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Monday, December 04, 2017

Charters Schools: Just as Segregated as Traditionals in Some Areas

Oh look, a story from the AP about charter schools and segregation.
National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation's 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

But schools that enroll 99 percent minorities — both charters and traditional public schools — on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math.

Howard Fuller, who was superintendent of Milwaukee schools from 1991 to 1995, rejects criticism of racially isolated charters. He says the imbalances reflect deep-rooted segregation, and it is unfair to put the burden on charters to pursue integration.
I have to give a side-eye to that last statement because charters have been throwing that at traditional schools for a long time.  Yes, segregation IS larger than what any one school or district can solve on its own.


Meanwhile over at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, their Robin Lake could not wait to say how flawed the AP's analysis is. 
It turned out, charters were simply locating in majority-minority low-income neighborhoods and serving the at-risk kids who live there. Los Angeles is about 80% Hispanic. New Orleans is more than 80% black. Charter schools that locate in those cities are trying to serve those students. This is not segregation; this is school founders doing exactly what policymakers hoped they would do (as required in most state charter laws): serve kids most in need of a better education.

But they do seem ignorant of the important fact that charter schools have a strong track record in overcoming the odds of high poverty.  
No more side-eye here but a real eye-roll.  What a great way to deflect from the issue that highly segregated schools struggle much more than diverse schools and their students don't perform as well.  Now if you are looking for a cultural experience where kids feel good about being in a school with the same kids, fine. Except that isn't what public education is about.

As for "charters schools have a strong track record" with minority students - SOME do. Not a lot and certainly not a majority.  I'll just guess that Lake forgot that qualifier.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Racial imbalance is not segregation." - Justice Thomas from the Supreme Court case that struck down Seattle's race-based assignment plan.

words matter

Stuart J said...

The word about a charter some friends were checking out was that the friend were not welcome because the school only wanted to enroll free and reduced lunch students. So to Ms Lake's point: it may not just be where the schools are located, it may be specific goals of the charter administrators.

Anonymous said...

We must force the races together for their own good. We the liberals know what is best.

Jack stick

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Jack Stick. it's not "knowing what is best." It's about what research shows, over and over.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Well there are multiple ways to look at the AP article. I disagree with the point it's making. People tend to go to school where they live. Our nation has plenty of segregated cities and towns. So if a charter school opens in a predominantly black/brown/low-income area, then that is their population. Those families have made a choice for what they believe is a better opportunity for their children. Folks may not agree with that (for whatever reason), but it's not their families, so it's none of their business. The other thing that bothers me about this article is the notion of choice. It seems articles like this come out when black/brown/low-income families are doing the choosing(within their own damn neighborhood). While there hardly a peep about white/middle-class+ families choosing private or highly resourced schools (inside and outside of their neighborhood).

There are public schools in Seattle that are majority of color and majority white. Every school should be a great school regardless of where it's located. You can't manufacture or force integration. We've already seen how that turned out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I disagree, Trish. I think there is blowback, no matter who populates a school. You hear it all the time in the north end of Seattle.

I agree that a school should just be great, period. But, segregation is not good in terms of outcomes - the research supports that. If building community and kids feeling good is more important, then maybe segregation is okay. But it shouldn't be cultivated.

Anonymous said...

If charter schools are so great for minorities and at-risk kids, why don't just create a bunch more and then send them all to charters to get those awesome educations and "overcome the odds of high poverty"? That way we could finally eliminate the achievement gap! Charter schools to the rescue!

Yeah, right.

Taxpayer said...

Actually, the use of taxpayer dollars for charter schools are everyone's business.

I look forward to the day when Washington state's Charter Commission requires charter schools to place their budgets and financial information on their web page-- similar to SPS.






Trish Millines Dziko said...

Melissa, I would love to see every single public school be as integrated as possible, but in reality that will not happen until we change segregated neighborhoods. I don't think most charters are cultivating segregation. They are doing two things 1) drawing from the same neighborhood as the traditional public school which in many cases is just as segregated 2) trying to give options to those black/brown/low-income families who are not getting served by their traditional public school.

Yeah, right: Nobody said charters are THE answer. I certainly didn't say that. You may not like them, or feel like your children need them, but obviously there are issues in traditional public schools that since day one have not been addressed for black/brown/low-income kids because traditional public schools were not built them them in mind. We all know that, just some people don't want to admit it.

