Charter Expansion and Enrollment Up in US

The number of children in the US attending charter schools has passed the two million mark according to an AP article in the Seattle Times.   But read the article closely and you'll see all is not well.

From the article:

The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide.

Of course, the fact that in the article charter supporters and others attribute most of that growth to the RTTT money is telling.  We are Americans, after all.  Give us more choices and we will take them.

They are helped by continued support from private foundations and the U.S. Department of Education, which announced $25 million in grants for high achieving charter schools in September.

Sixteen states have lifted caps on the number of them and student enrollment over the last three years, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

There are several telling quotes:

James Willcox, CEO of Aspire Public Schools, California's largest charter school operator, said $20 million in state funding has been lost annually since 2007. After school and academic intervention programs have been cut, class sizes expanded and teachers haven't received a cost of living increase in four years.

"We have banded together and done everything we possibly can to keep them on track," Willcox said in an interview Tuesday. "Our results have gotten better even as the situation has gotten worse. But it's not sustainable."

Not sustainable?  As in it costs a lot of money to educate all kids?  And charter are finally getting around to having to have more special ed and ELL services and it costs them money?

Robin Lake, associate director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, said the big expansion has come at the right time: Charter schools have matured and are paying more attention to effectively surveying and addressing the needs of special education, English language learners and other students.

Oh, okay, they've "matured."  It only took them 20 years. 

Part of the problem, as Ms. Lake points out, was the "let's go" attitude that was initially the hallmark of charters - not innovation, not oversight.  But now:

In Florida, for example, a charter school law was passed this spring making it easier for charters deemed as "high performing" to expand. About 57 percent of Florida's charter schools were given an "A" by the state last school year. Six percent were given an "F," including a new KIPP charter school in Jacksonville. KIPP, or the Knowledge is Power Program, has schools nationwide and is frequently cited as an example of a successful charter schools network, highlighting the difficulty of replicating good results.

Paul Weitzel, who has written "The Charter School Experiment" has the last word:

"Charter schools are frequently innovative outside the classroom," he said. "But once you get into the classroom, we're not really seeing the extent of innovation that people had hoped to see."

Innovation, oversight, results - they matter in the vernacular of charter schools and it seems some people are just figuring that out.


dan dempsey said…
Article from The Atlantic

Forget charter schools and grade-by-grade testing. It's time to look at the best-performing countries and pragmatically adapt their solutions.
CT said…
Talking with a couple of friends in AZ, it seems the mentality in her upper middle-class/bordering on rich neighborhood is that GOOD PARENTS who CARE about their kids put their kids in charter schools. Parents who don’t care about their kids send their kids to public schools. Charter schools are being considered “free” private schools, excluding the riff-raff, and that’s where the “cool” kids are going.

Ironically, the charter schools in AZ are trying hard to be seen as public schools so they can get more money from the state, meanwhile the amount of private funding they are getting has increased greatly. The lack of transparency with that private funding is causing problems, and many charter schools seem to think that they don’t have to provide an accounting for how either the public or the private money is spent.
White Hat Charter School Employees Told Company Must Boost Enrollment Profits

How many public schools close mid-year and force students to enroll in another school? Happens to charters all the time. Sacramento

Florida (old)

Sorry if this doesn’t work - Google’s preview isn’t showing my links...
CT said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CT said…
Sorry for the double post - if someone can delete one? Google truly hates me today.

The missing links (if this works):
White Hat Charter School Employees Told Company Must Boost Enrollment Profits

How many public schools close mid-year and force students to enroll in another school? Happens to charters all the time. Sacramento

Florida (old)
CT said…
OK - I give up. Sorry to pollute the comment thread. There were more links, but they’re still not showing up. San Diego, AZ, Upland California....
mirmac1 said…
" The lack of transparency with that private funding is causing problems, and many charter schools seem to think that they don’t have to provide an accounting for how either the public or the private money is spent."


