Sunday, December 20, 2015

Washington State Fight between Fully-Funding Public Ed and Charter Schools

Let's start with charters.

You may recall the "yet another faux ed reform group" called Act Now for Washington Students.  This group is organized by the usual suspects - LEV, Stand for Children, DFER and the Washington State Charter Schools Association.  All these get money from the Gates Foundation.

They have formed a PAC that hopes to raise (and presumably spend) $500,000 just for this legislative session to influence legislators on charter schools.  They have already spent $20K on 13 House members (each got $1,000) including Seattle's charter cheerleader, Eric Pettigrew.  This is in addition to the number of print and tv ads running.  It is not cheap to run a local ad during football Sunday. 


Oddly, ANWS doesn't mention this PAC at their website or their Facebook page.  Now if you wanted parents to be all in, wouldn't you tell them this and be asking them for money?  (WSCSA does have a Save Washington Charter Schools Campaign but that says it's for "emergency relief for these schools," not lobbying.)

Legislators cannot receive any more dollars after the next legislative session starts on Jan. 11th.


I would suggest that if you feel, as I do, that McCleary IS job#1 for public education during this short legislative session, then please take 5 minutes between now and Jan. 11th to let your own legislative reps know.  It will make a difference.

Over at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page, there's quite the discussion going on when one of the WPD leaders, Summer Stinson, listed all the legislators who had not signed the Paramount Duty resolution.  Here's who has:

Senator Cyrus Habib and Representative Ruth Kagi, Representatives Jim Moeller, Derek Stanford, Luis Saúl Moscoso, Chris Reykdal, Mia Gregerson, Tina Orwall, Reuven Carlyle, Gael Tarleton, Brady Walkinshaw, Hans Dunshee, Gerry Pollet, and Jessyn Farrell; and Senators Rosemary McAuliffe, Bob Hasegawa, Christine Rolfes, Maralyn Chase, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Pramila Jayapal, John McCoy, Kevin Ranker, Jamie Pedersen, and David Frockt. Governor Jay Inslee and Representative Zack Hudgins also affirmed it.

Still wondering about these people:

Representatives Cindy Ryu, Chad Magendanz, Drew Hansen, Eric Pettigrew, Christine Kilduff, Jake Fey, Jeff Morris, Joan McBride, Joe Fitzgibbon, Lillian Ortiz-Self, Larry Springer, Kevin Van De Wege, Pat Sullivan, Marcus Riccelli, Matt Manweller, Patty Kuderer, Sharon Wylie, Sherry Appleton, and Tana Senn; Senators Jeannie Darneille, Karen Keiser, Steve Hobbs, Sharon K. Nelson, and Steve Litzow.

Now, of course, Rep. Chad Magendanz weighs in about McCleary saying:

I would sign the resolution except for one issue...the statement about the state funding the full cost of school construction. If the School Construction Assistance Program statutes are tested under the same standard the court applied to operating formulas in McCleary, there are some important differences in the constitutional framework because the constitution sets up school construction as a SHARED responsibility of the state and school districts. And practically speaking, we just don't have the capacity in the capital budget to fund all school construction because of our constitutional debt limit.

Eden Mack, another WPD leader, answered:  Sorry, Chad Magendanz, can you show where in the constitution it says this about buildings? I find it confusing that the Court would specifically call out the States responsibility to fund buildings if there was something in the constitution that contradicted that.

Summer: I'd also like to better understand your argument, Chad Magendanz. Eden Mack is far more familiar with the school construction/buildings issues than I am. However, it seems nonsensical to me to argue that while the Constitution requires the state to provide the basics for education--including a low student/teacher ratio for K-3, full-day kindergarten, etc.--that somehow the state is not required to provide buildings or otherwise house basic education.

Then there's quite the lengthy discussion.  I find this fascinating because now Magendanz is worried about McCleary because of capital issues?  

Then, in comes Rep. Matt Manweller (R) from the 13th district (by Ellensburg.) You should be interesting not in just what he says about McCleary but he is sponsoring a rather interesting bill around free speech on college and university campuses.  (He is a Political Science professor at Central Washington.)  The Washington Post had a story on "identity politics" that apparently inspired Manweller.  (I'll have a separate post on this later on because it's quite the hot topic.)

On to what Rep. Manweller said.  The question presented to him was "Do you support transferring public properties to private entities?"  His one word reply?  "Yes."

Summer Stinson:   Do you also support fully funding basic education in Washington state? Would you please sign the Paramount Duty resolution requesting that the State of Washington, promptly and fully comply with the Supreme Court’s orders in the McCleary case?

