Thursday, May 21, 2015

Charter Schools Updates

 Update: the Times has more reporting on the situation with First Place Scholars.  According to their article, two Commissioners wanted to revoke their charter. It was pointed out that FPS will probably owe money back to the state because they did not enroll as many students as they said they would.   FPS has another deadline of June 17th - less than a month - to meet the Commission's requests.  It appears most of the Commissioners agree that if these requests are not met by June 17th, they won't "kick the can" down the road again.  Head of FPS, Dawn Mason, continues to claim it's not FPS' fault because they opened too quickly. 

end of updates

From the PI, news about charter schools in Washington State:
First Place Scholars is still under scrutiny.
According to written reports to the commission, the school has made some progress in its work with students who do not speak English at home and in setting academic plans for children with special needs. But the commission is asking for more information, including detailed reports on testing, parent meetings and on students who have transferred out of the school.

Commission leadership expressed concerns that First Place was not following state guidelines for English-language learners and for supplying other kinds of student data, including testing.

Executive Director Joshua Halsey called the school's responses to its requests sufficient, but said he wanted more information so he could feel confident about the school's continued operations during the 2015-16 school year.
Only two groups followed thru in submitting applications this spring to open charter schools.  Six other schools had submitted letters of intent but were not ready to submit charter applications.
Summit Public Schools wants to open a middle and high school in West Seattle. If the application is approved by the Charter School Commission, it would be the charter management group's second location in Seattle and its third in western Washington.
Willow Public School has applied to open a new charter middle school in Walla Walla. The organization said the school will be focused on project-based learning.
The other charter authorizer in the state, the Spokane school district, did not receive any applications this spring.
There is one open charter and eight more approved (with seven opening this fall) but Washington State is unlikely to have the 40 charters in five years that are allowed for by the law and predicted to open by charter supporters. 

One public education blogger (G.F. Brandenburg who's a retired math teacher) writing about the "huge" waitlists that charter have. 
I made a prediction that one of the major factors in the length of the waiting list would be the socio-economic status of the school’s student bodies. I predicted that the smaller the fraction of the student body that was officially determined to be At Risk, the longer the waiting list would be, and vice versa of course: the greater the population of At Risk students, the shorter would be the waiting list.
I have now crunched the numbers, and found that my prediction is essentially correct, especially at the elementary level (less so at the secondary level).
What this means is that parents appear to be trying to leave any school that has a high proportion of At Risk students, and are trying to get their children into schools with more affluent student populations. So much for ‘No Child Left Behind': it’s more like “Let’s Leave All Those At-Risk Kids Behind”.
From the Washington Post:
A new report released on Tuesday details fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million of uncovered fraud and waste of taxpayer funds in the charter school sector, but says the total is  impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over these schools. It calls on Congress to include safeguards in legislation being considered to succeed the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released jointly by the nonprofit organizations  Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy. It follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report.
I should just stop right there but let's continue.
When we first started talking about charter schools at this blog, the point was made that money leaves a school when a student leaves.  That's the truth.  Whether it goes to another public school or not, it leaves THAT school and that district.

From the Striking at the Root blog about the recent Boston charter school enrollment fraud:
But today I was wondering about the resource drain of, the financial impact of, Boston's Public Schools having lost 8,500 students to charter schools.
If you were to walk into a BPS classroom, I doubt you would notice the enrollment difference that losing all these kids to Charter schools has made. In a classroom, it's 2.7 kids.



The thing is, that negligible 2.7 children per classroom translates to, on average, $973,500.00 less that the average BPS school receives in funding ($39,979.00 per classroom) than they would if they hadn't lost those 2.7 children.



The real problems for the public schools come from the fact that it's such a such a small number of students that have left each classroom. A school can't consolidate classrooms if two rooms have lost a combined total of 5.4 kids. A school can't let a teachers go because a classroom is down by 2.7 kids. The same goes for virtually all of the costs of operating the school. At a loss of 2.7 kids a classroom, the costs are still firmly fixed. The only thing that changes is that the school now has $973,500.00 less funding to somehow try and provide the same level of (or improved?) instruction. 
 This is what Tacoma Public Schools is facing down right now (and why they wanted the law changed so that one district could only get a certain number of charter schools). 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some friends in AZ are lamenting that the market-based ideology of charter schools has ruined their feel of community in their neighborhood, willingness to help others. Kids vie for spots in charters and parents do horrible things to other neighbors to ensure their kids get in over the neighbor kid, cut each other's kids down in front of others, only think of THEIR kids instead of doing something that might be good for the whole neighborhood. Instead of all the neighborhood kids going to the neighborhood public school, many of them go to about 3 different charter schools, and charter parents/kids look down on the public school kids as inferior. They would like to move out to a rural area with few to no charters, but those school districts (like Apache Junction - already closed 1 elementary, shortened week) are hurting even more under the new anti-public-ed Gov, who is even worse than Jan Brewer.

Any guesses as to which of the small independent schools in Seattle will close down first? All the talk about how charters will impact public schools, but I see it impacting the small private ones as well. Google Tesseract school in Phoenix, see what the charters have forced it to do.

CT

TechyMom said...

In a class of 29, having 2.7 fewer kids seems like a benefit all on its own. One of the problems here in WA is that as soon as a class gets to a reasonable size, someone decides it's too small and combines it with another class or another grade.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, it's not like kids previously came in perfect classroom-sized blocks, which are now all 2.7 kids short, right? It goes both ways--some grades may have been a few kids OVER what was convenient, and this could result in eliminating a mixed grade class. If the school loses 65 students and thus also a few teachers , they just have to reshuffle. They may end up with some better and some worse configurations, depending on the distribution of students. That 2.7 analysis is simplistic and misleading.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Any news on the Summit charter high school? Have they had to do a lottery? Are they taking any Sped or HC kids and will they have to provide service as SPS schools do?

This is the school that seems poised to be a game changer in Seattle, if it attracts active parents and does well.

Petra

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not going to promote Summit here. I do know they sent out a recruitment letter to some areas of town and apparently everyone gets a Chromebook. (Not sure how they got addresses that have kids.)

As well, on the back of the application it asked about IEPs and asked for specific details.

Can't say for certain what they will or will not provide.