Monday, October 17, 2011

Charter Schools; First in a Series - What They Are

 I plan to cover:
  • what they are
  • history 
  • the landscape today
  • pros and cons
I do not intend for each piece to be an exhaustive and comprehensive white paper - I'm trying to give the broad picture of the issue.  If you have additional info or links, please add them in the comments section.   If I got something wrong, let me know via e-mail and I will check it and correct it if necessary.  

Charters - What They Are

Charter schools are K-12 schools that are public schools receiving state education dollars (although they can, like regular public schools, accept private donations).    The difference between regular and charter schools is that charters are do not have to follow all rules and regulations that apply to regular public schools.  In exchange for this freedom, the charter law in their state asks for some type of accountability measures and outcomes as set by the school’s charter.    However, they do have to meet the educational standards of the state or district in which they are located. 

Charter law dictates what governmental entity they are accountable to and who authorizes their charter.    Charters usually have a “sponsor” which is generally a local school board, state education agency, university or other entity.  

Depending on charter law, a charter school can be opened by anyone,  an individual or a non-profit/ for-profit organization.  They cannot charge tuition.  They do have to take state tests although they are usually exempt from other testing (like district testing).    The general length of time for a charter varies but is usually between 3-5 years. 

Their enrollment is open to all (although I have not been able to ascertain if you must live in the city they are situated in to apply - I think this is the case).   If the school is oversubscribed, then a lottery is held. 

Charters tend to be smaller schools, usually less than 200-300 students and exist largely in urban areas.   Charters tend to be more racially diverse than regular public schools and to enroll slightly fewer special needs/ELL students than the average school in their area.  They are overwhelmingly non-unionized (but the trend seems to be going towards some kind of unionization). 

Where do they get their money?   From WikipediA:

In many states, charter schools are funded by transferring per-pupil state aid from the school district where the charter school student resides. Charters are, on average, receiving less money per-pupil than the corresponding public schools in their areas. Though the average figure is controversial because some charter schools do not enroll an equal number of students that require significant special education or student support services. Additionally, some charters are not required to provide transportation, and nutrition services.

Charter schools receive about 22 percent less in per-pupil public funding than the district schools that surround them, a difference of about $1,800. The report suggests that the primary driver of the district-charter funding gap is charter schools’ lack of access to local and capital funding.

Meaning, charters are not able to access local levy funding, either for operations or capital use.  The issue of facilities is quite large for charters as they must pay for facilities as well as the educational needs of the students they serve.   There has been a move in several states to try to allow charters to access to local funding. 

Just to be clear, there is one pot of state education money and districts receive their share based on their enrollment.   Money follows the student.   If the student leaves a regular public school, the state money follows him/her to the charter school.    

141 comments:

Catherine said...

May I suggest one more section: What are the differences between Charter and Alternative schools?

emeraldkity said...

A perspective that might be helpful could be - history of alternative schools in Seattle & how can the community support/expand them?

Paul said...

One important difference between Charters and Alternatives is that in every proposed version of Charters in Washington State, staff are prohibited from being part of the union which represents workers (teachers, aides, custodians, lunchroom staff, etc.) in the District overall.

This curious distinction has always made their true intent clear. Its never been about kids.

It has always been about weakening employees into a more servile class.

anonymous said...

A big difference between charters and alternatives is that alternatives are run by the district, and subject to district Policy. In other words they must use the district curriculum (EDM, Discovering, Readers/writers workshop). They must administer district standardized tests, like MAP. Their start and end times are determined by the district. They have to hire SPS teachers and follow SPS tier I, II, and III hiring policy. The district can appoint any principal they want to run the school whether that principal buys into the alternative philosophy of the school or not. And so on.

daf

Anonymous said...

I found this article by 2 researchers Sean Corcoran and Chirstiana Stoddard from NYU and Montana State University.

http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/OP175.pdf

The researchers looked at the demand for school choice and provide a history of the charter movement in WA. A couple of things they noted in the past, support for charters were strongest in suburbs and medium size towns/citites, in lower income neighborhoods with poorer performing schools. It is here, where there are more cries for school options. They found the strongest predictor for support was political partisanship. Areas with a Republican base tend to support charter, and areas that tend to support school levies, have high teacher union memberships, and higher number of qualified teachers tend to be against charters.

According to this article, while nationally charters traditionally exempt its employees from collective bargaining, it doesn't mean they prohibit it. They go on to say IN WASHINGTON, on page 9

"Teachers in charter schools would have been required to participate in collective bargaining in these cases. In 2000, charter schools would constitute independent bargaining units; in 2004, charters would exist as independent bargaining units for five years, with the option of joining the district’s local union in the future (conversion schools remained part of the district union)."

The article is quite dense, so you may want to take a look at it yourself. It is attached with The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE). According to their website, NCSPE "provides independent, non-partisan information on and analysis of privatization in education." So I take all this with a grain of salt.

I am just starting to educate myself on this topic too.

Seattle mom

emeraldkity said...

The district can appoint any principal they want to run the school whether that principal buys into the alternative philosophy of the school or not.

Good point.

I was Parent chair @ Summit when we were appointed an interim principal who was not interested in alternative schools but in getting hired into the district & was quick to gut programs which the community had supported for decades

anonymous said...

It is true that some charters don't take their share of children with disabilities, but many do, and some even specialize in working with kids with disabilities.

UCP of Central Florida (a charter) is doing great work serving students with disabilities, and they are pioneering a magnificent inclusion model.

http://www.ucpcfl.org/

daf

Anonymous said...

Why do you quote Wikipedia? Is that a reliable source?

-wondering

PublicForAll said...

Money follows the student. If the student leaves a regular public school, the state money follows him/her to the charter school.

This is a very important point. It is very tempting for parents who are in private school or are considering private school to vote for charters because charters gives them thousands of dollars per child per year for their private school.

This is why the low participation rate in Seattle Public Schools is such a problem. Only about 70% of Seattle children attend public school compared to the norm of 80-90% for major US cities. A low participation rate decreases voter support for public schools and increases the likelihood of charters passing. And, if charters pass, the only people who will be left in public schools are those who can't get out.

The district should have an explicit goal of increasing the percentage of Seattle children using our public schools. It should look at why people leave Seattle Public Schools and work to attract families back to our public schools. It is an indictment of our public schools that so many parents opt out of them, and it is something the district should work to change.

emeraldkity said...

Just to be clear, there is one pot of state education money and districts receive their share based on their enrollment. Money follows the student. If the student leaves a regular public school, the state money follows him/her to the charter school.

I need " funding for dummies".
Students with IEPs have three pots of money ( or so I have understood it) money from the state, federal money & money that each student receives through the district- I assume if they attended a charter school those three pots of money would go with them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I looked at the sources that Wikipedia used and I found them decent.

Emerald Kity, I'd have to go and research this but yes, I would think the fed money would follow the student but if a charter doesn't have a Special Ed teacher/program, then I don't know what would happen to the money.

As I said, the district gets its money (mostly) from the state and local levies/bonds. Charters are not eligible for local dollars and so only receive state dollars. I'll double-check but this came up several times in different places so I believe it to be correct.

suep. said...

daf, the research doesn't support your claim that "many" charters take children with disabilities. In fact, that has been one of the most persistent and ongoing criticisms of charters: they do not tend to serve kids with special needs well or at all.

(See: http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/)

Also, Melissa, I also disagree with your statement that charters tend to be "more racially diverse" than traditional public schools. In fact, another main criticism of charters is that they are resegregating our schools because they serve/target primarily low-income children of color. The KIPP, Inc., Green Dot, Inc. and other most prevalent franchises do not tend to sell their model of education to white or Asian-American families. This in turn leads to some troubling questions, such as the underlying philosophy behind the punitive, regimented, test-focused nature of the KIPP, Inc. charter model, and why such a castor oil recipe of education is only doled out to poor kids of color.

I would argue that the truest diversity can be found in our best public schools -- diversity of income, race, culture and ability.

Diverse: differing from one another; composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities. -- Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Charlie Mas said...

I have been asked my position on Charters, so I will tell. I am neither for nor against them as a class. Each one is its own case.

However, here in Seattle, Charters are like Teach for America in that they may be useful and beneficial elsewhere, but we don't need them here.

There is nothing that a charter school can do that an alternative school cannot do - with the possible exception of hiring non-certificated teachers or non-union teachers. I don't see either of those to be particularly virtuous goals.

The SEA has shown, time and time again, that they are willing to negotiate exceptions to the standard working agreement for specific schools. They have negotiated longer school days at some schools (Hawthorne, West Seattle, STEM, Aki Kurose, etc.), additional duties at some schools (NOVA, Flight schools, and others), and even more principal and community authority over teacher hiring decisions (SIG schools, alternative schools).

The District has expressed a willingness to allow alternative schools to use materials other than the Board-adopted materials. Students and families have always been free to opt out of any testing.

I think it is absolutely critical that people realize that the obstructions to the sort of freedoms that Charters supposedly enjoy are created by the bureaucrats in the district headquarters, not by the teachers' union. I don't know how in the world the teachers became the boogeyman in this comic book version of the controversy, but they are not standing in the way of reform nearly as much as district staff.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..your statement that charters tend to be "more racially diverse" than traditional public schools."

This is not my statement; this is what research shows.

I will expand more on Charlie's thoughts when I get to pros and cons but I agree; the SEA has shown itself willing to work with the district.

I believe the writing is on the wall for unions and that there is a reasonable belief that we can have the innovation that parents want WITHOUT charters.

I am developing this idea but have already mentioned it to Dr. Enfield and Noel Treat.

Why just an innovation school? Why not an innovation district?

I am just teasing out how this would work but I believe that we can do this.

Jan said...

PublicForAll said: The district should have an explicit goal of increasing the percentage of Seattle children using our public schools. It should look at why people leave Seattle Public Schools and work to attract families back to our public schools.

Boy -- do I agree. I have never been able to understand this District's treatment of students lost to private schools. They don't know. They don't care. It's a "see ya; don't let the door hit you on the way out" attitude. They never ask where the student is going (public school, cross district transfer, etc.) whether the change has anything to do with dissatisfaction with public schools and, if so, what -- class size, bad teachers, bad principals/administration, uncertainty as to school availability, course offerings, peer issues -- really, who knows? And how little it would take to send a questionnaire or survey, or follow up with a phone call to find out!

But that is not an issue for just this board/administration. As far as I know, the District has not cared for at least the last 30 years. I can sort of understand it right now -- when schools are bursting at the seams and each new student comes with a "capital cost overhang" of providing a new or remodeled/reopened building, or a portable -- but they were equally uncaring in the lean years, when each student lost carried a cost overhang associated with closing/consolidating schools.

Melissa/Charlie -- does either of you know what (historically, philosophically, etc.) might be the cause of this total lack of concern?

Jan said...

But Charlie -- my assumption has always been that the decision (Charters or not) will, unlike TfA (which is a District by District decision) be a state decision. And once it is allowed by the state, I guess I had assumed no specific District could refuse to process requests (though I suppose boards, based on their views of charters, could "process" requests more or less liberally). Is that correct?

emeraldkity said...

I was trying to find the position of the Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators - on charter schools ( they sponsored a parent summit at Cleveland in Aug) but I can't find a webpage & the Washington ABSE isn't updated.

any ideas?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The "we don't care" question is a vexing one. The district's public position was "that's how it's always been" which, of course, wasn't true in the '60s. Frankly, I think the district was worried it could handle more than 80% of the city's kids and now it's at their door. Plus they let the buildings run down so it's even more difficult.

