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tikkun

          It's Kindergarten through 8th grade. It was our second choice, but we got our first choice of public schools.

          The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

          by A Citizen on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:31:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The challenge for Montessori is that it is in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mtnlvr1946, tikkun

          direct opposition to a system where children are obligated to learn a rigid set of content and take a rigid set of tests based upon their year in school.

          Only gifted kids are going to do well when the curriculum doesn't line up with the test. And if they don't do well, the school goes into Program Improvement and The Man will come down and insist that the kids are taught the test-aligned curriculum... to the minute.

          So you can see the reluctance to take all the time to build a program that you'll likely have to tear down in 4 years.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:26:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The LD children were mainstreamed (0+ / 0-)

          Back in the 90's, to supposedly "normalize" them.

          It was right after that the right wingers started screaming about test scores, ignoring the fact that there were far more LD children in the public schools then.

          Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:59:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I personally have no problem with that as long (0+ / 0-)

        as we all recognize that the school populations are different, and don't use the charter school as a cudgel to beat the neighborhood school upside the head.

        I think it can be a good thing to have a range of educational experiences within a district or area - so long as no individual child has less because of it.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:22:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Too true!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    suesue, hyperstation

    We need to improve the public school system. Keep up the good work.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:04:26 PM PST

  •  Don't forget New Jersey (11+ / 0-)

    Where we get corrupt Democrats aligning with corrupt Republicans to create charters wherever parents let them. Urban, suburban, wherever! Communities don't want them? Tough, if a politician wants it, it's going to be pushed for.

    And we get nonsense like the CREDO report, which was touted as "charter schools do better than public schools" when, in fact, it showed nothing of the sort.

    Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. - John Dickinson ("1776")

    by banjolele on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:04:59 PM PST

  •  I Work in a Charter School (17+ / 0-)

    29 students.  All urban poor.  tiny classroom about 200 trade books.  No science materials except a textbook.  It is a very difficult situation.  I make 60% of what I made in public school.  I am worried I have two boys to  put through college and at 48 I worry about being cut loose.  I cannot get hired back into public education because I have too much experience.  They can't pay for the experience.

    I'm just here for the Mojo!

    by Gator on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:08:38 PM PST

  •  Why do we have charter schools (24+ / 0-)

    other than wanting to break the teacher union?  Whats wrong with enhancing our public schools and doing whatever is needed within them?

    •  To Make Profits Instead of Educated Citizens nt (14+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:29:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  See below -- to get rid of public education. nt (7+ / 0-)
    •  why? I think it's the money.... (7+ / 0-)

      In Texas, public schoold get 2 streams of income from the state.
      Only one of those streams can go to a charter (private) school by law.
      I think that charter schools are like private prisons, designed to rip publicly funded necessary services out from under government responsibility to fatten the pockets and ideology of private individuals.
      I can't prove it but there's something shady about the whole thing.
      About 20 years ago when I was working for a regional brokerage firm in Houston we went to visit a Kipps charter school.
      It was run like a boot camp. The children memorized some school pep cheer to impress us. I stayed behind in the room after it was over and asked a little girl what she was doing - she was putting newspapers in a bag and I asked her what that was for. She didn't know. Later I saw her in a line do a recycling demo throwing the bags of papers into a recycle bin. Too bad she didn't know what or why.
      Then I walked by myself to the back of the school and went into a classroom. The teacher was writing on the board and couldn't spell. She sounded like she didn't know what she was talking about and it was a most uninspiring display of pseudo "teaching". The son of Charles Hurwitz was the big cahuna there that day. What on earth was the son of the man whose S&L cost the taxpayers $1billion and who was then raping the old growth trees from the northwest?
      I was confused.
      I'd be glad to hear that I was wrong in what I observed, if someone can tell me why.
      I don't like charter schools from the little I know of them.
      I think they are trying to get at taxpayer dollars and destroy qualified teachers and replace them with know nothings whose salaries are substandard.
      But I don't have the evidence to really say this, just a hunch from what I've seen.

      Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

      by eve on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:45:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Breaking the unions (0+ / 0-)

      are a good first step.

      Second would be to reduce the administration to 20% of current size.

    •  Breaking the unions, and creating a permanent (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, tikkun, Eman, bear83, murphthesurf

      underclass of people who don't have the knowledge or critical thinking skills to rise up and challenge the oligarchs.
      They want to push their private agenda behind the curtain, away from taxpayer oversight.

      Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

      by Icicle68 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:58:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'm down with that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tikkun

      enhance from within, and let alternate methods of teaching within the same system happen.... I want teachers to make more, not less, but I like the choice of different teaching methods... the Achilles heel of the charter movement is teachers unions getting weakened as a result.  however teacher's unions need to be at the vanguard of these new methods and embrace them... or get left behind.

      Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

      by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:07:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  new methods? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eman, elfling, Mostel26, vacantlook, mtnlvr1946

        I think you'll find that teachers' in unionized districts are often at the forefront of those adopting new methods. Montessori, Waldorf, and other methods are not "new" though, so those aren't the methods you see being adopted.

        Right now most teachers are required by their states to adopt teaching methods that force-feed the standardized test answers to the students.
        The problem is not with the teachers (mostly), it's with the states who swallow the rubbish about the value of corporate standardized testing.

        •  glad to hear this (0+ / 0-)

          for public schools they're "new" methods.... I think Montessori in particular has earned a place at the table for any public school, with all the amenities (bussing etc).

          I can't help but to think teacher's unions advocate for what they know... I guess I've fallen prey to the stereotypes.... I hope they advocate for the other (not new) methods.... direct instruction is so boring.

          Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

          by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:50:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  remember (0+ / 0-)

            teachers' unions are made up of teachers. Every year they get invigorated with a slew of newly-minted teachers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Yes, teachers' unions advocate for what they know - but they know a lot of different things.

          •  Montessori and Waldorf are not aligned to the test (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, mtnlvr1946

            regime.

            This makes adoption of those techniques in a school system that lives and dies by its test scores impossible for any but the most gifted kids.

            I think they have value and can be very positive. I think it's awesome that all the 2nd graders in the local Waldorf charter school learn to knit. However, knitting is not on the bubble test.

            When I was a student, the tests were far more advisory and more flexible in general. To do well on the tests today, the kids don't just have to learn the material, they have to learn the right material at the right time.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:32:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  our montessori 3rd graders score off the charts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              can't speak for waldorf kids though.... our public charter school is school of excellence every year, meaning scoring in the top 90th percentile.

              Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

              by gnostradamus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:03:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But with all due respect (0+ / 0-)

                If your kids came into kindergarten not knowing their colors, I don't think you'd have the same results.

                (I am still appalled at how spartan an environment kids have to live in to get to 5 years old not knowing colors in any language.)

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:08:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  correct (0+ / 0-)

              And the problem here is the test regime, not the schools.

              When we can elect politicians who are willing to stand up to the neoliberal arbiters of high-stakes test standards, we will improve our children's education hugely.

              There's lots of good research out there that shows how high-stakes standardized testing is used and abused by school boards at all levels. One great book on the subject is Amanda Walker Johnson's Objectifying Measure's: The Dominance of High-Stakes Testing and the Politics of Schooling.

              You can find it here: Objectifying Measures

              •  Precisely (0+ / 0-)

                the real pressure is at the state and federal level, where they threaten to cut your funding and send in enforcers if one student too many doesn't get the cutoff score.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:06:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

                  very few politicians at the state and federal level run on platforms that include standardized test issues and school evaluation issues. Those are not seen as being important enough.
                  And, I have to admit, most voters probably don't vote on those issues either - unless you're in a community with schools that have been condemned to "Program Improvement."

