Charter schools are far more segregated than most other public schools. This was pretty much predictable. Charter schools with names like those I see repeatedly — “Black Success Academy,” “African-American Academy for Leadership and Enterprise” — are not likely to attract too many Irish or Italian kids. On the opposite side, trendy new white charter schools with upper-class, vaguely artsy innuendo in their names — I call them “the woodsy Walden schools” — are obviously targeted at children of a social/racial category that does not include the kids of immigrants from Mexico or Ethiopia.
The “niche” effect of charter schools guarantees a swift and vicious deepening of class and racial separation. President Obama — who was educated in very good and integrated schools and sends his children to an integrated and exclusive private school — is now acting on the belief that consciously and unashamedly segregated charter schools represent the answer to the race-gap in America.
Obama has definitely called for more charter schools. But, he’s also cautioned about too much reliance on standardized tests, and here he and Kozol agree. As Kozol points out, tests hit minority and poor kids the hardest, because the schools they attend turn into testing prep academies:
There’s no time for arts or music or even for authentic children’s books like the joyful works that rich kids still enjoy. No time for Pooh and Eeyore and The Hungry Caterpillar. “What help would lovely books like these be on their standardized exams?” Instead, the kids get pit-pat readers keyed to the next miserable tests that they’ll be taking.
Related to this, a long-standing and well-regarded alternative private school in Rochester is in big financial trouble because of competition from charters, and they’ve chosen not to become a charter because they don’t buy into the testing agenda. I wonder if the false market in charter schooling has hurt good alternative schools in other parts of the country.
Charter schools are nothing more than one small part of the right’s long-term effort to destroy public education. They’re expensive, unaccountable, and ineffective wastes of scarce public education dollars.
Kozol must be wrong, because according to ABL and the obots, Obama can’t be wrong.
He is the one can’t fail, but can only be failed.
ALL GLORY TO HIS NAME.
My wife works in special ed at a school where 70-80% of the kids get free or reduced breakfast & lunch and I want to reinforce that idea that poor schools spend a lot of time drilling for those stupid goddam tests.
In addition to having to deal with the homelessness, disruption and other shit that comes along with grinding poverty that the school has to deal with the pointless testing is ensuring that these kids stand almost no chance of making it out alive.
Why don’t we just institute the (18th Century) British educational system, since that seems to be what everyone wants?
Did you take an immaturity pill this morning?
“Predictable”? Hell, that was the entire point.
Charter schools are just school vouchers 2.0,, the entire point of which was to permit middle-class white families the wherewithal to set up and attend “Christian” schools, meaning schools where there ain’t no mixin’.
Racial segregation was the whole point of this. The “Black Success Academy” is just a by-product.
Free compulsory public education made us great. It’s absence is taking us down. No mystery…
There was a study done in California about two years ago by two guys from MSU and the Rand Corporation to assess the impact the “competition principle” of charters on traditional public schools and magnet schools. It had the regular metric of standardized tests, but also looked at teacher retention, financial stability, and asked principles whether or not any operational procedures were changed as a result of new charters in the area. In every metric, the effect was non-existent.
Which is rather significant, because one of the principle arguments behind charter schools is that their competitive nature increases the performance of nearby traditional schools. The study found it did virtually nothing either way.
I’d wager the same kind of data would be seen with respect to charter/private competition, with the Rochester case being an outlier. Though there may be some difficulty for private schools to attract new students because some types of charters are basically geared toward families who want the “prestige” of a private school but can’t afford it.
But I’d lean towards outlier, even though it would be no minor feat of delicious irony that the charter school movement, in seeking to make public schools more like private schools, actually made private schools worse.
There is reason the number of for-profit cyber charter school are increasing, at least in Pennsylvania. Low start up costs. Next to zero credentialing required. And a governor who wants to expand the program. Follow the money.
Kozol calls it compulsory inequality.
I am from Texas, where all this testing nonsense started, and I can tell you it has definitely dumbed down the curriculum and methods of the classroom. It has also discouraged many of the best teachers and caused them to move on to other jobs or retire as soon as possible. It is the worst possible solution to the education problems we have. The trouble is that non-educators are making decisions for education (and I include the President, even though I support him in any things). Kids are not widgets, and you can’t run education like a business.