I knew parents in marketing who were willing to volunteer their services to help the district and the answer was thanks but no thanks.

"..no specific District could refuse to process requests" - for ALL questions, the devil is in the details.

I will go into this in the "Landscape Today" portion of the series but there are states that have charter law but few charters. I think that whoever is the sponsoring entity can make choices. I do not think most districts have to take any and all charters.

CarolineSF said...

Good afternoon, Seattle. I'm in California, where we have been dealing with the major problems that charters bring to our school system for many, many years now.

Melissa is incorrect -- in fact, the polar opposite is true. Charter schools are notoriously far more segregated than public schools -- it's a problem that even charter advocates own up to, because it's too extreme to ignore or deny.

Charter schools tend to exist in two strands -- those that are designed to serve low-income children of color, in which case they tend to be all-black or all-Latino -- and elite charters that exist largely to cloister the children of the privileged away from their less-fortunate peers, which as you can imagine tend to be mostly white.

Here's one article about a study showing that charter schools are segregated and the growth of charter schools is increasing school segregation. To me an important point is that this article came from the L.A. Times, which is very, very, very avidly pro-charter. So if THEY own up to it, it's too extreme to be disputed or ignored.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/04/local/la-me-charters5-2010feb05

Melissa, you also seem to be misinformed about the question of whether school districts are able to reject charter schools at will. They are not. Many school districts have charters forced upon them against their will, after their local elected Board of Education has determined that the charter proposal is unsound for any reason.

Here's a rough outline of how it works: First, district BOEs are allowed to reject a charter proposal only for very limited reasons. If a district BOE rejects a charter proposal, the charter (that is, the would-be charter operator making the proposal) may appeal to the county BOE and then to the state BOE, if it so chooses. Here in California, our state BOE was stacked with charter-sector insiders (not just supporters) by former Gov. Schwarzenegger, so they never met a charter proposal they didn't like, no matter how fly-by-night or unworkable. Current Gov. Brown has remade the SBOE to be more evenhanded.

A would-be charter operator whose proposal is rejected by a local BOE may also initiate legal action against the district over whether the rejection was proper. One of the myriad problems caused by charters here in California and around the nation is the vast quantity of resources -- financial, human etc. -- that school districts have to spend dealing with the legal and logistical disputes and entanglements they bring with them. Those vast resources come directly out of the needs of our children and classrooms, needless to say.

Melissa (and possibly others) appear getting information from an inaccurate and dishonest source. Please do not trust any further information coming from that source -- you're being deceived and misled.

Good luck, Washington, in your battle against the charter plague. (Or to paraphrase an old line, Take our charters, please!)

CarolineSF said...

Here's a separate, earlier study also showing that charter schools are more segregated than public schools, this one from the University of Minnesota.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/25/charter_schools_study/

Also, so you can hear both sides: In 2005, a local education columnist asked me to participate in a pro-con written dialogue about charter schools. Both I and the parent making the pro-charter argument are parent volunteers and wrote this two-part piece as an unpaid volunteer project. That was more than six years ago, and the more I learn, the more I realize about what a poor "solution" charter schools are.

Part 1:

http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=573

Part 2:

http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=680

CarolineSF said...

Did my previous post vanish? I swear it was there for a minute. I provided links and more information setting the record straight on two points.

1. Charters are far more segregated than public schools; something even charter advocates admit.
2. School districts are very limited in their ability to reject charter proposals they believe are unsound, and many, many charters are forced into school districts against the will of the Board of Ed.

CarolineSF said...

My first post did vanish. Here's the link it included, to a report about a UCLA study showing that charter schools are far more segregated than public schools, and the increasing proliferation of charter schools is increasing school segregation overall.

This is a problem that's even discussed by charter advocates, because it's too extreme and obvious to ignore or deny.


http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/04/local/la-me-charters5-2010feb05

Anonymous said...

The 2 researchers, Corcoran and Stoddard, in their 2009 article: "Local Demand for School Choice:Evidence from the Washington Charter School Referenda," looked at what factors support Charter.

Factors that predict support for Charter:

1. District with little school choices often combined with poorer academic achievment.
2. In districts with higher private school enrollment is positively related to support for charter.

Factors that predict less support for charter
1. Districts that spent more per student from local levies tend to not support charter

2. Districts with older more experienced teachers and good supportive services did not support charter.

It is something to consider since the last vote on Charter was in 2004. Now in SSD, we have moved away from school choices to NSAP. We also have increased enrollment and capacity issues that will limit options (such as set aside) even more.

As to funding issues of charters. The researchers noted that district school fundings come from levies mainly. The funds from local levies are used to finance operations cost, capital projects, and transportaton and much of the funds are raised from property taxes. As Melissa noted, usually charters don't get funding from local levies (unless the laws are written to allow for that).

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...

I really was opposed to charters and I voted against them a few times!

I heard this on NPR and I realized that some folks really do think that Charters are the only way out of failing schools.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/too-important-to-fail/

seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Caroline SF,

Segregation is a tricky issue because presently with SSD's NSAP policy, some will argue we have essentially gone back to re-segregating our schools by moving away from school choices and not offering set aside seats.

I don't know where I stand on charters, mainly because I don't know enough. But sometimes SSD's policies and the direction it takes does not help to make the argument against charters.

Seattle mom

CarolineSF said...

One more post before turning my attention back to California.

The following quotes are from the March 2008 book
"Keeping the Promise? The debate over charter schools," published by Rethinking Schools in collaboration with the Center for Community Change.

The book is a collection of essays. These quotes are from the introduction, written by education researcher/commentators Leigh Dingerson, Barbara Miner, Bob Peterson and Stephanie Walters.

"The charter school movement has roots in a progressive agenda that, as educator Joe Nathan wrote in Rethinking Schools in 1996, viewed charters as “an important opportunity for educators to fulfill their dreams, to empower the powerless, and to help encourage a bureaucratic system to be more responsive and effective.

"...Unfortunately, the charter concept also appealed to conservatives wedded to a free-market, privatization agenda. And it is they who, over the past decade, have taken advantage of the conservative domination of national politics to seize the upper hand in the charter school movement.

"… Virtually all segments of the charter school movement have targeted urban areas. Some hope to counteract inequity, spur innovation and better meet the needs of marginalized students. Others, taking advantage of the frustration that inevitably follows when districts are allowed to deteriorate, seek fame and fortune. … [T]here are those who view charters as a way to get rid of public schools altogether.

"The elixir of an individualized bailout from a struggling system has serious side effects ... It can create a painful wedge in many communities, especially among African-Americans. It can weaken the political will for a collective solution to the problems in public education; and it can promote the deterioration of traditional schools. As highly motivated and engaged families pull their children from traditional public schools, urban districts have fewer resources – both financial and human – to address their many problems. The worse the schools get, the more appealing the escape to charters and private schools, all of which feeds into the conservative dream of replacing public education with a free-market system of everyone for themselves, the common good be damned."

"...the charter school concept, as a movement, has been hijacked by individuals, groups, and corporations who are guided by free-market principles, often with a hostility to unions, and who do not necessarily embrace core values of equity, access, public purpose, and public ownership."

Charter schools “too often … prefer, in practice if not in rhetoric, to educate “the deserving poor.” There is far less inclination to serve students whose parents are absent or uninvolved, or who have severe physical or emotional educational needs, or who have run afoul of the juvenile justice system, or who don’t speak English as their first language. Perhaps the most glaring example involves students with special education needs. Such students are increasingly overrepresented in traditional public schools.

"… Overall, studies have shown that charter schools perform either worse or just as well as comparable public schools.

"… Even if it is shown that certain bureaucratic rules, union requirements, or state and federal mandates stifle innovation and suffocate higher achievement, shouldn’t they be thrown out or modified for all schools, not just charters?"

[In reference to the fact that some charter schools require teachers to work crushingly long hours and experience high teacher turnover:]

“Reforms are bound to fail if they rely on the voluntarism of idealistic, overworked teachers who burn out and leave the school once they decide to have a family or want any semblance of a meaningful personal life.”

Also recommended: the blog Charter School Scandals:
http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com

anonymous said...

"In fact, another main criticism of charters is that they are resegregating our schools because they serve/target primarily low-income children of color. The KIPP, Inc., Green Dot, Inc."

SupP, I'm all for a charter debate, but you often make statements like this - without fact. Kipp and Green dot are but one type of charter. And yes they do serve predominantly low income, minority children. But there are many many different types of charters as there are private schools out there. There are Magnet charters, pre law charters, pre med. charters, there are stem charters, schools of the performing arts, home grown community schools, Waldorf inspired charters, charters that serve the disabled, and super high performing college prep academy charters. There are as many types of charters out there as there are private schools, and then some. Please stop using only KIPP and Green Dot as your examples. It is misleading.

And Melissa thanks for keeping your post as factual as possible.

daf

Anonymous said...

daf - Taken in context of her larger comment, suep's statement seems reasonable, given my impressions of charters and how the overall charter "industry" has grown over the last decade. I don't need research to back up a statement that Kipp and Greendot, at least, are big and getting bigger, nor do I need research to back up the obvious: That the nationwide growth of charters is in "inner cities," or "urban" areas. These areas are largely minority, ergo ipso facto, charter growth is targeted towards minorities.

We don't see charter schools on Bainbridge Island or Mercer Island...We see them in the ghettoes. CarolineSF posted some links to research that backs that up. If you have evidence that most charter schools are diverse, and not mainly minorities and/or low income, please share it.

I know that there was controversy in a New Jersey suburb when charters tried to land there; here's an article about that: Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs NY Times

Seattle Citizen

Anonymous said...

So what do you offer kids who live in poor neighborhoods instead? It is not enough to say charter schools "are not ethnically diverse or full of low income minorities," because what kind of schools did you think these kids attended before? Personally, I am very careful when people use the "poor" and "disenfranchised ethnic minorities" to make a point, because well, I just worry it is being used to make a point and then what is left for you when you are poor and disenfranchised?

If you want to get rid of charter schools, you need to offer some alternatives. For urban school districts in Philly, Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, DC, Baltimore, etc., things weren't working out for myriad of reasons for 30 years. You can argue that these "large edu-for profits or non-profits" came in under the guise of helping the poor, but what were the other alternatives? Where these schools and kids supposed to remain swept away as an "educational failure"? I think there was a vaccum, and it got filled and maybe it's not what some want, but others who lived in these communities did.

Maybe charters aren't the answer, but from somewhere with all our billions spent, think tanks and universities and brilliant educators, why can't we get there?

Seattle mom

Sahila said...

its quite simple really... like the rest of our society - the plutarchy we live in - education is broken... its now nothing more than the last cash cow the top 1% are doing their damnedest to get their hands on (and they've almost succeeded), churning out workers and consumers who will never have any real power...

I dont know why its so hard for people to get what's going on in education - its a microcosm of what's going in the macro all around us and its as plain as the nose on your face IF you are paying attention... you want this for your kids? Go ahead and do nothing...

Buckminster Fuller said "You never change something by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Time for an #OccupyPublicEducation movement...

And yes, the Occupiers (all around the world) do have a plan for making change happen, building a new system...

see here for the American version: http://www.businessinsider.com/occupy-wall-street-has-plans-for-a-coordinated-national-gathering-2011-10

anonymous said...

"We don't see charter schools on Bainbridge Island or Mercer Island...We see them in the ghettoes."

The above is absolutely and completely false. While Green Dot and Kipp type charters do target low income minority neighborhoods, there are many many other charters located in thriving middle and upper middle class communities.

daf

Sahila said...

