Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Charter School Applicant Forums

I will be attending several of the charter school applicant forums this week.  I am slowly making my way thru some of the applications and it makes for interesting reading (but what a slog - very long applications - one was 238 pages!).

I don't want to give too much away because I do hope to make a public comment on several of them.  But here are a few highlights:
  • no KIPP? Not to worry, there's a KIPP-look-alike in the bunch.  Uniforms? Check.  Middle school handshake with administrator with scripted responses? Check?  Lots of TFA?  Check.  Very structured? Check.  Working with the Washington State Charter Schools Association? Check.  Punitive discipline over the small stuff? Check.
  • Another one - Coral Academy - is a no-sale for me.  It appears to be aligned to Gulen and that's just not a group to trust.  There is way too much evidence - from multiple states who have their charters - that the overall answer should be no.  Their petitions of support don't have the number of signatures that they claim and many people only gave a first name.  A couple of the more important letters of recommendation are in support of having a charter school in Kent, not Coral in particular.  Their application is uneven and has that whiff of trying way too hard.   Link #1, Link#2, Gulen issues state-by-state.  You be the judge. 
  • If you like being told what the expectations of you, as a parent, are but you will have almost zero input as a parent, you'll like some of these charters.  There's are service hours expected at some and all list how they interact with parents but it will certainly not be like regular public school.  In fact, in the several I have read thru, not one mentions organizing a parent group.  (Although one says "unlimited e-mails between teacher and parent" - have fun with that one teachers. To its credit, it also says that parent issues will be noted and meetings scheduled within one day on issues that parents bring to staff.)
  • Special Ed.  Oh so careful wording about the letter of the law but not a whole lot of specifics.  You don't get the feeling this is anyone's strong point.
  • STEM? check.  At-risk students?  check.  They know what the Charter Commission is looking for but how will this all play out will be the question.  
Update:  Here's a report from KING-5 TV.  Apparently one applicant did NOT show up for last night's public forum.   Washington STEM Academy didn't show.  That would seem to disqualify them from continuing on as that it is a legal requirement to be part of a public forum that the Charter Commission convenes. 

4 comments:

Samantha said...

"If you like being told what the expectations of you, as a parent, are but you will have almost zero input as a parent, you'll like some of these charters. There's are service hours expected at some and all list how they interact with parents but it will certainly not be like regular public school. "

Melissa,

How does the Charter Commission feel about this issue?

Charter schools are NOT public schools. Can you imagine mandating ALL parents to volunteer? Again, we're talking about equity.

mirmac1 said...

Whaa...?!?

I figured Gates bought his own personal charter via Washington STEM!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Samantha, the Charter Commission is charged, under the law, to consider what role parents have at each charter school. That they have so little imput on either the school activities/government should say something to the Commission but I would guess each item is weighted.

They can't force parents to volunteer but they can use it against them if they don't. If you come to a charter school and don't follow their "rules", they have the power to exit you.

Anonymous said...

who will be enforcing?

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/15/milwaukee-voucher-school-disappears-after-getting-2-million-in-taxpayer-money/

-schoolWatcher