I don’t really get upset over self-segregation. Maybe it wouldn’t happen in the perfect world, but as long as everyone has the opportunity to attend a given school if they want to, I don’t really care if they make the voluntary choice to go somewhere else. Or, to put it explicitly: if white people prefer to hang out with other white people, that’s fine by me as long as they don’t accomplish it by excluding non-white people.
I’m not a big fan of the charter school concept; just like public schools, some are good and some are bad, only the thing is that the media only tends to tell us about the good charter schools and the bad public ones. But a good charter school is a benefit of course because it gives people more options. I live in a good-sized city that is very diverse, both racially and economically, and I figure if the charter schools keep some high-income people here that might otherwise move out to the suburbs in search of good schools, that helps the tax base and benefits everyone.
I think that there are well-intentioned charter school promoters, but Obama and Duncan are being naive to the point of blindness to not see the risk here.
We’ve seen every grifter and crook pile on to the school reform movement in Ohio, and Ohio has been at the vanguard of every “school reform” movement for the last twenty years. Whether it’s overpaid consultants or the companies who profit off these tests, or the state legislators who are happily accepting huge campaign contributions from for-profit operators, it’s a godammned free for all, and it’s all public money.
Obama and Duncan can say all they want that these schools are going to be regulated, but it’s hollow. They’re regulated (or deregulated, in my state) at the state and local level, and the grifters are already at the trough.
This was poorly thought through and it’s going to end in disaster, for the students. No one is protecting their interests. Even charter school proponents say it’s out of control in Ohio. Wanna tell me how you’re going to regulate this at the federal level, Mr. Duncan? Walk me through that.
Obama’s education policy is a pile of shit. Happy? It’s the kind of ham-handed policy you get when any Federal input into education has to come in the form of either bribery or extortion.
Which is the entire reason why we have standardized testing, to determine which schools work well and which don’t. It’s nice to have empirical data to work with so you know which schools to fix.
I appreciate the fact that schools then teach to the test, but I don’t know how else to get the data.
THE DATA! yae baby THE FUCKIN DATA
I this county, they’re removing poorly-behaved children from public schools and dumping them into on-line private charters, because that satisfies the statutory requirement. No one is home to supervise their alleged “education”. It’s an absolute joke. The kids know it’s a joke. Some of them want to go back to school. These are poor rural kids.
@Sly: From the article I linked, it sounded like one option for private schools would be to just call themselves “charter schools”. That would hopelessly muddy the whole exercise.
@MikeJ: The problem is that data acquisition is now the tail wagging this dog. There’s more to learning that doing well on a standardized test.
All standardized testing tells you in this country is where the poor go to school.
just ask the Atlanta School Board
It’s not so much that private/charter schools provide better grades or performance — there’s a much more important metric which determines grades … income. It stands to reason that affluent school districts dump more money into educating their children, and therefore produce better results.
And let’s just say that charter schools have their own problems with grade tampering and general malfeasance.
Remember when a public school education used to be the “great social equalizer”?
Charter schools have all the best and worst of private and public schools: they get self-selecting groups of parents and standardized testing and waiting lists and prestige and name recognition and standards that don’t have a lot to do with the mission and missions that don’t have a lot to do with education.
All schools suck. What I did for my children is find the one that sucks least, is affordable, is located in a place I can get to before work, helps much more than hurts, and doesn’t turn my children into zombies or assholes. Maybe I have low expectations, but I found a decent school. It’s a charter and I don’t apologize for that.
As for integration, it isn’t a demographic mirror of the community. But I don’t care. The idea that children need to socialize with children is one of the most overrated and stupid ideas we’ve ever been brainwashed into believing. Children are assholes. They bully, whine, tattle, tease, and otherwise act immaturely because they’re fucking children. They don’t need exposure to asshole children of other cultures and economic strata. They need adults who fucking don’t put up with their shit. And teach them stuff. Maybe I’m insane for thinking this, but the last group I want my children to emulate are other children. They play just fine and get along well with those who aren’t assholes.
It had the regular metric of standardized tests, but also looked at teacher retention, financial stability, and asked principles whether or not any operational procedures were changed as a result of new charters in the area. In every metric, the effect was non-existent.