              •  At the school board and district level (0+ / 0-)

                there's a very real tension there as districts try to do right by their students - all of them in every way - but also try to stay out of Program Improvement. Despite the name, Program Improvement is regarded by every educator I've come across as a death spiral of doom that will only damage your programs and your students further as the draconian requirements to drill the kids by rote become mandatory and take over your day. So staying out of Program Improvement becomes itself a goal that benefits the students, but in a way that is all twisted and wrong.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:14:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  In California we had lots of choice in the past. (0+ / 0-)

        Schools were encouraged to establish programs that used various methods of teaching and met the needs of each child. Those were eroded by funding cuts and the testing mentality. Waldorf is a fabulous system, but doesn't produce children who can spit out good test scores in the early grades. Language immersion, the best method to develop second or third language fluency, is gone because they kids don't schore welll enough in English in the early grades. Ungraded instruction, alternative methods, and others don't fit the new requirements. Teachers would love to be able to be flexible, but the testing meme does not allow that. Yes, charters can be creative because they don't have to meet the same standards as public schools. Some charters are terrific, but most are just a path for businesses to make money, break the unions, or follow someone's pet idea.

        Charters most often get the same funding as public schools. In addition, they have lots of help from foundations and public grants. We are paying for all of that by giving tax breaks to the foundations to donate the money, so charters ultimately receive more public money that other schools. They are allowed to be for-profit firms, and the stock owners make a nice profit. Too many scandals have revealed principals that make $1 million/year, shady procedures siphoning off funds to relatives of the management, poorly paid teachers, inadequate facilities, etc. On top of it all, the charters receive the funds for educating a child for a year, then don't have to pay them back if the kids are kicked out or the charter goes broke and kids have to go back to the public system.

        The solution would be for teachers to again be allowed to meet the needs of their kids, the parents to be engaged in developing and supporting quality programs, and public support for public institutions.

    •  I work in a charter high school. We are unionized (6+ / 0-)

      and are the first charter in NM to be a union school.  Our school is an Art school, and many of our students would do poorly in our regular high schools in our community.  We are a tenth their size.  Our school works because of the relationships we build with our students.  Yes, our math scores are low, but we are improving.  Our English test scores are above the state averages.  We have lots of ELL and a high sped population.  We also have a large openly gay student population.  Don't paint all charters with the same broad brush.  Some are really doing a good job for kids, kids who would drop out otherwise.  Our graduation rate is over 90 percent.

      Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

      by ipaman on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:25:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like a wonderful school (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chuckvw, murphthesurf

        I'm always glad to hear about schools that create a culture of inclusivity and achievement. Even if they are a charter!
        But the diarist doesn't paint all charters with the same brush. She speaks of trends that are threatening our proud tradition of public schooling. This is the big picture. It's scary--when the public neighborhood school goes away it doesn't come back very often.

  •  Gee considering the Metrics obsessed Corporate USA (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, suesue, mrkvica, sayitaintso

    Six Sigma crowd ya'd think they'd be proud to display their results.

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:12:48 PM PST

  •  Great diary, Laura. (6+ / 0-)

    Too bad it will likely get drowned in the latest news regarding the killing of innocent children, and those who sought to protect them. in CT.

    •  Press a Conservative for Data, They Give Theory nt (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suesue, Orinoco, Eric Blair, Egalitare

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:30:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are kind to call it 'Theory' (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, Eric Blair

        Theory, at least, attempts to explain actual data. What Conservatives call theory are generally suppositions supported by assumptions pulled from ideologies.

        Conservatives, aptly named, are playing a long con to get at tax money currently earmarked for teacher salaries. Their 'theories' are simply whatever verbiage they can come up with that sounds plausible and others can be persuaded to believe.

        If I weren't being kind, I'd say

        Press a Conservative for Data, and they try to blow smoke up your ass.
        But that's just me.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:09:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I knew a good educator who was brainwashed (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, JML9999, eve, suesue, mrkvica

    by the charter movement. I'd like to think she'll get her mind back someday, but there's a lot of money in promoting bad policies.

    The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

    by teacherjon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:16:41 PM PST

    •  do you think alternate methods should be allowed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suesue, tikkun, angelajean

      in public education?  why does it have to be mostly direct instruction... I know some Montessori methods are incorporated in kindergarten but after that, it seems to me that they just line them up for direct instruction like I had to endure.  why not make it more interesting like Montessori?

      Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

      by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:10:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, Alternate Methods Should Be Allowed (0+ / 0-)

        My grandchildren will stay in Montessori classrooms.  

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:40:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why are you conflating public education with... (4+ / 0-)

        direct instruction?

        I work for an online, for-profit, publicly-funded charter school.  Our instruction is:  

        1) read the textbook
        2) answer multiple choice questions

        In the traditional brick-and-mortar school where I worked before my job was downsized due lack of public support for education, the kids designed and ran a Renaissance Faire to teach younger kids how to weave and make butter.

        I don't know if the majority of schools that qualify as charter schools are education wastelands like mine, or progressive Montessori schools like yours, but it's important to recognize that by advocating for public funds to go to charter schools, you're not advocating "alternate methods."  You're advocating education profiteering.

        •  sorry to hear this (0+ / 0-)

          conservatives run amok sounds like.

          Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

          by gnostradamus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:01:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not all charters are for profit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Va1kyrie
          but it's important to recognize that by advocating for public funds to go to charter schools, you're not advocating "alternate methods."  You're advocating education profiteering.
          It's only advocating profiteering if the school is for profit like yours. I'm all for passing laws to outlaw those kinds of Charter schools.

          Last year one of our seniors, for her senior project, designed and built a hover craft. She gave her presentation out on the soccer field, then fired it up and drove it around the field. It was awesome.

          •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bsegel

            I intended to draw out that distinction.  Right now, the vocabulary about the variety of types of schools is deceptively unclear.  

            I suspect that this has been done purposefully by the same crowd that equates all government with socialism because the word socialism has a negative connotation.

            I think we have to be careful when we equate Charter with Choice because that messaging will allow the scoundrels to prevail.  

            I don't think we run the same risk with messaging charter schools as bad because locally people can communicate the positives for students face to face.  What we really need to do is clarify the terms.  

            Show of hands for the term "vampire school" to describe the profiteering group of schools?

      •  My son went through elementary & Jr. high (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, Ignacio Magaloni, Va1kyrie

        in a "magnet" Program called "the Curriculum and Assesment Lab program. or C & A in our public school district. It is set up actually to try different methods and approaches to learning and student evaluation to see which the district thought would be best implemented in other schools. They were in 2 year mixed grades with the same teacher those two years to re enforce community and responsibility to each others learning. It was a great program for him though it likely would not work for everyone. I might add that I'm thankful we've been stable enough that he never had to change schools due to moves etc...

  •  charge 'em with child abuse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rexxnyc

    They promise performance and don't deliver.  If it were a simple contract they'd be sued for non-performance, a "civil" matter.  But in this case the non-performance is damaging to children . . . that's child abuse, a criminal matter.

    All it would take is one gutsy DA and one conviction to put the fear in all of them.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:20:58 PM PST

  •  Home schooling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock

    lots of charter schools are homeschooling programs.

    I question whether such a program is appropriate for many children with disabilities. Can a parent provide the specialized instruction that such a child needs?

    Is it appropriate to home school a child with a social skills deficit, such as a child with Asperger's Disorder?

    Are children in regular education motivated in the home environment to learn? Some may be. I doubt that many children are.

    •  It Depends On the Intellectual Capital (0+ / 0-)

      and the creativity of the family.  One of the benefits of home schooling is the ability of the family to use the community as a learning laboratory.  We need for the public schools to incorporate the best from all teaching methods and settings

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:43:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why do we allow parents to raise kids in the first (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bsegel

      place?

      Should parents be there when kids are learning how to walk, how to talk, how to ask those first questions during the big Why, Why, Why of the late toddler stage?

      Why don't we just take all kids and put them in large schools from the beginning and allow professionals to raise them?

      Oh, that's right, because we as Americans believe that parents are the best people to raise their children! Then parents should also be the people to make the decision about attending school, whether it be traditional public, public charter, private, or homeschool. Parents know best. I don't want to see our government making choices for any parents. I do, however, want to see our government working with parents to provide the best possible options for all kids. For some, that includes being schooled at home.

  •  This reminds me of something Atrios posted... (7+ / 0-)

    It was a link to a story about a controversy in PA about how charter schools should be evaluated for AYP.  The controversy revolved around the gaming by the state of the differing standards between individual schools and districts, with the standards for districts being somewhat looser.  So the state decided to treat charters as districts of one school which allowed them to be appearing to perform on a par with standard public school districts.  

