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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Worst Pro-Charter Statement Yet

Today, the Seattle Times ran an editorial by Lynne Varner ("Adding color to the education reform debate") which is, without a doubt, the worst statement in support of charters yet to appear.

Ms Varner proudly quotes a study which reports:
"60% of the charter schools performed with similar or better success than the traditional public schools in reading and 53 percnet (sic) of charter schools performed with similar or better success in math compared to traditional schools."
Those of us with math skills instantly recognize that this means that 40% of charters had WORSE results than traditional public schools in reading and 47% of them had WORSE results than traditional public schools in math. Rather than using this data to support the creation of charter schools, I would use these results to oppose them.

Note that we don't know what share of the charter schools showed performance that was similar to that of traditional public schools, but, if this study's results were anything like what the CREDO study found, it is likely to be around 50% or so. This leaves a very narrow band of charter schools that actually out-performed public schools. This data is not an endorsement of charters; it is a condemnation.

I'm more than a little troubled that Ms Varner can't see this. She has the loudest voice in the state education issues, and she doesn't appear capable of getting information out of data.

15 comments:

Josh Hayes said...

See "confirmation bias". Classic example.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm not getting Ms. Varner's point at all. The path she is taking with this editorial is so offensive (even if her intention is pure). Why would I want to send my kids to charter schools that aren't that successful and possibly be worse than where they are going now? Just because they are minorities? Hell, NO! The solution isn't to build more schools for minorities and low performing kids. If charter schools have made gains as she claimed, then use the methods and resouces that work to help ALL underperforming kids. We don't need to create a separate school for this. These kids need access just like their parents do.

And Pennsylvania is having a heck of time right now funding all their school districts properly. So I wouldn't use that state as an example. Not while you have poor school district going broke, without funds to pay teachers and staff and yet have charters run by for profit company suing the district for payment while unwilling to trim their own costs.

Brilliant! The solution is to create a PUBLLIC funded system of haves and have nots. This is what we are creating to solve the academic/opportunity gap?

Disgusted

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/education
/pennsylvania-schools-funding-fight-pits-
district-against-charter.html?pagewanted=2

Po3 said...

Interesting that nobody mentions the African American Academy; closed to due low enrollment. That signals to me that parents in Seattle are not interested in a segregated school system as Ms. Varner seems to be advocating for as a pathway for charter schools.

I also have to wonder if Ms. Varner would enroll her child in a school that show no improvement for the first three years?

Chris S. said...

So this other study shows a GREATER percentage of charters being WORSE than public schools than the CREDO study? (40-47% vs 37%) Now, that's newsworthy.

Anonymous said...

"Charter elementary school students outperformed their peers in traditional publics; but it was the exact opposite for higher grades. In the first 3 years, charter students show slower academic growth, but the gap shrinks considerably in math overtime and disappears entirely in reading by the third year. The story is less pat for Hispanic and black students with charters unhelpful to these students in math, but helpful to black students in reading growth. "

What does that mean? And, I'm not being snarky. I really don't know what she's trying to say.

She talks about "updating" our information (always reasonable, I think, and what I look for in whether positions are data or ideologically driven). But, the report link is an organization that says its principles are (1) all children should be educated well and 2) public schools are bad). And, a quick glance didn't include any data on either how public schools are bad or how charters are better (but, instead, concentrated on how many charters there are and how to get more of them.

Is there an update on charters that shows some set of circumstances in which charters reliably perform better than current schools (i.e. a new study?). I know what the Stanford study says, and it is not good data for charters.

(zb)

Anonymous said...

"performed with similar or better results..."

Well, she's given up on "better" and replaced it with "similar or better."

Does she realize she just gave up the game? Maybe she does, and this is just damage control from an ineffective carnival barker, to preserve her name on the next "who's who" guest list.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Privatizing sure is working well in banking, healthcare and energy (see Enron), why not education. Eh, Lynn?

n...

Anonymous said...

Besides that, hasn't anyone else noticed that as profit margins increase, quality decreases? All those pennies saved on quality end up in investors pockets. That's just so obvious.

The fact that we're talking about kids means nothing to those who see charters as financial workhorses. Where we see children they see dollars. If that isn't evident by now, it never will be.

n...

dan dempsey said...

