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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Understanding 1240 Thru the Lens of Other States' Experiences

So let's run through the experience of other states with charter schools.

Trigger Law
Now the proponents of 1240 will say the word "trigger" isn't in there (it's called "conversion").  But if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck - it's a trigger.

But wait, other states have trigger laws, right?  Correct.  But none have been able to legally use them.  Here's a great wrap-up of the history of the charter trigger.  Also, here's a chart of all the trigger laws.  You can see that nowhere else can teachers alone takeover a non-failing public school.  

This article explains some of who is pushing the trigger for charters.  It's people like Michelle Rhee, Rupert Murdoch and right-wing extremist, Philip Anschutz.    That's a nice group of people to be taking marching orders from.

Also, keep in mind that the one in 1240 would be the harshest trigger in the country.  Not only is it NOT just for failing schools (like ALL the others), it allows parents OR teachers to sign a petition (as part of a charter proposal) to flip a school.

Again, 18 teachers in an elementary and 10 sign a petition and the whole school community is upended.  Without any required public notice.

I would like someone, anyone, to explain how turning over a non-failing school to a private entity with the signatures of 10 people is good public policy.

Finances

Here's what happens to a small or rural district if even a single charter comes in.  They bankrupt the district and take it over.  Here's another article from The Rural School and Community Trust.

Here's what happened in New Hampshire as their districts have become overwhelmed by the number of new charters pushing in.  The State Board of Education put a moratorium on any new charters...

... arguing that the legislature has not adequately funded them and that their costs are poised to balloon in the years ahead.

In a letter explaining the decision, board Chairman Tom Raffio said the panel "continues to be supportive of charter schools." But he noted that the board has approved eight new charter schools over the past two years, increasing the state's costs by $5 million. Without additional funding, he said, "it would be inappropriate to approve any new charters schools at this time."

The state is obligated to pay a per-pupil cost for the charters it authorizes, Leather said. Presumably, as those costs rise, other costs would fall as students leave regular public schools for charters. But that budgetary trade-off is not occurring to the extent needed to keep costs in check, for a variety of reasons, Leather said. The reduction in regular public school expenses, based on student enrollment, does not occur quickly enough to offset state costs, he said. And even when regular public schools lose students, some of their costs, such as those covering operations and personnel, are fixed.

Discipline
Top suspension rates for Massachusetts districts?  Charter schools - up over 50% at a couple.   Sixteen out of the top twenty.    (Note: that each charter in MA is considered its own district just as charters would be under 1240.)

In Chicago, one network of charters charges "discipline" fees and has racked up nearly $400K in fees. 

Chicago is buzzing over a controversial practice aimed at forcing inner-city school kids to follow rules. The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has received high praise from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is charging its mostly low-income students five bucks for violating certain rules, which reportedly include bringing “flaming hot” potato chips to school, chewing gum and falling asleep in class.

Some parents also allege the practice is used to push out kids the schools would rather not have. The Tribune has a chart showing the charter’s graduation rates but also its high rate of non-returning students.

What's interesting is that the League of Education Voters, who supports 1240, are very against suspensions because of the unevenness of who gets suspended and the documented impacts to those students.   If LEV is worried about the suspensions in our CURRENT system AND they support 1240, I have news for them.  

Every charter creates its own discipline plan and it seems apparent that state-to-state charters tend to suspend at higher rates.  

18 comments:

SeattleSped said...

What better way to push out Sped kids who "act out" (and lower your scores)...

Anonymous said...

I would like someone, anyone, to explain how turning over a non-failing school to a private entity with the signatures of 10 people is good public policy?
**********************************


Hear me out on this tidbit........Most of you already pay school taxes from the property you own or rent (yes, you pay taxes on schools if you rent, talk to your landlord, he will tell you how much he pays and adds it to your rent) and if you don't believe me, check it out for yourself. http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/budget/budget_basics.aspx


Know that I have most of your attention, on this matter because it relates to "all" paying some kind of money out of their pocket for schools. Would you not want the right to vote on your money you give in taxes to schools? Let's say all legal voters do vote "right" then why would you want to change the right for you to vote on the way your tax dollars are spent on schools?