@DAF.... yes, and there you have segregation made legal because the kids in those affluent neighbourhoods dont get the narrow curriculum and teaching to the test crap, the drilling around the school building...

Another link in this exercise of usurping/controlling/milking public education is the Common Core Standards all of our children will be inflicted with...

See here for who and what is driving them: http://www.dailycensored.com/2011/10/18/the-crocodile-in-the-common-core-standards/

maureen said...

CarolineSF, quoted: "The charter school movement has roots in a progressive agenda that, as educator Joe Nathan wrote in Rethinking Schools in 1996, viewed charters as “an important opportunity for educators to fulfill their dreams, to empower the powerless, and to help encourage a bureaucratic system to be more responsive and effective.

A friend of mine is a teacher in a Portland Public School. She pulled her kid from her own school and sent her to The Emerson School which is a charter whose mission and curriculum make it sound exactly like TOPS was before the District started standardizing curriculum and practices District wide.

anonymous said...

"@DAF.... yes, and there you have segregation made legal because the kids in those affluent neighbourhoods "

Oh, I see, charters segregate legally just like the NSAP

daf

Sahila said...

@DAF... kids in all SPS schools now get narrowed curriculum and teaching to the test... thanks to "alignment" and MAP testing ...

anonymous said...

Sahila - SPS's use of that narrowed, aligned curriculum and MAP testing is exactly why some think charters might be a welcome improvement. And I'm not talking about KIPP and Green Dot either, I'm talking about the types of charters that crop up to meet a communities demands and needs. I tend to agree with Seattle mom, this is not the same district it was 8 years ago- the last time charters were on the ballot. We've had constant turmoil and churn, choice is almost abolished, we've lost an alt school, curriculum has been standardized and aligned, we've adopted terrible materials like EDM/Discovering/Readers workshop, and now we have TFA.

daf

Anonymous said...

daf, can you send us the names of the "many many other charters located in thriving middle and upper middle class communities"?

Thank you!

Because most all of the charters I see in the papers are in urban neighborhoods. Your links to the "many, many" others would broaden my knowledge.

Seattle Mom, I would offer individual students in individual schools everywhere the support they need. Nutrition, counseling, mentoring, etc. I hope ALL schools would.

Why would I, as a taxpayer, think that a charter school, would be any more accountable to these things than the public school district? They would be less so.

Additionally, these things cost money. What cuts in services will be made in some proposed charter school that will ensure delivery of counseling, nutrition, etc?

I'll say it again: I want MY public schools, paid for with MY tax dollars, under MY board directors' policies, to be accountable to me, the texpayer. Why would I want to abrogate those policies and then give some non-district entity my tax dollars? Because they promise to raise HSPE scores x percent? That's not enough: Policy is the will of the people. It might be crap; well, fix it. That's democracy. Public schools are the schools of the public, governed publicly by policy. That's just the way it is.

Public policy can provide everything a charter can, and with more accountability. If public policy ISN'T providing it, then I guess the public isn't demanding it. Yes, that leaves, at the moment, some "under-achievers" and some "over-achievers" underserved, but that's what we have with our democratically determined policies.

Why on earth would I want to allow some entity to operate free from that policy with my tax dollars? And how would I have a voice in how that entity is run if it is removed from policy?

Anonymous said...

That last post was Seattle Citizen. Sorry; can't access my regular user name account for some reason. Some tech glitch.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anonymous said...

"daf, can you send us the names of the "many many other charters located in thriving middle and upper middle class communities"?"

Way to many to send, do a quick google Search Seattle Citizen. And by the way there are plenty of middle and upper middle class urban neighborhoods, just look around your own city for a great example of some.

"Seattle Mom, I would offer individual students in individual schools everywhere the support they need. Nutrition, counseling, mentoring, etc. I hope ALL schools would."

I agree with you here, but the type of reform you suggest takes years, and years to enact, and the funding too. Families with kids in schools now don't have time to wait. Charters are pretty immediate. There is just no comparison.

daf

daf

seattle citizen said...

daf, you told us that many many charters. Google is way too time consuming; just sent us the links. You said there were; show us the facts and we'll consider them.

As to an "immediate need"...Well, how will I know that some charter that is "immediately" able to provide for ALL families is doing so? They are, by nature, outside the loop.

That and I don't see the same "immediate need" you do, perhaps. Schools are not doing nearly as bad as people say. The "immediate need" is to fully serve people in poor communitities so their children can be better served when they come through the school house door. What would a charter do in, say, Rainier Beach immediately to help students in that neighborhood? Can you tell us what you think would be different in the school?

Anonymous said...

ever since rush limbaugh was attacking NPR, they've had "balance" by repeating what the Clinton sell out branch of the Democratic Party defines as conventional wisdom. it is sad to see the number of reasonable people who've accepted this constantly rightward shifting reality.
seattle mom brings up a great point - with all the zillions spent, how come they can't fix anything?

well, it is america, and our institutions exist for the betterment and the enjoyment of the management. charters are just another attempt by a different elite to pilfer us nobodies.

PilferingToProsperity

peonypower said...

Given how anti-alternative our district is, I do not think that the type of charter school we would have in Seattle would be a home-grown, led by the community type. Just look at what happened with how TFA was muscled into our city. We would have only KIPP or Green Dot and I am not impressed by either. If parents are unhappy with our current school district they need to make their voices heard in the polls with school board races and by being active in their community. Things can change when communities come together. From all the research I have done on charters I am sure of one thing. It is about money and not about students. Maybe the movement started as being about students, but the now it is about $$$.

anonymous said...

Here's a couple for you Seattle Citizen. This took all of a 5 minute google search, and is just a very small sampling. You do the rest of the work.

Fort Worth Academy of fine Arts
http://fwafa.org/

Coeur d'Alene charter Academy (Idaho)
http://www.cdacharter.org/AppFAQ.html

Miami Children's museum Charter (Miami)
http://www.mcmcharter.com/

Peak to Peak Charter (Colorado)
http://www.peaktopeak.org/

Signature School (Indiana)
http://www.signature.edu/community.html

Preuss School (La Jolla, CA)
http://preuss.ucsd.edu/

Sunridge charter (A Waldorf school) (CA)
http://sunridgeschool.org/

That should get you started.....

daf

Sahila said...

daf just proved the point with her very first example....

Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts is a school that requires AUDITIONS to get in...

here are the audition requirements for elementary students: http://fwafa.org/prospective-students/audition-information/52-elementary-audition-requirements

THIS IS CALLED CHERRY PICKING....

basically a private school funded by public money...

Here's the admisssion requirements for Preuss School:

"Prospective Student Information
Preuss School Admission to Preuss School UCSD

The Preuss School UCSD will recruit and enroll students entering the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade from the greater San Diego area. Eligible applicants must meet all three requirements, both at the time of application as well as at enrollment. The three requirements are:

All families must meet income eligibility criteria as defined by Federal guidelines.
The parents or chief guardians are NOT graduates of a four year college or university.
Student applicants must demonstrate motivation and potential to attend an academically competitive university or college.

What is the Admission Process?

Students who meet all three requirements and wish to attend The Preuss School UCSD must complete the provided application in its entirety. Since there will be more eligible applicants than space available at The Preuss School UCSD, a lottery of qualified applicants will be held to select the students for the number of available spaces. Those who are entered in the lottery but are not selected will be placed on a waiting list in accordance with the lottery. Students on the waiting list will be considered if a space becomes available. However, keep in mind that due to limited space, admission cannot be guaranteed.

Additionally, please note that if the waitlisted applicant is not admitted for the academic year they applied for, they will be required to resubmit a new application in order to be considered for the following year."



AGAIN, CHERRY PICKING...

cant be bothered checking all the rest...

Anonymous said...

I looked at the websites daf listed. It seems that several of these schools openly discriminate against many disabled students. like the admissions requirements for the Pruess school "Student applicants must demonstrate motivation and potential to attend an academically competitive university or college."

Even those who say they accept special education students then seem to discourage them from applying. One example of that is the Peak to Peak school, whose website says "It is our policy to provide for the children identified as requiring gifted education services and those identified as eligible and entitled to special education and related services. Our policy also includes children as twice-exceptional (gifted with a learning disability). Parents are strongly advised to carefully evaluate Peak to Peak's rigorous curriculum and high expectations in determining the school's suitability for their child or children."

Is that legal?

-sped parent

anonymous said...

Sahila, that is another topic, which I'm happy to discuss, it's not what I was addressing. I was responding to Seattle Citizens claim that charter schools are located in poor ghettos serving only low income and minority students. And that they are all KIPP and Green Dot types. That is clearly not true, and easily proven wrong. The charters I listed and found in 5 minute search are all in upper middle class neighborhoods, serving middle class kids.

daf

Sahila said...

Actually, no DAF, you dont do your homework (and you didnt read my post properly)... PREUSS serves low income kids only - but even then it cherry picks those whom it allows to attend, by putting as one of its criteria that "Student applicants must demonstrate motivation and potential to attend an academically competitive university or college." .... how do that they measure that, I wonder???? aptitude tests maybe? standardised test scores? essays? interviews? community references????

ALL CHERRY PICKING TACTICS....

Sahila said...

Charters and PEARSONS:

I wonder how many people realise the reach of PEARSON in public education?

curricula, text books, testing, common core and the push for charters... do you realise they are now re-writing the PISA standards, so they can go into all countries and standardise "standards" and maximise profits????

from a contributor to the MiseducationNation FB page I co-admin:

Pearson is the one who created assessments to say our schools and teachers are failing to justify NCLB. They helped created NCLB. Then they sell products to schools to fulfill the requirements of NCLB. Then they use their products to assess the success of their products in NCLB. These assessments say the schools are failing. They assess with their products and say it is because of the teachers. They say we need charter schools. They sell their products to the charter schools. They assess the charter schools with their products. - They are global and are doing this in many, many countries. http://www.pearsonassessments.com/NR/rdonlyres/D8E33AAE-BED1-4743-98A1-BDF4D49D7274/0/HistoryofNCLB_Rev2_Final.pdf

http://www.pearson.com/media-1/announcements/?i=1485

CarolineSF said...

I'm dropping in again to provide some background on how those boutique charters operate.

When school desegregation became the law of the land, private schools sprang up all over the South, openly called "seg academies," where white students could go to avoid the horrors of integration. (Their parents had to pay, but presumably found it worth it.)

Well, that's what those boutique charters mostly are, though they're supposedly tuition free and presumably include a few carefully selected minorities for appearances' sake. And actually, they tend to request/demand enormous donations from all their families.

The Preuss School, I believe, does serve a high minority population -- it's run by UC San Diego (with, as noted, a selective admissions process). It also got busted in a pretty good-size cheating scandal a few years ago -- and that was under the auspices of the rabidly pro-charter state Board of Ed of the Schwarzenegger era, so it must have been a BAD scandal for them not to manage to ignore it.

It's just starting to be publicly discussed that many of these high-end charters also request/demand that each family contribute amounts like $5,000 a year.

This list missed Pacific Collegiate Charter in Santa Cruz, CA, which is consistently one of the nation's top schools in all high school rankings of all kinds. It's also a Latino-free zone in a heavily Latino district and county, and there's constant discussion in the community of why Pacific Collegiate simply CAN'T manage to attract more minorities, no matter how hard they try (not). The Santa Cruz school board rejected Pacific Collegiate's original charter application on the basis that they perceived that it was designed not to reflect the demographics of the community, so the county BOE approved it, forcing it into Santa Cruz against the district's will (a common practice). The district BOE was right -- the school was DESIGNED not to reflect the demographics of the community. Because of the nature of Santa Cruz, there's constant controversy about that. In other districts with segregationist charters, including all districts that I know of with Waldorf charters, the inequity often goes unnoticed.