Try a real article from The Stranger.

Apparently Ms. Varner's employment at the Times requires that she only spout the company line. Her articles and opinion pieces are worthless.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic and offensive how every day LEV posts another out-of-state carpet-bagging charter proponent on its website, flogging for their cause.

Remember when Hands Off Washington fought against the Christian Right carpet-baggers from outside the state who tried to restrict gay rights? I'll be a bunch of LEV folks joined HOW and fought like tigers to turn the carpet-baggers away then. But what about now? Nope.

Now, we have a similar assault aimed at our kids by out of state interests, and LEV is rolling out the red carpet & saying "come on in!" A tad bit of irony here? Hypocrisy perhaps?

Where's the HOW-type outrage against out of state charter carpet baggers and their minions? Can we muster that fight LEV? Or do we not dare touch friends of Bill?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Guess what, LEV and their Our Schools Coalition front are horning their way for seats on the Superintendent search interview committee. Must be nice to be able to claim you represent people other than yourself.

Mr Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

LEV and Our Schools may try to get on the committee but I believe they will fail. The latest minutes from meetings with the Board about the superintendent search show the Board wants to keep the numbers down. I believe they will add one more labor partner to the list.

I would say it would be quite unwise for the Board to expand the list for any reason.

Anonymous said...

We're already saddled with the non-representative PTSA as a community voice on the search committee. That's hideous enough and I continue to be very very angry. We need LEV and that fake Our Schools Coalition like a hole in the head.

Hell no.

Southie

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ed, can you give us a little more info? Is there a format/contact person/connection that one needs to make to get a seat at the table? And how certain are you of this--give me a percentage, just for fun.
Mont. mom

seattle citizen said...

The Our Schools "Coalition"?! Really?

For those of new to this stuff that's getting old, the Our Schools Coalition was "coalesced" by the Alliance For Education. League of Education Voters, and Technology Alliance in spring of 2010 for the sole purpose of disseminating a bogus "survey" of people, meant to discredit teachers on the eve of their contract negotiations. (ON the new OSC website, the survey is gone, but its results are in the appendix of the new "Case Study, which lays out the "use 'data' argument") This "survey" was done using names and numbers of families and teachers, gained nefariously from Seattle Public Schools, and had silly, biased questions. When people complained about the bias of the first one, they ran another, almost equally as biased.

The OSC website was thrown up, with little content except for this "survey" and its "results" (excluding the results of the survey questions regarding the superintendent.) It had a list of the "coalition" (Tim Burgess was first signer-on, followed by a couple of other politicos; then you had three or four business orgs, then five or six eductation Reform groups, like LEV and Stand, then about twenty Seattle minority groups....or at least their names: I was in one of these groups, and nobody said nothin' to me about joining OSC, which is no surprise: Like WPTSA, it appears that many groups don't poll their consitutents, they merely lend their names out for political power and qui pro quo. It ain't a coalition of people, much as it would like you toe believe that, but merely a name representing power, lent by a person angling for power.

When it was pointed out that the OSC "survey" methodology said the names came from SPS, it was changed to say the list came from SPS and King County voters records, then it was changed to say it came from just King Co. then it was changed to not say anything about where the names came from. THAT'S a group that stands behind its research methodology!

OSC at first had a contact email, and when one clicked on that, it brought up the email of Strategies 360, a PR form hired by the Alliance. That was quickly changed, too: Can't have people see your "coalition" (that never meets, never discusses, never has done anything) is merely a PR front. (Not incidentally, a Strategies 360 staff member was then hired by SPS....)

Now it seems that OSC, their webpage dormant for 18 months, is back in business: They have a whole new look, but no new content. The "contact us" now eliminates the email completely in favor of one of those fill-in-the info pages, so no one tracks it back to S360 or wherever.

I guess someone deciced to reactivate the "coalition": It's no wonder, Gates and the Alliance have been prime manipulators in all these Reform actions, and their PR machine, Strategies 360, along with some politicos, businesses, and individuals speaking as if they represent groups of people are back onthe warpath.

Let's watch Our Schools Coalition and see what they do next. Also, someone do a FOIA on Alliance, SPS, and Strategies 360 communications. Hmmm.....

WV says OSC is a dealr