    But when considered as individual schools, instead of districts consisting of a single school, charters performed considerably worse, underperforming individual public schools by about 15%, with only about 15% making AYP.  The state courts ordered them to report both methods...

    No doubt there are some charters which do admirable work.  My guess is that they are mostly in rich suburban districts which are already doing an admirable job.  The sort of selective admission policies alluded to here just reinforce my belief that charters are really publicly financed private schools for the better off kids in any community.

    •  I mistyped... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Ignacio Magaloni

      only 37% of the schools made AYP.

    •  So High Quality Education Is To Be Avoided? (0+ / 0-)

      Do I detect some hostility to children who have the kinds of parents who prepare them well for school?  it's not just wealthy parents who choose the highest quality schools when they can get them.  Middle class parents do as well.  Public schools need to provide first class programs for children prepared to do first class work.  That will take the wind out of the sails of charter schools.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:47:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When the wind comes from excluding needy students, (0+ / 0-)

        and the government then blames public schools for lower performance--when it should have prepared for a higher concentration of weaker students---well, that's the government shirking their obligations to the public's education, plain and simple.

        There may be notable exceptions, but then they would only help support the diary's contentions.

        The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

        by Ignacio Magaloni on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:11:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you assume these things don't exist? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, tikkun

        I taught in a school that was graded as a very low C. Within that school was a marine science magnet. Amongst other activities, the kids built a remotely operated submarine and then took it to South Africa to go research shark population movements. Our district also had a top notch law magnet and an engineering magnet as well. They always located the magnets inside the campuses of underperforming schools. This gave some of the students in the school a chance to work hard and get into the program with prior grades that otherwise wouldn't have cut it.

        What the public schools don't have, is the money to finance a nice PR campaign to expose the truth about charters and about what public education can offer when properly funded and supported. So the charters get to set the narrative and leave people like you thinking that they have some magic ability to reach bright learners that the public schools don't have.

      •  This is an "undesirable, low quality" public (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murphthesurf

        school:

        http://humofthecity.com/...

        Our favorite tour by far in our busy pre-kindergarten tour season was Rosa Parks. It is not a school that had traditionally gotten any buzz in the San Francisco parent community. Middle-class families like ours tend to shun schools named after civil rights leaders, strongly preferring schools named after dead philanthropists or expensive tree-lined neighborhoods at nose-bleed elevations. I like to imagine SFUSD opening a new school named “The John D and Catherine T MacArthur Nob Hill Academy.” Even if it were in the Tenderloin, I’ll bet it would be hugely popular with parents.
        This school has a Japanese immersion program, a garden, chickens, max 20 students per class, a library, a jazz program, and takes regular field trips.
        There were 12 people on our tour of Rosa Parks. The parent representatives said they were thrilled with this turnout. We had toured another school with well over 100 other people, in which the parent leading the tour complained how few of us showed up.  He wasn’t joking.

        More than one person on our tour asked why there were so few of us and why, historically, no one had applied—the year prior to our enrollment Rosa Parks received fewer applicants than there were places available. The parents leading the tour sort of sighed and said that the combination of neighborhood and low test scores meant most people never even visited. We knew low test scores were explained by the high proportion of English language learners and SpEd students, so they didn’t bother us much. They had nothing to do with what our son would learn in a supportive environment.

        When I mentioned touring this school to other white and Asian-American parents we knew who’d actually heard of it, there were, on occasion, curled lips, and comments I would be embarrassed to repeat. Last year I overheard one of my co-workers complaining to all and sundry that the district had assigned her to a horrific Title I school, Rosa Parks, and she wouldn’t be caught dead sending her son there. When I asked her what she didn’t like about it, she admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that she’d never visited. I told her we were very happy there.
        There are a lot of gems out there that aren't obvious from lines in a database.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:21:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm Glad To Hear This. It's Encouraging (0+ / 0-)

          but it's not the norm and programs this adventurous should be frequently available in public schools rather than rare.  There are white and Asian people who love living in cities and understand that diversity does not of necessity mean low quality and can provide significant value.  What we expect is that well prepared students and bright students will receive as much time, attention, and appropriate program for their academic needs as students who are learning and/or emotionally delayed and/or disabled.

          Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

          by tikkun on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:17:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  In a way, it is surprising (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      that charter schools perform as poorly as they do.  Most education innovations or reforms initially appear to be successful because the people that implement them buy into them and devote a lot of effort toward making them work.  They often don't work when implemented generally, hence the overall deterioration in American education over the past 50 years.  Since there is a certain amount of buy in with charter schools, one would expect that there would be an apparent improvement in performance relative to comparable public schools, but this has not been the case.  All rigorous examinations of the data that I have seen suggest that they perform a little worse than public schools.

      I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

      by Eric Blair on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:18:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sing, sister! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    suesue

    Please repost next week when we have room to breathe after Newtown funerals.

  •  I would have put the last paragraph first (13+ / 0-)
    There's a lot of profit in charter schools for some. And for others, tearing down the public good of education for all kids is a treasured political goal.
    Charter schools are the same "privatization is better" crap that the corporatists try to sell about retirement and medical care.

    We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

    by NoMoJoe on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:32:57 PM PST

  •  I know parents of a 6-almost-7yo and the child. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, suesue, Orinoco, m00finsan, bear83

    They moved back to FL from the NE. The little girl started in the local public school and the parents entered a lottery to get her into a charter.
    They didn't win the lottery and the kid stayed in the PS. Then she was surprisingly accepted after all at the charter.
    I recently asked her how she liked the charter.
    "I hate it."
    "Why do you hate it?"
    "Because when one kid does something wrong, the whole class is punished."
    "That's mass retaliation!"
    "It is!" said the child, who is very bright and seemed to get the meaning very well.
    Right here, with this kind of bullshit, I would pull the child out and get her back into to PS. I want to hear grades and see if they're affected.

    I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
    NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
    Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:35:02 PM PST

    •  I wouldn't wait until the grades come out (3+ / 0-)

      Mass retaliation is a symptom of a teacher who has no control over the classroom. Teachers punish everyone because they have no idea, in a classroom full of restless, unengaged kids, who is responsible for the 'straw that broke the camel's back' bit of restlessness that was ostensibly 'punished.'

      The kids know very well it was Johnnie and Sam who were shooting spit wads across the room at each other, but all the teacher sees is thousands of spit wads littering the classroom. Even if the good kids finger Johnnie and Sam, those two are clever enough to muddy the waters by accusing a half dozen other likely suspects, a shouting match ensues and the class is ordered to write "I will be a good kid" five thousand times.

      The reason, though, that Johnnie and Sam are having their little spit wad war is because the lesson is boring. They aren't engaged, the kids paying attention to Johnnie and Sam aren't engaged, and the teacher is probably pretty oblivious to that, either due to inexperience, incompetence, a lousy curriculum or all the above.

      I suspect if you question your friend's kid more closely, you'll find she's doing drills and worksheets. Her grades, especially in first grade, are pretty much meaningless if all they measure is how well she can fill in worksheets.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:31:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Charter schools are simply a stealth method (14+ / 0-)

    ... to get rid of public funding of education altogether.

    Defund the actual public schools, divert funding to inadequate and ineffective charter schools and allow private corporations to skim off the profits.

    In short order anyone wanting their child to actually be educated will be forced to send them to full-fledged private schools -- the ultimate objective.

    Of course anyone not rich cannot afford private schools but of course these are the people the GOP doesn't give a shit about .

    •  that's just bullshit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ipaman, angelajean

      the other folks are right that charters take from teacher's unions, and that's wrong, but to say that all charter schools are ineffective is BS.  my kid's charter school is a "school of excellence" every year in NC... yes it's an affluent area and that makes a big difference of course but it's direct evidence to discredit your generalization.

      people should be for different methods and rally around teacher's unions.... and not let charters take money from the teachers.  I do agree on removing profiteering from the mix and removing those types of schools from receiving public money.  i'm all for Montessori method though and think it's best for the youngest kids to have more individualized paths to education and instruction from teachers in small groups.  

      Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

      by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:22:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  does your school accept (6+ / 0-)

        low income, ELL and special needs kids?  My local charter just somehow doesn't have the same demographics that my also mostly affluent community does.  Of course expecting a minimum $5,000 contribution per child does weed out a number of applicants.

        It is tearing my community apart. There are so many currently active law suits that I have lost count of them.  Their powerful attorney brags that the suits being brought are the leading edge of charter law in California.

         Some charter supporters have openly expressed a desire to bankrupt the school district, among other goals, in order to get rid of past retiree medical benefit obligations, benefits that haven't been available  to new hires for 20 plus years.

        •  It's more than just accepting poor kids (5+ / 0-)

          In NC, charters are not required to provide transportation or lunch, so guess who that excludes? Kids who don't have a parent to drive them to school and pick them up every day, and kids who need the free/reduced price lunch program.

          As long as poor kids can walk to the charter and scrape together lunch money, they are welcome... otherwise, they stick with the public schools while charters scrape the cream off the top of the public schools and - surprise - get glowing results.

          It's a very devious strategy - pull middle class families out of the public schools to charters, concentrate poor kids in the public schools, watch the scores for the public schools drop, and then point the finger at public schools / teachers and say 'look how bad they are' - all while making a profit.

          Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

          by bear83 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:56:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's devious? (0+ / 0-)

            for parents to wants something besides direct instruction for their kids?  make public schools Montessori for grade school and make it interesting for kids and you'll see much more confidence in public school systems by progressive parents.

            it's sad and pathetic that the conservatives, who are starving education funding, are able to pit people against each other, people who just want the best for their kids, by having the more pathetic charter schools imposed on the public.

            I am all for taking profit out of the mix and keeping teacher's pay secure.

            ANYONE can apply for my kid's public charter school but your argument about bussing is accurate.  why can't there be public Montessori schools WITH bussing and everyone be happy about it?

            Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

            by gnostradamus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:22:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  yes to low income and special needs kids (0+ / 0-)

          it's a public school, just Montessori, and runs on a lottery.  but no bussing, which I don't like.  it's too small (less than 500 kids) I guess to justify bussing.

          I would be outraged too if my kid's school had a 5K contribution requirement.  that's outrageous

          Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

          by gnostradamus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:25:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We are losing the Public Commons more every day (10+ / 0-)

    I really hate the idea that more and more of the institutions that should serve us all are being chopped up to politically-connected corporations. El-Hi education is just the latest chop.

    It matters to ME that the USA isn't developing a robust means of preparing all of our young people for fruitful, positive lives. Charters can often pick and choose students, dish special needs kids and 'troublemakers'. They bounced back into the public schools.

    If charters do well (occasionally they may do so) the benefits accrue to the corporation. The techniques and methods are not replicated throughout the system - where all can benefit.

    •  Your Last Sentence Is So Important (0+ / 0-)
      If charters do well (occasionally they may do so) the benefits accrue to the corporation. The techniques and methods are not replicated throughout the system - where all can benefit.
      Schools that incorporate the most successful alternatives to the standard issue classroom will take the wind out of the sails all but the most innovative charter schools.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:52:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're giving school choice too much credit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, johnkennick

        My state just tried an open enrollment law.  Very few families chose to move their kids to schools that are widely known to be more successful.  Most families either didn't know, didn't care, or didn't have the means to give their child a better opportunity.  

        Competition isn't a valid means for weeding out unsuccessful schools.  We've been playing the competition game at the university level for many years now.  That hasn't exactly made every college into MIT.

        •  Sort of on tangent here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Va1kyrie

          But I think even though open enrollment is not widely used, it's still very positive. It gives families and kids choices that they wouldn't otherwise have, and even if the choice isn't used, if it's not actively harmful, I support it.

          I remember a day when my daughter came home from school crying; she'd had a terrible interaction with another girl in her class. She was despondent; it was unfixable. At some point I said, "You know, if it's really that terrible, we can arrange for you to go to another school." (In my area, getting an interdistrict transfer is easy and common.)

          That totally changed her perspective and her fear. Because now, instead of being in a locked box with no escape, she saw that there were paths. She thought about what it would be like to go to a new school. She realized that being a new kid would be even harder than mending her relationship with the other girl. And she went back to school the next day, happy and cheerful.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:42:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think we can safely say... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling

            having a choice of school is good for individual families.  

            But having a choice of school is not a solution to systemic problems in education.  The invisible hand of the market just doesn't have enough pull when so many other factors are in play.  

    •  The irony is that in some states, charter schools (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murphyO

      are bringing back the public commons. That was our experience in N. CA. The community where we lived supported a wide variety of schools, both traditional public and public charter, and thrived for it. Schools were very engaged with the community and the community with the schools.

      I think this debate should be less about charters schools and more about successful schools. I do know that charter schools wouldn't exist in CA if the state regulations hadn't become next to impossible for progressive education models.

  •  I have a totally different experience with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eglantine, angelajean

    charter schools and homeschooling but I lived in California in a remote area.  I worked with two outstanding charter schools, one an elementary school that had more than double the test school results of the school down the road that had been a non-performing school for years. The charter school was under the supervision of that non-performing school district. Our grades 1-8 students went on to a charter high school that,again, outperformed its companion public school which was not a non-performing school. Our students' parents drove 100 miles round trip to get their students to that secondary level charter school.

    I now live in another remote rural area in another state although still on the west coast. Population 2000 people. Our district is shrinking due to unemployment and foreclosures. The only solution for having a school here at all may be to go charter eventually. But we turned down a charter plan we did not feel was appropriate. When we go charter, it will be with intelligent foresight. Our communities are deeply involved in support of our schools with programs long gone from other schools with experienced community volunteers offering arts, music, sports, gardening (our kids grow their own food for school lunches and have won prizes for their produce at county fair).

    I taught secondary and community college for over 40 years. Schools are what is asked of them and what interested and involved parents make them. And there are many successful homeschool programs - good grief, it sounds as though some of you still think about kids at home with an uneducated mother-teacher and no help to work homeschool programs! Most districts provide or recognize excellent programs even in rural areas. Volunteered for your local school Board lately - or assisted teachers in the classroom? Suggestion: get involved in a positive way. Leave the politics, whine and blame at home - give it your best.

    •  Glad you had a great experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suesue

      Although I'm an opponent of the charter movement, I'd never disparage the feeling of community and achievement that a school can provide.
      So many public schools-both rural and urban-are badly underfunded. Maybe yours were too? In any case, your high performing charter school doesn't disprove any of the diarist's points.

    •  I think often what people want out of charters (0+ / 0-)

      is just more local control, akin to a single school school district. And all of that can be done without union busting or the involvement of for-profit corporations.

      I am in a rural area and our school district is very small. If we were not our own district, our schools would have been closed and our kids absorbed into the neighboring city a half hour away. The school is the center of the community, and the community in turn is hugely supportive of the school. I think this kind of community building is underrated, and I think many districts (LAUSD cough!) are just too large to meet community needs.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:46:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Death of a neighborhood middle school (7+ / 0-)

    It's all true--I've lived it. Charters in my city played by their own rules. One in particular pushed a longstanding neighborhood school out and took over the building. All the while building a rep on the backs of the "cream" students they skimmed off the neighborhood's top. Yes, they worked to exclude language learners. Yes, they worked to exclude special needs students. And yes, they funneled misbehaving and underperforming students back into the neighborhood school that they were competing with. To top things off, they slagged the neighborhood school publicly on many occasions.  

    This is not second-hand information: I was in a position to witness every bit of it with my own eyes.

    Because the middle school that took over doesn't have the capacity of the orignal neighborhood school, most of the kids in the area, many of whom could walk to school, are now bussed out of the area.

  •  All liberals want to raise taxes! (5+ / 0-)

    All charter schools are bad!

    Watch it with the stereotypes, please. My children are charter school grads, and their alma mater is a dang good public school and my children are strong performers in high school (and soon in college). The competition from their K-8 charter induced the other public schools in our city to change how they teach math and other subjects, and our charter learned things from the public schools in the district. Education in all the public schools in our district is better, thanks to the presence of that charter school.