In other words;

Any person (single, married, separated, divorced or retired) who have no children in the public school system, why would you want to give up your right (your vote) on where your money is spent when it comes to 10 people (teachers or parents) in a school to change the way your money you pay in rent or property taxes is spent in schools?

So this November............ remember a vote for chatters is a way to take away your vote.

Anonymous said...

I worry so much about this kind of argument making charters more appealing (in regard to discipline). It only takes one child to turn a classroom upside down if he/she is in an inappropriate placement, and it takes months (often a year) to remedy the situation, all the while the rest of the kids in the class get much less attention while the teacher HAS to focus on the needs of one. In a room of 30 kids, that feels very unjust to parent.
And that scenario isn't uncommon- if parents see charters as a way to avoid dealing with this it will only make them more appealing. :(

Appropriate placement takes so much time because we must always do EVERYTHING to make sure each child is in their LRE (least restrictive environment)and that means months of modifications and interventions. I'm not sure what the solution is here- but the status quo is making many families unhappy.
Teacher Sally

Unknown said...

Appealing to whom? It's fine to want your child's class to be a calm place where children are not distracted by one child's(or others) behavior. But we have Special Ed kids that might have these behaviors? Do we exit them as well?

So what could be said is that charters get to shape their populations to get the best-behaved kids and most motivated parents. I gently say that ALL public schools would like that advantage but ONLY traditionals have to take all comers. So it's pretty unfair to ding traditionals for what they legally have to do (and what charters don't).

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in how discipline is "charged" for. Sounds like an untapped fund raising source.
-Frau Kapital

Anonymous said...

Appealing to parents who don't want children with disruptive behaviors in their child's classroom, special ed student or not. I worry that arguing against 1240 by highlighting how discriminatory charters have become in other states, might actually make 1240 seem like a good idea to some. A lot of people send their kids to private school, not because of the curriculum or the stellar teachers, but because private schools can weed out the tough to educate. Charters in other states seem to be doing just that(without the private school tuition). It's really wrong, but will everybody see it that way?
Teacher Sally

Catherine said...

So, let me see if I get this straight... evidence from 41 states is that charter schools enroll 1/2 the number of special needs students as public schools. (thus increasing the percentage of special needs kids in the surrounding public schools).

Evidence is that charter schools in 41 states consistently transfer out a meaningful percentage of their lower performing students each year.

Evidence is that charter schools who do show good results with low income students, rely on many thousands of dollars of donations per student to achieve those results.

And... 83% of charter schools are failures at achieving better results that 'traditional' public schools... even with the lower special needs and lower performing student percentages.

Are there exceptions... sure. Just like there are uber high-performing public schools.

I'm sorry - but do Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos think I'm *that* stupid?

Anonymous said...

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos think there is a direct correlation between money and IQ, and because they are so entitled and intelligent, they get to choose what is best for the rest of us dumb ones.

CT

Anonymous said...

In retrospect, they probably don't go for correlation, but rather causation, so it's more likely they think that because they are so smart, they have so much money, therefore they can tell us dumb ones what to do.

CT

Anonymous said...

Teacher Sally,

Private schools have disrupting students and some private schools such as Hamlin Robinson, and Morningside work with kids with disabilities. The advantages of private schools are smaller class size and additional specialized support staff which makes classroom management and learning far easier. The disadvantage for parents is the sticker shock cost!

-paying out of pocket for speech pathologist and reading & dysgraphia specialists

Anonymous said...

Private schools do have disruptive students, but they also have a trump card that public schools don't - they can kick you out. (Funny how parents will step in and make sure their child behaves when they think they're going to get kicked out of something they've either had to pay for or apply to get into. I'm not talking about special ed students who may have behavior as part of their IEP - these are the kids who know exactly what they are doing and what they won't face at home.)
While public schools can expel students, it takes a lot of effort to do so, and generally the district must find another placement for them. Like private schools, charter schools can kick students out and they're done with them.

CT

Dorothy Neville said...

I am sympathetic to the "yes on charters so my kid can go to school without the disruptive kids" argument. Seriously, anyone who has ever been through a year where the teacher was grossly ineffective and the atmosphere was actually toxic for their child (or themselves back in the day) will feel some pull toward this notion.