Waldorf charters are another story. Whether or not one is a Waldorf admirer, there's ongoing debate about whether Waldorf is a quasi-religion and whether Waldorf schools should be public. Waldorf charters tend to be overwhelmingly white and wealthy.

Basically, if a school is designed to exclude high-need students (low-income, limited-English, special-ed, parents who aren't willing or able to donate $5,000 a year, etc.), it's likely to be academically successful. That's true whether the school is a charter or public. So what you think of boutique charters depends on what you think of schools that are designed to exclude high-need students.

CarolineSF said...

And just to edit you, Melissa:

You said: "(Charter schools') enrollment is open to all (although I have not been able to ascertain if you must live in the city they are situated in to apply - I think this is the case). If the school is oversubscribed, then a lottery is held."

Caroline's response: Actually, charters are perfectly free to employ whatever selectivity process they want. Even if they're not supposed to, no chartering agency has the bandwidth to scrutinize their enrollment processes.

"Charters tend to be smaller schools, usually less than 200-300 students and exist largely in urban areas. Charters tend to be more racially diverse than regular public schools ..."

Caroline: As we have already established, this is resoundingly false. The opposite is true. Even charter advocates acknowledge that charters tend to be far less diverse and far more segregated than regular public schools.


"... and to enroll slightly fewer special needs/ELL students than the average school in their area."

Caroline: Actually, charters consistently enroll SIGNIFICANTLY fewer special needs and ELL students than other comparable schools, and the special needs students they do enroll tend to have much less severe disabilities.


This is just for clarification. Those statements are inaccurate and you should correct them yourself rather than mislead your readers, Melissa.

NLM said...

Can someone please explain what's so bad about "cherry picking"? Must we operate like crabs in a bucket, dragging down any low-income student who would dare to try and escape?

CarolineSF said...

It's not inherently bad to run a school with a selective admissions process, in my opinion, if it's a school set up with that model and is done in the open.

It's bad and dishonest when it's done covertly and falsely denied, and when the school then claims that it's superior. In the case of charter schools, that's done constantly, and then they win money and support away from public schools, even as they often cherry-pick the most motivated and compliant students, and their rejects and dumpees wind up in the public schools to which the charters then proclaim themselves superior.

It's dishonest and harms public schools when it's done covertly. So THAT's what's so bad about it.

Anonymous said...

daf,
Thanks for the links. No time to look at them (or search more) right now but here's a quick piece from Sahila's clip from Preuss:
"All families must meet income eligibility criteria as defined by Federal guidelines.
The parents or chief guardians are NOT graduates of a four year college or university."
This does not sound like they are targeting wealthy families, or middle class - sounds like they are targeting working class and poor.

Seattle Citizen

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

My bad on Preuss. I only had time for a quick 5 minute google search, and Preuss is in La Jolla, CA (very wealthy upscale neighborhood) so I assumed it served middle and upper middle class students......but you know what happens when you assume. Check out the other links.

daf

anonymous said...

All of the things Sahila and Caroline claim charters do, our very own public schools do right here right now, and right under our noses.

Take a quick look at some of our alt schools. Go check out how many black and Hispanic faces you see at Thronton Creek, an expeditionary learning, outward bound school. Though it is an "option" school, much like Waldorf, the expeditionary pedagogy just does not attract minority families, and the school is located in a predominantly white middle class neighborhood.

How about STEM? They don't have a formal selective entrance process but it is a choice school and students that choose the school have to be up for core 24 - a college prep curriculum requiring more credits, more math, and more science than "regular" high schools. So it is a self selective process. A struggling student would never choose such a school.

How about Center School? A performing arts option high school, open to all, city wide. Go see how many black and Hispanic children you see there. It's almost none.

Then go to our neighborhood schools. Talk about segregation - you'll get to see it up close and personal. Check out Laurelhurst, and Bryant. Then go check out Dunlap and Emerson. Go to Roosevelt HS and then to Rainier Beach HS. Notice any differences?

You can also look at the selective process at our WA state public Universities. This year the UW turned away local valedictorians with 3.8 GPA's, in favor of accepting more out of state students whose tuition would be higher.

Selective process is the real world, and it's practiced pretty widely, though in Seattle it is done somewhat more covertly.

daf

Anonymous said...

daf,

Are you saying that charters can only educate kids if their students are selectively admitted?

Are you saying that you think we should codify discrimination against disabled students in public school admissions?


-sped parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Caroline, you certainly have a lot to say but give no sources.

In this series, I am trying to be neutral in order to give a fair background on charters before we launch into our pros and cons.

I stand by what the research says about charters, OVERALL. That "overall" is the key word. Because each state has different charter law, you'll see differing rates of diversity, Special Ed, etc.

I am going to do a separate Special Ed charter piece as there is a lot to be said.

anonymous said...

Not at all Sped. I'm saying that they are not doing anything different than many of our SPS schools are already doing - right now.

I have no problem with having schools like STEM, with higher than average expectation for their students, as long as they make it a priority to be as diverse as possible, and accept disabled and ELL students as all public schools should.

daf

With daf said...

The irony is, daf, that the SCHOOLS are not the ones segregating, it's the PARENTS. I met a white woman last year who lived across the street from Dunlap, but had never even considered sending her children there. She had no idea where Aki was.

A few years ago I met another white parent who was assigned to Emerson but pulled her kids out because, she said, it was full of "Bebe's Kids". Aki? Please. And that's just a couple of examples. I hear it all the time.

The NSAP just put into action what certain parents were clamoring for. The tragedy is that before and since, many populations of kids are not being served, especially spec ed and minorities. You can see why such parents in other cities, and some here, might want a charter to actually teach their kids to their true abilities.

I don't know enough about them to know whether that's the right answer, but what's out there now isn't it. While there are some really amazing teachers at most of the "bad" schools, there are also many who just buy into low expectations, and too many parents gentrifying the areas willing to go anywhere BUT their neighborhood schools.

Sahila said...

most of you here miss the point - perhaps you are new to the debate, which has been raging nationally for years, with a particular focus over the past three...

Charters are (part of a much bigger agenda) about stripping money out of the public education system and diverting it into schools that do not open their doors for all - schools that are in effect then PRIVATE schools, with no accountability... and in that diversion, much of the money ends up in corporate back pockets... there's $600Billion+ a year of public ed money at stake...

Sharon Higgins has been following the charter school movement for a long time...

her blog publishes verifiable information on charter school happenings from all over the country...

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

In this "should we allow charter school in Washington" debate, what I am looking for are characteristics of successful charters and successful non charter public schools. I suspect when you look at these successful schools there will be more commonality. Many of you, especially Charlie Mas, have listed many of those qualitites that should be in place to foster and support successful student, successful school, and successful district as a whole. While I am personally frustrated with SSD, I don't see it as a failing district. Failing schools, yes. (my perspectives are from living in Detroit and DC.) But this isn't just about my school district.

As to the fear that if we allow charters, our public dollars will go to businesses like Pearsons, ETS (non profit and for profit), edu-software companies, on-line academies, NWEA, etc., the dollars are going there already from charters and non charters. And cheating scandals are not exclusive to charters unfortunately. The problem is when you point out flaws with bad charters, you find similar flaws in poorly run public school districts, sometimes more egregious in dollars wasted and the many years the schools have been allowed to flounder.

Washington is a rare holdout in not having charters. For those that are against charters, that is a good thing and worth every effort to keep them out of this state. For parents and groups who are lobbying to bring in charters to meet whatever needs they feel are lacking in their public school systems, they are looking for alternatives.

I am curious to see the charter legislation because in many ways the charter supporters have an advantage. They have a bit of charter history, studies, and records of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Can they use the good bits to create something closer to what the original movement wanted? Certainly they must know the naysayers are waiting with research, slogans, and with the momentum of anti-elitists/capitalists in the air, to demand justification of their position (and rightly so).

In the end, I hope the process could distill the qualities of what makes a good education and good school (much of that not really innovative from my readings of Dianne Ravitch and E.D. Hirsch). Even if the charter movement does not prevail, I hope it will catalyse many school districts to re-examine the way they operate. My fear is from past charter and presidential endeavors to solve our national "educational crisis", it has not and we will still be left with the same behemoth bureaucratic engine churning away with little accountability.

Seattle mom

CarolineSF said...

I did give you sources to refute your erroneous claim that charters are less segregated, Melissa.

My observations are based on closely following the charter movement for nearly 15 years now, as a parent activist in a state with a busy charter sector.

If you're going to dismiss information from those who have studied the issue if we don't provide links to every single point we make, you're going to cut yourself off from a lot of sound information.

With a lot of time, I can find links to back up everything I've stated here. Unfortunately, my time is somewhat limited, as I'm a busy volunteer. Would you then prefer not to have the information at all?

CarolineSF said...

Luckily, the Charter School Scandals blog (which documents everything with data and links) has done the research. It's also run by a volunteer, by the way.

Anyone who is really interested in learning about charter schools needs to read through that blog.

Here's info on Pacific Collegiate:

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/2010/05/pacific-collegiate-charter-school.html

(I think I said $5,000 -- I was wrong; their request is $3,000 -- it's the controversial Bullis Charter in Los Altos Hills, CA, that's demanding $5,000.)

Preuss School:

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/2010/05/preuss-school.html

Sahila said...

Seattle mom... you are incorrect in assuming that charter supporters have (credible and complimentary) facts and history to back them up...

every single "fact" they trot out comes from a think tank policy paper, which is ALWAYS able to be countered by facts coming from actual peer reviewed studies...

in addition, charter school proponents like Caroline Hoxley and Eric Hanushek have been discredited by the scientific community - both for their methodologies and their findings.... interestingly, their 'studies" have been funded by pro-charter organisations...

The CREDO report came out and demonstrated that only 17% of charter schools were performing better than public schools, around 40% were doing the same, and more than a 35% were doing much worse... go Google the report for the exact figures... frankly, I'm tired of doing the work for people...

I dont understand why people have such a hard time tying what is happening in education to what is happening in the broader world ... what do you think OccupyWallStreet is about? We're living in an oligarchy that has no care at all about individuals, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid, and is intent in sucking all the money and power up to the capstone...

Are people so snugly ensconsed in their own little worlds that they cant be bothered to stick their heads out from under the blankets to take a cold hard look at what's going on around them?

Or doesn't it matter, because "we're alright, Jack"?...

NLM said...

It may not be $3K but schools here were asking for kindy money before it became mandatory district wide. I got a request for school supply money from my kids school (check pls!) rather than being able to buy myself using coupons or other means. There's a paper drive on right now and let's not even start on the wrapping paper fundraiser. Schools asking for money is not new. Asking for a lump sum is arguably better than nickel and diming parents to death all year long.

I agree with Seattle mom (and maybe it's because I have little kids in schools here right now). I want options and, right now, have very few. DH and I actually looked at a home near the old Van Asselt building a few weeks ago. Decent house, badly zoned area. Given NSAP, there's no way we'd move. Multiply that choice a thousand times over and see what you get. IMHO, opponents of charters lost the war when NSAP came into practice and I think now is the time to work on what makes for a good/bad charter law.