    Does that mean all charter schools are great? No. I shudder at how some people have abused the charter school laws to gain personal profit, and I'm sure some charter schools that have the best intentions fare poorly. I am equally confident that there are other good charter schools in this country.

    I'd like to know more about the range of charter schools. Which ones work well and why?

    Also, I am a supporter of unions, but we must recognize that the responsibility of teachers' unions is to the teachers, not to the students. There are times when the teachers unions do not act in the best interest of the students - it is not their purpose to do so. Does that mean we should destroy the unions? No. It does mean that we should not assume unionized schools inherently provide a better education than non-unionized schools, or vice-versa. The role of unions is to prevent abuse of employees by employers, it is not to ensure that students get the best education.  Parents need to advocate for their children and for a strong public education system - that is not what teachers' unions are for.

    •  I agree with the basic idea that not (0+ / 0-)

      everything is so black and white - and this site should reflect that better

      •  I don't see this diary and comments that way. (0+ / 0-)

        I've read the original diary and the comments through to this point, and I see reasoned discourse on both sides of the debate.  

        This is exactly what I would expect from this site.

    •  And your evidence for this statement (7+ / 0-)
      the responsibility of teachers' unions is to the teachers, not to the students
      is where?
      •  My experience with two teachers unions in CA (0+ / 0-)

        and a charter school would lead me to say a similar thing. And not in a 100% negative way. Teachers' unions were formed to make sure that teachers received fair wages and fair working hours. They weren't formed to make sure kids get a good education or that the local community school was a good fit for the community.

        Decisions made by our charter school board were often governed by the teacher's union and school district relationship, not by the teachers' union and school relationship. We couldn't give our teachers raises above the union standard because the union/district wouldn't allow it. We couldn't change the hours that the school ran because the hours existed in the union contract for the entire district. Often, the teachers at our school agreed with us and wanted to make these changes but couldn't. It can be hard working with teachers' unions when you are a small school. That doesn't mean we think teachers' unions shouldn't exist.

      •  Follow the money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Who pays union dues? Teachers or parents?

        It's not bad that teachers' unions are responsible to their members - that's how it should be.

        Parents need to be aware of the role of unions - that's all.

        I heard a talk by Ted Lempert. He made that point about teachers unions and he pointed out that there is no cohesive voice in Sacaramento (my state's capital) representing students. Parents should not assume that unions do that - they don't. Often the interests of teachers' unions and students align, but not always.

        •  If you want it to be a group representing students (0+ / 0-)

          It should be made up of students, IE, actual kids. Parents have differing agendas as well.

          My experience is that teachers provide important advocacy for kids that no one else does. Is it the full picture? No; they don't know what the kids think, always; they don't see into the afterschool and home life situations always. All people bring insight to the table.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:27:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      The Charter school I work for introduced a new concept in teaching independent study, we have a hybrid program that mixes traditional IS with college style classes for subject like Math that are hard to learn independently.

      Our program has been so successful that the local school district shut down their old IS program and modeled a new program, on each high school, after ours. They made some changes and did a few things differently than we do and that's great. It gives students even more options.

      As for teacher unions, as you've stated:

      the responsibility of teachers' unions is to the teachers
      and I would add that unions as a whole are in place to protect the workers. But what if the workers don't need protecting? Not everyone starts a business with the intent of sticking it to their workers. We don't have a union at my Charter school, but we don't need it. The director has an annual meeting where he puts the budget up on screen and goes over the entire thing with us so we know where the money is going. When he started the school he set it up so that there are always two teachers on the school board, each can serve two terms then another teacher takes that place. We know what's going on at the Admin level most of the time.
    •  although you are right (5+ / 0-)

      in saying that unions exist to protect the workers, I think that if you actually look at the work done by teachers' unions (instead of the right-wing propaganda) you'll see that most of them work hard to improve the situation and education of the students their members teach.
      The stereotype of the lazy, incompetent, unionized, public school teacher is one that has been pushed hard for generations by those who want to tear down the public education system. As you point out, we should not buy into the stereotype.

    •  WRONG (6+ / 0-)
      I am a supporter of unions, but we must recognize that the responsibility of teachers' unions is to the teachers, not to the students.  Parents need to advocate for their children and for a strong public education system - that is not what teachers' unions are for.
      Besides the fact that you contradict yourself, you're just wrong. Teacher's unions absolutely advocate for students.  What they do not advocate for are administrations.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:59:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Teachers unions exist to advocate for their members - the teachers. Luckily, the interests of teachers and students often align. If unions exist to advocate for students, why is it so difficult to fire a long-term teacher who everyone recognizes is ineffective?  

        Don't tell my all the ways that the unlimited power to fire teachers can be abused. I know them. I'm only saying that if teachers unions' allegiance was to students, not teachers, then it would be much easier to fire a teacher who is recognized by all to be not teaching effectively.

        The reason it is hard to fire teachers is that unions are protecting their members. I think that is good and I generally favor unions (my wife is a union member and has benefited from their representation). However, unions do not put students interests before teachers' interests.

  •  what about other methods of teaching? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, tikkun, angelajean

    some parents just don't like the typical direct instruction method of teaching, especially for grade school age children, and prefer that their kids have more hands-on method of learning, like Montessori method.  I grew up in public schools and they failed me on the whole; I had wealthy enough parents who let me fix my high school blunders in a smaller private school.  I think public high schools can just be too large for some kids, too underfunded, too boring to sit through direct instruction classes.  I do realize that many affluent districts are incorporating some of the newer methods.....

    So my question is:  if the great scourge of the world, the conservatives and their hate of government were marginalized and REAL money was made available for education, would people against charter schools be ok with public Montessori schools and give other successful teaching methods a chance?  really if the different methods are public funded, what's the problem (especially if bussing and the other services were provided at the public "charter schools")?  

    I have never voted republican and I support fully funded public education but it seems to me that competition in methods is good for public education: let the best method take over the less effective method.

    Stop Prohibition, Start Harm Reduction

    by gnostradamus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:58:47 PM PST

  •  The only reason I can see for having Charter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, m00finsan, elfling

    Schools is to fulfill some specialized offering, say a school that specializes in mathematics, pulling in the highest performers, or a school for performing arts, music, etc.  Of course one would have to weight the whole district as they will be pulling some of the best of the best in their area.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:58:54 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    suesue, elfling

    this topic was beginning of my blogging life back on hispanicvista....
    http://www.hispanicvista.com/...
    But then I thought yikes I can't say those things and be the Pres's wife.
    So I came here.'
    heh heh heh

  •  It's all about union-busting (teachers in this (6+ / 0-)

    case). If there is one thing that neither Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Florida Gov. Rick Scott or Obama are enthusiastic about, it’s teachers unions.

  •  The charter schools likely do even worst than (7+ / 0-)

    we know about.  Here is a link to a scholoarly article by

    Ellen Dannin, Fannie Weiss Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law, Penn State Dickinson.