Yeah, it asked heads of school at the most economically vulnerable (elementary is smallest and in most places least private enrollment) whether they changed anything in response to their customers getting an endless buffet for nothing at their new competitors. They responded, We’ve stuck to our classic menu! and that’s no surprise, but tells you nothing. Teacher retention tells you nothing, because states may require accredited licensed teachers at charters but not private so there may not be much overlap in that pool.
Under the No Child’s Behind Left regime, private schools have no motive to test at the elementary level, regardless of principles. As a result, private schools are the only place that little Billy won’t be pressured, and partly as a result of that, private schools at the elementary level are trending toward rich people with weird kids.
And before you respond ‘anecdata!’ I’d like to hear a proposal for how to measure the weirdness levels of the demonstrably rich kids left in private, given that the only reason you’d spend $10K a year on the 2nd grade in a charter rich environment is that you want your kid not to be tested.
We stopped affording that principle for 4th grade when it became clear that our kid, who has both an extraordinary talent and enormous test anxiety, was going to be in a class with 2 other girls who ate paste a lot and 11 boys who had difficulties with either academics or controlling their grabby hands. Didn’t move to a charter because our state teachers’ union has more sitting members of the Legislature than the insurance brokers do, so that charter schools are required to test and keep attendance identically to the other local public elementaries. So choosing a charter means taking a chance on an unstable not-yet-institution’s good intentions for positive segregation of the like minded, plus all the down sides of NCLB.
We’re starting our 3rd year of home school this week with a regional athletic competition and a liberal arts (math, fiction, history) unit on ancient Egypt. So the private school is going to fail, not this year or next but soon, and we’re part of the problem for them.
Also, too, the segregation element of charter schools has been studied as far back as 2003, when the Civil Rights Project at Harvard started looking at segregation within charter classrooms compared to traditional public schools and found that 70% of black kids in charters were in heavily segregated classrooms compared to 35% of black kids in traditional public schools. And last year a study was done showing that districts were more likely to create charters when the level of segregation in their public schools was low; the more integrated the traditional schools, the higher the chance that new charters would be opened up.
To ignore the racial element of charters is willful blindness.
Well, I am probably in the minority here but I too come from Texas and attended a small charter school there at the inception of the movement (from middle to the end of high school).
Not only was it diverse, though it was more along the lines of uncharacteristically diverse for Texas (Russia, Korea, India, Pakistan, etc instead of Mexico and the like), but the school was proactive in going above and beyond state testing norms. By seeking admission to teach course from AP and IB programs (advanced courses that culminate in written/multiple choice test at the end of the year), we eventually got to be known as one of the best performing schools in the nation.
In summation, charter schools aren’t a de facto blight upon our nation. I know there are some abusive corporate ones out there, but in a place with the education board as nuts as it is in TX there is room for pro-active faculties, students, and parents to do more than just pass state tests and get kids the studies, skills, and accreditation they need to get into the colleges they want.
Just my 2 cents.
My lucky-as-shit 8 year-old goes to a private school in Queens. In the second grade they have recess every day, gym 4 times a week (in a dedicated gym and/or pool), music, art (fantastic teacher), science (another fantastic teacher), and Mandarin. There’s some rote learning, but most of the process is self-learning and creative based. They don’t take the standardizing tests the kids in the public schools take. And the class sizes are small. (12 kids.)
We’re in the process of moving out of the city. (We need more space, yard, etc.) It will be hard to replicate her school, even with another private school.
Perhaps a move to Finland is in our future.
Nahh, I took an, I’m tired of the Hippie Punching pill.
All, green and purpley and smelling like candy and flowers.
Here in California only about 15% of the charter schools are unionized. On the one hand, the charters insist that being non-union gives them needed flexibility in the hiring and firing of teachers. On the other hand, it’s easy to suspect that plain old union busting makes charters more attractive to conservatives.
@Josie: Strongly agree.
I got sucked into buying Kozol’s thesis from “Savage Inequalities” about per pupil spending and teacher salaries being really important.
A couple years later I had a friend decline taking a position at an affluent suburban district because it paid $5,000 per year less than her position in Chicago Public Schools.
However, segregation is a serious issue.