I also think this discussion is a little funny. At first, the complaint was that all charters offer the same Green Dot/KIPP model to low-income kids. When it was pointed out that there are actually many types of charters then the problem was they don't serve everyone; they cherry-pick (boutique programs/schools usually don't serve everyone, even under NSAP families self-select). Oh, and heaven forbid you counsel parents that a school with a very specific focus (e.g. arts) may not be right for a budding mathemetician. I'm still feeling like this is crabs in the bucket at its finest.

Sahila, I think lots of folks appreciate what's happening as far as the transfer of wealth. Perhaps you have a hard time appreciating this but at the end of the day, I care a lot less about who's making money than whether or not my children are being well-served.

How would you (or anyone) effect real change to make charters less attractive, especially given the current capacity problems? Parents need meaningful alternatives and I don't see charter opponents offering any.

suep. said...

daf- there may well be a charter for every one of the subject areas you listed, but those, often one-off boutique, charters are not, by and large, what the ed reformers and "venture philanthropists" like Broad and Gates and Walton are angling for and putting major money behind. Those are not who the ed reform lobbyists are trying to bring to Seattle.

Consider this:

Who did LEV (League of Education Voters) bring to Seattle last year to discuss charters (in their "Voices of the Revolution" speakers series, funded by the Gates Foundation)?
-- Richard Barth of KIPP, Inc. and Steve Barr of Green Dot, Inc. --Not the head of the La Jolla, CA charter you mention.
(See:
Weekend Roundup: Big-Girl Pants, Parent Trigger, & the Charterfest Comes to Town (Oh my!)

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/weekend-roundup-big-girl-pants-parent-trigger-the-charterfest-comes-to-town-oh-my/

Who did the Obama administration give $50 million in taxpayer funds to last year?
-- KIPP, Inc.

See: Education Department Deals Out Big Awards

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/education/05grants.html

As you pointed out, we have Teach for America, Inc. in Seattle now -- 5-week crash course teacher trainees. TFA are often the staffers of choice for charter schools. The CEO of TFA, Inc. is Wendy Kopp. Who is Kopp married to? Richard Barth of KIPP, Inc. (TFA also received $50 million from the Obama admin. last year.)

See the pattern?

These are the facts. You may not like them. But that doesn't make me inaccurate. I'm not in the business of perpetuating false information. That's the corporate ed reformers' racket. I honestly believe the truth and facts speak for themselves. And the facts are, 83 percent of charter schools perform no better or perform worse than traditional public schools (Stanford University's CREDO Report, 2009).

I believe that if we fully fund and commit to our existing public school system -- rather than draining it of resources by redirecting money and some select kids to charters -- allow schools greater autonomy and creativity and stop this obsession with testing, our existing schools can offer what any privately run charter can offer -- and more. And to all kids.

Every specialty, focus, positive trait of the best charter schools could be offered in our existing public schools if the district and community committed to do so. We already have successful public schools that specialize in certain subjects or styles of learning -- and not just the alternative schools. There is no reason why the district can't replicate these successes. There is no need to bring in the corporate middle-men of charter operators like Barth and Barr.

I am also concerned about motives and methods of the charter-pushers when I read things like this on pro-charter LEV's site:

“In 2007, Steve Barr sought to take over a failing high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). When the district said no, Steve took a page out of a Wall Street playbook and became the first charter school organization to conduct a hostile takeover.”

(http://www.educationvoters.org/2010/10/21/three-education-innovators-coming-to-seattle/)

So there you have it, spelled out quite plainly, the ed reformers’ MO: apply predatory Wall Street techniques to our public schools. A hostile takeover is indeed what they appear to be trying to do to our entire public school system. Apparently the folks over at the League of Education Voters think this is a good thing.

I don't.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Caroline, I am asked on almost a daily basis to donate money to my kids SPS schools. We have annual campaigns, auctions, matching challenges. Not to mention booster clubs, PTSA fees. I'd estimate that I wind up contributing close to $1000 year to each of my kids schools and that's before being assessed fees for certain class materials (Spanish $20, Science $15, Art $30, sports team $75 per sport). And lets not forget pay for K with a tuition, yes TUITION, of $280 per month, or $2800 for the year. The very things that you are accusing charters of doing is already being done right here, in SPS, right under your nose.

daf

Sahila said...

@NLM... guess you dont get that those making money are doing it on the backs of your children (to an extent) and on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society...

Like I said: a case of "I'm alright Jack"...

suep. said...

To daf @ 10/18/11 6:36 PM

I agree that the district has made some changes and choices these past few years that have lessened the quality and accessibility of education for Seattle's public schools kids.

And perhaps this was all intentional, to grease the skids for a desire for "something different" -- i.e. charters. (See gavroche's "Chaos Theory" post from a few years ago and all the long discussions about the influence of the Broad Foundation in SPS.)

But to that, I say, if the district can make all these bad decisions, it can also unmake them. Cancel the costly MAP. Don't hire any more TFAers. Support alts and establish more of them -- replicate TOPS, etc. Rehire counselors. Cut the top-heavy central office bureaucracy. Redirect funds to classrooms. Allow more waivers for successful curricula like Singapore Math at Schmitz Park. Strengthen Spectrum and stop uprooting APP. Reestablish choice, options and bus service for kids to go to the schools they want in the district. (The cutbacks in transportation to schools like TOPS -- against the will of the school community --in the name of "neighborhood schools" has contributed to the re-segregation of our schools.) Again, that was district-imposed, and it could be undone. Stop the churn. Elect sentient, intelligent school board members who won't vote for such bad policies in the first place.

The district has it in its power to discontinue all these bad practices and policies. It does not need to outsource our schools -- and its responsibilities -- to private charter operators. That is a false "solution" to a self-imposed, and correctable, problem.

In other words, the solution to SPS's problems all point in the same direction: at the JSCEE. That's where we need reform. That's what's got to change.

Daf, you make a great case for voting out the entire slate of incumbents.

Charter Newbie said...

As far as I can tell, there are as many types of charters as there are types of schools. In other words, you can't accept or condemn them as being any one type, because they simply aren't one of anything, from funding to focus to student body. Am I correct?

Also, from what I have seen and read about schools across local districts, there are what I'd call "non-charter charters", or public schools with private funding and/or a special focus. For example, isn't that what Seattle's South Shore, Highline's Aviation High and Federal Way's TAF Academy are? It seems to me these are all charters under another name, and from what I can tell, all three are doing very well by their students.

So, the way I see it, charters are already here in a sense, and they CAN in fact, be successful and they CAN attract diverse students. I'm not conversant enough on the topic to debate it, but this is how it looks to a charter novice.

As for ones that are truly parent-driven, that are the opposite of drill and kill, teach to the test, with lock-step student bodies, I'd have to point to the school a friend sends her son to in Anchorage. It's the Native American Cultural Charter School and the charter application says it's parent-created, and lists, in detail, all the reasons NCLB doesn't work for their kids and how the school will be different. From what she's told me, it's managed to live up to its promise. The parents are deeply involved, run after-school cultural events almost daily, and are bringing the dying Native languages to their children. I don't know what their test scores show but that clearly wasn't the focus going in and the parents are happy there. I can't for the life of me think of a good reason to ban a school like that.

Anonymous said...

Amen Sue P.
Seattle mom

NLM said...

Sahila, those organizations are already making money off of kids only I don't feel like the public gets a whole lot in return.

Thank you, Sue. That was helpful. How woudl anyone go about doing all of that? Has there ever been a case where so much change was accomplished and how long would that take? B/C Quite frankly, I don't think it's fair to tell kids/families (as we do with NSAP) there's no out for you.

Sahila said...

@Charter newbie.... that's what the alternative schools were all about, BEFORE the district started yanking them back into the mainstream....

SUMMIT and AS#1 come to mind as the most obvious examples of being killed/"restructured" but all the alt schools are much more mainstream than they started out...

We dont need charters - we need public alternatives

Anonymous said...

Sahila said "@NLM... guess you dont get that those making money are doing it on the backs of your children (to an extent) and on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society.."

Why is it that when anyone disagrees with you you assume that they just don' get it. On the contrary, I think NLM makes reasoned and intelligent points and he/she just does not agree with you.

Sahila said "@Charter newbie.... that's what the alternative schools were all about, BEFORE the district started yanking them back into the mainstream...."

Yup, you are right. But you are living in the past. They are watered down, and dwindling now. Didn't you pull your kid out of an SPS alt school and move him to a Shoreline alt school. It appears you like choice and did what you needed to do to get your kid out. That is the same thing (that others with less options than you) want too.

Sue said"But to that, I say, if the district can make all these bad decisions, it can also unmake them"

Yup, you are right. But SPS isn't undoing anything. Not only that It's getting worse on a daily basis. Families with young children in school now are not willing to wait and hope that someday, sometime, maybe, things will change, and change in a way that they favor. Charters are immediate. They see them as something that will help their kids, now, and I understand that perspective.

daf

Anonymous said...

Sahila said "@NLM... guess you dont get that those making money are doing it on the backs of your children (to an extent) and on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society.."

Why is it that when anyone disagrees with you you assume that they just don' get it. On the contrary, I think NLM makes reasoned and intelligent points and he/she just does not agree with you.

Sahila said "@Charter newbie.... that's what the alternative schools were all about, BEFORE the district started yanking them back into the mainstream...."

Yup, you are right. But you are living in the past. They are watered down, and dwindling now. Didn't you pull your kid out of an SPS alt school and move him to a Shoreline alt school. It appears you like choice and did what you needed to do to get your kid out. That is the same thing (that others with less options than you) want too.

Sue said"But to that, I say, if the district can make all these bad decisions, it can also unmake them"

Yup, you are right. But SPS isn't undoing anything. Not only that It's getting worse on a daily basis. Families with young children in school now are not willing to wait and hope that someday, sometime, maybe, things will change, and change in a way that they favor. Charters are immediate. They see them as something that will help their kids, now, and I understand that perspective.

daf

seattle citizen said...

Melissa asks in a more recent post if we can keep charter threads fact-based and more general, saving discussion for later.

So maybe somebody can clarify this for me:

Public schools are public: public funding, public board; public policy.

How will I retain my "control" on my tax dollars and my publicly accountable board to publicly made policy if a charter grants exceptions from policy?

That is what I don't get: How is it even LEGAL?

The way I see it, every school should be subject to policy: What's good for Ingraham is good for Rainier Beach. Those policies can be written so as to allow flexibility, but isn't policy the will of the people?

Maybe I'm dense: The rationale for allowing a school to operate with my money yet outside my (board-directed) policy escapes me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I'm thinking that the idea is that your legislators (who you elect) are responsible for this law and the government entity (School Board, Governor who appoints the state Board of Education) are to be accountable. But yes, SE, quite a faraway chain of "accountability."

Again, a detail. What can a citizen do if they feel a charter school is out of compliance with use of tax dollars?

seattle citizen said...

That's the piece I'm looking for: I elect a board to create/direct policy. To what policies would a charter be accountable? What enforcement body?
One could argue, I suppose, that the state could create a "charter board" that oversaw charters, created policies for them, etc. Would this state charter board be voted in, so I had some accountability? Would they more, or less, accountable than my local board?

My understanding of charters is that their existence is predicated on FREEDOM from policy of some sort, and this concerns me, since they're spending my money.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen - hey, nobody's got ANY control of the taxpayer money in this PUBLIC district.

And I like Suep's response to this: "this is not the same district it was 8 years ago- the last time charters were on the ballot. We've had constant turmoil and churn, choice is almost abolished, we've lost an alt school, curriculum has been standardized and aligned."

So OK, can anybody disprove the conspiracy theory? Can anyone claim that the people who forced the changes of the last 5 years on us are different than the people who want charters? Can anyone claim that the people responsible for the last 5 years OPPOSE charters?