    She quotes some research on pages 524 through 526:

    (snip)

    A May 2010 Policy Matters Ohio study of another charter company,
    Imagine Schools, Inc., found: “All 10 Imagine schools open in Ohio during the
    2008-09  school  year  missed  adequate  yearly  progress  goals,  required  under federal
    education law.   Furthermore, none of the for-profit’s Ohio schools has been designated above
    Academic Watch (the equivalent of a ‘D’) since the 2005-
    06 school year.… [F]ive of the six rated Imagine schools received an ‘F’ for the
    2008-09 school year, while the sixth got a ‘D.’115
    According to the Ohio Education Association and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,
    in  the  2009-10 school year, there were 321 charter schools in Ohio for a total enrolment of more
    than 90,000 students.  The charter schools received $680 million in state aid.   For the year
    ending in 2009, 56 percent of for-profit charter schools were classified in the lowest performance
    tier—academic emergency or academic watch.  Sixty-five percent of White Hat charter schools were in
    academic emergency or academic watch.  The figures for “all public schools” are far superior.   Of
    all public schools, 60.5 percent met annual yearly performance requirements.   If charter schools,
    which are public schools, were excluded from public school figures, public school performance would
    be even higher.116
    The January 2012 report of the National Education Policy Center found:

    •   Of the schools managed by for-profit EMOs [Education Management Organizations] that have AYP
    [Adequate Yearly Progress] data, 48.2% made AYP and 51.8% did not.
    •     Small EMOs had a higher proportion of schools making AYP (62.5%) than did either medium-sized
    EMOs (58.1%), or large EMOs (43.1%).  All of these passing rates have decreased since 2009-2010.
    •     While only 27.4% of the virtual schools operated by for-profit EMOs met AYP,
    51.8% of the brick-and-mortar schools met AYP.  The 46 district schools managed by EMOs had
    slightly lower performance ratings (40.5% met AYP) relative to the charter schools operated by EMOs
    (51.4% met AYP).117

    The disparity in quality is even worse than those figures show.  Only 15.6 percent of Ohio
    for-profit charter schools met report-card standards.  White Hat met only 11.7 percent of
    standards, and its Life Skills Centers met only 7.1
    met only 11.7 percent of standards, and its Life Skills Centers met only 7.1
    graduation rate of 90.1 percent.   The graduation rate for Ohio’s largest urban
    districts is 70.1 percent.   For charter schools, the graduation rate falls to 26.4 percent.”118  
    These abysmal charter school results are achieved, despite spending far more per student than in
    traditional public schools.   “Traditional public districts annually expend $11,371 per graduating
    student.  That amount increases to $18,977 for Ohio’s big eight urban districts.  For charter
    schools, the cost per graduate is $29,175.  For charter schools designated as dropout prevention
    and recovery, the cost soars to $46,383.  Dropout prevention charter schools located in the state’s
    eight largest urban areas expend $69,397 per graduate.”119    A Pro Publica report found: “Of the
    51 schools White Hat managed in 2010, only one met  a  key  standard  established  by  the  No  
    Child  Left  Behind  law—called
    ‘Adequate Yearly Progress.’   According to the report, that is by far the worst performance of any
    large for-profit management company.”120
    In short, while the Education Enterprise Zone Act 1995 and other proposed ALEC legislation
    discussed in this section would support education enterprises, the data do not show that those
    bills would meet goals such as improving education quality or ensuring that taxpayers’ dollars
    would be spent efficiently or
    wisely.
    (Snip)

    Essentially, it boils down to charter and for profit charter schools suck up public education funding, and there are weak standards and little or no accountability.  The linked article (29 page pdf) is a very well documented study that shows how pervasively ALEC is involved in the move to privatize education in America.  It's something to think about.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:04:54 PM PST

  •  I love ya, Laura, but (5+ / 0-)

    my child went to an astounding charter school.  We were so thrilled with his education there.  And he had an IEP.  He was a special needs kid.

    There has been almost no turn-over in teaching staff.  Their documentation of student progress is unparalleled in the district.  They consistently get "exceptional" ratings in district assesments.  We still donate to this school even though our son has been gone from there for 5 years.

    There are exceptions to the "Charter schools are terrible!" chant.

    I understand your point in this diary, but there are charter schools that kick major ass.  My kid went to one.  (And how he ended up in a charter school is an interesting story.  Totally the fault of the school district.  Totally.)

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:06:26 PM PST

    •  the plural of anecdote is not data (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Citizen, mrkvica, bear83, m00finsan, Mostel26

      I'm sure that Laura would be the first to agree that there are some good charter schools out there, that does not undermine her argument one bit.

      Here are some questions for you:
      (1) Does your charter school accept all students who apply?

      (2) Does your charter school offer the same range of subject matter as the local public school(s)?

      (3) Does the existence of this charter school cut significantly into the budgets of local public schools, thus making it even harder for them to give their students equally good educations?

      (4) If (a long shot) those three questions are answered yes, yes, and no, then do you believe that the existence of one exemplary charter school invalidates all of the research cited in Laura's article?

      •  Yes, yes, no in our case (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bsegel, CJB, elfling

        I could hear the relief when I told the principal at our wonderful community school my kid was going to a charter school because they do not have the space. Our community school is highly sought after because of its high test scores. States differ in terms of how well they regulate charter schools. As I said below, the techer's union even sponsors them in MN. You can look at the states and charter schools that do a good job serving students and advocate for these policies. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Lots of kids do not do well in traditional schools and need other public school options. Some kids have unique talents. Some families want language immersion. Some kids need a refuge from big schools. All charter schools in Mn select by lottery and must comply with state testing. Yes some probably do underperform, but so do some community schools. Education is not a one size fits all prospect.  I am so grateful I had many, many choices about where to send my daughter.

      •  Check my post below (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CJB

        These questions are all addressed by state laws.

        I really feel the discussion we should be having here on DKos isn't that Charter schools are all evil (with a few exceptions) but that state laws need to be strengthened.

        Let's look at the states who have figured out how to make Charter schools work, through regulations and build on that. Let's make those states a model for other states to emulate.

      •  Yes, yes, no and (0+ / 0-)

        your last question is unnecessarily confrontational.  

        Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

        by CJB on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:39:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  no it's not (0+ / 0-)

          the existence of a good charter school does not negate any aspect of the bigger picture.

          •  Sweet Spot posted a ridiculous straw man. (0+ / 0-)

            You perpetuate that straw man.  

            I am done here.

            Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

            by CJB on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:03:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What "straw man?" (0+ / 0-)

              I don't think you know what that term actually means.

              Sweet Spot asks four questions. That is all.

            •  How so? (0+ / 0-)

              Research is done using multiple sources of information. The fact that some people can smoke all their lives and live to be 100 doesn't mean that smoking is safe, or that it doesn't contribute to causing lung cancer.
              The same is true of experiences with charter schools.

              I can give anecdotes too.
              For example, I can point out that because (the parents of) a few children from my local elementary school chose to attend a  charter school, the local elementary school lost the equivalent in funding of a full teacher's salary and benefits. Since that school had only one class per grade, it put the school in a very precarious position in regard to all the rest of the students there.

              Or I can tell you about the three districts nearby that are contemplating bankruptcy because some (parents of) kids in those districts' schools chose to attend charter schools.

              I'm sure I can find examples of individuals who had great experiences in charter schools near hear, but each of those great experiences came at a great cost to the students who are in the public schools. Is this really what we want to do? If so, then we're doing the republicans' job for them.

  •  I love my daughter's Charter school (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, tikkun, CJB, catadromous

    It was the highest quality public school I could find after visiting 10 schools. Two adults In every class with 24 kids.  The fantastic local community schhol is bursting at the seams. All MN charter schools use a lottery to select students. Charter schools here in the Twin Cities have everything from a social justice focus (http://www.southsidefamilyschool.org/) to Chinese Immersion, German Immersion, Montesori, performing arts, Art, and Classical education.  One of the best performing schools in the state is a charter school geared toward inner city kids (http://www.hiawathaacademies.org/).  The teacher's union even sponsors them. They are here to stay but need to be well-regulated.

  •  Laura, the problem is state laws (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ipaman, angelajean

    or lack there of, not the Charter schools themselves.

    In this piece you have talked about how Charters are run in certain states and written in a way that implies it is like this across the whole country.

    One of the major criticisms of charter schools is that they exclude the most disadvantaged kids, leaving traditional public schools to educate kids who face more challenges and need more resources, and giving charters an advantage when schools are compared. Charter supporters often claim this isn't true, that their schools serve a similar proportion of special education students or homeless ones. But here's more on how charter schools under-enroll special education students.
    Those Charter supporters are correct, but again, it depends on the state. You will notice that your linked article talks about Charter schools in certain states. California isn't mentioned. We have very strict laws concerning Charter schools here in California. As strict as they are, we still need to tighten them up some more, but all Charters are required to take all students, including ones with disabilities.

    I teach at a Charter school here in California, we are actually our own district. We have two high schools, a K-8 elementary school along with a digital school that is currently 6 - 9, but going to add 10th next year. We are too small to justify hiring full time special ed teachers so to service our disabled students needs we contract with the local school district to provide those services. My daughter, who is in 6th grade, has Cerebral Palsy. All the services she needs are taken care of.

