Disqus

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LEV Evening with Ed Reformers

I just sat down to write up a post about the LEV event at MOHAI (which turned out to be interesting and informative). I was going over my notes and started in but I realized it's on video if you want to watch it. Are most of you going to watch it anyway or should I post my notes/reactions to what was said?

You can watch the entire event online via TVW.

121 comments:

seattle said...

I'd love to hear what you thought of the LEV event, Melissa. I watched the video and found the panel speakers to be very informative, and quite candid in addressing their charters strengths and weaknesses.

The First Arnold said...

Edvocate, Just curious, Any chance you have children in SPS? Or, a child in any other public school that is being subjected to Ed. Reform?

seattle citizen said...

Ach. I suppose I should watch this...hmmm, here's an idea: I'll watch this if edvocate watches Race to Nowhere and reads Diane Ravitch's new book.

Deal, edvocate?

Some Clarity said...

Hilarious. Edvocate enjoyed the panel and the next two posts are mature attempts to engage with his/her point of view. Truly, modeling great discourse. It's threads like this that will foster a clear and intelligent discourse on education. I'm grabbing my popcorn.

seattle said...

Sigh. Yes First Arnold I have two kids in SPS. I'm not a plant.

Sigh, again. SC, we've had two threads on Waiting For Superman. Now it's the video on the LEV meetings turn. Why not watch the video before making your snarky, knee jerk, closed minded, comments.

seattle citizen said...

@edvocate:"snarky, knee jerk, closed minded, comments."?

Snarky? Maybe a bit. Knee jerk? Why? I'm serious: You write we've had two threads on WFS, now one on LEV event....I'm asking if you have/will see Race to Nowhere, or have/will read Ravitch's book. How is that knee jerk? Aren't there two sides to an issue?

Close-minded? I am going to watch the LEV event, are you going to read Ravitch? Or are you just too close-minded?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would say they were somewhat candid but I think allowing more questions would have been a good idea. (I heard some at LEV wanted me to go and ask a question because they knew I wouldn't pull any punches. Alas, the moderator didn't call on me. But I had also handed him my card as I went in the door and maybe he got spooked.)

Okay, I'll finish and post it.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Oops, typo, I meant we had two threads on Race to Nowhere.

Thanks, Melissa, for writing it up!

seattle citizen said...

I'm at minute 46 of the LEV event, and it is certainly provocative. Thye have some good points: we need change, we need a variety of schools, we need teachers who care and believe that all chidlren can succeed, we need parent/guardians to beleive the schools are caring and excellent...

But I have not, so far, heard why we need charters for any of that. Maybe it comes later.

I'll view the rest and analyze my notes later.

edvocate, your clarification about the two threads negates my snark somewhat, but I'm wondering, still, have you seen Race to Nowhere, have you read Ravitch's book? What do you think of those?

Anonymous said...

Right edvocate. Defend yourself. Tell us your children's names, ages, schools attended, and fingerprints. Right now. You don't belong on this blog. Start bashing reformers. It's all great here remember? Throw in some pot shots to anybody who donates anything... or you're the lose. And don't say a positive peep about charters. That's not permitted.

Bash Away.

seattle citizen said...

Here's a warm and a cool:
Warm - the belief, evidently shared by all three, in using evaluation as a development tool rather then focusing on it as a tool to dismiss teachers.

Cool: Hmm, lots about "choice" of schools, which I like (but worry about how that looks organizationally...transpo, year-to-year staffing, etc) but one guy, I think it was Tim of the New Teachers group, said that it should further, to choice WIHIN the school: parents should be given a choice of which teacher.

Hmmm...how would THAT work? Sounds great, but how does a school staff FTE to meet that fluctuation?

seattle citizen said...

So there were a couple suggestions as to why we evidently need charters in WA (Moderator asked for their arguments for a change in our law)

As best as I could make out, here are a couple of them:
1) they create what district could model what schools could become - different models,etc...Hmmm, okay, but we can create models in public schools too, no?
2) Steve: it's about leadership: There is too much tribalism currently with unions, district, etc all in their corners. I tend to agree, but still don't see why this can't change without charters.
3) Barth: THE schools that have created breakthrough performance are charters....hmmm, really? Charters are the only ones to have "breakthrough performance?" Not buying it.
4) Need charters as neighborhood "anchors" [?} to show that there are teachers who care, that parents want the school, etc. Sort of a modified "charters can model" argument. Again, why not do this with a public?

I'm just not seeing the argument that charters can do something publics can't. Again, maybe it's after minute 46.

And I'd add that I DO have a bias, because I don't believe the free market it the answer to problems our society has in educating its children.

LouiseM said...

Some Clarity, I agree with you. It's really hard to have ANY point of view that is opposite some regular posters on this blog. Even a simple, nonpartisan observation the edvocate made. All Edvocate said was they were candid, but because the "they" were charter school folks it raises the hair on some posters' necks.

We end up missing some good ideas and dialog because folks don't like the messenger. Too bad because the students are the ones who ultimately end up losing.

The First Arnold said...

Edvocate, SPS is spending millions of dollars on reform agenda. How do you feel about our core positions not being filled, while millions of dollars are being directed to HQ for HIGHLY controversial reform efforts.

What are your thoughts about cost of charters? Consider, only 17% do better than public school, 37% do the same and remainder do worse.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said...

And what, Some Clarity and F4K are you adding to the discussion with your comments?

It reminds me of snarky judgmental people who can't wait to say "I don't watch TV" when others are discussing a show.

Very highbrow. And pointless.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Ah, such words of wisdom from wseadawg.

What they are saying is pretty simple wseadawg: Nobody can have a differing opinion than that of the frequent posters on this blog do. Otherwise they are accused of being a plant, not being educated enough on the topic, or other various belittling and insulting remarks.

It's getting ridiculous.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bash Away, that's not true. Go read all the current threads. There's a lot of positive stuff and even I try to give charters a fair review.

I would say you don't have to engage with everyone who challenges you. Charlie and I encourage all viewpoints.

wseadawg said...

Look folks: The problem with almost all of these Reform initiatives that have gone on for a century is the hyperventilation and crisis mentality that always precedes and accompanies them.

If we could have an honest discussion about the strengths, merits, weaknesses, shortcomings and possibilities without having the politicized dropout rates, achievement gaps, etc., thrown in our faces every time we ask for a pause, ask questions, and employ critical thinking, we might actually make some progress.

How many times will we hear the reformers lament the high dropout rates and accuse others of "embracing the status quo" when we question the logic and sense of their expensive and unproven ways? The pattern repeats itself every 7 to 10 years.

During the Reagan/Bush/Gingrich era, they wanted to do away with the department of education. Now, they want the Dept of Ed to dictate policy at the behest of large donors with little actual experience in education. Where will we be when this latest phase of reform is tossed aside to make way for yet another.

The truth is that nobody embraces the status quo. We all want the best educations for all kids, but want our dollars spent wisely and the teachers standing in the trenches to be respected for the fine jobs the vast majority of them do everyday.

Seattle and this region could very well benefit, should it ever get a charter, from the daily vetting myself and others give the charter movement's agenda, and the Merit Pay/Run it like a Business folks. When you peel away the the praise and rhetoric accompanying the charter movement, you see only 17% of the onion to maybe get excited about. So I see no harm in saying "prove it" to the operators, and "not so fast" to their allies in the Reform movement.

Kids are falling through the cracks as bad, if not worse, in charter schools, and we've heard the "we can't wait any longer" mantra for as long as I can remember, and grasp for silver bullet after silver bullet to save us once and for all. Perhaps when we acknowledge the very complex issues our schools and teachers face, that class size and poverty do matter, and that too much money is diverted from classrooms instead of put into them - which we pray for with every levy we pass - we may finally see some progress.

But there is no magic solution, and that's what's wrong with Waiting for Superman and other such propaganda that offers up such simple solutions as though we're watching a late-night infomercial.

mirmac1 said...

Wow, even Arne Duncan doesn't have the answer...

Results at Arne Duncan's First Chicago Turnaround School Raise Efficacy and Legal Questions

wseadawg said...

Gee..Words of Wisdom! Why thank you edvocate. I'm flattered.

If you're going to weigh in with comments just to pass judgment on a whole group of people as being thick-skulled & unreasonable because they don't agree with you, then you will draw flak for it. Big surprise. Similarly, if you bring Ed Reform talking points instead of serious & sincere questions and comments, you'll get hammered for that too.

But what good is the "poor me - nobody agrees with me - so they're all bad" stuff? Again, such complaining contributes what?

People on both sides are passionate and care deeply about these matters. Dry, snide comments that imply you're better than somebody else, more enlightened, or "above" this discourse, are useless.

I don't like the overly personal exchanges or accusations of "plants" either. But that's only a couple commenters who engage in that, and if they want to undermine their own credibility or risk being ignored, why not just let them and scroll right on past their comments?

Seems easier than whining to the whole community about it.

wseadawg said...

F4K: Welcome back, btw.