That sounds like SPS, particularly under MGJ.
Jan said…
True mirmac -- but it isn't (necessarily) just MGJ. Just this past spring, it became obvious that the potential "donors" for TfA wanted anonymity (which it looks like they finally got by running their funds through the Seattle Foundation). And how much clarity and accountability will there be for private groups that want to enter into MOUs with the District -- like the one at South Lake? For that matter -- for all the funds we "hand over" to the Alliance each year -- how much "accountability" does the Board request -- or get? It was pretty clear during Pottergate that we were requesting very little (and getting even less) accountability for funds given to the Urban League. Lots of funds under MGJ got siphoned off to various ed reform groups -- and I am not sure Susan Enfield has done much to stop it (though she has certainly had a full plate on other issues -- so perhaps rigorous contract review is still in the future?)
seattle citizen said…
Dora Taylor, on here Seattle Education blog, has continued to investigate the Washington PTSA endorsement of charters. No one at WPTSA will tell her how many schools were represented, how many people "voted" on this important issue. The whole thing was written by Stand For Children, and LEV has its hand in it, too.
Why is WPTSA becoming a pawn of the Reformers? I suggest we take back our PTSAs with a boycott of the WPTSA and "mic checks" at PTSA meetings. It's ridiculous that an organization comprised of parents, teachers and community members would be taken over by national "reform" groups. I hope the community takes note and reclaims their PTSAs.

Here's Dora's commentary on this fiasco.
CT said…
@ Mirmac:I had a link to a story from Mesa, AZ - East Valley Tribune - where it showed the flat out refusal from the charter schools to produce their financial records. It went beyond what MGJ tried. Then there were the cagey anonymous funds that would appear on the books of the charter schools that they weren't reporting, or in one case, the school had two sets of books. They pulled out one set when the state came to visit - oh we are so broke! - and another set when potential families/investors came to check things out (we are flush with funds and won't close abruptly). But Google has clearly decided to make my life miserable today and eliminate all my HTML coding and a good portion of my text as well, so I'm going to leave that alone today, google the White Hat story -it's recent and scary.
seattle citizen said…
CT - Note the similarity between the charters you mention that refuse to disclose information and our own Washington PTSA, mentioned in my last comment, who refuse to disclose how many schools were represented or how many people were present when they approved the charter school endorsement written for them by Stand On, uh, For Children.
There is much going on behind closed doors. Is the fix in? Do citizens matter? Is the WPTSA OUR representative? Are public schools the public's?
CT said…
Oh I completely see it. I also know that many people- especially teachers - are not aware that their PTA contributions are funding the charter school push, because that information is mostly being shared with those top dog PTA/WSPTA people. I sent off an email about it to several teachers and parents and all have come back with an outraged "What?".
Fly on the Wall said…
The vote was 100 against charter schools and 109 for charter schools.

Future name for PTSA (or PTA) = PSA (or PA).

You can remove the "T" is this is not rescinded.

Fly on the Wall
Thanks for sharing the information..And the comments given to this post were also thoughtful..
StopTFA said…
So Fly,

Are you telling me only 209 teachers cared enough to show up and vote on this thing?

This really sticks in my craw. I bust my hump fighting these battles...for what? So that the SEA leadership can give away the store?!
CT said…
Stop TFA - I think Fly was referring to the PTA delegates voting, not teachers. Follow the link Seattle Citizen provided to Dora's accounting of the WSPTA crap.
StopTFA said…
CT Thank You! I was about to pull my own toenails out!
I'll have a thread on what teachers can do on the issue of charters and state PTSA support of them (and it's pretty clear from the Legislative Assembly and the discussion that followed on their listserv that they are supporting them).
Patrick said…
How does the State PTSA vote -- by school, regardless of whether it's a tiny school or a huge one? Or by school district? Is it the legislative liaisons who vote? Do they have to ask their school's PTSA, or can they vote their consciences?
Most of those legislative reps didn't ask their PTSA. There wouldn't have been time given how early the Legislative Assembly happens each year.

PTSA is getting less and less representative and I have grown wary of claims about its representation.
dan dempsey said…
MW wrote:
PTSA is getting less and less representative and I have grown wary of claims about its representation.

Most everything these days is less representative.

Last legislative session the WEA testified in support of CommonCoreSS. When I called WEA and asked how they had decided to back a program that would take the equivalent of 330+ teachers per year of funding from local districts and put it into common core processes, I was told that the WEA president and executive board can do whatever they wish without consulting members.

Clearly there is something "hinckey" goin' on.