Taxpayer. This thread is not about whether you like charters or not. They at the moment are legal and if a family chooses to attend one, it certain is none of your business that they made that choice.

I'll finish by saying I'm agnostic about public, private, charter or home schooling. I do prefer that our public schools serve all children well since nationwide 90% of students attend them. My kids attend(ed) public schools. However, I think families deserve to send their kids to the school that works best for them. In particular black/brown/low-income families have not been served well by the public school system.

Taxpayer said...


At a time when Seattle is gentrifying, charter backers are putting charter schools into Seattle. How does this fit into the segregation discussion?



Anonymous said...

Trish,

When you say traditional public schools were not built with black/brown/low-income kids in mind, what specifically would you change? What is possible under current funding issues? Could private partnerships bridge the gap?

N

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

How is a charter school different from what Nova or the little public school in the center house can and do provide? Just curious, serious question.

Deliver

Anonymous said...

@ X, good spin. Unfortunately you're incorrect.

1. The core value of AL is academics, not segregation.
2. The HC cohort is not responsible for racially imbalanced schools. Returning HCC students to their neighborhood schools would likely make the racial imbalance even greater.
3. Charters aren't the great savior they might seem to be for black and brown folk, but sure, people should make what they think are the best decisions for their kids. Hopefully the data will ultimately demonstrate that they chose well.

Trish's argument actually somewhat supports HCC, because traditional schools were not built with highly capable students in mind, either. HC students, like all students, are also entitled to schools that work for them.

This fixation with HCC is so bizarre...

all types

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Taxpayer: SPS is about 47% white, so gentrification will take a while to impact the public schools. I would guess that those who can afford to go private will or they'll continue to attend well resourced schools.

N: Your questions involves a lot of layers. When you think way back to when black students were not allowed to be educated, then black adults created schools for them, then they become separate public schools, then the white schools were forced to integrate, then black teachers lost their jobs because the white schools didn't want to hire them, that's the foundation of our public schools today. We've never recovered. We've made some gains, but nowhere near what it should be. So what would it take? Change in school system culture, more representative curricular content, more teachers of color, a completely different belief system concerning who is smart and capable...

Deliver: You're speaking of alternative schools which were not really built for black/brown/low-income students. So while they serve their population quite well, their population is not the ones who are struggling. There are a variety of charter school models, so it's hard to compare directly. And just like traditional public schools, some work and some don't.

X: You are right on point even though most folks won't admit it. We have so many very bright and capable black and brown kids that never really get a chance. There have been recent efforts, but I'm afraid the damage is deeper and requires much more. Folks don't get that it's not just about plopping black and brown kids in HCC classes. It's also about how poorly the adults leading the classroom treat them (intentionally or not). Kid know when you really believe in them and when you're faking it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

X,

You're factually incorrect. There are nearly 500 historically underserved kids enrolled in Advanced Learning/HCC. And that number doesn't even include the multiracial kids who have a black or brown parent.

Are these nearly 500 kids proportional to the population? No.

Are these nearly 500 kids segregated? No. You can't call it segregation if these 500 underserved kids are in the same classes with the other AL/HCC kids. You're generalizing the racial composition at TM to the whole district.

It's not a zero sum game. There isn't a cap on gifted ID.

vb

Taxpayer said...

People will not vote with their feet, X. We will have Bill Gates throwing millions of dollars into a system to undermine our state's highest court system and funnel millions of dollars to charter schools through a small school district in eastern Washington. This time around, has the Charter Commission set-up a system to dismantle charter schools in the event that charter schools are deemed unconstitutional?

Deliver, The only difference between Nova and charter schools is that charter schools hire Teach for America and there is no law that requires charter schools to inform parents that their child does not have an actual teacher. As well, charter schools lack local and elected oversight. If there is a problem, there is enough funding to hire Strategies 360 to manage communications, manage minutes and board agendas.

Melissa Westbrook said...

X, you may have noticed that I deleted your comments. I'm not having this inflammatory talk that accuses parents of something they could not be doing because they didn't design or create the practices around HCC. You can have your opinion on how it's run and its outcomes but you cannot come here and make accusations that are not fact-based.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Taxpayer, when is the last time you came to a Charter Commission meeting, read the rules and processes put in place or read the meeting minutes? I ask because your comments indicate you have no clue what goes on with how the Charter Commission approves and oversees schools. Sounds like you just don't like your tax money going to charters, so therefore you will spew any negative thing you can--true or not.

