So one reader, Rachel, had posted a link to an interesting article out of Philadelphia (from the parent blog, The Notebook) about a very exclusive charter where you can only pick up their application form one time a year and that's usually at their open house, held either at a private golf club or country club.
Interested families couldn't find
Green Woods’ application online. They couldn't request a copy in the
mail. In fact, they couldn't even pick up a copy at the school.
Instead, Green Woods made its
application available only one day each year. Even then, the application
was only given to families who attended the school’s open house – which
most recently has been held at a private golf club in the Philadelphia
Is this just an isolated incident there?
But this spring, that very
office found that Green Woods and 17 other charters seeking renewal imposed
“significant barriers to entry” on families. Some, like Green
Woods, went to extraordinary lengths to limit access to applications.
Others, like Eastern University Academy in East Falls, made onerous and sometimes illegal
requests from applicants for everything from typed book reports to proof
of U.S. citizenship.
are detailed in previously unreleased
district documents obtained by Pennsylvania’s Education Law Center
(ELC) under the state Right to Know law. At best, said ELC senior staff
attorney Jennifer Lowman, the barriers found by the district violate the
spirit of Pennsylvania’s 1997 charter law, designed to give families
more high-quality school options.
“Unfortunately, some of these
extensive application requirements flip that choice on its head,” Lowman
said. “It becomes the school that chooses, not the family.”
So I got to thinking that although the No on 1240 campaign has a very large FAQ list at its website (www.no1240.org), that maybe there are more questions.
This issue of applications might be one of them.
So to answer that question, there is nothing in 1240 that bar an application process to get into a charter school . Now you can argue that some magnet schools have applications but that's usually around ability (arts, for example). No, these are multi-page applications that, as a parent, you better be equipped to handle.
And it's not just for more exclusive charters as this article seems to describe. As I mentioned, I visited the acclaimed Preuss school on the campus of UCSD. It is a high-performing 6-12 school just for poor students (free-reduced lunch and first generation college) - they have quite a long and extensive application process. I could see this easily weeding out the students (and parents) who didn't have the wherewithal to understand what they wanted. It tends to get you to the most motivated and able parents.
This is an interesting thing about high-performing charters - they tend to have very involved parents. Coincidentally, it's the same thing for high-performing traditional schools.
I note that reader, Eric B, asked the question:
Do you think business can be persuaded to be against charters?
On the whole no. Our campaign is happy to talk with anyone who wants to listen and ask questions. Anyone. But business people have different thoughts about education than the general public.
As well, it was illuminating to be at the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce meeting this week and the Yes said said their supporters included the Washington Roundtable, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Democrats for Ed Reform, LEV and Stand for Children. I didn't cherry-pick his list; those are the only groups he stated. (Unsaid was the invisible hand of Bill Gates and his wealthy friends who are paying for the whole campaign.)
I got up and said our campaign was grassroots and we were mostly parents and community members as well as groups who have come out against 1240 like League of Women Voters, NAACP, El Centro de la Raza, Washington Association of School Board Directors, Washington State PTA, Washington Association of School Administrators, Japanese-American Citizens League Board, Parents Across America - Seattle chapter, and others.
Those are two different tents, clearly.
What questions do you have about 1240? I don't want to talk about charters broadly (but you can ask) just because, as I told the Bellevue C of C, we have all heard PowerPoints and read glossy brochures when learning about a new business or service or even a law but, for business, the devil is in the details and those would be in the contract.
So it is for 1240. The details of how charters would be enacted and operated in Washington State are in the intiative and nowhere else. That there is very little detail about 1240 at the yes site should tell you something. If I-1240 is so great, why don't they want to talk about it in detail?
Ask away - I'll do my best (and, of course, provide the specific citations in the initiative because I do want you be be able to keep me honest and/or make sure I get it right).
I will say that there are issue of vagueness in I-1240 (for example, WASA believes that conversion charters would NOT fall under the 40 charter rule. I read that section and I can't really say but it is problematic.)