Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Charter Schools - What is Really Happening

The first thing to understand is that Congress is considering a bill to support and expand charter schools.  

The other, a charter school bill, is aimed at growing more high-quality charters and encouraging them to better serve students with disabilities and English-language learners. That bill also won swift approval, but not before a number of committee Democrats lambasted charter schools for siphoning off resources from other public schools—before voting for the legislation anyway. The bill passed 36 to 3.

Wait, what? 

It would combine two main federal programs for charters, meshing together grants to help charter school developers open new schools, with money to help charters find and fix up facilities. And the bill would make it easier for charter organizations with a track record of success to open more schools. 

Oh, but what about the bad charters?  The mediocre ones?  Those that are taking public dollars and were suppose to be successful and innovative? 

I have to shake my head that it takes an ACT of CONGRESS to try to get charters to better serve students with disabilities and ELL students.

What's new this time around: The bill would allow districts to give students with disabilities, English-learners, and other disadvantaged groups a leg up in charter lotteries. 

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., bemoaned the fact that the bill doesn't require charter schools to hold open meetings, a criticism also levied by the National Education Association.

But the American Association of School Administrators came out against the bill. "We have this crazy idea that all entities receiving public dollars should face the same accountability, flexibility and transparency requirements," the group wrote on its website.   

Yeah, call me crazy as well.

And the charter school bill is slated to be on the floor the week of May 5, which just happens to be National Charter School week, a Cantor spokeswoman said. 

You might want to consider contacting your House rep or Senators Murray or Cantwell and asking them to say no to this bill.


What else is happening in NYC? Here's the NY Times editorial titled, "Charter School Refugees":

LAST week, the New York State Legislature struck a deal ensuring that charter schools in New York City would have access to space, either in already crowded public school buildings or in rented spaces largely paid for by the city. Over the next few years, charters are expected to serve an increasing proportion of city students — perhaps as much as 10 percent. Which brings up the question: Is there a point at which fostering charter schools undermines traditional public schools and the children they serve?

In East Harlem, data for the 2012-13 school year shows that most of the public open-enrollment elementary and middle schools have double, and several have triple, the proportion of special-needs kids of nearby charter schools.  

Students with I.E.P.s also tend to leave New York City charter schools at higher rates than their general-education classmates, according to a 2014 study by the city’s Independent Budget Office.


And this happens to time out just so that the public schools these students transfer into, don't get counted in "key funding decisions."

Chrystina Russell, the founding principal of Global Technology Preparatory, a Harlem middle school, says charter-school “refugees” often showed up at her school after Oct. 31, when the Department of Education makes key funding decisions for traditional public schools based on head counts. This means that it can be difficult for the schools to hire additional teachers or support personnel when new students show up (though some funding is updated for special-education students who transfer by Dec. 31).

Here's the bottom line:

As charter schools demand an ever larger share of public resources, they insist that they teach a full spectrum of public-school students. But there is abundant evidence to the contrary. 

The latest battleground is over financial audits — a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan ruled last month that city charter schools do not have to submit their books to state auditing, even as Albany drafted legislation requiring audits by the city comptroller.

We should not allow policy makers to enshrine a two-tier system in which the neediest children are left behind.

All the things that we said were happening in charters schools throughout the country during the No on 1240 campaign are true (and NYC appears to be ground zero). 

I understand that 1240 passed but we do NOT have to allow the same injustices to happen in our state and on our watch.

From The Chalk Face blog:

For years, charters have gotten away with the spin that they serve the “same students” as high-poverty charter schools. In almost every case, those brazen claims were transparently false, but they were repeated with such confidence that many seemed to believe them. Rarely was there an effort to explain the seemingly arcane issue of “backfill.” But now, Chalkbeat’s Sarah Darville explains almost everything that citizens need to know about charter schools, their refusal to backfill their schools, and how it has become a crucial issue in New York City’s high-profile controversy about choice. 

What's "backfill?"

As Darville explains, “students who leave charter schools tend to be lower-performing academically, so not replacing them can boost scores overall.” This provides ammunition in their competition against traditional public schools.  

Moreover, students who enter the school midyear are often academically behind or they may have trouble adjusting to a new school. They are more likely to have unstable home lives. As Darville notes, “one ‘backfilled’ seat might actually be filled by two or three students over the course of a year.”

