Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Charter Schools and Federal Law - Fourth in the Series

 I decided to create a separate thread about the federal law and charter schools.  (I don't mention Special Education here as I will write a new thread on that issue and charter schools.)

To be clear, creation of charter schools is a right given to states.  The federal government has NO say over charter law in each state.


The enactment of State charter school laws is solely a State prerogative, and the definition of a “charter school” under State law is a matter of State policy.

However the feds give out a lot of money, via grants, for charters to plan and start-up.  This has escalated under the Obama administration as Secretary Duncan is a huge fan.

Below is info straight from the US DOE and I am going to print it verbatim.

The Charter Schools Program CSP) was authorized in October 1994, under Title X, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, 20 U.S.C. 8061-8067.  The program was amended in October 1998 by the Charter School Expansion Act of 1998 and in January 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The program, which provides support for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools, is intended to enhance parent and student choices among public schools and give more students the opportunity to learn to challenging standards. Enhancement of parent and student choices will result in higher student achievement, however, only if sufficiently diverse and high-quality choices, and genuine opportunities to take advantage of those choices, are available to all students. Every student should have an equal opportunity to attend a charter school.

Federal law and charter schools:
  • Comply with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
  • Meet all applicable Federal, State, and local health and safety requirements
  • As public schools, charter schools must be non-religious in their programs, admissions policies, governance, employment practices and all other operations, and the charter school's curriculum must be completely secular. A charter school may use the facilities of a religious organization to the same exten that other public schools may use these facilities so long as the charter school remains non-religious in all its programs and operations.
  • There is not provision or mechanism in the law that recognizes conversions of private schools into public charter schools.
Lottery requirements:
  •   In addition, a charter school may weight its lottery in favor of students seeking to change schools under the public school choice provisions of ESEA Title I, for the limited purpose of providing greater choice to students covered by those provisions.  For example, a charter school could provide each student seeking a transfer under Title I with two or more chances to win the lottery, while all other students would have only one chance to win.
  • A charter school may not create separate lottery pools for girls and boys, in order to ensure that it has a reasonably equal gender balance.  A school seeking to achieve greater gender balance should do so by targeting additional recruitment efforts toward male or female students.

25 comments:

caroline said...

Much of this is completely ignored, if not sneered at, of course. Charter schools do what they like, free of annoying oversight, when it comes to enrolling as they wish.

As for the religious issue: It's unknowable how many charter schools (given the lack of oversight and accountability) actually are actively promoting religion. One here in the San Francisco Bay Area was shut down after the S.F. Chronicle exposed that it was openly teaching religion AND charging tuition (it had been humming along unhindered for quite some time before the Chronicle got wind of it).

Then there are the Gulen schools, which are all run "based on the teaching" of a Turkish religious leader living in the U.S., Fetullah Gulen. Gulen schools are run around the world, but only in the U.S. are they run with public funding. The Gulenists deny that the schools are a network at all, despite their obvious close similarities, but if they are a network, it's the nation's largest charter network. Charter advocates just slap down anyone who criticizes funding Gulen schools with public money by calling them racists.

Here's a blog critical of the Gulen schools:

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/p/gulen-school-characteristics.html

And here's a pro-Gulen website:
http://gulenschools.org/

anonymous said...

What is the name of the charter school that was shut down in SF for teaching religion? I like to research these types of things myself rather than take comments at face value. There are usually two sides to every story.

As for Gulen schools, I'm not sure what the issue is? We continually talk about how other countries outperform the US. Gulen schools do amazingly well academically, and while they may incorporate Turkish culture and language, they do not teach religion. Would we feel this way if we had Finnish charter schools or schools that taught based on the proven methods used in Singapore? Nobody is forced to attend Gulen schools (that I'd have a problem with. They are charters and as such they are choice schools. If you don't like their philosophy don't send your kid there.

DW

CT said...

This has been under investigation in Tucson, AZ, as well as Utah (Beehive Academy). They have been accused of only hiring Turkish Nationals and sending money back to fund controversial groups in Turkey.

http://azstarnet.com/news/blogs/senor-reporter/article_daa03fc2-53f7-11e0-b67f-001cc4c03286.html

It's been funny to watch the hypocritical AZ GOPs who want charter schools and no govt interference suddenly want the DOJ to investigate....

CT said...

Here's more on Tucson Gulen charter schools:
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/hidden-agenda/Content?oid=1694764

And I believe this is the link to the SF Chronicle's story on the school in SF that Caroline referenced.
http://articles.sfgate.com/2001-12-17/news/17633377_1_charter-schools-fresno-unified-school-district-principal

Anonymous said...