That's really too bad because I know this blog was setup for constructive conversation where people can actually have serious discourse over tough issues.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with Trish; come to a Charter Commission meeting. While I don't believe in charters, the CC is a thoughtful group dedicated to quality charters in this state. That counts for a lot.

Trish, I have been having a problem lately with a lot of flame-throwing and not true discussion. It's a sad thing but most of the time, we do have solution/information-based conversations.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Melissa it's one of the downsides of keeping this blog truly open, but I'm glad it still is because so many are not. Keep it going!

kellie said...

I also want to thank both Trish and Mel for this thread.

I love it when Trish comments on things because Trish always brings a thoughtful, grounded, pragmatic and truly wise voice to any conversation. Thank you for highlighting the unintended consequences to Educators of Color, as part of historic desegregation programs. That impact on diversity in the teaching faculty over the years, clearly still has impacts today on all students.

And thank you Mel for doing everything you can to truly keep this blog open. My advocacy days that focused on testimony and committees is clearly done. I still comment on this blog because of your commitment to creating space for conversation about education.

I sincerely wish that our resident troll, who does have a lot of add to this conversation, would put the effort into building a moniker and dialogue.

And Taxpayer, people vote with their feet every single day. Enrollment at SPS has been lower than projected for FIVE years now. The projections are a fairly accurate representation of school age children living in Seattle. The substantially lower than expected enrollment is "voting with their feet." Projections that are substantially off target, for the most part, represent a shift in the demand curve. Enrollment in neighboring districts is still increasing but SPS is leveling out.

kellie said...

@ Trish,

Thank you for this comment.

We have so many very bright and capable black and brown kids that never really get a chance. There have been recent efforts, but I'm afraid the damage is deeper and requires much more. Folks don't get that it's not just about plopping black and brown kids in HCC classes. It's also about how poorly the adults leading the classroom treat them (intentionally or not). Kids know when you really believe in them and when you're faking it.

I think the majority of folks on this blog will agree with you, but few (including me!) have the eloquence to state the problem as simply and cleanly as you just did. I have long been a proponent of "multiple" types of gifted programs. That conversations quite typically drives quickly into the ditch of separate-but-equal or less-than or ... something and I honestly don't know how to create a better dialogue on that topic.

As you well know, there were many of us who were deeply opposed to the HCC at TM plan, because that "plan" was that if HCC was "geographically convenient" then all of a sudden, there would be this "plopping of black and brown kids in HCC" and most of us at that time, were painfully aware that the problem was far more complicated than that. Thank you for articulating this so cleanly.

Because there is substantial excess elementary school capacity in the Central area, if I had any input, I would love to see HCC returned to Lowell. Lowell, and the adjacent schools have all struggled with enrollment without the program. Moving the program back to Capitol Hill would stabilize enrollment at McGilvra, Stevens, Lowell and Madrona.

I would love to use the newly created space at TM to create something NEW, that came with greater resources to really address the complexities of the problem. If you can the ability to create something that worked, what would you recommend?



kellie said...

Taxpayer asked a great question about gentrification.

Page 4 of this report from city of Seattle shows the percentage of people living in poverty by race. It is remarkable that the percentages have barely changed over the 20 years in the reporting period. That would strongly suggest that Seattle is NOT gentrifying, it is densifying. In other words that as Seattle is growing, there is growth in both the number or poor people as well as wealthy people.

https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/RacialEquityinSeattleReport2012-14.pdf

Taxpayer said...

"Taxpayer, when is the last time you came to a Charter Commission meeting, read the rules and processes put in place or read the meeting minutes? I ask because your comments indicate you have no clue what goes on with how the Charter Commission approves and oversees schools. Sounds like you just don't like your tax money going to charters, so therefore you will spew any negative thing you can--true or not

I'm disappointed in your comment, which sounds condescending. I did read minutes when I 1240 was declared unconstitutional. I did not find the minutes transparent and/or helpful in terms of the behind the scenes reality.

I'm sure there are plenty of good people on the Charter Commission, but I do question the integrity of a Commissioner that steps down, accepts $2M from Gates and allows dollars to flow into charter schools once the Supreme Court declared I 1240 unconstitutional.

If you do have a process- or procedure- outlined for the next time the court rules on charter schools, I would like to see it. Thanks for your suggestion, though. I will look at more recent documents and see if there are documents related to the next court ruling.