Manweller: No

He goes on:

I support charter schools because they:

1. Create incentives.


2. Add competition to a state based monopolistic system.

3. Provide opportunities to underachieving and minority students.

4. And most importantly, the creation of charter school teachers means less money in the pockets of the WEA--the entity that is the single largest barrier to a good education in Washington State.


I myself asked him, "What incentives?" but naturally, got no answer.  
 
Summer asks again: Representative, Matt Manweller, do you also support fully funding basic education in Washington state?

Manweller: Not at the Court's directive.  And they already are fully funded.

When some, including me argued with him, he said:
But just because you don't want to send your kids means you should be able to stop others? That's why it's called school CHOICE.

He answered not one concern raised to him nor explained his reasoning except for "choice."

One interesting and tantalizing bit of info from Magendanz after public ed activist, Kathy Smith, and I raised the issue of the petition clause of the charter school law.

Magendanz: Just to clarity, the provision in I-1240 for conversion charters doesn't actually transfer ownership of the property. It just allows rent-free use. You'll see language drafted in the charter school fix to ensure that this doesn't run afoul of constitutional prohibitions on lending of credit or gifts of public funds, and it will likely leave considerably more discretion to the school district (just like for after-hours community use).

I, of course, know very well that section of the charter law that uses a petition for a charter school to take over an existing school's building doesn't transfer ownership but really, that's the least of the problem.  But that highlighted part of his statement, that speaks volumes.

So someone IS re-writing this so-called "best charter law in the country?"  Someone actually DID hire a real constitutional lawyer who said, "Uh this part here, where the charter school kicks out a school community and gets to use the building rent-free and the district has to pay for major maintenance? I think that's gifting of public funds."   I can't wait to see how they plan to do this because right now no district has any "discretion" if a charter were to take over a building. 

 Magendanz says: In a case like this, the question boils down to whether there is a tangible benefit to the public (consideration) provided in exchange for the use of the public asset. Charter school advocates would say of course—rent-free use for conversion charter schools benefits the schoolchildren and is a use for public education.

To which I say, It's not a tangible benefit to the public to throw out an entire school community. Whether it helps one group of children doesn't matter if it hurts another and good luck arguing that in court. As well, you are not going to be able to sustain that "teacher" ability and see it stand up in court.

Last thing.  I was trying to make public disclosure requests to all the charter schools.  Boy, that's not easy.   Why?

1) Four out of the eight had the call roll to someone's voicemail. Not with the name of the school but a single person's voicemail.  Almost as if it went to a cell phone.  Do these schools not have landlines?  Because those would be vital if cell service went out in an emergency.

2) I tried the ones with voicemail twice and never got a real person.  These are the only phone numbers I could find for these schools but I hope there's some private one for parents because, if I were a parent at the school, I'd be very worried if I got a voicemail when I called the school.

3) Green Dot's person is in California which would lead me to wonder if there was just one person for all the Green Dot schools in Washington State and California.

4) The ones I could not reach did not call back.  Whether it's an e-mail or a phone call, I generally never have this problem with SPS  public disclosure. 

I will be very interested to see when I hear from the schools where I did make a request.   

40 comments:

Teacher Greg said...

If it's pay to play with the legislature, what would it take to get Pettigrew to not support A corporate takeover of public education? If all opposed sent him 10 bucks would that do it?

Anonymous said...

The only solution for Pettigrew is to recruit an opponent for him who will outwork him, out-fundraise him, and defeat him at the polls.

-- Ivan Weiss

Melissa Westbrook said...

Greg, I think defeating Pettigrew is a better fix (long-term) and Ivan, I think it can surely be done with the right candidate.

Anonymous said...

"I, of course, know very well that section of the charter law that uses a petition for a charter school to take over an existing school's building doesn't transfer ownership but really, that's the least of the problem." Based upon this state, I don't think you know this section of the charter law very well, as a matter of fact you are cherry picking portions of various parts of the law to make your inaccurate case.

RCW 28A.71.230(2) states, a charter school has a right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed public school facility or property or unused portions of a public school facility...if the school district decides to sell or lease the public school facility or property pursuant to RCW 28A.335.040 or 28A.335.120. Using the term "to take over an existing school's building" does not appear to be supported by statute.

If your statement refers to conversion schools, then look more closely at the statue that provides the guidelines by which a conversion from traditional to charter public school occurs (RCW 28A.710.230(5)). Again, there is no reference to "take over an existing school's building".

Additionally, is the upcoming legislative session really a fight between fully-funding public education and charter schools? Are these mutually exclusive? I don't think they are because I view the charter school issue as the leverage we all want regarding a fully funding public education. As it stands today, its clear the interest and courage to further fund public education is absent, especially from the Republicans who control the Senate and are on the verge of controlling the House. If charters can get Republicans to the table for a increase in funding conversation, great because this type of leverage is what Democrats have been looking for.