    The fact that charter schools do not admit—and are allowed not to admit—some of the students who most need education and attention and help to get through school and be ready for productive adulthoods should, to my mind, disqualify charter schools from the praise they get.
    I agree. But as I've said, it's a problem in some states, not all states.
    It's a good thing for charters they aren't being held to the same standards as traditional public schools, because yet another study, this one from Wisconsin's Forward Institute, finds they aren't measuring up:
    Again, here in California we are held to the exact same standard as all the other public schools.
    ...but it's an image that excludes disabled kids and kids who don't arrive in school speaking fluent English.
    I'm in the San Diego area, so we do have students with limited English proficiency. We also have a program for students from China, they come here to do a year of high school, usually their senior year. We have a whole support system for them, ESL classes etc...

    Like I said, we aren't perfect here in California, there is still room for improvement. For example we tried to pass a law not allowing for-profit Charters into the state, that make it. We don't have the for-profit Charter problems that other states have quite yet, there are only a few in the state. I'm hoping with our new super majority in both state houses we'll be able to revisit that legislation. There is no room for that type of educational model anywhere. Unforgettably those are often the types of Charters people are exposed to and they make the rest of us look real bad.

    But I really think that if our efforts were used to improve Charter law across the country we'd have more success than just trying to repeat talking points that Charters are evil no matter what, when that just isn't the case.  

    •  Even in California (0+ / 0-)

      the charter populations are and can be quite different. The fact that charter schools require an application and parent transportation already means that all the kids who apply have families who care about and think about education.

      And check out this story about Pacific Collegiate Charter school's fundraising, where they sent home letters requesting a $3000 donation per student:

      http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/...

      I think there can be a place for non-profit charters, but we need to understand what they are and what they aren't.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:00:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        All schools in California require some type of application to enter the school. So I'm not sure what you mean by that. Our enrollment procedure to this school is just like the other schools in this area. We do have a lotto for our traditional class room programs because there is a much higher demand than we have seats. But if you have a high school aged kid that needs or wants to come to our Individualize Learning Program they can enroll today.

        The transportation argument always cracks me up, I see it here all the time. There is no transportation for schools in this part of Southern California, none. With the exception for the disabled, we contract with the district to provide that transpiration when we have students that need it.

        Funding is an issue, not sure if you are aware of it or not but a law was passed years ago to defend all Charter schools in California by a third. Our ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funding for each student is 2/3rds what the regular public schools get. So when times get real lean like they have been since 2008 we do ask for donations as well. Parents who have the financial resource help, those who can't help don't and that's fine.

        •  The enrollment for the neighborhood school (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bsegel

          is a much lower bar than the enrollment at a different school, even if there is room. The parent has to know it exists and has to make the effort.

          There are parents out there who have a shockingly low bar for what they can or will do for their kids.

          A big fundraiser for our Title 1 elementary school is $2000. For the whole school.

          This is the LAO report on charter vs. regular school funding for 2012. The difference is far smaller than 2/3 typically. Perhaps you are comparing to a Basic Aid district?

          http://www.lao.ca.gov/...

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:19:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Back to the ghetto with you poor kids! (3+ / 0-)

    So NYC wants to move its at-risk school out of the Louis Brandeis High campus on West 84th St. to a badly-equipped building in Washington Heights.  For those who don't know NYC, West 84th St. is the wealthy part of the upper west side.  It was a middle-class neighborhood decades ago but nowadays you practically need to be a vampire squid to get in.  Ethnically, it's the center of normative (non-Hasidic) Jewish New York.  Hence Brandeis High.

    Washington Heights is poor, predominantly Dominican, just north of Harlem.  So the kids with real problems are shipped up town. while space at Brandeis (big old HS buildings are now typically occupied by multiple smaller "schools" in the NYC model) goes to Moskowitz' business, which will no doubt appeal more to the upper middle class families who live nearby, can't swing private schools, but don't want their little ones to have to deal with the hoi polloi or unionized teachers.

  •  Above all, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, DSPS owl

    this demonstrates how closely teachers' salaries are tied to their performance and, accordingly, to student achievement and happiness, since the salary deficit between underperforming charter schools and their public and private "competitors" seems to be linked to performance, ethic and achievement, because, although there are good teachers—inspiring, intelligent and effective ones—they are in relatively short supply.

    If teachers were to be paid more, it is reasonable to assume that more motivated and intelligent people would enter the profession and that the average or under-performing teachers who are currently in the profession would perform better when given more exemplary models and standards of comparison. A higher expected salary would create a larger pool of willing and qualified educators and would ensure that, over time, education would become a more alluring profession to bright college students who ignore it for more profitable careers in engineering, business or medicine, to name some. The brightest among us should be the educators; it only makes sense. Higher pay would bring that to fruition by establishing education as a comparable profession to a scholar, lawyer or architect.

    Incidentally, more money should be spent on education overall—in addition to faculty salaries—like on facilities improvement, instructional resources and technology, extra-curricular options. And teachers should be both better educated in their subject area and be better equipped to communicate and educate, perhaps in more diversified ways, and they should be trained and encouraged to adapt and innovate general methods to suit their own classrooms.

    •  Ummm, no. (0+ / 0-)

      If you made teaching into a field that people chose to do for the money, you'd get a lot more teachers that are in it for the money, naturally.

      I know plenty of teachers, myself included, who have opportunities in more profitable fields.  For some reason, we're a bunch of folks who work for rewards other than cash.

      btw, thanks for advocating for higher pay!

  •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

    This guy used to be my downstairs neighbor, just getting off his "Teach for America" high.

    I never bought his crap.

    I am gay, and I'm getting married in the Episcopal Church, just like my great-grandmother did.

    by commonmass on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:00:47 PM PST

  •  Arne Duncan (5+ / 0-)

    Just speculating here, but it seems like a lot of the problems that "Obama" has with not supporting progressive education causes can be attributed to him simply listening to Duncan as an adviser.

    Would be nice if we could get a Secretary of Education who actually had a degree in education.

    And wasn't an asshat.

  •  Please to note, as ever, there are exceptions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, elfling, angelajean

    The (non-profit) Charter school my kids went to back in California was exceptional. They had twice the enrollment of special needs kids as the surrounding public schools and the county. The average income of the parents was lower than the surrounding communities, although just slightly below average for the county. We had 59 cents of state funding for every dollar the public schools had. We had to raise six figure supplements through constant annual giving drives, fundraisers, and every trick you could imagine. Families gave hundreds of dollars and an average of 100 hours of service per family per year of volunteer time. We were in a dilapidated old building the local school district charged us above-market rent for. The parents did all the cleaning, repairs, school grounds work, and most of the classroom aide work. Despite the fact the school did virtually no test preparation or teaching to the still-state-required standardized tests, by fifth grade the kids were well above most schools in the county and state (they started out behind because the curriculum, surprise, chose not to bother with trying to score high on standardized tests of seven year olds.) More to the point we had happy, well-rounded, prepared, socially-aware and responsible eighth graders graduating. The teachers, school staff, and parents collaborated on governance, curriculum, and planning. The only reason the school got a charter was because the county system allowed it, after the highly bureaucratic local school districts rejected it.

    I hate to see "charters" slagged as a unit. There are many, many problems with seeing charters as panaceas and not as supplements to a strong public education system.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:43:24 PM PST

  •  Laura, where did you get that pic? (0+ / 0-)

    I think I recognize two kids from that photo.  If I'm right, that photo is more than 10 years old.  I may be wrong and my memory may be playing tricks, but I don't think so.

    "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

    by Glinda on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:53:04 PM PST

  •  The charters may not be performing (0+ / 0-)

    As advertised, but they are performing as designed. It's about segregation, and getting taxpayers to pay for it.

    Oh, and not just along racial lines, but in practice it tends to be that way.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:55:12 PM PST

  •  charters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Azazello

    i do business with several in phila, pa.  its about profits. the directors are living in multi-mil homes,

  •  As a person who teacher in a charter...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere

    I think there are some rules that should be in place to create an appropriate charter system in this nation:

    1) Charters must admit students based on open seats without any other screening allowed.