Some may not consider my comments constructive, but I do think fiscal responsibility and transparency to be of tremendous importance.

Thanks for engaging. This is my last comment.

Taxpayer said...

Neither Tacoma Public Schools or Seattle public schools wouldn't have anything to do with Dorn/charter school scheme.

I hope to see documents related to this issue.

Anonymous said...

This by Trish:
We have so many very bright and capable black and brown kids that never really get a chance. There have been recent efforts, but I'm afraid the damage is deeper and requires much more. Folks don't get that it's not just about plopping black and brown kids in HCC classes. It's also about how poorly the adults leading the classroom treat them (intentionally or not). Kids know when you really believe in them and when you're faking it.

Then this by Kellie:
I think the majority of folks on this blog will agree with you, but few (including me!) have the eloquence to state the problem as simply and cleanly as you just did. I have long been a proponent of "multiple" types of gifted programs. That conversations quite typically drives quickly into the ditch of separate-but-equal or less-than or ... something and I honestly don't know how to create a better dialogue on that topic.

@ kellie, I fully agree. It often feels like an impossible problem. Another thing that really struck me in Trish's comment was a reference to "a completely different belief system concerning who is smart and capable..." Wow.

So how do we reconcile all the controversy over the disparities in current HCC program with this idea that HCC isn't really the best fit in the first place? It feels like a separate/different program for promising or highly-capable-by-alernate-measures underserved students is politically out of the question, but the current program is not appropriate. So...? I suppose one solution is to scrap the whole program and start over, trying to come up with something that works for everyone--that somehow addresses two different belief systems about what it means to be highly capable--but that doesn't sound easy (or likely). Are the needs really so different? If so, does one program make sense?

all types

Melissa Westbrook said...

No worries - the Board voted out the HCC pathways for high school tonight so MTSS for all!

I'm not sure who will end up being well-served by this so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Anonymous said...

I guess they'd better get hopping on (more) MTSS planning and implementation! If this is 4-5 years away, they'll probably need to squeeze in about 10-12 years of MTSS prep work first, if past MTSS efforts are any indication. I know--we need more consultants!

DisAPP

Trish Millines Dziko said...

The way we solved the HCC/tiering issue at TAF Academy (now TAF@Saghalie) is to not have them. We have one set of core classes that are all taught at the same level. Every student is striving for the same standards. To accomplish this with so many different levels of student experience and preparation, our teachers have a maximum of 75 students each (research says 80 is the max to effectively build relationships), they do a lot of work to differentiate and they collaborate daily during common planning time. We also have Content Specialists that push in for just in time support. Our project-based learning school is a good way to help students relate to the content, so it's easier for them to grasp. We give students regular access to industry professionals so they have a good picture of what their options are by the time they are seniors.

This is A LOT of work on all the adults--teachers, administrators, staff, parents--but it's worth every minute and ounce of effort.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Trish, with all due respect, you have one small school. As Kellie said elsewhere, SPS is a large district with many high schools and high schools are dramatically underfunded by the state.

Most high school teachers here have 150 kids. That's a lot.

I like your model but it would be hard to duplicate in SPS.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Melissa, I totally understand that our model works because our school is small. I'm just offering an example. We now have 700 students, which is about the size of a small town middle school, and the model still works. I realize we're about the size of a city elementary school, but you get my point.

That said, why are we trying to dink around the edges instead of truly rethinking how we run schools (at all levels)? Right now we school kids instead of educating them. We continue to work in this outdated model--6 periods a day, too many students/teacher, stand and deliver, irrelevant content, no real school culture, etc.

TAF is now working with traditional schools and in partnership with the staff, transforming them into schools that work like TAF@Saghalie. It can be done. Not on a large scale all at once, but it can be done. It requires an adaptive and monetary investment, as well as a few folks with some backbone willing to go on the bleeding edge to make it work.

Anonymous said...

Students also only opt in to your program if they think it will work for them, though. That's a huge thumb on the scale, and for many students that lack of acceleration would be a deal breaker. Right now that's fine, because those kids can just not go to your school. Traditional public schools have to plan for even the kids who would opt out of your program.

-sleeper

Seattle Citizen said...