Finally, vilifying a newly established PAC is so short sighted. Those that want public education fully funded do not want the WEA to dominate the how and what that funding looks like. Unfortunately, there are not other PACs or groups that have the money and power to influence the conversation to the degree the WEA can and does (doesn't sound very democratic to me). Please remember the WEA is not about kids, parents or communities, its about its own longevity. The WEA did serve a purpose at one time, but that time has gone.

--Cam Reynolds

Anonymous said...

Cam Reynolds repeats the tired old right-wing lie, promoted by the Seattle Times, Republican legislators in both chambers, and education "reformers" everywhere, that the WEA is the big bad villain in this play, and that by extension, teachers are in it for the money only, and place their salaries and benefits above the children who they educate.

He doesn't want to face the FACT that teachers' political and bargaining power would be small indeed, compared to what it is now, if teachers did not have broad support from the communities that they serve. When teachers -- not their unions' leadership, but rank-and-file teachers -- are allowed the time and the opportunity to explain their issues to their school communities, and their district's communities at large, they earn support across the board.

If it was otherwise, how then to explain the overwhelming victories of Initiatives, 728, 732, and 1351, and the outpouring of visible, tangible, widespread community support for the recent SEA teacher strike?

The right wing, and certainly the ed reformers and charter supporters, continue to try to pretend that teachers are somehow separate from the communities they serve, and are somehow separate from the unions they elect to bargain for them. It's all "We're for teachers, BUT . . ." It's the big lie, and they will continue to push it, because they have the money and the resources to continue to push it.

It avails nothing to remind them that that money could be used in classrooms instead of in PR campaigns. Their goal is control and profit, and we must continue to oppose them.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

Ivan,

Your response could apply, word for word, to the defense we hear from Police unions across the country and in our city who are slow to change and are truly detrimental to under-served communities.

It's not a lie that teachers are separate from the unions they elect to bargain for them: what was the membership voter turnout in the last SEA election that ushered in more years of Knapp? What was the real membership turnout for the votes to end the strike? It's not a myth that the WEA exercises outsized influence with state representatives like McCauliffe and Pollet.

This does not mean critics of the WEA believe that teachers are 'only in it for the money.' We do not believe the drivel some spout that the union is the teachers and the teachers are the union. That is simply not true. If the elections and participation were 100%, it might be.


What about liberal Democrats who support universal healthcare, a fair wage, fully funding education, and charter schools? Your broad-brush attacks are right out of the right-wing playbook for brushing all people as a monolith ('the liberals are attacking my individual rights! They're weak on terror!')

Cam, thanks for your nuanced response.

-Nuance

Anonymous said...

When push comes to shove, the union is the teachers and the teachers are the union. Very few liberals support charter schools. Plenty of neoliberals do. There's some "nuance" right back at you.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

Additionally, is the upcoming legislative session really a fight between fully-funding public education and charter schools? Are these mutually exclusive? Truthfully? yes, yes they are. A fully funded public education system has been waiting for a very very long time. Lets fix that FIRST and then maybe, we can have a conversation about the concept of Charters.

Here's an idea - maybe if standard public education was fully funded, allowing variable programming and sufficient teacher/aide resources in every classroom there would be no NEED for Charter schools.

But no, Charter advocates would apparently rather hold hostage the education of many many many public school children for the few who want Charter Schools. That is so wrong. And you can deny it till the cows come home, but that's essentially what's happening here.

reader47

Anonymous said...

Ah, the all encompassing "neoliberal" label. Right up there with the way the right-wing stamps all democrats as tax-hungry people who love to spend others' money. Does that make others "paleo-liberals"?

Where are your statistics to back up that "very few liberals support charter schools"? Many liberal states like Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York have charter schools.

-Nuance

Anonymous said...

We're here in Washington, where charter schools are unconstitutional, and this discussion is about Washington. What other states do is their affair.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

Nice deflection. I asked you to back up your statement that "very few liberals support charter schools." Are liberals exclusive to Washington State? If they are, though 1240 narrowly passed, it still passed. It narrowly lost in very liberal King (while it passed in Pierce and Snohomish counties) with roughly 80% voter turnout. It's likely some or many of those voters in the 'yes' column were excited about the prospect of working outside the existing bureaucracy to provide options for their families and were not part of some corporate funded 'neo-liberal conspiracy' to privatize schools.

It's easy to paint people whose viewpoints you disagree with broad strokes and brushes, but the reality is much different.

-Nuance

NO 1240 said...

Carm Reynolds,

You link to RCW's that are dead. Charter schools are unconstitutional. The law no longer exists. Additionally, any effort to convert a public entity to a private entity will be met with a legal challenge.