I looked at the data for Illinois and my sense was that if the “White” plus Asian population was about 85% or higher and the district spend more than the statewide average, the test scores were going to be pretty high.
And if the Black + Latino was over a certain point, it really didn’t matter how much the school spent, test scores were going to suck.
There were however examples of schools with high Latino populations (and very few Blacks) that had decent test scores.
Of course, correlation is not causation.
Just because schools are where we measure that youth are behind where they should be (from a certain perspective) doesn’t mean that the schools are the cause of the students deficiencies.
Obama may have made a few comforting statements about relying less on standardized testing, but Race to the Top most definitely does emphasize these tests.
That’s fine, but what I don’t understand is how you go about “fixing” those schools. That seems to be the hard part, and yet we spend so much effort on the diagnostic part of the process.
My belief is that the performance of a school is largely determined by the quality of the kids you put into it, and every other factor lags way behind. If kids can’t read at grade level when they start school, guess what, they won’t do very well. If kids don’t have the right basic skills when they get into the system (often this happens because they have parents who didn’t go to school themselves), they’re going to be at a disadvantage. If kids have an unstable home life, or maybe they don’t even have a home, that’s going to hamper their performance.
So we spend a lot of time and money on testing just to establish that gee whiz, the inner-city schools still suck because the inner city has major social problems. Okay, that was helpful. Now what do we do? It’s not just a matter of sending in some kick-ass principal like in the movies. And you certainly don’t get there by – here’s that phrase I hate to hear from all the education gurus – “raising our standards.”
Kozol pretty clearly values having a large percentage of American children come up through an integrated, egalitarian, quality, public school system.
As Americans lose trust and confidence in each other, they cease to believe that the public schools will deliver a quality experience for their children.
Americans have been opting out of traditional public schools increasingly for a long time now. The want private schools, home schooling, charter schools.
I think liberals need to pay attention to what Americans want and why they want it.
Kozol making a moral argument that what Americans want is like segregation is a losing argument politically. Sending Johnny and Kaitlyn to a granola charter school is not the same as Bull Connor using violence against anti-segregation marchers. And if you yell at parents that they are immoral for wanting a quality experience for their children, you’re going to alienate your natural allies.
So reading ability is a measure of the “quality” of a child?
So just be quiet and take it huh?
@Kay #15: We’re seeing that here in SC. The director of the online State Charter School District is tearing her hair out over the dropout rate in her ‘district’. It’s horrendous and much higher than many identified poor-performing high schools and districts in the state. Mainly because it is the last resort for many kids-it’s become an alternative school in many ways. However, if these kids were struggling in an atmosphere where there is help and supports, they surely haven’t developed the wherewithal to take responsibility for their own learning that is inherent in online instruction.
Districts don’t create the charters where I live. The charters are proposed by the people who want to start a school and the county superintendent is the one who is in charge of seeing if the standards are met for approval. If anything, the districts are the ones fighting hardest (and losing the most) from charters, not encouraging any sort of racial cleansing in the classrooms.
More students more or less means more money, while the biggest fights will always be over who pays for buses (which charter schools don’t have to provide) and special education (which charter schools find other ways to avoid.) The most expensive students go to public schools, and that’s why districts would be stupid to create more charter schools.
Only in the sense that they will not perform as well in school. Children are all equally precious and deserving in my book.
My view is that most of the things that cause certain children to perform worse in school are things you have to address outside of the school context. When you alleviate urban poverty, for example, you’re automatically going to make the urban schools better. If you don’t address the poverty then your ability to produce better-educated kids solely by improving the schools is limited.
I am bone-tired of the firebagging on the charter school “issue.” It has become a progressive bete noir far beyond its supposed negative impact.
In my neck of the woods the public charter school — and I stress that this is a public charter school — is the only one without serious discipline problems because they’re actually allowed to discipline kids. If that’s elitist I want more, please.
Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, and it doesn’t rely on a lot of standardized testing. Turns out the foundation of their approach is really valuing teachers as creative professionals. What a surprise, huh?
The only thing that you can determine with standardized testing is which schools have done the best job of teaching to the test. Worthwhile empirical data would require following students throughout their education and on into actual life for a few years. To do that would require an enormous amount of money and years long commitment, neither of which are available in this proud land of ours. Standardized testing enables administrations to appear to be doing something about school quality on the cheap.