Oh, I know that's what all the incumbents say. I say ask the public disclosure commission.

Chris S.

seattle citizen said...

Chris S,
I would rather retain some modicum of control over my money, and hopefully increase accountability in my public district, than send accountability (and my money) further away.

Just because SPS might not be accountable in all ways does not mean we should deamnd LESS accountability with a charter.

anonymous said...

Aren't charters accountable to the families they serve? Those families are, after all, taxpayers too, Seattle Citizen. Why should you have any more say than they do?

daf

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

By the way Seattle Citizen, just what control do you assert that you have over your tax dollars in SPS? Did you have any control of the district hiring TFA teachers? How about them adopting and then spending tax dollars on Discovering math books? Standardizing curriculum? The new transportation plan? Capacity management? Map testing? Closing alt schools? The NSAP? Creation of Stem? Montessori and JSIS being all city draw schools?

Just what control do you believe that you have?

I see a district that gives their community almost zero control. They give plenty of lip service... community meetings, surveys, but give little action in return. I feel absolutely helpless, so I'm curious as to how you feel so in control.

daf

seattle citizen said...

daf, public schools belong to the public, not just the families that use them. They are paid for with my taxes. Because of this, they must be accountable to all taxpayers, and not just the families that use them.

Do families without children get to opt out of paying taxes and levies directed at public schools? No, and they shouldn't: It is a public desire to provide public schools; we all pay for them but we all get to demand accountability.

Policy is that tool for accountability; my board is the de facto representative of me in overseeing policy and spending my money. I most certainly wouldn't just throw money at a school becuase the families that use it "like it": There are parameters established regarding what we, the people, want in our public schools, established by our boards (and by state and federal laws, of course.) That's the deal: We provide the public with schools, but the schools are organized to be providing what our elected board thinks is best, to all students, in all schools, not just to one school whose families "like" a certain thing.

Of COURSE there can flexibility designed into policy. But not flexibility outside of policy, that's not part of the bargain of democracy. I pay taxes for things I like and things I don't like, because that's how the system works. If families want to avail themselves of my public schools, they have to take the good with the bad.

seattle citizen said...

daf, if I have little control over district policy (no, it doesn't always go the way I want, but that's life) I will have even less if the district abrogates its responsibilty and lets a school just go its own way. If I have little control over a district, I will have even less over a school that is chartered away from the district. No thanks. Not with MY money. That ain't the way democracy works: My money, my board, my policies; that is how the system works; it's the best we have, I'd rather work to change policy than work to change policy AND have to monitor...somehow...some unaccountable (to my district) entity.

DAF, how would YOU see accountability to me, the citizen/taxpayer, increased under a charter?

CarolineSF said...

I've heard the claim that charters should only be accountable to the families they serve. I don't agree, because charters have a negative impact on the schools around them and on entire school districts, when they draw resources and higher-functioning students out of those schools.

It is true that public schools request donations. (And there's nothing inherently wrong with that in either case.) Depending on circumstances, they're under more of a spotlight than unaccountable charter schools. But with some charter schools, especially depending on how the request is made, it's very much of a deterrent (and I believe designed to be) to less-resourced, less-motivated families.

I saw a website for a San Francisco Bay Area Waldorf charter that couched the substantial donation request as mandatory, with fine print saying that families who couldn't donate must see the principal to discuss it. It may be that there are public schools phrasing the "request" the same way, but it's wrong in either case. (Sorry, Melissa, don't have time to go find the website right now.)

This is also an issue because a standard propaganda line from within the charter sector is that they have less money than public schools and "do more with less."

By the way, another issue with charters here in Calif. is that the law allows them to demand space in public school sites, including occupied sites. This has resulted in frequent legal battles, when charters demand space in sites that are already occupied by a school. One San Francisco high school, Burton High, was forced to turn its library over to the predatory charter, Metro Arts & Tech, that was a hostile occupant for a couple of years.

This also helps create constant conflict and friction with other school communities and school districts. Anyone who thinks school communities and districts need more conflict and friction -- that it's beneficial to children to create new hostility, raise your hand... And don't forget that for all the problems they create and hostilities they generate, charters overall are not more successful -- generally less so -- than comparable public schools. (How about we in Calif. send all ours to Washington state and leave our state free of the charter plague?)

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

"I saw a website for a San Francisco Bay Area Waldorf charter that couched the substantial donation request as mandatory, with fine print saying that families who couldn't donate must see the principal to discuss it. "

Caroline, do you think this doesn't happen in SPS? I can assure you it does. All Kindergarten families, except those eligible for free and reduced lunch, are sent a district invoice in the amount of $280 a month for K tuition ($2800 for the year). And before the district was collecting the TUITION payments, school did - directly. And guess what, at the school my kids attended if you didn't pay your tuition you had to talk to the principal. And you still got repeated letters demanding payment.

Did you know your kid can't play a sport if you can't pay $75 (unless you get free lunch)? Did you know you have to pay fees for Spanish books, and science materials, and art supplies? I'm not talking donations here, I'm talking mandatory fees to families by SPS.

I'll say it one more time. The very things you keep accusing charters of doing are being done right here in SPS. Today. I think you need to do a bit more research on how PUBLIC schools work.

Would you like to address this?

daf

anonymous said...

"No thanks. Not with MY money. That ain't the way democracy works: "

Ah, but that is exactly the way democracy works. In a democracy all of the people get a vote. And if the people vote in charters, well, your tax dollars will pay for them. THAT is democracy. You get one vote, as everybody else does, and the majority wins.

daf

anonymous said...

Ah, Caroline, I read your post above - you are in California. That explains why you don't know what Seattle Public schools are doing. Perhaps you could do a bit more research on how our schools here work?

daf

seattle citizen said...

Well, of course, daf - If the people vote in less accountability with charters, I guess we'll get 'em, whether I like 'em or not.

I notice, tho', that you offer no explantion as to how charters have accountability equal to or greater than the school board. Because they don't; they have less.

If charters get into this state, I will be happy to do all I can to get them removed for that reason alone. THAT is how democracy works; work for the things you believe in (and hope that a overlaying rationality of the masses, as represented by their elected officials, prevails over a majority desire for bad policy.

Less accountability is bad policy. Some might think it's good; I ain't seeing it. I'll always work to maintain a proper board (or state)oversight of my tax dollars.

seattle citizen said...

daf, this thread is about charters, generally. There is no need for Caroline in California to be deeply versed in SPS policies and schools. Her comments speak to the thread.

Daf, didn't you post links to a couple of charters around the country? Hmmmm....

(Still waiting for an explanation about how charters are more accountable than SPS...)

Mindy said...

I'm originally from Houston and we have magnet (e.g., focus on performing arts, health professions, etc.), vanguard (i.e., similar to Spectrum and APP), and charter schools, including KIPP. I highly recommend the book "Work Hard. Be Nice." about the two founders of KIPP written by Jay Mathews.

Sahila said...

seems there's charter trouble in New York:

http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/10/19/high-teacher-turnover-at-a-success-network-school/ ...

who'd a thunk it...

anonymous said...

"I notice, tho', that you offer no explantion as to how charters have accountability"
You don't have the right to demand others to provide you with information. Go check for yourself who charters are accountable to. I'm not well versed in that area because it is not as important to me as it is to you. I assume they are accountable to the families they serve, and I believe they are required to teach the state standards, and take the state standardized tests. That's enough to satisfy me.

daf

anonymous said...
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seattle citizen said...

Fair enough, daf. You believe a school need only be accountable to the families that use it; I believe they need to be accountable for those who pay for it. I see your version as less accountable, obviously, because it is accountable to fewer of its funders - the families get to do what they want with my money, I guess. You don't have to tell me how your version is more accountable or has the same level of accountability: I've made my case, you don't have to make yours. It's up to you.

anonymous said...

Sahila, I'll say it again. The things you are accusing charters of doing SPS does too. Lowell and RBHS have been all over the news this year for their huge staff turnover. Harlem charter lost 30% of it's staff, well guess what, RBHS lost 40% of theirs. Turnover, and churn, is NOT unique to charters.

daf

anonymous said...

" I've made my case, you don't have to make yours. It's up to you."

I've made my case - you just don't like it and choose to dismiss it. I believe charters are accountable to the families they serve. I believe they are accountable in that they have to teach the state standards and they have to take the state standardized tests. That is enough for me, and it is enough for the Obama administration, and the other what 46(??) states that have charters.

daf

seattle citizen said...

Interesting piece of data from Sahila's link (above):
"Charter schools have generally experienced relatively high teacher turnover. From 2008 to 2010, charter schools’ average attrition rate was 25 percent and district schools’ was 14 percent, according to [New York] state data."

Who WOULD have thunk it? I can't believe that getting paid less, having less job security (and I don't mean union "tenure," I mean being secure from the whims of one principal, who might or might not have the best interests of students and staff at heart...) and being expected to work even more ungodly hours than public school teachers already do would be much incentive to stay...

seattle citizen said...

I believe that accountability is to the taxpayers, not just the families, and I believe that JUST state test scores are a poor measure of a school. I want school accountable for PE, art, music, history, civics, and all the other subjects not tested by the state; I want schools accountable for open-to-all policy; I want schools accountable for transportation, sfe facilities, anti-bullying policy, and the myraid other policies that go into creating safe and creative public schools.

If one just wants good test scores, well, the BEST way to get 'em is to do what a Bible school in Colorado once did: Set that kid on the metal shop stool, ask her or him questions about the Bible, wrong answer? Push the button and ZAP! twelve volts course through the stool and student from a car battery.

Results? Yes. Good policy? No. But some families might like it....Just not with my tax dollars, okay?

anonymous said...

" I want school accountable for PE, art, music, history, civics, and all the other subjects not tested by the state; I want schools accountable for open-to-all policy;"

Well that is just a fundamental difference between you and I Seattle Citizen. I prefer autonomy to central control. I believe the families that attend the school get to choose things like PE, art, history, civics, and other non tested subjects.

daf

seattle citizen said...

but with my money, daf?

seattle citizen said...

I guess my point is that you can't have autonomy when spending someone else's money. It comes with strings.

Now, that said, a district could, obviously, have policies that have flexibiity yet still retain accountability to the people's will, as expressed by those policies and by their elected directors. That way, my money is spent for the general good without me having to cut a check for YOUR particular likes/dislikes. I will not pay for a school that "likes" to use corporal punishment, for instance. I expect my Board Directors to vote against such a thing in all instances. But I would hope and expect, also, that schools can have variety within certain bounds, the bounds of policy.

But we could go on thusly all night, and this thread isn't the place for it. I apologize to Melissa and others for getting into discussion when the intent of this thread is to lay out "what charters are." I think deviation from democratically derived policy is what they are. We can discuss it in some upcoming "discussion" thread.

Meanwhile, I'll try to track down more information on this particular aspect. It seems crucial (as I've written before, any discussion of charters, for me, is a non-starter because a charter is outside my sphere of accountability through my board: A charter isn't a public school. Aspects of charters might be great - autonomy, choice, variety, etc....but the very piece that sets them apart from public schools is the piece I disagree with. I'm happy to listen to any and all ideas about schools, and how our boards can support them. But I'm not happy about chartering public schools off to any ol' body who claims to have a "public school."

CarolineSF said...

The big picture here is that other states have had years of experience with charter schools. There are some excellent charter schools here and there, but overall the charter sector is a hotbed of hype and fertile ground for scam artists and looters.