However, the truth is, not many parents would be able to take advantage of such an opportunity. Perhaps 1% of the students would be afforded "disruptive-free" classrooms while the 99% would be stuck in classrooms with a higher concentration of disruptive students and fewer resources to cope. It reminds me of people of moderate means who support the repeal of the estate tax because they hope that someday they might have enough wealth that it would matter. Meanwhile, cutting taxes on the very wealthy simply helps 1% at the expense of 99%.

That's the problem in a nutshell. Charters when they work, work by having more resources and fewer challenging students. That's why they haven't provided healthy competition to school districts. That's why no district anywhere has seen overall improvement in education because of charters. Charters simply cannot scale because charters are avoiding the real problems inherent in trying to educate everyone no matter their needs or background.

Unknown said...

"Charters simply cannot scale because charters are avoiding the real problems inherent in trying to educate everyone no matter their needs or background."

Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Appropriate placement takes so much time because we must always do EVERYTHING to make sure each child is in their LRE (least restrictive environmen

Really Teacher Sally, really????The district does EVERYTHING it can to make a child exhibiting behaviors successful??? Do they hire extra "aides and supports" as required under IDEA to make the general education accessible? Your classroom has been provide extra aides to support students with disabilities? No, they mostly do not. Have you actually recommended on a kid's IEP that they have an aide to support them in geneneral ed, as they very often need? Actually, almost always the first thing a school does is play "kick the can" and exit the student to somewhere else - usually somewhere with a "self-contained" program. This doesn't stop the behavior though. It just means the NORMAL kids won't have to deal with it. Other kids with disaiblities however, DO have to deal with the disruptive students, even if they themselves are not disruptive.

That is, it's perfectly fine for disruptive students to disrupt those poor other disabled kids - so long as they don't bother YOU or the parents of kids in your class.

-sped parents

Anonymous said...

Sped Parent,

By "everything" I meant have the teacher try everything humanly possible (as long as it doesn't cost a dime).

i am a sp. ed. teacher myself, and I personally have no interest in charter schools or sheltering my children from the masses, I was simply stating what I've heard from parents over the years. Most parents struggle to appreciate a child who reqiuries constant teacher assistance. In fact, most are angered by it.

in regard to the disruptive nature of our non-categorical SC classrooms, I couldn't' agree more. There are some wonderful and hard working self-contained teachers, but the diversity of needs, coupled with the lack of resources and the severe behavior problems of a few, make self -contained classrooms VERY challenging environments, for both students and teachers.

I also agree very few would actually benefit from a charter school, but the allure of such a school will be compelling for more than 1% at the ballot box.
Teacher Sally

Anonymous said...

I guess my question is this Teacher Sally: Why is it OK to put a disruptive student in a self-contained classrooms(the "right" placement)- where he disrupts a classroom full of disabled students, but just unthinkable for the same student to be in a regular ed classroom, because parents of other kids struggle to appreciate him? The only difference is that nobody really cares if the disabled students are disrupted, or if their parents are up in arms. (Afterall, they should just be thanking their lucky stars to be in school at all!)

Generally speaking though. When 1 student is able to disrupt an entire classroom, it's the teaching and classroom management that is suspect. And no, I wouldn't say most teachers do everything humanly possible (but free) to support students with behavior challenges, or much of anything at all.

As to charters, don't think this will have much impact or allure voters to go one way or the other.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

(Repost from Stand Up and Be Counted thread)

Noone should even consider voting for 1240 until they've read the language of the initiative. And to anyone who's considering voting in favor, I guarantee you will not support it after reading it. I GUARANTEE IT!

It's a wolf in sheep's clothing people. Not only does it funnel massive amounts of public dollars into private hands, non-profit or not, it immediately slices off 4% of a school's budget to go directly into the pockets of private "Charter Authorizers" who get paid that 4% as an administrative fee for overseeing a "portfolio" of charter schools. Then, in addition to that 4%, the "Charter Authorizers" like KIPP or any other Educational Management Company ("EMO") are permitted to set up a nice little kickback scheme where they can charge and collect consulting fees and other sales-driven fees directly from the Charter School budgets. Privatization 101 and the modern ethos of "If you can't kill a public entity, bilk it 'til the cows come home." WSDWG

Anonymous said...

sped parent-
It's not okay, I never said it was.
Teacher Sally