Just checking. I served in the Army with a great many people who were undereducated and got shafted while other folks stayed in college.
Many white Americans do not want their children going to school with black/Hispanic children. Period.
No amount of money, testing, school days, teacher ratings, etc. will improve the education/test scores of black children.
Many, MANY people do not care and do not value education in this country, period (regardless of race). And if you’re black and you’re educated, something must be wrong with you. You must have gotten by with “affirmative action” or “took somebody’s spot” or “be acting white” or “be a sellout” or you’re “uppity.”
Unless the black elephant in the room is addressed, all of this talk about “are charter schools good?” is a bunch of yap yap.
@ Citizen_X (39)
(I was assuming that all the commenters would be aware of the recent educational statistics out of Finland. But I suppose I’m glad that you spelled it out for the dumb kids.)
It tells you exactly what it said, that they made no changes in operations due to the presence of charters. One of the basic arguments is that competing with charters will make traditional public schools want to achieve more. If they haven’t felt the need to change anything because competing charters haven’t offered anything substantially different, it pokes a rather big hole in that argument.
Again, if charter schools are better, then teachers would be flocking to them. They aren’t. In California (as in New York) the certification process is uniform for anyone teaching in a publicly-funded schools, whether charter or traditional, so they are generally operated from the same pool of candidates. I can’t think of any state off the top of my head where this isn’t the case, though I wouldn’t be surprised if “certain states” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) didn’t have this requirement.
Non-parochial private schools won’t differ in most cases. Those that do not require state certification will require a level of education that is equivalent to or superior to the certification requirement. From my own experience, the teachers who I know that went from private to public basically had to take the required exams and attend one or two workshops on things like drug abuse; the kind of hoops the state wants you to jump through so it knows a complete idiot isn’t in the classroom.
Parochial schools are a different matter entirely, to be sure, and that’s where there would likely be the least amount of overlap in student recruitment.
The elephant in the room, however, is whether or not a charter is permitted to engage in selective enrollment. In most states they are not; if a student lives in the district in which the charter is located, the charter has to take them in. Whether or not the student has a disability, comes from a two parent home, is on any kind of assistance program, etc. Private schools are exempt from this requirement entirely. Frankly, I’m surprised whenever I see a private school with a wheelchair access ramp out front.
Ah, the good old days of the draft.
Is your district unionized? In New York State, we basically have a patchwork of unionized and union-free districts and, to my initial surprise, I found that that the resistance to charter schools in suburban districts is pretty uniform. The unionized districts don’t want them because they undermine teacher security, and the union-free districts don’t want them for basically the same reason, though articulated somewhat differently.
That’s never going to happen in the United States so long as out culture situates teaching as a “fallback position” in case what you really wanted to do with your life doesn’t work out.
We basically consider it a glorified temp job. It should surprise no one that the turnover rate for teachers is so high.
Sly, you do know that even though charters may theoretically be prohibited from “engaging in selective enrollment,” many are quite well-known for “counseling out” the students they don’t want. These numbers are well-documented, even if not well-publicized.
On another note, one of the reasons Finland’s stats look so good is that they have extremely low rates of childhood poverty, IIRC, in the very low single digits. Our country, in contrast, has something like 20-25% of our kids in poverty. If you look at the test scores of our kids who aren’t in poverty, their numbers hold up very well compared to places like Finland. We have too much poverty. But we already knew that, didn’t we?
“So reading ability is a measure of the “quality” of a child?”
Yes. Being able to read is a basic life skill. It’s right up there with flushing the toilet and picking your stuff up off the stairs. Does it mean the kid is no good if he/she can’t read? Of course not. It does indicate we suck as a society that this is even a question.
You and I have a different idea of what quality means.
I want to reinforce that idea that poor schools spend a lot of time drilling for those stupid goddam tests
Good! Schools aren’t babysitting services. They exist to drill the kids on what they should be learning so that they become literate and able to do math.
It’s no surprise that people with education degrees– who consistently perform the worst on standardized tests — don’t like standardized tests.
Parents who actually care about education, however, tend to be pretty focused on making sure their kids perform well on those tests. If only the teachers cared as much as the parents.