Can you not honestly understand why the hair stands up on people's necks when it comes to Charters? They are not all they are cracked up to be. Not by a long-shot, and I'm sure you know that if you've researched them in the slightest.

Give folks who've done a lot of research on this topic a little credit. Most of what I write, and what I see from others, are well supported comments that make strong points encouraging us all to dig deeper and think twice before jumping on the national bandwagon of reform.

I would think even folks who disagree would appreciate that people in Seattle seem to care so much about their schools.

wseadawg said...

Okay, okay, "uncle" I know. I've got diarrhea of the fingertips tonight. But I'd really like to know something:

Of the folks who think charters and/or TFA are good ideas, do you think those models would be good for your children, or for other kids elsewhere in the district who aren't being well served right now? The most likely area to get a charter would be the Southeast, I'm sure. But what if someday 3 or 4 charters were proposed, in all 4 corners of the city. Would Hale parents opt for a Charter? Ballard? Sealth? Garfield?

Let's not deny the my kids/those kids views we're all guilty of having. So are we talking Charters for our kids? Or theirs? This will be a huge issue when it comes to bear. Might as well start discussing it now.

seattle said...

Would I send my kid to a charter? Well that depends on the charter? I'd consider it just as I would a public school. If the charter had a pedagogy or theme that interested my family, and was high performing, you bet I'd consider sending my kids there.

Stu said...

Forgive me if this has been answered before but I'm missing something with the Charter School argument.

I know every system's a bit different but, in general . . .

Charter Schools do not have to take anyone who applies, correct? And Charter Schools don't have to teach special ed classes, right? And Charter Schools don't have to answer to a general administrative district office, right?

So, other than busting the union and the three things I've just listed, what can a charter school do that can't be done within a district? I mean, we have alternative programs within our district; we have APP schools and language immersion schools. Why charters? And what stops them from syphoning off the best and the brightest? Since they can pick and choose, wouldn't they pick the kids that give the school the best chance of "success," as measured in standard terms? Don't they bank on parent involvement and, if so, wouldn't that same parent involvement help at the general ed level anyway?

I'm not trying to be argumentative or funny . . . I seriously don't understand how taking money OUT of the public school system, for a specialized "all aren't welcome" program, helps everyone get an equal quality education.

stu

stu

mirmac1 said...

Well, charters can make money by creating tax breaks for its investors, by hiring inexperienced TFA teachers, by offering canned curricula, or just plunking your kid in front of a computer.

Makes sense to me.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Stu, many charters, including the big ones like Green Dot and KIPP open their schools in the worst, and toughest neighborhoods in a city. They often serve at risk kids, and more minority, low income, and ELL students than do their public school counterparts. If you call that picking and choosing, yes, I guess they do that, but they are certainly not siphoning the cities best and brightest.

As for charters not having to take all who apply? I haven't heard that. Can you give an example of that? I thought most charters had lotteries to see who gets in? And not serving sped students. That is false. That would be against the law. They don't always have a program to meet the need of a sped student. But guess what it's the same in our publics. Not every school can meet the needs of every student. Ask an SPS parent of a child with severe autism how many schools he/she can choose. It's very limited.

And, no, charters may not have to answer to "their administrative district" but their kids do have to take all of the state standardized tests. If they don't perform well they are subject to NCLB sanctions just like public schools are. And, really, that same autonomy that charters have is exactly what our alts fought for for many years. Why just pick on charters for wanting wiggle room and freedom to innovate?

uxolo said...

mirmac1 - thanks for the link,
discriminatory hiring practices
is/was a likely outcome of charters. In-depth details of how charters and school reconstitutions evolved here as well.

LouiseM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LouiseM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LouiseM said...

wseadog, it is nearly impossible to even state a simple comment without getting blasted for not spending gobs of hours on research.

Case in point: edvocate made this very simple statement about the LEV event "I'd love to hear what you thought of the LEV event, Melissa. I watched the video and found the panel speakers to be very informative, and quite candid in addressing their charters strengths and weaknesses."

Immediately s/he gets jumped on about ed reform. S/he was simply stating thoughts about something that s/he watched, yet gets pounded because s/he apprently didn't do any research to have those thoughts(Seattle Citizen challenged edvocate to watch Race to Nowhere and read Ravitch's new book).

Nobody is right here. The Ed Reform crowd isn't 100% right and neither are the folks who are anti ed reform.

So again kids are stuck in the middle because grownups can't get their act together enough to find middle ground.

On a personal note, I am a parent of 3 children. I am a product of public schools and my kids go to SPS schools. I work all day and spend time with my family in the evenings, so I don't have time to dive into research like many folks here do.

My family is African American which means we have to be extra vigilant to make sure our kids are seen and heard in their school because the reality is they are second class citizens for the most part. I know Seattle Citizen often disagrees with me on this point, but I lived it as a child and now unfortunately my children are living it.

I read this blog to get information. Not prosthetized notes. So far I haven't seen anything useful other than the facts about SPS that Charlie and Melissa and Meg provide. The rest is just people spouting their own negatives about Charters, Broad, Gates, etc.

We still have failing schools (particularly on the south end). We still have only the privledged and folks in the know taking advantage of the few alternative schools. We still have inequality in our schools overall.

Folks on this blog keep talking about how SPS should be doing more alternative schools, etc. But they're not. And when there's an absense of action, folks will come in and make things happen. That is what I see with the Ed Reform movement. They're trying to make things happen. You may not like it. You may not like that they have money. But at the end of the day, they're going to get enough momentum to move the needle and you all will still be standing there criticizing them. Reminds me of SEA criticizing and not offering their own solutions.

So go ahead and criticize me about not adding to the conversation when I complain about the anti ed reform noise. That's fine, because right now it's just noise to me. But while you're critcizing me, ask yourself what are you and the rest of the anti ed reform folks actually DOING--not researching and writing, but DOING--to make things better for ALL SPS students. If you want change in your direction, you need to actually gather together, plan together, put some $$ into it, and take action together. Posting to a blog just won't cut it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, charters are public schools and have to take all applications. Then they have a lottery if there are too many applicants for spaces.

As edvocate says, they don't have to write their charter to include Special ED or ELL services so if one of those students applied and asked for services, they can say "sorry". I would say that is NOT the same as public schools that have to take ALL comers. Maybe they won't have the all the Special Ed services at all schools (although now with inclusion, a lot more schools, at least on paper) but they have to have them. A charter group/company doesn't have to have them at ANY of there schools.

I would have to study KIPP and Green Dot more but they certainly serve a high proportion of low-income students. I think KIPP might have more Special Ed and/or ELL. Green Dot has little about that.

Charters, again depending on charter law, do NOT have to met all state education codes (they do have to test under NCLB). They do get more wiggle room that way.

My issue is that there is very little stopping any district from innovating. I think it is less about the big bad teachers union and more about district administrations NOT wanting to do the hard work that creating new and visionary programs takes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

whoops, "any of their schools"

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

"Give folks who've done a lot of research on this topic a little credit. Most of what I write, and what I see from others, are well supported comments that make strong points encouraging us all to dig deeper and think twice before jumping on the national bandwagon of reform. "

Sure, I'll give you credit Wseadawg, but I also give credit to folks who have done a lot of research on the other side of the argument. There are two sides to every story, and I for one like to get both sides, and consider them with an open mind. I know charters have some faults, but I think they have some merits too. Why don't we ever talk about their merits?

Unfortunately on this blog (aside from Melissa and Charlie) only one side of the argument, anti-reform, is ever represented. There are a few posters who have done a bit of research and they believe that their point of view is the right, and only point of view. They feel they need to get their clubs out and beat readers over the head until they become enlightened and agree with them. That's closed minded, and it's extremist. Worse, it turns people off, and makes them shut you out.

Instead of forwarding your agenda, your tactics hurt it. Notice how few people ever post positive info on what charters are doing? It's not because positive info doesn't exist, or because everyone agrees with your anti charter rhetoric, it's because they don't want to get pounced on by 10 posters who accuse them of not doing their research, drinking the kool aid, or being a plant. Could you sometimes acknowledge that maybe people have done their research and just don't agree with you?

you're worse than a bunch of good ol' boys at a tea party convention.

seattle said...

"My issue is that there is very little stopping any district from innovating. I think it is less about the big bad teachers union and more about district administrations NOT wanting to do the hard work that creating new and visionary programs takes."

I think you are spot on here Melissa. This is a big part of the problem. Districts can give their schools wiggle room and allow them to innovate. Our SPS schools could offer everything and more than charter schools do. But SPS has taken schools wiggle room and innovation away and replaced it with standardization and status quo? I think that drives parents to look at other options. For Seattle those other options have been private school, and home schooling, both of which we have some of the highest rates in the country. For other districts, where legal, it's charters.

The other part of the picture is bad schools. When a family has to send their kid to a truly bad school - riddled with violence, poverty, high drop out rates, and low academic performance they get desperate. If a district is addressing the problem and working toward improving the school then parents may be hopeful. But what are parents to do when the school or the district is not doing the hard work necessary to improve the school? If a charter school comes along and serves the same population but offers a better environment, with higher performance, what family wouldn't choose it?