As Melissa points out, how can you take a building away from one set of students and provide the building to another set of students and say there is public benefit?

Some in the legislature will attempt to resurrect an unconstitutional law. I don't believe it is possible and will most likely lead to additional law suits.



Anonymous said...

I can keep doing this as long as you can, "Nuance," but I'd rather not bother, other than to rewrite one of your numerous falsehoods (caps mine). "It's likely some or many of those voters in the 'yes' column were excited about the prospect of working outside the existing bureaucracy to provide options for their families and IMAGINE THAT THEY were not part of some corporate funded 'neo-liberal conspiracy' to privatize schools."

I hope you don't hope to deny, with a straight face, that such a conspiracy exists, because it exists by its own adherents' proud boasts. And charter schools are an integral part of their mission, which I also doubt you'd be eager to deny with a straight face.

-- Ivan Weiss

Charlie Mas said...

No 1240 makes an excellent point. Whatever the old charter law said doesn't matter anymore. That law has been struck down. Any reference to that law in the present tense is an error. It does not have a present tense.

Cam Reynolds asks "is the upcoming legislative session really a fight between fully-funding public education and charter schools? Are these mutually exclusive?"

Of course they are not mutually exclusive. The legislature can do both. It would, however, be unacceptable for the legislature to revive charter schools without fulfilling their paramount duty and fully funding public schools. It would be possible, but unacceptable.

Cam Reynolds, like the Seattle Times, is working slyly to create a narrative in which reviving the charters is the path to fully funding the public schools. In this scenario, the opposition to fulling funding the public schools is bargained away by granting the public school opponents the charter school legislation they crave. It sounds like standard legislative wheeling and dealing - I'll agree to your bill if you will agree to mine. As Cam Reynolds wrote: "If charters can get Republicans to the table for a increase in funding conversation, great because this type of leverage is what Democrats have been looking for." So hooray for the Republicans deep desire for charters - it finally gives the Democrats something they can trade to get McCleary. Except that one half of this trade is fully funding public schools which is the legislature's paramount duty and which they are required to do by order of the Supreme Court. No bargains should be required to win that; it is already won. In fact, it was won twice - once in the Constitution and a second time in Court. So, no. Give us the fully funded public schools and don't hold them hostage to charters. That's unacceptable as well.

Cam Reynolds writes: "Finally, vilifying a newly established PAC is so short sighted." No. They are villains. They should be vilified.

Cam Reynolds writes: "Those that want public education fully funded do not want the WEA to dominate the how and what that funding looks like." Really? Did you take a poll? What forms the basis for this claim? I'll tell you this: those who do NOT want public education fully funded sure don't want the WEA to dominate the how and what that funding looks like. As for those who do want full funding, I can't say. I can say that I'm not particularly worried that the WEA will exercise undue influence. After all, let's remember that the how and what of fully funded basic education has already been defined. That fight is over.

Cam Reynolds writes: "Please remember the WEA is not about kids, parents or communities, its about its own longevity. The WEA did serve a purpose at one time, but that time has gone." Excuse me, Mr. Reynolds, if I don't accept your application for spokesperson for the WEA. So I'm not believing your claim that the teachers' union is only about its own longevity until you can show me where they have said that for themselves. As to whom the WEA represents, they represent teachers. Did they ever claim to represent kids, parents or communities? Would it matter if they did? We all know that they represent teachers. Are we supposed to believe that the Gates Foundation, their astroturf groups, or their PACs are about kids, parents, or communities? You can keep trying to sell that, but don't expect anyone to buy it. As to the question of whether teachers' unions continue to serve a purpose, I think they do. Teachers are just as much in need of protections from capricious decisions by their managers today as they ever were. To suggest otherwise is to reveal your ignorance of what happens in schools.

Anonymous said...

Ivan,

What did I post that was false? You have not answered my questions regarding union voter participation or what "liberals" vote for. You've made blanket assumptions. I have provided examples to back up my claims.

I think the line between public and private is an interesting one. Our adherence to an elected board, the most recent one disproportionately elected by a minority of our voters (less than 40% in the case of King County) does not lead to great school options for our students and parents. Paleo-Liberals (it's fun to paint others with one brush!) will argue that it's up to those parents to advocate to their school board member and their school, it's the democratic way. Ultimately those who speak a second language, don't have time to show up for public testimony at a board meeting, or face a whole host of institutionally racist policies in our mechanistic and anachronistic form of localized schooling. As a result, we have a system that benefits the kids who are doing just fine, thanks. Paleo-Liberals will argue that great options exist in Seattle! Look at Salmon Bay, TOPs, Nova! Great programs. They're also selective: these schools can move out students who aren't the 'right fit.' Other schools have wait lists and use a 'gasp' lottery to decide who can get in through open enrollment. Most of these choice schools also are, demographically, representative of those who have the most time and agency to interact with our elected board: those whose kids are doing 'just fine' OR those who have the resources (namely time and money) to advocate on behalf of their kids, which they absolutely should do. The result: exclusive schools like Lincoln at APP (now Cascadia) and Salmon Bay. They are charter schools in all but label.