Turkish charter schools - one way to check them out is if they teach about the Armenian genocide.

-JC.

Anonymous said...

And consider:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-21/oprah-backed-charter-school-denying-disabled-collides-with-law.html

They often exclude children with serious disabilities or deny them the help they need, violating federal laws. ...

“They left me,” Joseph recalled the boy telling him on the day of the Winfrey celebration. “They left me out.” ...

Along with the academy supported by Oprah’s Angel Network - - which the entertainer used to raise money from the public -- New Orleans charter schools accused of discrimination include those that are favored charities of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s Walton family and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Shunning special-education students helps school budgets since the average disabled child costs twice as much to serve as a nondisabled one,

… The practice also improves the reported academic results of schools because children with disabilities often have lower scores on standardized tests…

About 1.8 million children -- or 4 percent of public school students -- attend charters, five times the number in 1999-2000,…

Charters last year received $14.8 billion in local, state and federal money, up from $4.5 billion in 2003…

New Orleans, Los Angeles and Washington, three districts that rely on charter schools, face claims of systemic discrimination in special-education court cases, including allegations that charters aren’t open to children with serious disabilities. …"

-JC.

caroline said...

Silicon Valley Academy in Sunnyvale, south of San Francisco. It ended up becoming a private school, charging tuition but no longer receiving public funds. It's part of this article:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2001-12-17/news/17633377_1_charter-schools-fresno-unified-school-district-principal

The Silicon Valley Academy issue was part of a bigger story, as you can see if you read the entire article, but that was a microcosm. But my point is that it's not knowable where this is still happening because no entity has the bandwidth to effectively oversee charter schools. We do know about the Gulen schools, which are based on the religious teachings of a religious leaders. But as we can see from @DW's, not only are individual charter backers willing to look the other way, they also have the momentum and immense resources of the overall charter sector behind them.

As these are publicly funded schools, "if you don't like them, don't send your kid there" isn't really an effective or valid response to the question of whether charter schools are teaching religion, @DW. In that case, why not just openly allow charters to operate any way they want, with full public funding and not even any attempt to regulate them? Or is that what you're endorsing -- in which case you should be honest and say so.

Anonymous said...

What about the Rocketship Education company charters. San Jose is letting them expand. Good or bad?

AS

SolvayGirl said...

My daughter's private HS does amazingly well academically. Should public funds be supporting it? I don't think so.
There are plenty of types of school that do well—with the students they attract/accept. It's very unfair to compare any school to a public that must take all comers no matter what the issues.

CT said...

Here is a must read article about the privatization of our public schools and how they have become a "cash-cow" for Wall Street.
http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bought-americas-schools?page=full

If that link gets cut off, try this one.

anonymous said...

" SolvayGirl said...
My daughter's private HS does amazingly well academically. Should public funds be supporting it? I don't think so."

You might think so if you couldn't afford your private school and your daughter was stuck at Aki or RBHS. Not everyone can "scrape together" and get their family to help pay for private school. You are lucky but not everyone is. So why shouldn't every kid get what your daughter has?

Think about it.

dan dempsey said...

Have a look at the following:

http://vimeo.com/32543264

This presents the Teacher Quality situation very clearly ... with the current "Teaching Profession" death spiral in Ed USA and what is occurring in many high rising high performing nations. ==> Ignorant teacher bashing is NOT a plan for success.

Content expertise and a full year of intensive internship before Teaching ... in countries on the rise ..... versus Seattle's support for 5-week TFA corps members .... and Randy Dorn's ... No careful review ... No problem approval..... of conditional certs.

Now get ready for more of the Rodney Tom -- Eric Pettigrew ... march of the morons ...

If anyone thinks we are headed toward improvement .... through a current "push for charters" .... try a broader detailed viewing of the evidence.

IF Joy Anderson's TFA appeal of Board action ..... was at Vegas ... the next move would be to double down on a class action lawsuit .... for repeated ongoing failure to .... "do anything positive in regard to achievement gaps". .....
========
Claiming to have conducted a careful review of closing achievement gaps while not having done so ..... smacks of callous intentional disregard.

--- Oh ya ... I forgot that every school quality school rhetoric.
-I believe so - Oh, Nevermind

Melissa Westbrook said...

I hope to have a thread on the top charters to address the biggest/top performers.