Last night at the School Board meeting Jonathan Knapp got up and sang the praises of Susan Enfield.... Was this reflective of the dues paying members wishes? More likely he was delivering the message from WEA big wigs...... wonder who controls them?

Equally interesting in the era of open government (???) when we attempted to recall Randy Dorn for violating a law written expressly for him... to deliver a CCSS impact report to the legislature on or before Jan 1, 2011 which he delivered 30 days late.... we learned not a problem as he got the report delivered. Instead of a minimum requirement of 34 days before an important hearing 4 days was just fine with the court.

When we raised the objection that this impacted the public's due process rights to give informed testimony.... we learned that the report was for the legislature and not for the public.

LOOK for Charters Schools to come next via the Decisions of the Big Deciders...... just like TFA don't be looking for the SEA to object..... right Mr. Knapp?

A lot less representation of the public has been with us for a long while and looks to be getting even worse.

Ed Reform likely sees Patu, McLaren, and Peaslee as just a bump in the road..... If they can push thru the Ed Reform Queen to Superintendent ... those three directors will make little difference.

Acid Test coming for Smith-Blum and DeBell ... time to show your true colors.

Remember when Cheryl Chow left the Board (replaced by Patu) and Harium stepped right in to be the fourth rubber-stamper.

Now the two remaining Rubber Stampers Sherry and Harium .... may be joined by two others so the Ed reform train can keep running via 4-3 votes.

Michael DeBell displayed dissatisfaction with Math, MAP, and the NTN contract..... Clearly he should be in favor of a Superintendent search..... but ya never know in the Ed USA Circus running in Seattle.

---- After all Susan Enfield told us last night that she knew all about what had been going on at Mercer and has been fully supportive..... likely a good enough line to allow Michael DeBell to vote against a Superintendent search......

Return on Investment .... Three years of Salary and benefits for a Superintendent = $800,000+
Search = $50,000 ........ 6.25% ... looks like a required insurance step..... Unless of course DeBell wants the Ed Reform Train to keep on running through Seattle.
Anonymous said…
Anyone but Jonathan Knapp for SEA President!


P.S. Remember, more JK means more Glenn Barfia
dan dempsey said…
Gates Foundation wants big city schools in the Charter Business.

From Philanthropy news digest =>

Posted on December 8, 2011

Gates Foundation Commits $40 Million for College Readiness Efforts

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $40 million in funding for cities that have signed Charter-District Collaboration Compacts.

The funding, which includes both grants and program-related investments, will be awarded to cities where district and charter school leaders have pledged to share best practices, innovations, and resources, with the goal of scaling up existing programs designed to prepare students for college and career success. Launched last December, the compacts program aims to encourage district and charter partners to work together in a range of areas, including teacher effectiveness, college-ready tools and programs, innovative instructional delivery systems and models, and improved use of student-level data. As a condition of the funding, cities also commit to replicating high-performing traditional and public charter school models and to improving or closing schools that are not serving students well.

To date, fourteen cities — Chicago, Illinois; Spring Branch, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Central Falls, Rhode Island; Denver, Colorado; Hartford, Connecticut; Los Angeles, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City; Rochester, New York; and Sacramento, California — have signed compact agreements. Additional cities will be announced in the coming weeks.

"These communities are setting examples for mayors, districts, and charter school leaders across the country to work collaboratively, learn from each another, and build upon successful practices," said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education for the College Ready program at the Gates Foundation. "Ultimately, they have the same goal — to ensure all students succeed — so it just makes sense for them to be on the same team. We applaud these communities for publicly committing to work together and do whatever it takes to radically increase the number students prepared for college and career."

“Gates Foundation Announces Significant Investments Available for Cities Supporting Collaboration, Bold Reform and High-Performing Schools.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 12/06/11.


Show me the data..... that charters are a worthwhile effort.

This looks a lot like bringing TFA to areas with no teacher shortage. .... This is largely about restructuring schools to the way big money wants it ... and not about improving overall access to a quality education for students.
dan dempsey said…
Dec 12, 2010 .... The original announcement of the Charter compact by Gates Foundation
Anonymous said…
Knapp will have an opponent. I look forward to him returning to the classroom.


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