For those parents who can't engage in this machine, they only have one piece of agency: the fact that the money that supports their child could be moved to another sector. They don't have the resources for private school, so a charter might be an option. Paleo-liberals seek to deny parents this choice. "Yep, you're school is under performing and that's just too bad. Engage with your school board, rattle the cages."

Even those with agency, time, and political influence are experiencing what a challenge this is.

-Nuance

Anonymous said...

The McCleary lawsuit came before 1240, so the underfunding of public schools by the legislature cannot be caused by charter schools because it came before charter schools arrived.

What did cause the underfunding of public schools? An inability of the legislature to agree on how to define "basic education"? An unwillingness to take funds away from other programs? The legislature realizing most voters in WA aren't concerned? Something else?

I apologize if everyone else already knows the answer to this, but I'm new to WA, so I'm new to this.

LisaG

Charlie Mas said...

It is very encouraging to read so much Nuance on this blog.

As to what "liberals" vote for, it quickly runs into a "no true Scotsman" type of fallacy. I'm not overly concerned by it.

Likewise, I'm not overly concerned by decisions reached through low voter turnout, whether the be in state-wide elections or union votes. The voters are the democratic voice of that community, whether the participation is 30% or 90% - unless, of course, participation is artificially suppressed. The non-voters have chosen grant their proxy to the voters and that's a valid choice.

Does our democratically elected board provide great school options for our students and parents? There are a lot of reasons to say that they do.

Like Nuance says, "we have a system that benefits the kids who are doing just fine, thanks.", but that's not a local issue. Seattle's schools, like nearly all others across the country, do a great job educating students who arrive at the classroom prepared, supported, and motivated. And Seattle's schools, like nearly all other across the country, do a poor job educating students who arrive unprepared, unsupported, or unmotivated. If anything, Seattle's schools are better than average - based on the measures available to us. And, if anything, Seattle offers families better than average choices. Nuance references our many alternative schools, at least before dismissing them.

Are they charter schools in all but label? No. They are public schools. Let's not forget that what makes a school either a charter school or a public school is the ownership and governance. The ownership and governance of Seattle's option schools is by the school district, the publicly elected school board, federal and state law, and the administration in the JSCEE. Not so for charters. "Charter" and "public" are not just labels. They have meaning.

And, like Nuance says, the losers in this system are, typically, the children of "those who speak a second language, don't have time to show up for public testimony at a board meeting, or face a whole host of institutionally racist policies in our mechanistic and anachronistic form of localized schooling." Nuance leaves out the children of people who have more urgent priorities than education, but it's a chicken-egg sort of thing.

Nuance would have us believe that charter schools will offer an effective alternative to the families that lack the agency to choose an option school or lack the agency to improve their public school, or even lack the agency to prepare, support, and motivate their children academically. This is a myth - and an absurd one at that. Where has this happened? In the whole history of charter schools, which state has become an educational paradise in which all children achieve thanks to the presence of charter schools? Please point it out to me because I have missed it.

Charlie Mas said...

The error in Nuance's thinking - and it is a common one - lies in the words put into the mouths of others: "Yep, you're school is under performing". There are no under-performing schools. That whole idea is simply false. There are no under-performing schools; there are, however, schools with a lot of under-performing students. To say that the school is "under-performing" or, the more commonly used expression, "failing", puts all of the responsibility for the student performance on the school when we all know that all of the primary determinants of student achievement are home-based, not school-based.

Let's say, for the purposes of exploring this idea, that Aki Kurose is an "under-performing school". And, for the purposes of the exploration, let's say that Eckstein is not. Is there anyone - anyone at all - who would suggest that if these schools swapped students that the former Aki Kurose students would start getting test scores like the current Eckstein students and that the former Eckstein students, after doing their learning in the Sharples building with the teachers there, would suddenly start under-performing? Anyone? Anyone?

No? Then let's stop this nonsensical talk about "under-performing schools". The primary determinant of your child's academic achievement is you. As a consequence, except in extraordinary cases, that achievement will not be much effected by whichever school your child attends.

There is no school so bad that a motivated student cannot wrestle an education away from it. Likewise, there is no school so good that it can impose an education on an unwilling student.

By the way, Nuance, it's rarely wise to pretend to give voice to other people's perspectives - especially when you disagree with them. It's best if you speak for yourself and allow them to speak for themselves. If you're going to present another's perspective, you should quote them.