Trish, you write that
"It seems articles like this come out when black/brown/low-income families are doing the choosing(within their own damn neighborhood). While there hardly a peep about white/middle-class+ families choosing private or highly resourced schools (inside and outside of their neighborhood)."
The comparison doesn't hold: I would point out that there might be more focus on black/brown/low-income families choosing because they are, now, choosing from between two "public" (publicly financed) schools. The white/middle+ families are choosing between a public and a private.
We citizens have no say in how privates are run. But we have a say in publics, including now charters, so our attention is there.

Regarding charter commission meetings, I haven't attended, though I read the rules and regs when it was first set up. I DID, however, try to locate minutes, etc, of the various charters in place and found little to nothing. No transparency whatsoever. One wonders how taxpayers can attend meetings at charter schools, vote on charter school board members, etc, and in other ways hold charters accountable for policy as publicly funded entities.

75 students per teacher?! That's half what the student load most 6-12 teachers have, and that small class size in and of itself goes a looong way to building relationship, having successful instruction, and doing all sorts of other wonderful things. Class size is out of control - how do ALL schools get to have small classes?

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Sleeper, your comment "Students also only opt in to your program if they think it will work for them, though." is somewhat correct if you're talking about where we were before. That was mostly because we were a middle school and high school option in the same reference area and we had limited physical space. We had kids of all levels, perceived abilities, etc. come to our school, so the main advantage we had was size.

This year we merged with an existing middle school (Saghalie) and we're doing our whole model there with 700+ students. We are now the ONLY middle school in the reference area, so there's no opting in necessary. For high school students can choose to stay or head to Decatur. We have more neighborhood/reference area kids opting back in now that we're there.

Our model still works the same way regardless of who we're educating. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying it's working and we continue to improve teaching and operations every single day.

You should come visit and have the kids show you around. Go here (bitly/TAFATour) to schedule. That invitation is open to anyone on this blog as well.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Seattle Citizen "Class size is out of control - how do ALL schools get to have small classes?" Amen to that! I don't think there's a single answer, but we damn sure need to find one because we're losing kids and we're not getting the best out of our teachers with that kind of a load!

kellie said...

Thank you Trish,

I applaud your commitment to this process and I love the success you are creating.

If I am reading you correctly, you are stating that these gaps can be closed, but to close the gaps you need to ADD substantial time, money and energy to the work. SPS wants to somehow re-create your fantastic results, while maintaining the 150 per teacher ratios. I just don't believe it is possible to produce the same results you do, without a corresponding investment.

What types of investments would you recommend for the elementary level.

Seattle Citizen said...

I join Kellie in her applause for what Trish has done over the last decade or so.
Trish, it can't be said enough: your commitment to our region's youth is a blessing and an inspiration. Many in education, even if disagreeing with you on some points, are well aware of your steadfast effort on youth's behalf, particularly young people of color and others who struggle.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Trish, you're a courageous person with a vision. Would love to hear more about your work and best practices. Please let us know if you plan to give any talks soon where you discuss your work.

N

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Kellie, believe it or not, elementary school transformation is a bit more difficult. This is our third year at Boze Elementary school in Tacoma and they are great, but the biggest struggle we have is finding time for them to collaborate in and across grade bands. They are willing, they just don't have the additional spaces/activities to send the kids. What we provide for them is professional development and a full-time instructional coach to work with the teachers, admin and staff on our STEMbyTAF model. Each year we plan what we're going to focus on in terms of their growth on our rubric. We also help them find and develop relationships with local businesses, universities and organizations to help bring relevance to the learning.The adults in that school (many who have been teaching 10-15 years) are so open to learning new things and are getting used to letting students lead. There are teacher leaders emerging, so by their 4th or 5th year they will be able to implement the model with maintenance-level support from us.


Seattle Citizen, you and I have had a go here and there over the years. What I like is that we're both coming from a place of love and progress. Who can argue with that! Thanks for continuing to be engaged in the movement. I know it gets tiring sometimes, but our babies can't afford to have us stop.

N, thank you. I hardly get a chance to do talks about our work because most of my time is spent trying to raise money and form partnerships. One of these days though....

Taxpayer said...

"I DID, however, try to locate minutes, etc, of the various charters in place and found little to nothing. No transparency "

True. I look forward to the Charter Commission working on these issues.

Joe Wolf said...

Trish: People who live in a mostly Black/brown area are often not making a voluntary choice.

Seruously. Are you trolling or do you truly not get this?

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Joe, I'm struggling to understand what you're even talking about. Please clarify.