The First Arnold said...

Here are 2 points I liked from the LEV Video:

1. Teachers are not adequately
trained to teach all subjects.
Teachers get moved around to
fit scheduling needs.

2. There are times when
teachers don't like students.
Students notice.

Might be a good idea for SPS to insist all teachers have Sp. Ed. degrees. From what I have seen, these folks have better skills for sp. ed. students.

I believe TFA can fit into my first comment. It is unreasonable to expect an individual with 5 weeks training to pick up on cognitive deficits, be fully aware of developmental issues and know how to deal with them.

Tired of reformists touting "The Best Teachers"...really?

Too many concerns about private entities in public education. I think we've already seen wasted SPS dollars with private entities.

Charters, reformists etc. keep blaming teachers.

I've worked in high poverty areas. Really tough.

Maureen said...

So I just read Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America by Donna Foote. It is relevant to this discussion because it focused on a group of TFA corps members who were placed at Locke HS in South Central LA. That is one of the schools that GreenDot has since taken over.

If you believe the book, (and it wasn't universally flattering to TFA) a significant number of LA High Schools face absolutely huge challenges that make RBHS look like Roosevelt. It was shocking to me the absolute disorder that existed at Locke (even though it was in the 2nd or 3rd year of its best principal in a long time). The place was just unsafe and the TFA 20 somethings were thrown into leadership roles way before they were ready because a big chunk of the staff was made up of long term subs, many of whom had no teaching certification at all.

I can see in a system like that how charters would be a god send. They add a layer of oversight and structure that LAUPSD just didn't seem to be willing or able to offer. I know that many of us point out the disfunction that exists in SPS, but the degree of it just doesn't seem comparable.

TFA and targeted charters like KIPP and GreenDot seem to me to be preferable to chaotic dangerous schools that cannot supply the basics of an education to their kids. I know we are failing a chunk of our kids, but I just don't think we are anywhere the level of those LA schools.

Am I being naive?

Patrick said...

Edvocate, if you want to make the case that charters are the greatest thing since sliced bread, there's no one stopping you. Note how different that is from the astroturf pro-charter blogs, where unregistered participants and off-message comments are not allowed.

That doesn't mean you get a free pass from people who disagree. An opinion backed by evidence is worth more than one without.

LouiseM said...

I know we are failing a chunk of our kids, but I just don't think we are anywhere the level of those LA schools.

You are right, however with that pervasive mentality we continue to fail hundreds of low income children of color in SPS and our state. So since it's not as bad as LA or NY folks think it's OK to just let the system try to fix itself--no matter how long it takes or how much it fails.

Seattle southend schools could absolutely use charters. I would argue they need them since SPS continued to spin it's wheels doing nothing.

wseadawg said...

Edvocate said: As for charters not having to take all who apply? I haven't heard that. Can you give an example of that? I thought most charters had lotteries to see who gets in?

The whole point of Waiting for SM was the unfairness and tragedy of the lottery, because the charters wouldn't take everyone. I think lotteries are terrible and not a solution. Knowingly casting aside kids is never okay with me. (Not to be too tall on my high horse..)

But re my question of your kids/their kids, your answer is pretty generic. Wouldn't we all? I'm asking about here and now, right now. Where would charter proponents like to see a charter and why? In their neighborhood, or somebody else's? At RBHS or Hale? Why or why not?

We are beyond the theoretical and discussing the possible and practical now. Y'all wanted to talk, let's talk.

F4K, you say: So again kids are stuck in the middle because grownups can't get their act together enough to find middle ground.

I'm sorry, but those types of platitudes and slogans have no traction. Get specific. Kids are "stuck in the middle, suffering"....AND your point is? What? That grown ups bicker too much? Bickering is good. It's part of democracy, and why we have two houses of congress and three branches of government. It helps us avoid running straight over the cliff, time and again.

You ask what I'm doing? I'm volunteering at my school. I'm chaperoning kids to and fro. I help my son's scout troop. I collaborate, meet, and discuss with other parents across the district how to get what we need for our kids, AND THEIR KIDS, while trying to get more dollars into the classrooms, keep class sizes smaller, and keep district initiatives like the 25 million dollar math curriculum boondoggle from siphoning time, money, and resources away from areas where they are so badly needed. I marched with my daughter against closing schools. I've attended numerous board meetings, written to and had coffee with Board Members advocating for the kids across town from me as much as my own. My parents were public school teachers. It's in my blood. I'm neither a charter-hater or a union-lover. When they work, or when they're right, I support them.

I understand and sympathize with your plight. The way I see it, I have a personal stake in your children being well educated. We both live here, work here, play here, and hopefully have bright futures here for our kids. I want your kids to be as safe, sound, and comfortable living in any neighborhood in Seattle, and the same for my kids.

What I don't want to see is folks like you get duped by false-promises and rhetoric from people with unproven track records and unsustainable funding models. The financial backers won't be there forever. For charters & such to stand on their own, we'll have to keep paying for them after the private money goes elsewhere. How can we afford 30k per student, in today's dollars, like Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone or the KIPP schools?

All I am really saying is Look Before You Leap, and Be Careful What You Wish For. Vet Charters and Ed Reform. If you still want part or all of it after being well-informed, then you are getting what you want, versus being sold a bill of goods.

Sorry some folks here have a sand-paper handshake. Yeah, I know, I get tired of it too. But passion is important. We're all in this together, and we're all trying to help all kids. They aren't stuck in the middle. They're better off that incredibly involved parents care so much.

LouiseM said...

Wseadog we will have to agree to disagree. I think it's great you do things at your kid's school. My point was there is nonunified action on the anti reformers side. You don't have a group. You're all doing your own thing in an ununified way.

wseadawg said...

Edvocate: You're broad-brushing. I am neither pro or anti charter. I have asked repeatedly for people to explain why we need them here. As Melissa and Charlie repeatedly point out, there is nothing Charters do that we can't do in our schools right now. Hence, my "not a magic-bullet" comments. Is that anti-charter? As Maureen states, Charters have worked in some areas where they are truly a last resort. Are we really at the point where we've tried everything and nothing has worked, so we must throw up our hands, punt the ball and turn over management of some schools to a private business?

I just don't think we're their yet. Not by a long shot.

I am heartened by the galvanizing of the SE PTSA of late, and I look forward to the SE rising, which it will, once the district starts responding to needs instead of imposing silver-bullet after silver-bullet. High poverty areas need more help. We all know that. That's what charters deliver elsewhere with mixed results. The Ed Reform movement says "Malarky! It's all about the quality of the teachers!" Waiting for Superman? Indeed.

Lastly, this blog is about the only voice in opposition to the well-funded, well-oiled machine of the Ed Reform movement. It has the LEV, Stand For Children, the SCPTSA, WA Policy Ctr, the Business Roundtable, the Alliance for Ed, and numerous other groups & orgs behind it. All we have are parents. Who can oppose their war chests? We do the best with what we can. Like it or not.

wseadawg said...

F4K: You are wrong. I meet with parents from across the district, from several different schools, as I said. I advocate for things at the district and state level, by working with Board members and legislators.

Apparently you've never heard of ESP Vision, Parents Across America (Seattle Chapter), the SeattleEducation2010 blog, or the Seattle School Board. I've worked with all of them. And no, none of them are 501(c)(3) non-profits, because they don't rake in millions from business groups and profiteers, to advance their agenda. Rather, we "fight for kids" (How ironic, huh?), teachers, and school communities.

No, we have no fancy websites, marketing campaigns, billboards, etc. I suppose that means, in your eyes, we lose by default because we don't play the game by the rules the big money interests set up. So be it.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

...with that pervasive mentality we continue to fail hundreds of low income children of color in SPS and our state. So since it's not as bad as LA or NY folks think it's OK to just let the system try to fix itself--no matter how long it takes or how much it fails.

I don't think very many of us expect the system to fix itself, in fact, even "the system" has reached out for help to improve. The New School is a, successful I believe, example, the SE Initiative was an attempt, TAF Academy could have done good with a less tone deaf approach, STEM is a big time try, AAA was tried and by many measures failed.... Things are being tried. I just don't see what signing over our tax money and possibly school buildings to GreenDot or KIPP would add in value?

LA has 678,000 students enrolled K-12. It has 162,000 kids in High School alone! I can see how turning a few of those schools into charters could make sense. In Seattle, I can only imagine one or two that it would make sense to convert for quality reasons. (it seems that charters focus on MS and HS). If you add the alt schools (and some of them would go kicking and screaming), then you're up to five or six, and they couldn't all be GreenDot or KIPP schools.

I just don't see (1) why a charter organization would bother with us and (2) what they would provide our kids that we couldn't create ourselves if we really tried.