Again, choice is a loaded word.

caroline said...

I'm highly skeptical of Rocketship's "miracle!" test scores, @AS. I think it would be stupid for my district to bring any in until they've been time-tested. My district BOE rejected an application, and got beat up by the press and the usual reformy voices for it, but I think they were being entirely prudent.

Also, I know from contacts in city government that Rocketship was calling them all and putting on the hard sell. If they're so great, do they have to act like sleazy high-pressure salesmen? Rhetorical question. (City government has nothing to do with approving charter schools -- the hard sell was presumably just to add to the pressure.)

If Rocketship's "miracle!" achievement stands the test of time and public scrutiny, then I"ll be convinced and will become an eager cheerleader. Oh, there goes a pig flying by...

Anonymous said...

CT
great article

SA

Charlie Mas said...

I think Rocketship works and works well.

I have looked into it a bit and it seems legit to me.

They don't over-promise. They haven't over-expanded. They accept all students.

I don't know how well they deal with a variety of disabilities, but I really like their model.

If you would like to see something like their model in action, you can visit Queen Anne Elementary.

CT said...

Many times a school will work well in one location. It's when they try to replicate that there is an issue. Not enough research is spent looking at the unique conditions of that school - the culture, the locality, past experiences of both students and teachers, the administrator, etc.
The school deformers are looking for a quick magic formula that -poof! - will make them big bucks and make them famous as the person/organization who "saved" public education. Reality is that it will take an investment of time, training, money, hard work, and social services. That's the magic bullet they're trying to ignore.

caroline said...

@Charlie Mas -- Rocketship is currently trying to open dozens of new schools, and putting the hard sell on a long list of city officials in my community (in the hope that those officials will pressure the school board). What would be your definition of "overexpansion" if that's not it?

Having followed charters very closely for many years, I've learned to question claims of "miracles!" -- I would strongly advise everyone to do the same -- repress any urge to be naive and gullible, and instead be questioning and skeptical, not just in school reform but in life. There's no downside -- if it turns out to be a true miracle, your initial skepticism will not have limited its wonders. There's that flying pig again...

Anonymous said...

well i.m sure skeptical of your motives Carolin

Resisting Gullibility

Charlie Mas said...

Here is the Rocketship web site.

It looks like they have about seven schools in San Jose right now.

They say that "Rocketship plans to open approximately 30 schools in San Jose by 2020"

caroline said...

@Resisting Gullibility, challenging my motives without disputing any of the facts I've given you is the weak and ineffectual last resort of someone who HAS no arguments to make. My facts are accurate and are based on many years of closely following the charter school sector.

What motives would you suspect I have? I have no financial interest in challenging the charter/reform juggernaut. Au contraire, as a journalist, I've HARMED my financial fortunes by cutting off the many available freelance options that are amply funded by pro-charter interests. (There are no parallel freelance options amply funded by pro-public-education interests.) Obviously, anyone with a greedy, dishonest and unprincipled agenda would be sucking up to the billionaire-backed charter/reform industry, not challenging it.

@Charlie Mas, Rocketship has only three schools that have existed long enough to have test scores to report: Rocketship Los Suenos, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy and Rocketship Si Se Puede. Whatever other schools they have are in their first or second year of opeartion. They have been attempting to open or lay the groundwork for many. As I said, Rocketship has been lobbying a vast array of city officials here in San Francisco, though I'm not sure how many schools they plan to propose.

Charlie Mas said...

caroline wrote: "challenging my motives without disputing any of the facts I've given you is the weak and ineffectual last resort of someone who HAS no arguments to make"

caroline also wrote: "I'm highly skeptical of Rocketship's 'miracle!' test scores" and "If Rocketship's 'miracle!' achievement stands the test of time and public scrutiny, then I'll be convinced and will become an eager cheerleader. Oh, there goes a pig flying by..."

So sometimes facts are to be believed, and sometimes we're supposed to be skeptical of them.

caroline said...

No, my point is that questioning my motives rather than my statements reveals that the charter defenders posting here have no case to make and cannot back up their position.

I encourage you to question my facts aggressively -- I'm happy to discuss them.

suep. said...

Charlie Mas said... (...) If you would like to see something like their [Rocketship charters'] model in action, you can visit Queen Anne Elementary.

But Charlie, Queen Anne isn't for the most part a "high need neighborhood" (Rocketship's target).

Interesting, though, that QAE's mascot is a rocket ship.

http://www.queenanneelementary.com/

http://www.rsed.org/

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