    2) Charter staffing must follow all qualification rules that the regular public school must follow.

    3) Charters must receive funding equal to the sending districts per pupil cost for each student.

    4) All charters must plan and pay for transportation of all enrolled students.

    5) All charters must open with the same union representation, pay scale, and work rules of the local school district.

    6) Any charter wishing to operate an extended school day and/or school year must create additional staffing and payment for those positions and allow existing staff to apply for those positions first while hiring outside staff after that.

    7) Any child with an IEP requiring an "outplacement" would remain the financial responsibility of the sending district until they have been enrolled in the charter for two full calendar years.

    8) Charters must follow all public school curriculum rules and never be permitted to have religious and/or political curriculum.

    9) No for-profit charters. Ever.

    10) Charters must follow all state mandated testing requirements.

    •  See this is the type of discussion we need to have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      It's going through ideas to make the system work better instead of just being against Charters all together.

      I'm sure you came up with your list based on what its like to teach at a Charter in your state, seeing where things need to improve etc...

       I agree with number 3, I wish the Calif legislature would revisit the law that cut our funding by a third. I'd be nice to get the same funding as everyone else does.

      I disagree with number 4 though, we have no school transportation in this area of Calif, except for the disabled. So asking Charters to do something that all the regular schools don't do would be a huge financial burden that we couldn't take on, specially with 2/3rds the funding.

      I also disagree with number 5. As I've stated already in this thread, unions are not always needed. I'm not against unions, I was a union member for 16 years before coming to work for a Charter, but we don't need to be unionized here. The director goes over the budget with us every year and there are two teachers on the school board so we are aware of what is happening at that level as well. Here in Ca we do have the right to unionize if we decide to, so if the admin changes down the road and we need the protection that a union brings, we'll go down that path then.

      •  4 flows from 3 and a comment on #5 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bsegel

        I agree that #4 can't be on that list if there isn't money. A full (i.e. non 2/3rds) level of funding allows for the charter to actually run bus routes that make sense for the students. As is in PA, the sending districts are in charge of the buses and often send students from charters on very long bus rides.

        I cannot disagree with you more on your opposition to #5 because your school's governance structure is the exception and not the rule. A carryover of collectively bargained terms and conditions of work from the charting district is the only protection a new staff has from potential arbitrary and capricious actions from admin / management, nonsensical extensions of teacher work hours / work days, unreasonable workloads, and inherently threatening at-will employment status. Also, it would be easy for a group of teachers at a new charter to collectively bargain for a contract that reflects your school's current structure. It is significantly harder for non-unionized charter teacher to form a union in the face of the criminal behavior that most charter operators exhibit when staff organizes.

        I am very lucky that the administration at my charter by and large operates in an above board manner, but I’m not so lucky to have a guarantee that our current governance style will last in perpetuity.  A collectively bargained contract is the best guarantor a worker has.

        I do agree with your key point about making the system work better. The true shame is that Shanker's vision of charters has been perverted by anti-labor corporate types who push charters as a cost-cutting vehicle.

  •  Charter Expansion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello

    There will be a protest in front of the Chicago Board of Education on Tuesday. Join with fed-up parents, teachers, students and community members from across Chicago at 125 S. Clark, in front of CPS, from 4-6pm for a brief march and action. One of the big issues is charter expansion.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:04:49 AM PST

  •  The problem is not really charter schools... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, angelajean, elfling

    ...but private corporate controlled schools. Charters could be public institutions working within a public school system with the same pay and benefit scales for teachers. They could have the same access to resources as other schools, but would not be favored as they are now in places like Chicago.

    There were early charter proponents who advocated for this, saying that they could be used to test both old and new educational ideas that were not currently part of the public school system.

    Parents would be carefully informed about all school options and the charter programs that were successfully could then be applied to other schools in the system.

    It was an idea with some promise that was hijacked by Corporate America and used as a weapon against public education rather than a means of improving it.

    I've been in discussions with Chicago Teacher Union activists who oppose charter expansion as they are presently constituted, but welcome the idea of unionizing the existing charter schools and bringing them back into the public system complete with local school councils that have real power in Chicago's traditional schools. Right now parents are largely shut out of a real say in Chicago's charters.

    This would mean wresting the control of the public schools away from an unelected Chicago School Board dominated by the major banks and corporations. In short, we have a helluva a fight.

    Right now the move to destroy public education is mostly centered in those communities of color that are grappling with multiple problems related to poverty and racism.

    But do you really think it will stop there? Corporate America is busy attacking all of our public institutions and the middle class suburbs will not be exempt.

    These are the people who gave us  for-profit "healthcare", Deep Water Horizon, the deadly Walmart supply chain and global warming denialism among other outrages.

    Do you want them running our schools? No thank you.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:41:38 AM PST

  •  Austin's first community led school (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, elfling, catadromous

    Tonight the Austin ISD Board will vote to approve the city's first community led school. This is a grassroots led project, not a charter run by an outside private group. It is a collaborative proposal developed by the neighborhood, the school itself, employee union Education Austin, and local nonprofit Austin Interfaith. It would still be the same students and same staff on the same campus: However, rather than taking edicts from AISD central administration, the campus would have a governing board with parents, teachers, and a seat each for Education Austin and Austin Interfaith.

    link

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:11:15 AM PST

  •  the other side (0+ / 0-)
    One of the major criticisms of charter schools is that they exclude the most disadvantaged kids, leaving traditional public schools to educate kids who face more challenges and need more resources, and giving charters an advantage when schools are compared.
    At my charter virtual school, anyone is accepted, as long as space is available.
    Charter supporters often claim this isn't true, that their schools serve a similar proportion of special education students or homeless ones.

    But here's more on how charter schools under-enroll special education students.
    Similarly, one of Diane Ravitch's readers rebuts a New York Daily News claim that charters in two New York City school districts are performing better than traditional public schools despite having equivalent student bodies. The reality?
    District 7 non-charter public schools
    Special education students: 27.7%
    Highest need special education students: 11.9%
    Economic need index: .93
    English Language Learners: 21.5%
    Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.83
    Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 52.4%
    Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 53.6%
    District 7 charter schools
    Special education students: 12%
    Highest need special education students: 2.3%
    Economic need index: .78
    English Language Learners: 12.6%
    Incoming student Math/English scores: 3.08
    Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 34.7%
    Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 31.5%

    My child has a disability, and had an individualized education plan (IEP) at her public school.  She is at the charter virtual school, because it solves problems for her and serves her needs better.  Because it is such a good fit for her disability, SHE IS NOT IDENTIFIED AS SPECIAL NEEDS IN HER CHARTER SCHOOL.    I have met many parents who say the same thing.  They took their special needs child, such as fibromyalgia and ADHD, out of public school, because virtual school works so much better that we don't even have to have an IEP in this school.   The downside is people like you, who are criticizing the school, claiming there are no special needs kids there, because we are not counted.
    Traditional public schools in that district serve more than twice as many special education students. More than five times as many highest need special education students. Substantially more English Language Learners and students arriving already having scored in the bottom third of students citywide in both English and math. Can you see how maybe the traditional public schools in that

    In my area, there are charter schools specifically designed for bringing high school dropouts back into school.  That sounds like "high needs" to me.

    FINAL WORD:   I'm going to say it again.   No individual school is required to provide exactly the same services as others.  The DISTRICT....   The D-I-S-T-R-I-C-T ... is required serve all students.  In my district, we have one school that serves needs of the severely disabled.  We have one school that serves pregnant and at risk teens.  We have a virtual charter school for kids who are best served by online learning.    We have a Suzuki Strings program in one kindergarten, but not all.  Kids can transfer in if they want it.  

    I love our district.  I'm going to miss our superintendent, who is retiring soon.  He is a tight money manager, and actually turned off his office lights to save money.  We didn't have mass teacher layoffs like districts around us.  Our district contributes to charters, because they serve specific needs, it makes sense, and saves money.

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