Outcomes?

As choice “creamed” off the students who were able to take advantage of charters, magnets, enterprise, and other selective schools, my school became 100% low-income. During the last two years of my career, every day, a student transferred in or out of my class. In such a situation, it was doubly important to welcome and to say good bye to students. Almost by definition, a student transferring into our school was doing so because no good choices were available. Students leaving also needed more guidance as to what it would take in their new schools. When the mobility rate reached such levels, there simply was no time for those essential conversations.

This is vitally important to consider whenever you hear those claims of "100% graduation" or "100% going to college."  Those claims may be true BUT you always have to ask, "and how many of the original 9th grade cohort is that?"  

At the Success school that has been around the longest, since 2007, of the original 83 kindergarteners the school started with, only 47 took the sixth grade test last spring. Of 73 first graders, only 35 took the seventh grade test. “Overall, they have ‘lost’ 47% of the original two cohorts.”  
Camden's charter schools in red: all have relatively low SpecEd rates, which clearly helps their proficiency rates (except in the case of DUE, which has a SpecEd rate just as low or lower than many CPS schools, yet lags relative to them in proficiency). 
Is State Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard's plan to move as many children as possible into charters with low SpecEd rates? Who, then, will be left behind in the public schools?
I think the answer to that question's rather obvious, don't you?
- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/04/charter-school-success-theres-always.html#sthash.Ne7jvCAQ.dpu
Camden's charter schools in red: all have relatively low SpecEd rates, which clearly helps their proficiency rates (except in the case of DUE, which has a SpecEd rate just as low or lower than many CPS schools, yet lags relative to them in proficiency). 
Is State Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard's plan to move as many children as possible into charters with low SpecEd rates? Who, then, will be left behind in the public schools?
I think the answer to that question's rather obvious, don't you?
- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/04/charter-school-success-theres-always.html#sthash.Ne7jvCAQ.dpuf
Camden's charter schools in red: all have relatively low SpecEd rates, which clearly helps their proficiency rates (except in the case of DUE, which has a SpecEd rate just as low or lower than many CPS schools, yet lags relative to them in proficiency). 
Is State Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard's plan to move as many children as possible into charters with low SpecEd rates? Who, then, will be left behind in the public schools?
I think the answer to that question's rather obvious, don't you?
- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/04/charter-school-success-theres-always.html#sthash.Ne7jvCAQ.dpuf
Camden's charter schools in red: all have relatively low SpecEd rates, which clearly helps their proficiency rates (except in the case of DUE, which has a SpecEd rate just as low or lower than many CPS schools, yet lags relative to them in proficiency). 
Is State Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard's plan to move as many children as possible into charters with low SpecEd rates? Who, then, will be left behind in the public schools?
I think the answer to that question's rather obvious, don't you?
- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/04/charter-school-success-theres-always.html#sthash.Ne7jvCAQ.dpu

6 comments:

n said...

I just ran across this on Huffpo. It was in the comments section of a column on educators:

Don't just apologize for this mess Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg. Please take action to help teachers, students and families reclaim public education. Join us for the June 26th rally at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. Anthony Cody, award winning education author, will be our keynote speaker.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-weillgreenberg/public-school-teachers_b_5104289.html

Anybody know about this?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't N but I do know Anthony so I'll ask him.

Absolutely Disgusted said...

The article indicates that only 3 Democrats voted against this bill. So, can we assume that Wa. State Reps voted for this legislation?

On another note: Our lovely neighbors, Center for Reinventing Public Education, which happens to be funded by Gates recommends that Race to the Top Dollars be used to lift caps on charters and promote other highly controversial initiatives.

http://www.edreform.com/issues/federal-policy/race-to-the-top/

I may be in the minority, but I am glad we had some legislators that had the courage to stand up to Duncan. Obama, Gates, Duncan et. al These guys are hell bent upon using dollars to turn our educational system over to private entities.

Melissa Westbrook said...

AD, this was in committee; it has yet to go to the entire House.

I was going to write soon about CRPE as they have totally thrown off any kind of semblance of fairness and it's charters 24/7 from them.

Adam said...

There will be a protest infront of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on June 26th and I hope people can attend.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Adam, could you write to me and let me know details of the protest:

sss.westbrook@gmail.com