Between those crooks and untold numbers of well- meaning-but-incompetent failed charter operators who thought it would be easy and gambled away our children's education funding on their foolishness, the charter sector is chaos. Its biggest success -- actually its only consistent success -- is bewitching people like Bill Gates into squandering millions upon millions, and too often snookering the gullible press.

Now Washington state, having escaped this plague so far, is threatened with a charter invasion. You all have ample opportunity to take a close look at how charters have worked (or not) in other states, and instead it's clear that too many, including state PTA leadership, are refusing to do that. Instead they're engaging in magical thinking (and apparently doing some seriously shoddy research), and putting their hands over their ears and going la-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you.

Why would you willfully refuse to learn from others' mistakes and instead be cussedly determined to wear blinders and replicate them? It defies common sense.

emeraldkity said...

I would like to know- if Summit K-12 had been a charter school, ( around for 30+years as Summit had been) what steps the district would have had to take to close it or is that dependent on the district/state?

Would it have been easier or harder than it was once MGJ made her decision?

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Caroline, I might take your warning a little bit more seriously except that everything you (and Sahila and Seattle Citizen) accuse charter schools of doing is already happening here in SPS. Or it's just wrong information.

Segregating - NSAP does a find job of this already.

Schools asking for financial donations- been happening for years here in SPS, and getting worse.

Teacher turnover- SPS has been in the news this year for off the charts high teacher turnover at Lowell and RBHS.

That they only serve poor and minority kids - Seattle citizen and others love to make this claim which is simply untrue

That charters are only in gettos - Seattle citizen says that right here in this thread. Blatant lie, and insulting.

That they have entrance requirements - Yes some do. But refer to Spectrum and APP here in SPS for formal entrance requirments. And Stem with mandatory core 24 -not a formal entrance requirement but clearly not a school for struggling students.

That charters do not take a proportionate amount of sped students - I need more data on this, but a quick google search for me found some charters dedicated to serving sped students, pioneering very successful inclusion models. Contrast that the Sped services in SPS. SPS has to take sped students, but they do not support or provide adequately (or even safely) for them.

daf

Sahila said...

who's paying you DAF? You a SPTSA gopher, pushing their (Gates paid for) message?

Because you havent actually proved anything you say you have...

I looked at only two of the charter school names you provided - picked them at random - and they do do exactly what us "naysayers" - and a national movement of people trying to hold back the tide of privatisation of education - have been saying...

You might like to take a more respectful attitude to Caroline and others - they've been looking at this issue for more than a decade, while you yourself seem to be quite light on facts and definitely missing any credible evidence...

The final nail in your argument's coffin is that you completely miss the point about what this charterisation effort is all about.... you've been fed a lie that your (narcissistic) dissatisfaction has made it easy for you to swallow (no sense of politics, the national arena and the economic/philosophical issues) and you're happily being led to and participating in the demise of public education...

If you cant see anything wrong with that, then that's sad...

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

CarolineSF said...

DAF, here are a few more responses.

Yes, school segregation and harmfully high teacher turnover are problems in many challenged urban public schools.

They are chronically worse in charter schools, though, overall. So why endorse a model that has the same problems, only worse (and that does damage to public schools in many other ways as well)?

Selectivity: Public schools that have selectivity admissions processes are those that do it openly -- magnet schools, specialty schools. They're in a different situation from charters that sneakily select and reject while pretending not to. If a public school rejects a challenging student, that student is still the responsibility of the district and will wind up in another public school where the principal and teachers are colleagues of the principal who rejected the student. If a charter rejects a challenging student, it never has to give another thought to that student -- the charter is in its own little bubble.

Requesting donations with high pressure: Yes, some public schools do that, and to varying extents. It's still a practice that boutique charters use and that helps keep troublesome poor kids away. I haven't seen public schools use this to keep their student body non-representative of the makeup of the community, while some charters most definitely do that (such as Pacific Collegiate in Santa Cruz).

I have never said this; you're misunderstanding: "That they only serve poor and minority kids..." Of course it is untrue, because we see many boutique charters that exist to keep their privileged students AWAY from poor and minority kids, the "seg schools" of the 21st century. But the "mission" charters like KIPP certainly don't enroll middle-class kids. None of KIPP's prominent boosters nor its own leaders send their kids to KIPP schools.

You're correct that this is untrue:
"That charters are only in ghettoes"
Though it's no more of a factual error/blatant lie than that eye-poppingly false claim that charters are less segregated, stated authoritatively in the original post as pure fact.

"That they have entrance requirements"
The issue is having sneaky, covert entrance requirements that they deny, and then proclaiming themselves superior to the public schools that accept their rejects and dumpees.

It's true that some charters -- a very, very few -- exist specifically as specialty schools for disabled students, though I've never heard of any that are hugely successful or have really solved problems. And no, not as inclusion models -- as specialty schools. I challenge you to find even one that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model.

But overall, the charter sector flamingly underserves (that is, serves far fewer than the general population of) special ed students. That's a widely discussed issue and even charter supporters acknowledge it.
"That charters do not take a proportionate amount of sped students - I need more data on this, but a quick google search for me found some charters dedicated to serving sped students, pioneering very successful inclusion models."

I already know the response was "we don't believe you because you didn't spend hours looking up links." Sorry; I'll do that as I can, but I'm giving you the red flags that you should be noticing. Why are you so determined to refuse to acknowledge them? That's baffling.

Melissa, the reason this thread turned into debate is that when you post misinformation that falsely aggrandizes charters, calmly and authoritatively, stating it as fact, that's inherently political and controversial. Obviously, anyone better-informed who cares about accuracy is going to refute it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Teacher turnover- SPS has been in the news this year for off the charts high teacher turnover at Lowell and RBHS."

But you miss the difference here between your example and charters. The SPS example is the DISTRICT creating the turnover and the charter example is the TEACHERS leaving. The RBHS teachers (most of them) were exited; charter teachers leave on their own.

Big difference.

emeraldkity said...

The RBHS teachers (most of them) were exited; charter teachers leave on their own.

SO which is preferable?
Teachers having more control over where they work or the district?

Anonymous said...

Let's say what "better-informed" Caroline SF say about charters is all true. The nagging question I have, is why would state/school board/federal government allow charters to operate if they practice discriminatory policies and violate federal and state laws? The other thing I keep asking for, but haven't found the answers to, is let's say we turn off the spigot to charters, what and who will take their place? Will the Michelle Rhee and all those "free-market" ed reformers you talk about go away? I don't think so.

I can't help but wonder 10 years ago with NCLB, while people sat around looking for the one thing that will fix our educational woes, several "smarties" came in and filled a vacuum that needed filling. (I lived in Detroit in the lat 90's, and the state and city had taken over Detroit public schools because it was so badly mismanaged. Today for better or worse 37% of kids are in charter schools --from National Center on Education Statistics.) What could have been more of a grassroots reform got hijacked and now we have charters run by companies and public schools buying up IT software and testing our kids at a cost of millions.

Caroline SF, I like that you are a passionate advocate. But I am a skeptic, so when I read phrases such as "charter sector flamingly underserves", falsely aggrandizes charters, "fertile bed of hot bed of scam artists and looters" well I tend to turn off. I guess what (and I suspect many of us new to the charter idea) are looking for is not just info, but more importantly, solutions.

Seattle mom

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

" I challenge you to find even one that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model."

Look very closely at this list:

http://www.charterschoolsearch.com/
SpecialtyProfile.cfm?&spec_id=4

This list offers pages and pages of charter schools that specifically target and serve disabled children. They serve autism, deafness, blindness, ADHD, and a multitude of other disabilities. Really, take a look at it. I'm not attesting to the quality of these schools as I've not done that research, but the services are there.

Also look at UCP. UCP of Central Florida is doing great work serving students with disabilities, and they are pioneering a magnificent inclusion model.
http://www.ucpcfl.org/

Also found some very interesting information on special ed and charters in this Nevada Dept of Ed PDF. I'm no expert on sped so I could be wrong but from what I see charters, at least in Nevada, are required to accept and provide for sped students just as the public schools do.

http://nde.doe.nv.gov/SpecialEdResources/charterschools.pdf

daf

emeraldkity said...

Love to get a school in the district similar to Summit K-12 without charters- what is the procedure to do this or replicate another successful alternative?

CarolineSF said...

daf, my understanding is that an INCLUSION model means the student is mainstreamed in regular classes. So those charter schools that specifically target and serve disabled children aren't inclusion models. I'm not a special ed expert, so please set me straight if I'm wrong.

Seattle Mom, the funny thing is that from my perspective (as someone who has lived in a charter state since the beginning and has been immersed in following them for many years), the gullible and naive are the ones who believe the charter propaganda, which comes from all the powerful sources -- politicians, media, think tanks, etc. We skeptics are the ones who question it. I've been hearing "it's a miracle!" for years about this or that charter fad-of-the-month. Skeptics are the ones who question the "it's a miracle!" hype -- the ones who see that the emperor has no clothes.

So I beg to differ that you're a skeptic when I (a powerless volunteer) are the one you're skeptical of! I counter that you're being insufficiently skeptical in falling for the propaganda coming from the nation's most powerful forces.

Sorry you don't like my writing style, but I don't see what that has to do with it.

seattle citizen said...

CarolineSF, you are right: "Inclusion" refers to placing Special Ed students (as much as is possible, depending on their particular need) in mainstream classrooms.
Of course, this meets the mandate (ethical and legal) Of LRE - Least Restrictive Environment.

I'd have a hard time believing that schools that, as daf tells us, "specifically target and serve disabled children...[that]serve autism, deafness, blindness, ADHD, and a multitude of other disabilities..." is meeting either the law or the intent of LRE: Does a person with ADHD NEED to be in school that "specifically targets" Special Ed, rather than in a general, mainstream class with support? I take daf's comment to mean that the schools daf cites are set up to ONLY meet the needs of special ed - I could be wrong. If they are, they are, as far as I can tell, breaking the law and the ethical mandate of inclusion, of LRE.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

And that's exactly why I can't take your comments very seriously, Seattle Citizen. You state your opinions, which are pure speculation, without doing any homework. You asked me to provide data. Links. Specific schools. I did that. But I can tell by your reply that you did not even take the time to look at one of the schools or links that I provided before you got on your soapbox. The QUICKEST way to lose credibility is to not do the research before you start ranting.

Until you take the time to look at the links and data that I provided, I will continue to discount everything you post and consider it just your own opinion, and complete speculation.

daf

seattle citizen said...

Uh, daf? I took your comment that the schools were specifically set up to target special ed students at face value. You're right; I hadn't yet looked through the list. I didn't need to in order to respond to Carolyn with my comment about inclusion and LRE.
I have now looked at the summaries on the link page, and at some of the actual school websites. It does not refute my comment at all.
Many, if not most of the schools cited are for pre-first grade students - preschools.
Some are for students with great need, yet even these seem to isolate those children (I'm not a special ed expert, but FRE and inclusion is possible in most if not all cases of SpEd.)
A couple of the schools cited are not Special ed but are for students in danger of dropping out.

So yes, "some charters" purportedly "serve" special ed students, but from the list you linked to they are pre-k, high need, or not special ed at all.

Not much help, I'm afraid, and my response to Carolyn stands: Inclusion is the law.

anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen go back and re-do your homework. You didn't look at 94 schools websites in the 14 minutes between my post and yours. You have cherry picked a school or two, without of course naming the school so that I could respond to your accusation. More Hyperbole. More knee jerking. Zero data.

daf

anonymous said...