One thing that Barth (I think) said that does stick with me is that the kids at their schools believe that their teachers believe they can learn. I think this double belief system is the core behind the power of charters. The families feel that because they were able to choose the school, it is better than one they would have been assigned to and they have faith that it will help their kids and therefore it does. I was at the Kevin Johnson talk at Mount Zion and it seemed to me that much of what he was selling was that sort of faith based education system. Personally, I'm a huge believer in the power of buying in/choosing/believing, but I don't see why we have to hand over control to charter companies to harness that power.

Plus, I think if we do, we will leave yet another layer of kids behind and they need us even more than the kids who would sign up for the charters.

seattle said...

"What I don't want to see is folks like you get duped by false-promises"

Huh? What do you mean by "folks like you"?

Folks like who? Families that live in neighborhoods with crappy schools? Families of color? Families from SE Seattle? Who?

That comment insinuates that F4K is not as smart or saavy as you are? Not able to do his own research and reach his own informed decisions about charter schools.

That's your problem. You think anyone who doesn't buy into WHAT YOU SAY has just not educated on the subject. You refuse to believe that people, after doing their own research, might just disagree with you.

You are arrogant past the point of belief.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

Oh and to clarify (and divert some flames?), it may be true that the teachers who choose to work at charters are more likely to believe that all kids can learn (of course they may also have a missionary mentality, which could be a whole other problem), but it is true that most of our noncharter teachers do as well. They just don't get it stamped on their foreheads the way the charter teachers do.

And please don't assume that me juxtaposing Zion and "faith based" was meant in any derogatory way. I went to Catholic School myself and even though the schools were crappy, we thought they were great because we paid to go there and I think we did better because of it. I also defend my kids alt school to the death, perhaps in part because I picked it. If someone assigned my kids there I might be a lot more critical. And I believe my kids do better in school because I tell them how great the school is. I really do. That's what I mean by faith based.

ParentofThree said...

If Seattle voters were to approve charter schools, where would these schools go? In the southend where buildings are already underenrolled? And wouldn't that mean that neighborhood schools would be further underenrolled and possibly closed? And then what would happen to students, who initially enrolled in the charter, but then were expelled or didn't want to continue? Where would they go to school?

In the northend, where there is overcrowding would charter schools be opened in these neighborhoods? And what would happen to schools like TOPs and Salmon Bay? Would they be converted to charter schools? Or would new buildings be opened as charter schools?

And will KIPP be the only charter allowed into Seattle? Could communities develop charter schools based on what they want for their kids. (language emersion charter for example?)

Logistically how do charter schools fit into the current landscape of our schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Maureen, you're not being naive. I believe that in some areas of the country some districts have given up on some schools. (I've heard about Locke High and it was a disgraceful situation. I can't believe someone further up the foodchain - Arnold? - didn't step in.)

So charters would be better than dangerous, out of control schools. And in areas where they have trouble staffing schools, TFA is okay.

But no one is shutting the door on charters here (unless it's mentally) but again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? I think I might put that one to Councilman Burgess, our new go-to guy for education.

Fighting for Kids, which southend schools do you think are that bad off that charters would be better? From elementary to high school, I would like to know. And Fighting, if you think people wouldn't organize around fighting charters, I think you might be surprised at how fast that can happen. We don't have charters here and hence, no group.

Parent of Three, you ask the big questions of which, right now, there are no answers. It would depend on how the law is written.

wseadawg said...

Edvocate:

Did you read the entire dialogue between F4K and I? It appears you skimmed it and missed critical information.

F4K made the point that he or she didn't have time, while raising 3 kids, etc. to do a lot of research on his or her own. So I weighed in that, in light of that, I didn't want to see folks like him/her (people who don't have the time, luxury, access, etc. to exhaustively research the topics) get duped by trusting people too much who have their own agendas. I went on to make the point, if you bothered to read it, that if he or she felt they had enough information to make an informed decision, and still thought charters were the best answer, I would respect that position.

"Folks like you" meant exactly the people who have to trust and rely on others to have their best interests at heart because they have enough on their plate already. That's a lot of people in SPS, and it has nothing to do with their intelligence or sophistication, but is mostly a function of time.

When did it become arrogant beyond belief to recognize that not everyone has the same time, access, and information others have. F4K and I certainly recognize that, differences aside.

Weren't you the one complaining about people pouncing on others? Sheesh. Look in a mirror.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said...

And for the record, MW and I disagreed heartily last year over the Community Values Statement, given my concerns that its message would be co-opted and misused. So does that mean I think MW is stupid because she disagrees with me? Uh, hardly. I expect she'd take me to the woodshed 9 times out of 10, on matters within SPS.

I have to laugh at the irony of how some folks say this blog is just one loud voice that drowns out all opposition, while others complain we aren't unified enough to make a difference. Both are valid criticisms, but polar opposites too. Hmm.

seattle said...

I couldn't agree with you more Maureen. And no you are not naive at all. Personally, I think charters can serve a purpose, and are not only needed but are vital in certain situations, like that described at Locke High. Fortunately, I don't think Seattle is anywhere near the point of needing charters.

Though we do have some low performing schools, even with the NSAP, families still have plenty of choice. And that is a huge positive. In fact families that live in SE SEattle who didn't want to send their kids to RBHS last year could have applied for and had their kids assigned to West Seattle HS, Sealth, Ingraham, Hale, or Franklin. Or they could have chosen STEM, Center, or NOVA. In fact the only 3 high schools in the entire city that families in SE Seattle did not have access to were Garfield, Roosevelt, and Ballard.

I also agree with Maureen in that the district is trying new things. New School, SE Initiative, the academies at Franklin, STEM. We may not think these are the best solutions, and we may not think they are adequate, but it does show a willingness on the part of the district to try.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ttln said...

"know their teacher believes in them"

Part of the NCLB program audit's survey asks questions around this topic from the three constituencies. "I believe all kids can meet standard in reading, math, etc." "My teachers ..." "Teachers at my student's school..."

When our results came back from the survey with only 40% of our teachers answering in the positive, we were all stunned. As a part of our BLT, I personally advocated for our staff to address the disparity in the beliefs about student learning. Rather than open up the issue, the majority of the power holding teachers argued that it wasn't about beliefs, but about how people read the questions.
B.S.
How do I know? I see it in the way teachers interact with students, I hear it in their remarks about "kids like that" or "families like that," and I see it as teachers continually lower expectations of what they believe students are capable of. No, they cannot remember to bring their materials to class, turn work in on time, complete the assignment in a quality way, etc. They build systems that remove students from taking an active and responsible role in their own learning. And no matter how hard I fight, or nicely I plant seeds of possibility, the behaviors that underlie the beliefs continue.

Teachers have to have a fierce heart and unwavering standards of excellence and high expectations of ALL in their classes. Without that, teachers do nothing but create mediocrity and damage kids’ senses of self. Sure, it is not a conscious act. But that makes it even more insidious.

Can charters fix this? Can TFA? The one benefit to hiring the young is the potential for idealism and fierceness. The burn out from having to fight the fight every year, day in and day out is evidenced by the TFA data. Charters/TFA are not a panacea, merely a Band-Aid.

The root lies in the beliefs, conscious or not, that teachers have about students and their abilities to learn. Find a way to make the belief in all kids fierce and strong in the hearts, minds, and practices of all teachers, and we will begin to resolve the achievement problems currently seen in public education in America.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Very good, TTLN.

I think that West Seattle Dawg also makes a good point. Many people are living their lives and don't have time to keep up with issues. I think the bigger issue (and I see this with the levy) is that many people, no matter the evidence that they see or evidence that is given to them, truly want to believe in our public institutions. It ranges from "it just can't be that bad" to "you're hurting kids."

I think it is scary to some people. If you believe that our school district is truly not watching over large amounts of tax dollars, well, that's scary. If you can't trust government or government entities, then how do we exist as a society? So we turn away because it's easier and less painful than the reality or we are too busy (and I don't mean in a self-absorbed way) in our lives to give due diligence to how our tax dollars are spent.

A good example is the lack of cameras at Roosevelt. I have warned the Board and the Superintendent that they can play the odds game that nothing serious will ever happen there. (And this ignores the fact that cameras would also deter and/or give evidence of vandalism.) So it's one thing if the parents at Roosevelt don't do anything (I think most don't even know there are no cameras). Parents can turn away and hope the district knows best.

But the Superintendent and the Board do NOT have that luxury.

So if anything major happens and because there are no cameras to give police officers on the scene the guidance they need, there is nowhere for them to hide, no excuse that can be made.

But regular folks can all just say, "We didn't know. We trusted them to do the right thing." Well, it's a given that at some level we have to trust elected officials and government officials to do the right things. But turn away too often and you may miss something.

seattle said...

"The whole point of Waiting for SM was the unfairness and tragedy of the lottery"

Huh?? Do you think Garfield, Roosevelt, and Ballard take all comers? How about Bryant, View Ridge, Wedgewood, Eckstein, North Beach, Montlake, JSIS, Stevens? Or Thornton Creek, TOPS, and Salmon Bay?

Have you seen their waitlists? In previous years Roosevelt had a 300+ kid waitlist, and Eckstein 200+

Our schools hardly take all comers. Every building has a finite amount of space.