Look at the example mentioned above in Rochester– the alternative private school has become LESS attractive with the advent of charter schools. The lack of standardized testing at the alternative private school is not enough of a draw for parents compared to the charter schools which are forced to deliver metrics to the state on how they’re performing.
Tucson Unified School District is unionized, as is Amphitheater, Vail, Sunnyside, and all the other districts in my area.
I’m sorry but a quality education requires the ability read. It’s not an indicator of the quality as a child as a whole, but not being able to read indicates a very poor quality of education.
Not really. I view teaching as a sort of performance art. A good teacher is able to take boring subject matter and present it in way that keeps most students interested. A bad teacher (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?) makes even dedicated students groan.
It should also be noted that traditional schools can also do this, but its based more on money (either additional spending or legal liability) than expected student performance. For instance, a friend of mine has a kid with hemophilia and their local school pulled out all the stops trying to get them to send him somewhere else. There’s also a kind of defacto selective enrollment, where stable families are more likely to choose charters over traditional schools and skew the performance data accordingly.
I will maintain, however, that openly discriminating against certain students is a larger problem, though I admit that it may only seem larger because its easier to spot and measure.
Quite a few teachers in D.C. cared so much about student performance on standardized tests that they engaged in one of the biggest cheating scandals in American history, because the alternative was losing their livelihood.
But, yeah, keep telling yourself that we don’t give a shit about standardized test performance.
I served in the Army with a great many people who were undereducated and got shafted while other folks stayed in college.
Well, I am sorry to hear that. Maybe the alternative is to make sure that people are better educated rather than complain that having standards in school will make them feel like they’re worth less.
It’s no surprise that people who know anything about developmental psychology and test construction don’t like standardized tests.
Don’t spout ignorance. The biggest predictor of college success isn’t test scores.
I was going to write something like this but was beaten to the punch.
1. No one knows how to characterize good teaching.
2. The remedies that the reformers propose (merit pay, charter schools, firing bad teachers, encouraging people with advanced specialized degrees to enter teaching) don’t work.
A less cynical person would say that reformers are doing what they can, working within the system, etc. I’m not that person.
The educational system looks the way that it does because Americans, at some level, want it to look that way. Like most reform efforts in our era, school reform is designed to produce “changes” which aren’t really changing anything at all. The reform efforts are a bunch of just so stories concocted for the benefit of a largely decadent (and white) upper middle class that realizes (though usually not consciously) that its station in life depends on the existence of millions of poor and ignorant disposable people.
Testing can be an invaluable source of alternative information especially when your kid’s teacher is weapons-grade stupid. Our son was bored to death in his first grade class and tended to stare out the window enjoying his own thoughts. The teacher said he was the most distractable (but not disruptive) child she had ever had in her class and prodded us to talk to our pediatrician about it—-that is she thought he needed to be medicated! (BTW she mentioned this casually on the playground in front of other parents, not at a formal meeting!) When the testing results came back it turned out he was reading at an eighth grade level or higher. Her in-class assignments were so far below his abilities and interests that they were just measures of compliance. He did fairly poorly in school until he started taking AP courses—-the harder they were the better he did.
There are many wonderful, insightful teachers, but there are also a lot of duds. Using only grades to evaluate student performance is unfair to kids with the lousy teachers who are not insightful enough to devise good measurements for their own grading schemes. Standardized tests offer a relatively cheap “second opinion”.
Tests should be made better, not eliminated because of their current inadequacies. It’s hard to get around the teaching-to-the-test problem, but better tests could be part of the solution.
I can’t emphasize this enough: poor rural kids who do poorly at traditional schools being dumped in publicly-funded on-line charter schools is a joke. It’s a travesty, and everyone knows it, including juvenile judges, who are the only people who have the courage to actually contradict the grifters and con-men who are pushing this ridiculous idea.
It may have looked fabulous at a round table or a thing tank but it never made any sense. They have trouble getting along in a group, no supervision or reliable routine at home, so the SOLUTION is to isolate them at home with no supervision? Nice. The public school that dumps them gets higher scores because they’ve dropped the low-performers, and they sit at home playing school, alone, because their parents are, of course at work.