Some of the schools I listed offer full inclusion, some don't. Since all charters are choice, and no child is forced to attend them, I'd say that sped charters (both inclusion and non inclusion) are working since parents are choosing them. Or do parents not get a say in what they want for their own children, SC?

As for your completely incorrect statement about all of the sped charters I listed being preschool, for drop outs, on non inclusion. Look again. On the first page alone there are 7 schools that offer at least 6 grades, and 3 offer inclusion models.

Take a good look before you jump back on your keyboard. I'm all for a reasonable debate, but you choose to keep posting false information and that is just irresponsible.

daf

Sahila said...

DAF.... perhaps you should go talk to some of the parent ed and spec ed advocates in Florida before you go spouting off about all the great charters there...

Go on Facebook and find Diane Hanfmanm and Roxanne Eckert... you might also look up the page SOS Florida (the SOS standing for Save Our Schools)...

you might also like to check out what's REALLY happening in New Orleans...

you make the mistake of believing all the PR spin and airbrushing you read...

CarolineSF said...

But daf, in a rather strong comment, you described programs that are not inclusion at all as "inclusion models." So it seems like you're confused and should pause and think things through before continuing to aggressively defend the charter sector's poor record for serving special-needs children. Even charter advocates generally acknowledge that the charter sector needs to improve its record.

But the other question I have is why some parents in a state that's just deciding whether to let charters in are bound and determined to hype charters rather than actually looking at whether they're working elsewhere. That doesn't seem responsible or prudent. True research is based on asking tough questions with skepticism, not swallowing hype and angrily disputing anyone who debunks the hype.

The Washington state PTA baffles me, too. Apparently it has gone rogue, because that's not the way PTA is supposed to operate. The much-larger California state PTA has a process that offers full opportunity to air both sides of a controversial topic. Also, we support teachers rather than endorsing strategies that attack and undermine them. The T in PTA is for teachers.

BTW I don't like my OWN writing when I sloppily write "I are." I are very embarrassed for doing that in a previous post.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

"But daf, in a rather strong comment, you described programs that are not inclusion at all as "inclusion models.""

I know the difference between inclusion and non inclusion Caroline, do you? You challenged me to find even one charter that offered sped inclusion. I found many, and I provided you with links to the schools websites, which you obviously have not looked at. I offered another link with pages of OTHER charters that cater to special ed students, some of which clearly offered inclusion, and some of which didn't state how or if they offered inclusion, but I assume that they do in some form or fashion as they are required to by law (IDEA). I'd urge to go re-read my comments, and take a look at some of the information that I provided Caroline. Take a close look at UCP charter, for a really fine example of a special ed inclusion model in a charter, and then look at others that were on that sped charter list I provided above.

Please stop posting that charters do not offer inclusion. It is wrong, and it is misleading, and irresponsible to keep posting it.

If charters don't offer as much (by percent and/or other verifiable data) sped than public schools do, or as much inclusion (by percent and/or other verifiable data) that public schools do, I'm very willing to entertain that. But I don't want your opinion on it, I don't want hyperbole, and I don't want canned charter remarks. I want verifiable data from unbiased, sources (board of ed, university studies, charter laws, school districts). That, and only that, will I consider. Can you provide that?

daf

CarolineSF said...

I never said that charters don't offer inclusion, daf, and your own description of your response is inaccurate.

What I said is that charters overall serve far fewer students (percentagewise) with disabilities than public schools -- "underserve" is the widely used ]term. This is a widely discussed issue everywhere there are charter schools, and one that the charter community often owns up to.

But that's not the same as saying charters "don't offer inclusion"; that's not what I said.

As to your previous very confused post. You were responding to my comment: " I challenge you to find even one that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model."

You responded with a list of specialty charter schools that specifically serve students with disabilities in a NON-INCLUSION setting. So your answer was apparently based on multiple misunderstandings on your part.

Yes, there are specialty charter schools that specifically serve students with disabilities, as I've said throughout this discussion.

I'm still curious: Why is it that some Seattle parents who are supposedly trying to learn about whether charter schools are a good thing for their state seem very predisposed to believe the hype from the bounteously funded charter sector, and to push away information that doesn't fit in with that hype? Melissa, that includes your comment that I'm not backing up all my information. It seems like a sincere person trying to learn about charters -- as opposed to someone whose mind was made up and who intended to propagandize -- would show interest instead of taking an "oh yeah? You can't prove it" attitude.

anonymous said...

Caroline said "I never said that charters don't offer inclusion, daf"

May I quote you Caroline?

"I challenge you to find even one that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model."

Why not just accept that you got it wrong and now acknowledge that some charters do, in fact, offer inclusion.

You challenged me to provide you with "even one" charter that offered inclusion, and I did, it was UCP. Then I went further and provided you with a list of charters that serve special needs students, some of which clearly state that they serve kids in inclusion models. If you would have taken the time to look at the list carefully you would have seen that.

Do you have any facts to support your theories Caroline? You continually say things like "widely used term" and "widely discussed issue everywhere there are charters" and "chrrnically worse in charters". These types of statements don't tell me anything. They are just tactics that you use to get people to believe what you say. Give me some facts Caroline. Solid facts. Data. Numbers. Studies. From unbiased sources. And I will consider them.

daf

suep. said...

Tried to post this a day ago and had no luck, but to follow up on a point--

daf said "charters are immediate."

How so?

Actually, they're not. For starters, they aren't legal in Washington. So you would need to change the state law. Second, charters need buildings. Where would the theoretical charters set up shop in our overcrowded district? Third, no school is ever "immediate." It takes time to set up a new school of any kind.

Whereas, the district could cancel MAP tomorrow if it wanted, saving precious class and library time and resources. It has already pulled back on the fall test. (We parents could also opt all our kids out of the test.) The district could also allow all schools waivers for variations on curriculum, reinstate site-based autonomy (what the district used to have before Goodloe-Johnson), designate more schools "option" schools, and grant teachers more creative autonomy, just to name a few ideas. Some of these changes could be close to immediate. Some may have to wait for November and a new school board.

We've seen so much churn in the past four years in SPS, there's no reason to think any decisions are set in stone. Already the district has had to undo parts of Goodloe-Johnson's "Strategic Plan for Excellence" by reopening schools it closed just a few years ago.

After Supt. Goodloe-Johnson got fired earlier this year, Board Director Michael DeBell wisely said the district should reassess and reconsider her Strategic Plan.

I agree.

And in this district, it seems to me, where there's a will in the John Stanford Center, there's a way.

Jan said...

Caroline -- most (virtually ALL) of the "pushback" you have received is from daf, who having dumped a large number of links into his/her comments, is now busy scolding anyone who has not digested all of it and come up with nuanced positions that take into account all 94 (or however many) links.

Some of the rest of us (I assume I am not alone) are very interested in your position and points; we have not interpreted your statements with your concern with respect to the relative lack of charters that offer "a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model" as a statement that NO charter school anywhere offers inclusion.

And Melissa (though I should let her speak for herself) I think is only trying to stay evenhanded and neutral here, since sometimes if she offers any opinion at all -- she gets slammed for being one-sided and narrow-minded. Particularly on this issue -- where there is so much history, and there is now so much corporate, "big ed" money trying to influence the debate.

I guess what I am saying is -- IF you are inclined, please stay in the discussion. While it is clear that you argue from a specific position, I have valued your points and input, and I suspect I am not alone.

As tackled by Melissa here (and I like her approach, even if I evidently will never be able to read the comments on part 2) -- it is a big topic, with lots of history, lots of policy implications, and lots of current political intrigue. The things that interest me most are:

1. the really big policy issues -- (a) should any tax dollars EVER be spent where the taxpayers are not calling the shots through an elected board (I say yes-- we do it all the time with Medicare dollars, university dollars -- through student loan funding, grant dollars, etc. -- but not everyone agrees), and
(b) IF you say yes -- where do you draw the line. I am charmed to have variations in pedagogy (montessori, Core Knowledge, classical, etc. and parochial schoos) but would be very unhappy with a Yearning for Zion Ranch charter school teaching polygamy, or an Islamist charter school teaching sharia law. I am not sure I can completely defend my position -- so I think there are really interesting issues out there.
2. governance issues, including:
a. the "forprofit (or nonprofit in name only) corporate charter school model -- where parents hand over, through the charter contract, huge amounts of control (and a huge chunk of assets and tax revenues), without realizing how little they can intervene later if they don't like it; and
b. The inevitable issues that will come up in the "little, localized" charters that I fondly dream of, when accounts go missing, cliques take over the school and there is no "higher" board, or ed director, or whatever, to appeal to. This sort of thing happens now, from time to time, at private schools, but because they KNOW in the end they have to attract X number of kids the following year, willing to pony up Y private dollars, it tends to keep the carnage to a minimum. When the money is tax money -- it may be harder to keep school-based mismanagement in check.

Ultimately, I can't tell whether we still get to debate "charters/no charters" or whether the fix is in (and I just don't know it yet) and all we are debating is how we can mitigate damage. But as long as the hands I see on the "charter" steering wheel are the hands of TfA, Kipp, Arne Duncan and friends, I will do what I can to keep charters OUT.

suep. said...

Also, daf -- CarolineSF has been researching charters for about 10 years now, and has firsthand experience with them, so I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss her contributions here.

And yes, there is data to support her statements. Check out the links to charter stories in the right-hand column of the Seattle Education Blog.

Here are just a few articles in the media about the ongoing special ed/charters issue:

Oprah-Backed Charter School Denying Disabled Collides With Law

By John Hechinger - Sep 20, 2011, Bloomberg News

The Problem With New Orleans’s Charter Schools
Oct 6, 2010 --
A legal complaint alleges that the Big Easy’s schools discriminate against children with disabilities. What good is the charter revolution if it doesn’t reach the students who are most in need?
-- Newsweek

Special education heightens charter debate

As the storm of controversy surrounding New York City charter schools continues to brew, special education has emerged as a particularly contentious issue.
-- Columbia Spectator

anonymous said...

"we have not interpreted your statements with your concern with respect to the relative lack of charters that offer "a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model" as a statement that NO charter school anywhere offers inclusion. "

No interpretation needed here Jan. Caroline said in print and I quote "I challenge you to find even one that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model."

No special interpretation needed here, it's pretty clear that Caroline doesn't think that even one chater offers special ed students an inclusion model.

Unfortunately for her - she's been proven wrong.

daf

seattle citizen said...

No she hasn't (been proven wrong_, daf - she challenged someone to "to find even one [charter] that truly serves a high percentage of special-ed students through an inclusion model."

The key word there is "truly." This blog is a discussion forum and CarolynSF is looking for an example that, for her, would "truly" demonstrate inclusion.

Personally, the UCD school, or whatever that Florida charter is called that you cite as an example, hasn't shown ME that it "truly" serves all students. Heck, it wasn't even gen-ed until ten years ago, and tho' I looked and looked on its website, I could find no student demographics, but I suspect that many if not most of its students are special ed even now.

It is not "inclusion" to have five gen-ed students in a special ed classroom; it is inclusion to have five special ed students in a gen-ed classroom.

S Russell said...

Daf,

There is a difference between pressure for a substantial donation to attend school at all and a fee for an optional activity. Yes you have to pay for full day K but parents have the option of enrolling kids for half-day for free.

Since pretty much all school have some kind of activity fees, I believe Caroline was referring to a donation above and beyond fees.

Also at my school all the fees for field trips, after school classes are optional (and there are scholarships available). I notice that a number of charter schools there is a mandatory activity fee.

Most of what I've read about charter schools says there is less accountability than public schools. Do you have any info that refutes that?