The mere fact that a charter has more applicants than there is space shows that it is popular and serving it's communities needs well.

palam said...

With a few exceptions, I've always been comforted knowing my child is in the hands of wonderful teachers.

Yet, we have to admit, it is difficult to teach in the midst of huge social and educational challenges.

Perhaps, we should look into ways to support teachers with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

This would help to solve the problem of bringing in short term TFA and obtaing committed & certificated staff.

Certainly more humane than demoralizing our teachers.

wseadawg said...

Edvocate, you said: As for charters not having to take all who apply? I haven't heard that. Can you give an example of that? I thought most charters had lotteries to see who gets in?

And I said: "The whole point of Waiting for SM was the unfairness and tragedy of the lottery"

You asked for an example. I gave you WFS. I was responding to your post.

That other schools have waitlists is a separate issue, other than being proof positive that people are thrilled with a bunch of public schools which should be replicated and not replaced with a separate, privately managed model. I never went there, but that's what I would have said if I had.

Patrick said...

"I believe all kids can meet standard in reading, math, etc."

Maybe I'm just jaded, but that strikes me as an absurd standard, if by "all" it really means "all". Do doctors believe that all their patients will be healthy? Do stockbrokers believe that all their clients will become wealthy? Do lawyers believe they will win every case? Of course not... even though those professionals can be much more selective about their clientele than school teachers.

Of course I expect the teachers do make every effort, but it would be foolish to think it will always overcome any possible obstacle.

Anonymous said...

ttln-, you wrote: "When our results came back from the survey with only 40% of our teachers answering in the positive, we were all stunned. "

I'm stunned that no one noticed it before. Actually, it's probably 100% incorrect that no one had noticed this. I'll bet my salary that parents of the students in the 60% answering in the negative knew, and I'm CERTAIN that the children did!

It took me exactly one encounter to figure out that one of the K teachers where my daughter started school was one of those teachers. I was not surprised as the year went on that children of color started complaining to their friends in my daughter's class that this teacher "was mean" to them. And I was happily surprised when this new teacher (formerly in admin who decided to enter the classroom) did not return the following year.

This is a common problem in classrooms where there's a large number of minority and low-income kids. No one needed a survey-someone just needed to ASK THE PARENTS.

And that is one reason why so many minority groups and spokespeople have jumped on the reform wagon. It's because what's out there NOW isn't working for a lot of these kids and it's not all measurable on a test. There are any number of teachers who are just great when handed a classrooom of white, middleclass kids. They're another story altogether when faced with a classroom of kids they think of as less than able to fit their ideal picture of a student.

suep. said...

Edvocate, I owe you a reply. First off, it is a known flaw of charters that they don't accept all kids, most notably, kids with Special Ed needs. They have also been accused of "creaming" -- skimming off and only admitting the most motivated kids with motivated parents and/or encouraging/forcing less motivated kids to leave. Geoffrey Canada (of Harlem Children's Zone) notoriously told an entire grade to not come back the next year because their test scores weren't up to someone's measure.

I know that sounds outrageous, but go ahead and Google it, or check out our forum with Diane Ravitch and you'll see she mentions it.

This kind of student population manipulation favorably skews test scores and graduation results of charter schools.

Secondly, back on the topic of the KIPP school day and teacher obligations:

The school day at KIPP is longer, so kids are in the building in classes from 7:15 to 5 p.m. In regular public schools, yes, teachers may certainly work until 5 p.m.—and beyond--but they are usually not teaching classes this late.

In fact, KIPP is known for its high demands on teachers – and apparently, a pretty high teacher turnover rate.

According to various articles and posts I’ve come across, KIPP teacher work anywhere from 9-15 hours a day. KIPP requires teachers to give their personal cell phone number to their students and be on call for homework help until 9:30 p.m. every week day. Sure that sounds great for the kids, but how great it is for the home life and family life of the teacher? Also, KIPP kids have to go to school every other Saturday morning and three weeks of the summer. So the teachers have to work those times too.

It might be worth it to some teachers if they were paid proportionately for all this extra time and work, but it’s not clear that they are. KIPP claims “KIPP teachers typically earn a higher salary than the average teacher in neighboring public schools” but I’ve also come across claims that it still isn’t comparable for the amount of time that’s demanded of them.

Apparently in Baltimore earlier this year, the teacher's union helped negotiate a better deal for KIPP teachers, who were working 10 more hours a week than non-KIPP teachers, and paid less. See: http://bohsandos.com/2010/03/baltimore-teachers-union-and-kipp-agree-to-deal/

Here's KIPP's take on this (from their site):
KIPP teachers are expected to work hard. How does KIPP prevent burn out and teacher turnover?
KIPP teachers are expected to help all students succeed, and they typically work a nine-hour work day during the week, half days on selected Saturdays, and three weeks in the summer. They also are available via cell phone for homework help in the evening. To compensate for the additional time required to teach in a KIPP school, KIPP teachers typically receive a higher salary than the average teacher in neighboring public schools.

KIPP puts a high priority on collaboration and professional development, and the extended school day gives KIPP teachers time for lesson planning and sharing ideas. The KIPP Foundation provides regular training and professional development throughout the year to help teachers exchange lesson plans and gain new skills to improve their classroom practice.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

To Edvocate again:

I know how much time and effort public school teachers put into their work beyond the basic workday. But at least they have a union that in theory looks out for them and advocates for fair pay and hours for them. This isn’t true for non-charter KIPP.

Yes, Green Dot is unionized--kind of. (I’ve heard it’s not the same as a regular union. Need to get more info on that.) But most charters, including KIPP, are not. So most charter teachers do not have the advocating benefits or securities provided by unions, making them easier to fire and giving them less job security.

Another thing about KIPP that troubles me is the discipline policy. Has anyone else here read about their "shunning" policy? (I'll add a few links about this, below). If this is true, I can't support this at all and am particularly disturbed that this kind of demeaning treatment of kids is primarily meted out to kids of color. (The majority of KIPP students are African American or Hispanic.) Would KIPP treat white or Asian-American kids this way?

From KIPP’s site: “With hard work and discipline, KIPP students are high-performing.”
(http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/history)

I am wondering if KIPP is going to be pitched to Seattle with the stage whispered message that is an appeal to liberal guilt: "Your kids may not need this kind of schooling, but those other kids do, so support charters for their sake. They need this brand of reading, writing and discipline."

At some level, this is patently racist. All the kids in Seattle's schools should be given an inspired enriched curriculum, in a nurturing supportive environment. Not boot camp.

Yes New School is a public/private partnership and that brings in extra money. But it still operates under the auspices of SPS and so in theory there is a degree of accountability to the community and school board there that a charter would not have.

My point about the money: there is a lot of it behind these more well-known charter enterprises – millions -- and if you do the math, you have to wonder where it is going, and why they don’t get better results with it. Check this out: http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/support-kipp/kipp-national-partners.

They get public money AND private money. They get FREE buildings. They have smaller class sizes and fewer kids. Many have high attrition rates. Where is all the money going? There have been cases of charter administrators being paid pretty hefty salaries beyond what you might expect for a similar position in a public system. And just because Seattle's supt is paid over $364,000 doesn’t make it okay and worthy of replicating, especially in time of severe economic crisis when the supt and district are making all our kids make do with much less.
And finally, the fact that charters are not producing better result than regular public schools (See the CREDO report out of Stanford University – funded by pro-charter people like the Waltons, ironically enough) begs the question, then why hand over control to these private enterprise middlemen if they can’t get better results?

--s.p.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anyone in those attendance areas can get in, no matter what. That's taking all comers.

I think the issue is of teachers believing that every child can LEARN. Not necessarily is going to rise to top, be able to oversome all obstacles but that every child does have the ability to learn.

suep. said...

This is my final comment on this, I swear!

Here’s some reading on the issue of KIPP discpline:

http://www.cs.unm.edu/~sto/maunders/educate/grann.html

From PURE’s web site: MYTH #6: KIPP
Some major media folks promote the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools as
models of successful privatization.
However, most people are unaware of at least one aspect of KIPP schools – the
discipline system – because the media rarely talks about it. KIPP uses a punishment system
based on shunning. A blogger reported students wearing “Miscreant” signs around their
necks in one KIPP school. There are strict uniform rules and requirements that students
walk in the hall in a silent line. Each classroom has a volume meter which teachers use to
inform students which voice level is appropriate for various activities.
Chicago’s KIPP elementary school closed down in part because parents were offended
by the way the school treated their children and pulled them out. The enrollment dropped
too low to maintain the school.


This is particularly disturbing: http://herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/education/privatising/KIPP2.html

It quotes this New Republic article on KIPP from 1999: http://www.cs.unm.edu/~sto/maunders/educate/grann.html

I wonder if this is all still true or whether KIPP has become less rigid in the last 10 years. I also wonder about the success rate cited in the article – KIPP was still pretty new in 1999, so it’s not clear how much could be measured at that point.

--s.p.

suep. said...

