Charter Schools News

The Washington State Charter Commission reports that they have received two completed applications for new charter schools in Washington State (I have not yet been able to confirm if Spokane School District, the only school district authorizer in the state, has received any applications.)

 Given the tiny number of applications, I think what I was told by one Charter Commission official seems to be bearing out; Washington State does not appear "friendly" to charters.   (Of course, given the length of Impact's application - over 500 pages - maybe it's a very heavy lift.)

One is for a proposed K-5 school in South Seattle/Tukwila from the "Impact Public Schools Founding Board" that includes Tony Byrd, the head of Teach for America Washington, Sara Morris (former head of the Alliance for Education who is now the president of Beecher's Pure Food Kids Foundation, Tatiana Epanchin, parntern at EdFuel  and Micaela Razo, head of QuantumEd.  But the submitter seems to be Jen Wickens who was at Summit but is now at Impact.

They will be receiving some big financial firepower via the national New Schools Venture Fund as well as from Washington State Charter Schools Association.  (To note, WSCSA does NOT help fund all charter schools in Washington state - they pick and choose.)  They are also receiving volunteer input via the Gates Foundation among others.

The say their capacity would be 336. The area of Seattle they mention is Chinatown International District.  They want to open in Fall 2018.

They are to use both self-directed learning and personalized learning, among other things.  They reference Summit charter schools for use of personalized learning.  They will also be using multi-age classrooms.

There is a deepening of ties between League of Education Voters (LEV) and charter schools.  Apparently they had Impact facilitate a parent advocacy and engagement workshop.  It also appears that Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS) is also strengthening their ties to charter schools. 

Interestingly, they reference Spokane International Academy as an example of a charter school that has a long waitlist.  I'd say, given what I have seen from area charter schools, waitlists here are fairly small in comparison.

The other application is a second round for New Horizons Academy, a K-5 charter school to be located in Tukwila/Auburn/Renton.  It is hoping to grow to about 400 students.  Their application has been chopped up into various parts - all separate docs - so it's harder to read.  It is decidedly more modest in their outlook.

I knew it would be coming - an op-ed in the New York Times from a charter school supporter trying to separate vouchers and charters (because of the focus by Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos).  I'm sure charters love that support from DeVos but vouchers would cut into their action and as well, have less-than-positive outcomes.

Here's the latest on vouchers in Washington, D.C.
The examination of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federally funded voucher program in the country, by the department’s Institute of Education Sciences, found that students who attended a private school through the program performed worse on standardized tests than their public school counterparts who did not use the vouchers.

Among students who attended poor-performing public schools — the targets of this and other voucher programs — there was no significant effect on achievement.

Researchers and experts said the report offered a valuable, if limited, snapshot of the program that was based on a one-year study of 1,700 students — 995 who were selected through a lottery to receive scholarship offers, and 776 who were not.
What the latest for charter schools?  Should charter school enrollment be a corporate employee perk? From the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina:
The state House is considering a collection of bills that would change who can start a charter and how quickly the schools can grow. Corporations would be able to reserve spaces in schools for their employees’ children, and two towns would be able to set up charter schools for their residents. Under current law, charters are open to any student in the state, although schools can give preference to siblings and school employees’ children.
Under one bill, up to half a charter school’s seats could be reserved for children whose parents work for companies that donate land, buildings or equipment to the school. Employees of those companies would also be able to join the charter school’s board of directors. 

Rep. John R. Bradford III, a Mecklenburg Republican, framed the bill as an economic development tool that could help attract companies to rural counties. Companies would be able to offer classroom seats as employee perks, Bradford said, equating charter enrollment to companies paying for employee meals.
 You can't make this stuff up.
Older but still good article from Inside Philanthropy about Washington State charters, What's Next In This Epic Battle for the Charter School Movement?
In fact, if you want an example of the role of wealthy donors in advancing charters using both philanthropic and political giving, Washington may now be the best case study around, as Joanne Barkan has documented. Most recently, these donors sought to knock off some of the state Supreme Court justices during the 2016 election who ruled against charters.
Clearly, this debate is not over, so look for funding to continue from wealthy donors intent on winning a final victory in what's become an epic battleground for the charter school movement. Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation are the most deeply invested here, by far. Gates has sunk millions of dollars in political contributions into this fight, while his foundation has spent many millions more to support the establishment of charter schools in its home state. Most notably, it's given over $13 million to the  Washington State Charter Schools Association over the past few years, according to the foundation's grants database.
That seems a lot like a private school perk, not a public school. 