Charlie Mas said...

LisaG,

The underfunding of public education in Washington State is a direct result of people being unwilling to tax themselves to pay for necessary government services, and politicians who pandered to the belief that people could have public resources and government services without taxing themselves.

This was exasperated by one of the most convoluted and regressive tax structures in the country, by political forces that fostered distrust of the government, by government shenanigans that lost public trust, by tax breaks granted to large political donors, and by a severe recession.

The state really lacks the wherewithal to adequately fund education and the members of the legislature are loathe to impose the taxes that are required because they are afraid that it will cost them an election.

Anonymous said...

Charlie says, "There are no under-performing schools. That whole idea is simply false. There are no under-performing schools; there are, however, schools with a lot of under-performing students."

I was going to say that I was shocked to read this. But as I thought about it, I realized that this is exactly how many people on this blog think. It's sad and pathetic but not wholly unsurprising, I guess.

There's plenty of blame to go around apparently --- blame the kids themselves, blame their parents, blame poverty, blame institutional racism, blame politicians, blame neoliberals, blame the Gates Foundation and their astroturf corporate education reform underlings, blame testing companies, blame capitalism, but NEVER under any circumstances blame the schools and the teachers (or the WEA). They are sacrosanct.

Citizen Kane

Charlie Mas said...

Citizen Kane, I do not blame the schools for student underperformance because studies have shown, time and time again, that school-based factors are minor determinants of students' academic outcomes.

Also, I don't use the word "blame". "Blame" suggests that someone is doing something wrong. Who, exactly, is doing something wrong here? You seem very interested in blame, however. Whom do you blame? Who is doing something wrong according to you and what should they be doing instead? Please be specific.

Also, please keep in mind the mountain of data and research that ALL agrees: school-based factors play only a minor role in determining student academic outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Mas said "studies have shown, time and time again, that school-based factors are minor determinants of students' academic outcomes"

It might be minor, but it's noticeable. Massachusetts seems to be doing a better job with academics than other states, even when adjusting for demographics.
http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/how-do-states-really-stack-2015-naep

LisaG

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I have multiple degrees in education and I've been working in and around public education for over 30 years. I've read mountains of data and educational research, as you can imagine, and I can't think of ONE study that has concluded that non-school factors are determinant of student academic outcomes. I know very many that have concluded that there is a strong correlation between poverty/zip code and achievement. But, you should know better than to assume that correlation is the same as causation.

There is a great danger in your opinion. I have never assumed that my students' socioeconomic status, skin color, family background, etc. determined their achievement. And you should think long and hard about your position on this.

Citizen Kane

seattle citizen said...

CK - What IS an "underperforming school"? Are the bricks failing? The HVAC not up to par?
Certainly, in ANY school, there are underperforming students, and, perhaps, underperforming staff (and, extending that, underperforming parents and underperforming communities...)
But this idea that WHOLE SCHOOLS underperform is a distraction from individual performances, and the nuance therein. This is one reason NCLB was such a joke - if ONE subsection, one deomgraphic, of a school didn't make AYP (Annual Yearly Progress), then the whole school was deemed to be failing. Never mind that a large majority might be successful, the whole school was looked at as a "failure", as underperforming.
Schools were closed, staffs reorganized, for having just some students not make AYP.
Let's focus on individuals, help THEM. If there are underperforming students, what do THEY need? Staff? What assistance can we give them? How can we help patents and the community be more active in assisting students AND staff?
Underperforming school? Repoint the bricks, update the furnace...but don't throw out everything and start afresh, don't claim whole schools are failing in order to rationalize charters (which, of course, would have exactly the same issues but with less accountability and access for the community and taxpayers.?

Unknown said...

...blame the kids themselves, blame their parents, blame poverty, blame institutional racism, blame politicians, blame neoliberals, blame the Gates Foundation and their astroturf corporate education reform underlings, blame testing companies, blame capitalism, but NEVER under any circumstances blame the schools and the teachers (or the WEA).

Isn't that kind of a ridiculous statement? Nobody is blaming all those things. But most of them do have an impact on education whether it be influence or funding. I'm sure with adequate funding much could be done to improve teaching, buildings, staff, and with a society that puts kids first again, we could reduce poverty. But we don't. So CS prefers to adopt as his scapegoats teachers and the WEA.

Sorry, CK. I'm not buying that you've been "around education" for thirty years. You may live next to a school building for all I know. Really educated people would never opine the extremes nor the generalizations you proffer. BTW, how would you rate the school you attended, CK?

Oh, and wth is all that about "neoliberals?" That was a reactive rant and nothing more.

n said...

Sorry, above unknown was me . . N

Teacher Greg said...