Okay, for some reason, my first comment keeps disappearing. Here it is again, in two parts:

To Edvocate: I owe you a reply. First off, yes charters have been criticized for not accepting all kids, most notably those with Special Ed needs. They have also been accused of "creaming" -- skimming off the most motivated kids with the most involved parents -- and discouraging or kicking out the others. Even Geoffrey Canada (of Harlem Children's Zone) told an entire grade not to return the following year (apparently because their test scores were too low).

I know this sounds outrageous, but Google it, or watch our forum with Diane Ravitch (yes, we're not organized at all, Fighting4Kids...!) in which she mentions this.

The end result is, charters can skew their results this way -- in ways that traditional public schools cannot because they must accept all kids.

So back to the topic of KIPP teachers: The school day at KIPP is longer, so kids are in the building in classes from 7:15 to 5 p.m. In regular public schools, yes, teachers may certainly work until 5 p.m.—and beyond--but they are usually not teaching classes this late.

In fact, KIPP is known for its high demands on teachers – and apparently, a pretty high teacher turnover rate.

According to various articles and posts I’ve come across, KIPP teacher work anywhere from 9-15 hours a day. KIPP requires teachers to give their personal cell phone number to their students and be on call for homework help until 9:30 p.m. every week day. Sure that sounds great for the kids, but how great it is for the home life and family life of the teacher?

suep. said...

(part 2)

Also, KIPP kids have to go to school every other Saturday morning and three weeks of the summer. So the teachers have to work those times too. It might be worth it to some teachers if they were pay proportionately for all this extra time and work, but it’s not clear that they are. KIPP claims “KIPP teachers typically earn a higher salary than the average teacher in neighboring public schools” but I’ve also come across claims that it still isn’t comparable for the amount of time that’s demanded of them.

Apparently in Baltimore earlier this year, the teacher's union helped negotiate a better deal for KIPP teachers, who were working 10 more hours a week than non-KIPP teachers, and paid less. See: http://bohsandos.com/2010/03/baltimore-teachers-union-and-kipp-agree-to-deal/

Here's KIPP's take on this (from their site):
KIPP teachers are expected to work hard. How does KIPP prevent burn out and teacher turnover?
KIPP teachers are expected to help all students succeed, and they typically work a nine-hour work day during the week, half days on selected Saturdays, and three weeks in the summer. They also are available via cell phone for homework help in the evening. To compensate for the additional time required to teach in a KIPP school, KIPP teachers typically receive a higher salary than the average teacher in neighboring public schools.

KIPP puts a high priority on collaboration and professional development, and the extended school day gives KIPP teachers time for lesson planning and sharing ideas. The KIPP Foundation provides regular training and professional development throughout the year to help teachers exchange lesson plans and gain new skills to improve their classroom practice.

seattle said...

"Anyone in those attendance areas can get in, no matter what. That's taking all comers."

They take all comers who happen to live in their attendance area. That's not really all comers. What I was getting at is that the folks who live in a neighborhoods with low performing schools can't get into high performing, popular schools because those schools are full, with waitlists. They get forced into either going to their low performing school, or going to another under enrolled (read: low performing) school.

At least charters hold a lottery, where everyone gets an equal chance at admission.

hschinske said...

ttln wrote: Rather than open up the issue, the majority of the power holding teachers argued that it wasn't about beliefs, but about how people read the questions.

If in fact they're trying to figure out how many teachers have unfortunate prejudices, I think those questions aren't doing a great job. I think they are pretty ambiguous, and I suspect people like the kindergarten teacher agibean wrote about (who are certainly out there) are just as likely to answer Yes as No, and some far better teachers may be as likely to answer No as Yes.

agibean wrote: There are any number of teachers who are just great when handed a classrooom of white, middleclass kids ...

Can I just say that I have white, middle-class kids, and I absolutely do not want them taught by racist/classist teachers either. Those teachers' faults may be MASKED if they're in a room full of kids like mine, but they don't go away or have no effect.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Edvocate,

You have apparently not read any of the information that I posted last time around on charter schools.

It has become an issue that charter schools do not take on special ed students. The reason for the cherry picking is the fact that charter schools are required to maintain a test score average to continue receiving funding from the state and schooldistricts. Because of that, there has been a significant focus on test scores.

And, unlike public schools, students in charter schools can be dismissed from the school. The child has no protection in those terms. This is strikingly apparent in Chicago where you have several charter schools in an area and the public school receives all of the special ed students and students who others have found difficult to teach. When I met with teachers at the AFT convention this summer who were from Chicago, they were talking about this and one of them brought it up to Arne Duncan when we met with him. She was saying that in her public school, there is now not enough support or funding for all of the special students that the charter schools have tossed aside.

We have great schools in Seattle and a diversity of programs for families to choose from. That was one aspect of Seattle Public Schools that I found astonishing.
For that reason alone, I do not see the need for charter schools in Seattle.

Now, for some basic education in charter schools, besides reading anything written by Diane Ravitch or taking a peek at her blog, Bridging Differences or, god forbid, going to Seattle Education 2010 where you can find a plethora of information on all things ed reform, here is a list of articles that you can peruse at your leisure.

For variety's sake, I am posting articles that I have not posted before on this blog.

Why most charter schools should be called private schools, not public schools

Why most charter schools should be called private schools.

https://www.examiner.com/education-reform-in-houston/why-most-charter-schools-should-be-called-private-schools-not-public-schools

We’re still waiting for Superman here in Charterland

http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2010/10/were-still-waiting-for-superman-here-in.html

Vanishing Students, Rising Scores:
Middle School Charters Show Alarming Student Attrition Over Time

http://www.edwize.org/middle-school-charters-show-alarming-student-attrition#more-7089

I'm probably starting to run out of room on this post, so I'll continue on a new post.

Anonymous said...

The Problem With New Orleans’s Charter Schools

"In July, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a legal complaint against the Louisiana Department of Education alleging that schools have been turning away parents with disabled children and shirking their responsibilities to ensure that the special-needs students they do serve actually benefit from academic instruction."

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/06/new-orleans-accused-of-failing-disabled-students.html

Special-Ed Problems Continue In District

"Some D.C. public charter schools continue selective admissions practices that discourage special-needs students from enrolling, and students citywide with possible disabilities still face delays in special education evaluations, a federal court monitor said this week."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/26/AR2009062604138.html

UCLA Report Says Charters Are Causing Resegregation Of American Schools

"The charter movement has flourished in a period of retreat on civil rights," Orfield said. "The vision of a successfully integrated society - one that carries real opportunities for historically excluded groups of students to enter the mainstream - ought to be a defining characteristic of charter schools. Federal policy should make this a condition for charter school support and should support other choice programs which pursue this goal."

http://blogs.uscannenberg.org/julia_james/2010/04/ucla-report-says-charters-are.html

Anonymous said...

Here's a few more articles that might be of interest.

A Revolving Door for Charter Teachers

"Catalyst’s analysis of employee lists for charter schools confirms what some charter observers have long suspected: High teacher turnover is the norm."

http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/index.php/item/2637/cat/23

Why I don’t believe in “reform”

This article was written by a TFA grad who became a teacher and administrator at KIPP. This is a good read from an insider.

http://blog.ednewscolorado.org/2010/09/07/why-i-dont-believe-in-reform/

14 of 15 Green Dot schools are "failing," by Parent Revolution's definition

I think that I might have posted this on before on SSS.

"Average API of all Green Dot’s schools (15 total, counting several small schools on one campus, Locke High in Watts): 632 (rounded up to the nearest whole)
Average API of the “failing” schools Parent Revolution is targeting with parent trigger campaigns: 670 (rounded down to the nearest whole)"

http://www.examiner.com/education-in-san-francisco/14-of-15-green-dot-schools-are-failing-by-parent-revolution-s-definition

wseadawg said...

Well, Edvocate, you're right, but the supposed purpose of the new SAP is to make all schools "equitable" so that a kid in any neighborhood can get a high quality education no matter where they live. That's the promise of Excellence for All, and a bold DOING of something by the district to address the current inequities. Will it work? I suspect we'll see improvements in many schools, given the additional focus and attention, but I predict the two or three class system we have right now will still be there, so long as all the responsibility and blame is on the teachers.

ttln said...

isn't how a person reads the question an indicattion of what they believe?

did it take a surevey to reveal the truth? was it known by some? I would say, perhaps. But when the numbers are staring you in the face and you know how you answered the question, it forces you to be honest and own it.- unless you can possibly keep the conversation from ever occurring. In which case, the biggotry can continue as status quo.

Poorly worded or purposefully worded to catch those who say one thing at staff meetings but believe something else when alone in their classrooms?