Read more here:
LA's largest charter school chain, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, is being investigated by the California State Auditor's office.
Though Alliance has been cleared of suspicions that it might have used public tax dollars in its heated anti-union campaign, the report did criticize the charter management organization’s compliance level with federal student privacy rules when it released protected student data to third parties.
From Diane Ravitch, The Charter Industry is Unraveling in Nashville:
The latest example is RePublic Schools. In March a federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit brought by Nashville parents who complained their families are being subjected to illegal hardball recruiting tactics by the charter chain.

RePublic allegedly sent text messages to thousands of parents. As it turns out, RePublic harvested student and family contact information from a Metro Nashville Public Schools database, then turned over the personal information to an out-of-state vendor that generated the texts.

Sending unsolicited text messages is a violation of federal law. In their class-action lawsuit, the parents are seeking damages of up to $1,500 per person — leaving RePublic potentially on the hook for millions in penalties.

Rocketship is another charter chain that isn't living up to its own marketing hype. Worse, Rocketship is failing some of Nashville's most vulnerable kids and, like RePublic, operating in violation of federal law.
On March 7 WSMV-TV reported that California-based Rocketship isn’t providing legally required services to students with disabilities and English language learners. A report by the Tennessee Department of Education even found that Rocketship is forcing homeless students to scrape together money to pay for uniforms.
Despite failing to serve its current students, Rocketship routinely makes end-runs around the local school board to seek state approval of more charters.
From Capital & Main, charter school winners and losers.
Interviews with educators, charter school proponents and opponents, and a review of respected academic studies, show that some highly motivated students benefit from charters while others do worse; that the growth of charters places a huge financial burden on traditional public schools that send them into a tailspin and that charters may increase racial and economic segregation. Furthermore, the percentage of total LAUSD charter school students with severe disabilities is less than one-third the percentage of students with disabilities in LAUSD public schools.  

“Charter schools are inherently a ‘some kids,’ model,” says Steve Zimmer, who was elected to the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) Board of Education in 2009 after 17 years as a high school teacher and counselor, referring to his belief that certain children do well in charters and others do not. “There’s no doubt that some kids have been served well by charters. I think there is an inflation of outcome celebration with charter schools, but I also want to give credit where credit is due, there has been some very good instructional quality and instructional outcome from some of our charter partners.”

Zimmer, however, cautions that there are several types of students that are typically losers under the charter model.

“Students who have fairly substantial special education needs,” he begins, referring to students with significant learning and other disabilities. “Students who do not come from a stable home environment. Students who have ongoing behavioral problems. Students who have persistent academic weaknesses for which interventions have not been successful. Those are the students who typically do not do well.”

“What we find is that once a district loses 6 to 7 percent of its students to charter schools, the traditional public schools go into a downward spiral,” he says. (Again: Charter students comprise 16 percent of the LAUSD.) “You lose resource-rich families first [and] those who are highly engaged. Between the lost [state] money and the loss of families [that are] most engaged, it will be harder to compete and the schools will go into a negative cycle.”

Read more here:


NO 1240 said…
Thanks for the update. It appears to me that CPPS supports privatization of public education.
Adan said…
We've lost 28% to private schools. I'm not sure how much losing another 6 or 7% to charter schools is going to matter. I could see it being a huge draw to companies trying to recruit highly educated employees that their kids are guaranteed a seat in a school that will educate their children even if they're working ahead of benchmark.

You would think SPS's equity group would be concerned about the opportunity/excellence gap for the kids left behind in public school after all that. Are our kids are going to end up like the children of Detroit: lots of choice, with no good choice?

Is any school really "guaranteed?" Sometimes it's a good school but not a good fit. Given that charters are public schools, would giving a break to companies to allow the kids of their workers an "in" to any public school really be fair?
dan dempsey said…
As I watch the SPS decision making that feigns "stakeholder engagement" and concern about equity, yet excludes full choice of instructional materials in "adoption processes", it makes me wonder.

Can the supposed "negatives" of charters be balanced against the possible "positives" of perhaps better choices than the SPS even considers?

What will be the emphasis on phonics in "instructional materials" for primary grades?

Will there be a return to a "whole language" push like in NYC?

As for middle school math adoption, Ms. Box has already eliminated JUMP Math from consideration. When the SPS states they have "contacted vendors" that can be taken with a huge grain of salt. Apparently a posting is made somewhere and that is what is meant by contacting of vendors.

It is interesting how the math mess of the last 60+ years is perpetuated by the "Math Education" establishment.