The bottom line on charters is this: they don't work. No amount of PR spin or focus group tested messaging changes that.

Anonymous said...

Here you go, Teacher Greg: https://urbancharters.stanford.edu/download/Urban%20Charter%20School%20Study%20Report%20on%2041%20Regions.pdf.

Is this PR spin or focus group tested messaging?

Charter opponents like to trot out the 2013 CREDO national charter school study but conveniently ignore the 2015 CREDO urban charter school study.

Citizen Kane

Charlie Mas said...

Thirty children are sitting in classroom for a month. They are all getting the same lessons from the same teacher at the same time. At the end of the month they all take a test. Some pass, some fail, some pass with high scores. What was the difference for these students? The school? No, they were all in the same school. The teacher? No, they all had the same teacher. The difference was exclusively in the students' home experience, not in their school experience.

There can be extraordinary situations, such as bullying or disabilities that were not accommodated, but by and large the difference in achievement is attributable to the preparation, support, and motivation to achieve that they got from home.

Citizen Kane wrote: "I can't think of ONE study that has concluded that non-school factors are determinant of student academic outcomes."
Here's one: Determinants of academic achievement.

Honestly, CK, if you can't think of one, then you aren't trying very hard.

I specifically recall a paper from the Center for Reinvention of Public Education that did an attribution analysis for the achievement gap and named poverty as the primary source with societal racism as a distant second.

We're not talking about correlation, but causation. Poverty has consequences. Don't pretend it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, how many years did you teach? How many years did you spend observing classroom practice? If you think that all students are taught the same, even in the same classroom with the same teacher, you're ignorant of the day-to-day behaviors, practices, and attitudes at play in the school and the classroom.

Every teacher, every person, brings bias into the classroom. Teachers treat students differently based on that bias. Poor kids --- who might have on dirty clothes and come unprepared --- are treated differently and the expectations (usually lower) are different for them. Children of color are treated differently. Attitudes toward them and expectations for them are different. The pretty blonde white girl from a good home with high achieving older siblings the teacher knows is treated differently that a black boy from a violent home. The child with disabilities is perceived differently than other children --- and the expectations are typically lowered.

Bias and prejudice have consequences. Don't pretend they don't.

And of course poverty affects performance. A child who comes to school hungry and lacking a good night's sleep will not be as ready to learn. Poverty does affect performance. But it's not, in and of itself, determinant. Schools are complex organisms with many factors at play. You seem to want to put all of the onus on the home. And that, frankly, is just too simple an explanation for why some students achieve and some don't. There ARE school factors at play that affect the performance of categories and groups of children. Poverty CAN be remedied and mitigated if it is acknowledged and addressed. So can bias and prejudice. But too often the former is acknowledged while the latter is ignored or even denied.

Citizen Kane

Charlie Mas said...

I think I have found the root of our miscommunication.

Citizen Kane wrote: "I've read mountains of data and educational research, as you can imagine, and I can't think of ONE study that has concluded that non-school factors are determinant of student academic outcomes"

I don't think we are using the word "determinant" in the same way. To me it means "factor contributing to the outcome" or "risk factor". You seem to grant it a meaning more like "fate". I think the difference is that I write "a determinant" while you write "determinant". My word is a noun; yours is an adjective.

Does that clear things up?

Poverty affects performance. Racism (and classism and sexism) affect performance. And, yes, schools and teachers affect performance. I think we both acknowledge all of that.

So let's go back to the first idea, that there are no "under-performing schools".

How do we measure school quality? A lot of people - most people - do it by the test scores of the students in the school. That's unfair. A school that works with a more challenging population cannot be fairly judged in that way next to a school that works with a privileged population. Unless, of course, you take the position that the school working with the challenged population is entirely responsible for student outcomes. Is that your position, Citizen Kane? Let me know if it is.

Since our schools lack the mission, license, and resources to overcome the deficiencies in their students' preparation, support, and motivation, it is just wrong to call the schools under-performing or, using Citizen Kane's word, to blame them for those outcomes.

When I say that there are no underperforming schools I'm not saying that all schools are good. I'm saying that the way that school quality is measured by those who refer to "underperforming schools" is rubbish. They are using a meaningless yardstick. One that measures the affluence of the community that the school draws on rather than the quality of the work done in the building.

NO 1240 said...

Gates has provided the League of Education Voters with MILLIONS of dollars, but that hasn't stopped their constant drum beat of "donate" to help the kids!!

Chris Korsmo's latest newsletter announces "Fix the Glitch" campaign to keep the privatization of public education in motion:


"As we gear up for the 2016 legislative session, we are encouraging lawmakers to Fix the Glitch so that Washington's nine public charter schools can continue to provide a quality education to students across the state and other charter schools can expand into the future."