What was the thinking at the thought-experiment round table? Their parents would be taking them on educational field trips? Providing great literature and individual instruction? The same parents that did poorly at school themselves? Are people kidding with this?
I find these threads incredibly depressing. My son flourished in a charter school and simply didn’t fit into the standard high school template. He’s in college now, and there is no way that he would have graduated from the cookie-cutter standard public schools. (Yes, I’m in Ohio.)
The online charters are a fraud, as are the for-profit ones. You badly need regulations. But the public schools, especially the urban ones, also desperately need choices. And as the public schools become more grimly test-focused and zero-tolerance, there is a lot of need for schools that deal with the kids who just don’t fit the standard template. That is what charters were originally designed to do, and some of them do it very well.
I’m seeing the same depressing scenario play out here as we’ve seen over and over again in the online left. There is a real problem (the quality of public education). One family of solutions is charter schools. Some of them are frauds. This gets transmuted, through ideological hostility, to “all charter schools are corporate right-wing frauds”. And you get a bunch of online activists relentlessly parroting this party line, immune to dialog. Many of them are a decade or more away from even having kids.
There are a lot of problems with the transition in the charter school movement from a handful of places staffed by idealists to a mass movement. But reflexive hostility, or not being willing to listen to why parents might choose them, serves no one.
Not entirely true. Most students have a kind of intuitive grasp of what constitutes a good teacher, which basically mirrors Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” And, of course, teachers know good teachers, but for a variety of reasons we aren’t considered trustworthy.
Precisely. We do not personally measure educational achievement by some absolute and objective metric. We measure it relative to other students. We do not ask “Does my child have the skills necessary to be successful?” We ask, “How well is my child doing compared to everyone else?” Standardized tests don’t have some absolute metric for determining proficiency, they measure performance according to percentile ranks.
20 or 30 years from now, society will look back at how the Faustian bargain liberals and the teachers unions struck damaged generations of minorities and people will wonder how it was allowed to go on for so long.
The shame you people should feel for the poverty and ignorance you’ve caused would be debilitating if you had the capacity to grasp the extent of it. Remaining in a state of denial for the crime you’re perpetrating is the only thing that allows you to live with yourselves.
I was reading an article about a particular charter in New Orleans post Katrina and just had to wretch.
And after posting this I saw the comment from jwest and it seems that I was unintentionally responding to him and not just making a general comment.
Turning schools into what is essentially work for 8 year olds (and they don’t even get paid) is probably the best way to ensure that most kids learn just the bare minimum to get by. The few kids who will learn no matter what the environment will be OK, and the rest will either drop out or be expelled.
There is a third option between babysitting and child boot camp.
Lots to digest this morning. The public charter school my sons will be attending this fall in our small Norcal town just got a $375K grant from the state. This is awesome of course as the site of the school needs a bit of tweaking, computers to be bought for the classrooms, maybe an electric piano, this and that. It got me thinking about the town’s main-line (is that the term?) public school and the sad financial situation they’re in (the whole shit salad of laying off teachers, getting rid of art and music, opting out of small class size, etc). How does $375K of state education money get granted to a school yet to open its doors while a school a thousand yards away flounders? I would love someone to explain this process to me. Is there a “pot” of money the state earmarks for charters alone?
@Kay #62: What I think the online charter school folks and Mark Sanford’s voucher buds thought in this state was the best and brightest wanted to, and would, flee the public for the online school. Not so much.
Right, Marc, but once reformers opened it up in Ohio to any taker this was bound to happen. How reckless was that? I listen to the well-intentioned charter advocates and my jaw drops. It strikes me as incredibly naive to assume this was going to regulate itself. Yeah. That always happens. Did anyone think this through? Now that it’s clearly being hijacked by every crook in the country, are well-intentioned reformers going to call these people out?
As far as I’m concerned, w/the on-line charters and for-profits that are HUGE in Ohio, all that changed is I’m paying an ever-growing cadre of grifters, crooks, consultants and lawyers instead of paying teachers a decent wage. That’s not a good deal for me. That’s not reform. It’s a rip-off of vulnerable students and their parents.
OK. So what’s your plan to address “the black elephant in the room”?
Is it possible that as society has more choices available in other areas, people want more choices available in education?