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, on the LEV event thread (which this seems to have become, de facto), you wrote, "Mr. Barth [of KIPP]said...we should do it [change WA law to allow charters] because there have been break-thru charter performers"

Actually, he was much more arrogant - he claims that charters are THE breakthrough schools, which is what frustrates me most about the reform movement, it assumes that nothing good is happening in publics, that no child is breaking through, that only some split from the public system can create "breakthrough performance." Of course, this also begs the question, how is performance measured in a charter, or any school for that matter. Test scores? The two charter guys both mentioned college entrance/graduation, but this is notoriously difficult to track. What OTHER methods are there? No one knows, it's all about the test scores.
Here is what KIPP's Barth said, exactly, about it is THE charters [not publics] that do the "breakthrough performance" thing:

On "Why should Washington change the law to allow charters," Richard Barth, of KIPP, said that "the communities that have embraced charters, the reason for it is that The schools that have universally created breakthrough performance across the country, there are two hundred, maybe around three hundred of them, that are doing the most in that regard,and are charters. The schools that are producing the greatest breakthrough performance for the kids facing the greatest challenges in America, by and large are charters. Not all charters, but a subset..."

seattle citizen said...

edvocate, you repeatedly state that choice is good, innovation is good, and that because the district has allowed alts to languish, because it has standardized, we should allow charters. Two points:
One: Some think that standardization is a predicate of charters - it's paving the way;
Two, districts (including Seattle)can, of course, change back and develop great options and alternatives that are innovative and JUST LIKE CHARTERS but still public schools. The argument that, well, Seattle had great alts and good programs but has standardized, so we should do what alts used to do but with charters, just doesn't hold water.

seattle said...

Well what holds water Seattle Citizen? We wait around another 10 or 15 years for the "system" to change? Meanwhile our kids just deal with it. That doesn't hold water.

seattle citizen said...

Edvocate, who is waiting around? There are plenty of examples of excellence, of teachers and programs innovating within public schools.
If it is possible to innovate in public schools, which it is, then it's possible to grow those innovations. There is no need to go outside of the public school framework, and there is danger in going outside of the framework.
Anything that can be done in a charter school can be done in a public school, if the board supports it. If the board doesn't support it, why on earth would we charter that innovation out, because the board doesn't support it anyway.
If the board doesn't see fit to support innovation in public schools, why on earth would it be supportive of innovation in charter schools? What's the pay off? The only pay off is that the board can wash its hands of the matter, tell a charter school "give us high WASL scores" and not be accountable in any other way.

It doesn't make sense, there's no need for it, and charters diminish the public accoutability of democratically elected school boards: It's a diminishment of the public trust and responsibility to manage schools by contracting them out, and it's un-necessary.

SolvayGirl said...

I'm trying to understand how this would all work. For example, if RBHS was turned into a KIPP charter, would there be a new neighborhood school for the 1200+ HS students in the RBHS assignment area? Which school would that be?

SPS couldn't force families into a Charter could they?

hschinske said...

isn't how a person reads the question an indicattion of what they believe?

No. That was rather my point. If a question is confusing enough that a person has to wonder how to answer in order to get their point across as they intend, surely some people who believe the same thing are going to answer the question in opposite ways, and some who believe opposite things will answer the question in the same way.

Now that I think about it, here's a specifically racist/classist way to say Yes to that question: one might believe that of course these kids could all meet standards, but some of them are just too lazy, and it's part of their culture not to care. I have met teachers who appear to feel this way. Such a belief would better fit the "mean" behavior agibean noted, seems to me.

Again, this has nothing to do with how many or which teachers actually feel like the one agibean was talking about. It could even be that 60/40 is a fairly correct representation in your school, so that the numbers happened to bear out your gut instinct. It doesn't mean that the question itself was the thing that ferreted out the truth.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Edvocate, no, we don't "wait" for the system to change. We change it. We get rid of Dr. G-J and get a new majority on the Board.

That's how quick it could be if things line up right. There's a lovely opening in D.C. for a chancellor of schools and I have urged the Board to let Dr. G-J go if she wants to go.

There's a Board election next fall.

There's also a seemingly new interest from the Mayor and members of the City Council in our district. They, too, can force some change.

No, Solvay, you can't force anyone to go to a charter. But I'm not really sure how districts go about revamping their enrollment plans around charters. It certainly would disrupt our neighborhood system if suddenly some schools were off-line as attendance schools. You'd either go to the charter closest to you (assuming you could get in if went to a lottery) or you go to the next closest school with room.

Lots o'details.

seattle citizen said...

As I've mentioned before, it's my belief that change (and it IS happening, every day) should be within a public school framework, which means through the board and its policies. The charter argument, if it can be generalized, seems to be that since boards can't do what needs to be done, then boards should charter it out, which involves some degree of release of control and accountability, which to me is unacceptable. Public schools are public schools; if the board can't make change within, it has no business making change by contracting it out. If a board can't support innovation in the publics, for instance, how will it support innovation externally, when it has relinquished some degree of authority by signing a contract (charter) giving some other organization some degree of control?
If we can't trust the board to, for example, innovate, why would we trust them to trust someone else to innovate? It just adds another barrier to accountability: we can't hold the board accountablle, then certainly can't hold, say, KIPP accountable through the board.

Unless charter advocates are suggesting, perhaps, that the charters not be board-accountable at all, that they merely be some sort of autonomous free agents that we feed money to, not responsible to the board at all?

Change is possible within the publics, it happens all the time, and soon we will be able to start with a fresh slate of accountable board members who support innovative public schools. This board has innovated: STEM, for instance.

We don't need charters and they less accountable than public schools.

WV has noclu, but if it would pay attention...

seattle said...

"Unless charter advocates are suggesting, perhaps, that the charters not be board-accountable at all"

Yup, that would be the point.

Maureen said...

Solvay, from what I've read, sometimes charters take over a floor or a wing of a public school and as they grow take on more space. Presumably the kids from the public part of the building either join the charter or are pushed to the next closest school. This makes much more sense in LA where they have over 162,000 HS students and there are multiple public HSs relatively close to each other. I would think that in rural areas it works differently. I have heard of charters that operate out of commercial space.

seattle citizen said...

Edvocate, then to whom are the charters accountable?

Just the users? How would they be accountable to the tax payers who pay for them? Wouldn't they then be merely "voucher" schools, parent/guardians decide where to sent their student, money follows the student?

Ah, I see the game now: Vouchers as a concept got no traction because people don't want to give their tax dollars to just any ol' "school", so the idea of charters is born: Autonomous bodies, supposedly sanctioned by some board, but actually not accountable to the public, yet still getting public money!

Brilliant!

But they ain't public schools unless they are fully accountable to the public through the board. They're...private schools getting public money: voucher schools.

Sahila said...

SC - hey there... you're forgetting mayoral control... most deformers - especially Broad - push really hard for mayoral control, cos that way they get past the burden of being accountable to a School Board ... and watch Burgess and Carlyle and the astro-turfs push for that soon...

seattle citizen said...

"Unless charter advocates are suggesting, perhaps, that the charters not be board-accountable at all"

Edvocate, you write that "that would be the point."[that charters not be board-accountable at all]

So edvocate, why should I, as a taxpayer, give my money to some school which is not accountable to my democratically elected board?
I shouldn't, and I won't. Public schools are run by public boards; that's how they are accountable for my money. You want the money, operate under the board. Otherwise, pay for it yourself, because if you aren't under the board, there is no way for me to hold you accountable for my money.

seattle said...

Charters are accountable to their own boards. That's kinda the point isn't it, SC. And they are accountable to the government, via state standardized testing, NCLB, and the sanctions that come with it. But first and foremost charters are accountable to the public, that is the families that choose them. As choice schools if charters don't do a good job, and families don't choose to send their kids to them, they close. Now, that's real accountability!

As a tax payer I wouldn't mind my tax dollars supporting charters one bit. Apparently Obama, Arnie Duncan, and all of the taxpayers in the states that allow charters don't mind either.

As for vouchers, that's a totally different story. In that case tax dollars were going to private schools. And, much as you will argue SC, Charters, however you slice them, are public schools. Personally, I'd much rather spend my money on public education, in any form, than war.

But I know charters jeopardize unions. And public school teachers don't think they will be able to function without the protection of a union. Imagine, teachers would have to work at will just like almost every other employee in the US. My heart is breaking.

seattle citizen said...

Sahila, if they tried to use mayoral control, I'm sure many of us can bring it to the courts to reaffirm the board process - public schools are governed by boards, not by mayors. Schools are not part of the city's purview - They're seperate entities. It'd be a hard case to make that the mayor simply HAS to wrest control from the democratically elected board - judges would frown on the usurpation of delegated power. You know, "we the people" and all that, we have a board over here, and the mayor over there; never the twain shall meet. Not without a change in the law.

seattle citizen said...

edvocate, you write that "Charters are accountable to their own boards."
Umm, those boards aren't accountable to me, the taxpayer.

"And they are accountable to the government, via state standardized testing, NCLB, and the sanctions that come with it."

Umm, schools, and the taxpayer money that funds them, are local, edvocate, not federal projects. And who cares about NCLB? That's not acountability to me, as a taxpayer: I pay for public schools, not test-factories, which is the only metric held under NCLB...The local board is the governing agent for my schools, not the feds. I mean, seriously.