Consider this:

#1.) NCTM Fooled Me Twice, but No More

#2.) Singapore’s Math Results, How Do They Do It?

#3.) A Better Way to Teach Math

From Ms. Box's initial questionnaire soliciting members for the middle school math adoption committee, it was apparent she had particular biases (as likely we all do to some extent).

My difficulty with the current dominant decision-makers in math is what they believe to be correct has no support when underlying data is examined. It seems the game is fixed in that ideology trumps results every time.

"To Improve a System Requires the Intelligent Application of Relevant Data"
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

The dominant decision-makers in math education have no use for Deming's statement as they have no supporting data to justify or support their positions. Apparently relevant data is not needed as vast sections of "Education" believe these "experts" know of what they speak. ... and so it is very likely to go in Seattle, with once again a less than optimal selection of instructional materials.

Will the possible expansion of charters give parents a better choice? I have no idea but it would be nice to force arrogant decision-makers to justify their actions by intelligently applying relevant data.

Looking back to 1999, we have the Exemplary and Promising Math Programs. Here are two of those programs: Everyday Math and Connected Math Project (CMP)

Nearly every program selected as Exemplary and Promising in 1999 was a complete bust. MGJ and CAO Santorno tried to sell the Board on (IMP) Interactive Math Program for HS but that failed and Discovering was selected.

It is all about $$$ for vendors as near as I can tell, which has nothing to do with providing efficient and effective instruction to maximize the learning opportunities for each child.

We wound up in this sorry state of affairs because decision-makers advance up the totem pole of authority by pledging complete allegiance to the "dominant ideology", which has a record of slight improvement from time to time.

PISA results 2015
All country average 490
USA 470 (down 1 pt from 2012)

When will this folly in Seattle ever end?
Would Charters help? I have no idea.
Anonymous said…
I started to fill out the math questionnaire but stopped because I noticed that the many proven successful middle school math curricula were missing from the line-up. I think the choices are based more on CC alignment than rigor in math education. I'm sure glad we are out of SPS middle school. We had to supplement math education all the way up to high school to insure our kids had a basic, solid math proficiency. Not until we entered the IB program were we able to find suitable rigor in math education. The district needs to "think out of the Box" or perhaps eliminate the Box altogether.

dan dempsey said…
Dear Uses Daily Math,

There is nothing about CCSS alignment in the middle grades than inspires confidence when looking at results thus far from the shift to CCSS. The results from NAEP testing at grade 8 are lousy. For struggling learners at both grades 4 and 8 NAEP results are definitely not encouraging.

So how is the Common Core Math program implementation going?
Early indicators signal not well.

NAEP 2015 (National Assessment of Educational Progress)
results showed a statistically significant decline in grade 8 math scores from 2013.

Fourth-grade mathematics scores increase in 3 states/jurisdictions and decrease in 16 compared to 2013.. WA state drops 1 point.

Eighth-grade mathematics scores increase in 1 jurisdiction and decrease in 22 states compared to 2013.. WA state drops 3 points.

Hillsborough County Florida (Tampa) was an early CCSS adopter with huge funding from Gates and the district. The Urban NAEP revealed in 2015 an enormous proficiency score differential from grade 4 to grade 8 of 16 points (43 to 27), while the nation declined 7 points (39 to 32). Grade 8 2013 - avg score 284: 2015 avg 276... 2013 below standard 27%; 2015 below standard 36%. at grade 8.

While WA State dropped 3 points from 2013 to 2015, the percent of grade 8 students scoring at below standards rose from 2013 - 21% to 2015 - 26%. Just like Hillsborough, WA State scores from the last testing cycle reveal a big weakness in the performance of struggling learners.

In WA State in grade 4 NAEP showed an overall decline of 1 point but at the Advanced Level an improvement of 1 point (from 2013 - 11% to 2015 - 12%. Once again for struggling learners the picture was not pretty. At below standard: 2013 - 14% ; 2015 17%.

Most early indicators especially from jurisdictions pushing CCSS the soonest show much poorer performance at grade 8 in 2015 than in 2013. Especially so for struggling learners at both 4th and 8th grades in WA State.
I need readers to stay on topic. This thread is about charter schools, not math.
Anonymous said…

I think this started out on topic.

"Can the supposed "negatives" of charters be balanced against the possible "positives" of perhaps better choices than the SPS even considers?

What will be the emphasis on phonics in "instructional materials" for primary grades?

Will there be a return to a "whole language" push like in NYC?

Sorry for going astray.

-- Dan Dempsey

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