Grab the popcorn, Gertrude. This is going to be one heck of a session.

Melissa Westbrook said...

CK, you think that it's too simplistic to blame home and Charlie thinks it's too simplistic to blame schools? Neither is "simplistic" but there's a lot more uniformity to schools than homes. But poverty, to me, is the heaviest factor over parenting or teaching. It influences so much.

I actually think that schools are a lot more aware about the types of students that come thru their doors and that many districts are trying to work harder on cultural competency. But schools are a mirror of societies.

No on 1240, you're right about LEV. And it's not a "glitch" - the law doesn't need an oil change; it needs an tune-up. The whole thing has issues.

Lastly, Mr. Reynolds you said this:

"If your statement refers to conversion schools, then look more closely at the statue that provides the guidelines by which a conversion from traditional to charter public school occurs (RCW 28A.710.230(5)). Again, there is no reference to "take over an existing school's building".

I know that law and of course the words" take over an existing school's building" aren't in there. But YES, once the application was approved by an authorizer and the petition certified, the charter group would take over an existing school community's building. The students can stay if they want but the bottom line is that school is effectively booted out and the district loses control of the building. I doubt Rep. Magendanz would have said a single thing had the charter boosters not realized the multiple issues with this law. That's one of them.

Teacher Greg said...

Charters don't innovate. Charters cost more. Charters lack accountability. Charters don't serve high needs kids as well as real public schools. Charters don't increase test scores. Charters don't offer choices that are any different than what public schools offer. Charters do get closed down for fraud, embezzlement, mismanagement etc stranding students in the process. Charters do exclude and do allow people to send their kids to schools with capped enrollment. Charters don't offer high quality electives. Charters "personalize" by sitting kids in front of a computer screen rather than a certified teacher. Charters do hire uncertified and unlicensed professionals at rock bottom wages and cut rate benefits. Charters do bilk the public out of money that would otherwise be going to help public school children so that affluent people can further undermine the democratic nature of public school for their own self aggrandizement.

So yes, charters don't in fact work. They are a corporate hijacking of a critically important component of our democracy and represent an attempt to further Balkanize American society into haves and have nots all while claiming to be the opposite. Welcome to 1984.

Anonymous said...

Ironic isn't it. Charlie today chastises CK, on his charter school position because he holds schools accountable for test scores. And, the notion of using test scores as utter "rubbish" for determining school performance or underperformance. On the other hand, he uses the same methods for claiming that charter schools are of no benefit in other posts. He's lambasted school after school, from Aki, to African American Academy, to Madrona for underperformance using exactly the same bar, standardized tests. Because charters are no better, based on test scores, they should be disallowed (even as a majority want them). And, even more ironic, he lambasts a more basic measure of accountability, "school choice," as measure of quality. In his charter school thread, he likens the idea that choice = quality, to McDonalds = quality. Clearly, the ignorant populace is too stupid to know their kids are attending a horrible McDonald's. Clearly, they should be evaluating their kid's school based on test scores. BUT.... oh yah, yes scores aren't a credible measure. Your mind is...

Swiss Cheese

PS. McDonald's does offer quality btw. Millions enjoy it. It offers great value. Standard, high quality at rock bottom price.

Anonymous said...

So, Charlie, what metrics would you choose to measure a school's performance? And you don't get to choose any that correlate with poverty/affluence/privilege. Also, your metrics have to being recognized by reasonable people as valid and reliable measures of school performance. Also, gathering and reporting your metrics have to have some reasonable costs associated with them compared to the costs of administering standardized tests. In other words, you can't break the bank with your metrics. Also, your metrics have to be reasonably free of bias and prejudice. In other words, they have to go through a bias and fairness review by a multicultural group of reviewers. Also, your metrics have to be able to be gathered at all public schools in the state. You can't just be able to gather and report your results in select schools and districts. Also, your metrics can't have overly large errors of measurement.

Go ahead, Charlie. Please share your metrics with me and the other readers.

Citizen Kane

Anonymous said...

"McDonald's offers quality. Standard, high quality."

This is what we'up against, folks. Merry Christmas.

-- Ivan Weiss

n said...

Thanks for the smile, Ivan. And Merry Christmas to you and all the blog as well.

No 1240 said...

"PS. McDonald's does offer quality btw. Millions enjoy it. It offers great value. Standard, high quality at rock bottom price.'

Ivan, I was thinking the same. Except, salads etc. aren't cheap.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Right on, Ivan. We're the McDonalds' nation. Look around. It's everywhere. It's how the world knows us. And, it's our public schools. I'd like to have a Whopper sometimes though, instead of a Big Mac. And sometimes, rarely, I'd like a Denny's. That's really what you're up against.

Swiss