"But first and foremost charters are accountable to the public, that is the families that choose them."
Well, I'm glad people choose them, or not, but that is not accountability to me, the taxpayer, who is giving money to them. If they want my money, they are accoutable to me, who pays the bills, not just the people who use the school. I give MY money to my elected board, who makes policy, and disburses money to our schools. I don't just hand it to any old school, "accountable to NCLB and its student's" or not. The school could meet NCLB standards, and have a bunch of white supremecists in it, for all I would ever know.
Nope, public money goes to public schools, accountable to the taxpayer through his or her board.

Kathy said...

"There's also a seemingly new interest from the Mayor and members of the City Council in our district. They, too, can force some change."

Melissa,
Please explain this statement. What have you been hearing?

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Sorry, SC, but you are in the minority, nationally. People all across the country do think charters are accountable enough to give them their tax dollars. Thank goodness for democracy!

seattle citizen said...

Well, edvocate, just because a few people believe it is okay to take taxpayer money without an accountable school board doesn't make it, in fact, okay. Or legal. Or democratic.

That's the opposite of democracy - that's taxation without representation, a tyranny. We vote for boards who spend out money, simple as that. That some have other ideas is of no matter.

If some people thought that taxpayer money should just be handed over to, say, some people who "choose" schools that were built out of straw and taught only basket-weaving, that wouldn't be okay either. That's why we have boards: They make decisions about ALL the policies and procedures, they make decisions about every aspect of public schools, not just state test scores. Those boards are accountable to the taxpayers; charters, apparently, are not. That some want taxpayer money without being accountable to the taxpayer is of no matter to me whatsoever; it won't happen.

seattle citizen said...

Oh, and edvocate? You write that I am "in the minority, nationally [as a public school supporter, rather than charter]. People all across the country do think charters are accountable enough to give them their tax dollars. Thank goodness for democracy!"

Umm, there are over a hundred millon school children; How many go to charters? What did that guy at Green Dot say? They served 8000? Only eight of home are white?

Most people are very happy (or least satisfied) with the public, board-accountable systems: Nationally, the overhwelming majority has voted with its feet and sent their children to public schools, elected boards, and paid taxes to support both. Charters only have traction in a very few places.

Only a tiny minority of schools are charters. Here in Washington, we have thrice voted charters down - guess that makes you a minority here, too.

seattle said...

"Well, edvocate, just because a few people believe it is okay"

Um, just a few people? I think you are in denial, SC. What is it, 33 states now, with charter schools. People all across the country seem to be OK spending their tax dollars on charters.
And you can add the president of the United states, and his education secretary to that list too. Oh, they tyranny.

Sahila said...

yeah - the president believes so much in charter schools, he sends his daughters to a private school that costs $30K each per year.....

Sahila said...

SC - many districts that had school boards once are now under mayoral control... one of the tactics used by Broad is to push for mayoral controls once school districts are bankrupt .... a couple more years of MGJ (how many years still on her contract?) and Seattle might be in that boat... and the argument will be the Board cant be trusted with taxpayer money, so the mayor's office will need to take over....

seattle citizen said...

It IS a tyranny, in my opinion. Schools, at their very foundation, are local: They started that way a hundred and fifty years ago, and then were consolidated about a hundred years ago for efficiencies' sake, mainly - kinda hard to run a high school for one town of a thousand people, so districts were born.

But they are local. What Obama has to say about it is of little matter. That thirty states or whatever think that it is okay to give taxpayer money to non-accountable entities doesn't make it right.

There are way, way more public schools than charters - charters are a distinct minority, even if laws have been changed by Gates-funded advertising campaigns, such as the LEV event, and by power players making back-room deals to secure the backing of inner-city power-players....doesn't make the laws right.

Prima facie, the taxpayer money becomes unaccountable - that ain't right.

Luckily, there IS, your denial notwithstanding, quite a bit of rising opposition to this privatizing of public assets and monies...People are wising up. All the money that Gates, Broad, charter operators, real estate speculators and others can throw at trying to convince people to give private, non-board-governed operations taxpayer money will soon be all for naught.

Anonymous said...

Have a cake about to burn so I can't stay, but my hometown has had the mayor as the head of the school board and tie-vote breaker since before I was born-and I'm 52 years old. It's not considered strange or out of bounds there. Interestingly, even though there's no ed reform going on (it's a pretty homogenous city) on a recent visit back, people were bitching about the board, the superintendent and how screwed it everything was...

I'm beginning to think that that attitude is just the way to think amongst parents everywhere, no matter who's in charge.

seattle citizen said...

edvocate, you said I could add the president's education secretary to the list of charter believers? What a surprise! You mean ol' Arne Duncan, who wet his feet in the edu-business by running Ariel Investment's charter school? The one that taught K-8 children using the theme of investment banking? THAT secretary of ed is in favor of charters? No! Really?!
Or do you mean the one that destroyed Chicago's public school system? That Arne Duncan?
Or maybe the one that got hold of the president's ear, did a little flapping, and whispered, "charters are the answer..." because obviously Obama, whose children attend Stilwell, and who knew Duncan back in the good -ol days of political back-slapping and quid-pro-quos back in Chicago, knows little about education issues and hired Duncan because they were buds in Chicago and because no one had yet discovered how very trashed Chicago schools were under Duncan?

THAT Arne Duncan? In favor of charters? gasp!

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

agibean, the mayor might be on the board, but there IS a board.

Yes, people are always, everywhere, frustrated with boards, nothin' new there...

seattle citizen said...

So what if he is in charge? He isn't a lawmaker, or a judge.

seattle said...

Yup, THAT Arnie Duncan. And he is in charge now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maybe you missed it but some charters can be made exempt from state education rules.

It's just as hard to close a charter as any other school. Most of them don't just "go out of business." Charter laws aren't usually written that way.

And again folks, it depends on how the law is written. Some states have charter boards, some state use the State Board of Ed to oversee charters, some are even overseen (to some degree) by the districts they are in. What would we get?

The Mayor never made a secret about his concern over SPS. That he has his hands full with the city doesn't preclude him still thinking about issues at SPS. And, if things don't perk up, well, he wouldn't be the first person in Seattle to advocate for the city to take control of the school district. (Norm Rice, Greg Nickels, Ed Murray, to name a few.)

Then, at the LEV event, the head of LEV singles out Tim Burgess as the "brain" of the event. I note that Councilman Burgess is the head of the City Council committee that has education as its purview. As well, he seems to have more than a passing interest in the topic. He certainly seems on the side of ed reform including charters but I'll bet if he thought the district making progress, he might consider the city's role in running the schools.

Dorothy Neville said...

Don't we need state legislature to do something to allow the city to take over? Tim can't do it by himself, can he?

I have it on good authority that this state legislature would NEVER let this mayor take over Seattle Schools.

Consider it a temporary reprieve from that possible scenario.

MathTeacher42 said...

somewhere, in 1 of these gazillion diaries over the last few months, someone had done the legwork of actually looking up the salaries of Wendy Kopp, CEO of TFA, and KIPP's Richard Barth - profiled in this NYT puff piece, which, of course, neglects to mention their paychecks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/education/19teach.html

In a quick google, I discovered a Democratic Underground blog post where a writer claims that they make over $600k a year - the author looked at 990 forms ... (which are where ??)

"Who is "Teach for America" founder Wendy Kopp's spouse?
Edited on Fri Apr-16-10 05:57 AM by Hannah Bell"

In the world of Princeton (Kopp) & Harvard (Barth) high flyers, $600K is enough keep the lights on for your 7 figure lifestyle - as long as you have a couple of organizations funding your travel and hotels and meals!

The USA spends over 1/2 a trillion on education - that sure can fund a lot of KIPPs and TFAs and Ivy high flyers... choke, gag ... saving the world - while the rest of us pee-ons get to scratch buy on our peanuts!

YAWN - this privatization of public money is all about the kids, NOT about a new class of high flyers pilfering us working stiffs. Too bad Wendy & Richard didn't devote their talents for getting to the top and for taking the most to peddling Mortgage Backed Securities, CDOs, and Bananastan Contractors.

Robert Murphy

klh said...

The potential for a lot of money being made by the private individuals at the top is what bothers me about the idea of charters. Finding a way to give students and families a little more choice if their districts can't seem to pull it together for them doesn't seem all that unreasonable.

What if our state allowed charters - but did not allow anyone working for charters (including in administrative roles) to make any more than they would in a public school district that had the same number of students as the charters? I wonder how many charter school companies would choose to operate here if they had to re-invest any excess funds back into the students, rather than using those funds as a potential windfall to investors or administrators?

People who really were in it for the kids might still try to do something. Those who were looking at it as the next great investment opportunity might run away.

Just a thought.

seattle said...

MGJ makes 360K +

Sahila said...

$360K
for MGJ
to stuff up our school system every which way...

not bad to have just under $1K,
each and every day,
as pay,
for not listening to what we have to say...

but that's just the way
that the deformists play
so that they may
claim they're stopping the decay
and saving the day
(for our kids)

so we shouldn't get mad and just agree OK...
and hey -
thanks for leading the way...