Town, you wrote:
To what extent is this what motivates parents? To what extent is it what liberals believe motivate parents?
Here’s how I suspect many lower-middle-class “Whites” see the liberal obsession with equality.
Lower-middle-class “Whites” know that the children of the affluent and educated are gonna get privileged educations, in private schools or public schools.
Lower-middle-class “Whites” would mostly like to have this kind of education available for their kids, but…
If the goal is to reduce the differential between Black and “White” test scores, it’s easier to bring down “White” scores than to bring up Black scores.
So, the goal of education equality–something liberals think is good and assume others who aren’t hardened bigots support–is seen as a threat to lower-middle-class “Whites”.
The Right has successfully reframed our national dialog about who gets their programs cut next in the name of fiscal discipline. Liberals and Democrats have failed to craft an affirmative vision and message other than status quo liberalism, which isn’t perceived as having helped many people, besides a small number of identity groups.
This perception is probably incorrect, but which deserves more energy?
1. Fight the perception that liberalism, New Deal and Great Society did uplift people.
2. Craft and sell a vision for how government can be used to uplift people in the future.
The two message are somewhat complimentary in how they understand the past, but are different in how they approach the future.
Kay: We agree on the regulation front. I don’t think that the answer is banning all charter schools, however, and sweeping hostiility to the concept (quite common online) serves no one well. I’m not the enemy for being glad that there was a charter school for my son.
FYI the folks at his school are strong supporters of charter school accountability in various forms, including stricter regulations of both existing and new ones. They don’t want their place associated with the flood of scams.
So, doofus, how does this line up with the correlation of class with student achievement?
How long will morons like you deny the obvious?
I thought the whole point of charter schools was parent-led boards and input. How, exactly, was this supposed to work on-line? Reformers thought parents would be more involved with a canned curriculum delivered from a remote location to a kid sitting at home alone?
In what fantasy world do the same moms and dads of low-performing “problem kids” who didn’t ever appear at their kid’s local school suddenly develop a passionate interest and expertise in non-traditional education?
“So, doofus, how does this line up with the correlation of class with student achievement?”
Watch “The Lottery” to learn the answer. http://thelotteryfilm.com/
“How long will morons like you deny the obvious?”
That was the point of my comment.
You know, Marc, the grifters and crooks in the GOP-led state legislature almost passed an absolute tax-payer rip-off “school reform” bill that passed legal ownership of public education assets to a for-profit with an absolutely terrible record. White Hat. Are you familiar with them? They operate in Ohio and Florida, completely unregulated.
It became national news.
Well-intentioned charter school proponents didn’t beat them back. Teachers unions did. Thank God for that. I’m thrilled that they have some clout. I need someone to protect public schools, and they’re the only game in town.
That bill was well on it’s way to Kasich for signature, with some mild disapproval from the school reform folks, who were reduced to begging ineffectually for amendments and finger-wagging, hoping to “shame” the for-profits. Yeah. That’ll work.
You’re going to have to fight a little harder than that, if you sincerely wish to protect this “movement” from crooks and thieves.
Generally speaking, charter grants are not taken from normal education appropriations. Included in this category is both CA’s Public Charter School Grant Program and the Charter School Facility Grant Program, one of which is likely the source of the grant.
So they got it by meeting the eligibility requirements of the grant program (and performance benchmarks if it was through the PCSGP), part of which includes a traditional public school existing in the area with an Academic Performance Index state rank of 1 or 2 (meaning among the bottom 10% or 20%).
Except you’re not following through. School reform folks aren’t following through. There are fewer regulations every year. The for-profits are going to court in Ohio at the county level and seeking to change interpretation of Ohio’s administrative code, because the hacks in teh GOP statehouse aren’t moving fast enough.
How did we get to a place, after twenty years of school deregulation, where juvenile judges here are ordering principals to retain low-performing students who are being booted to on-line for-profits? How did it happen that judges (hardly a touchy-feely group) became the last line of defense for these kids, trying to secure them some semblance of a legit publicly-provided education?
Something went really wrong here. School reformers better move, fast, and figure out how to regulate, because the grifters and crooks are beating the shit out of you in court and in the statehouse and everywhere else. They’re winning.
I figured you probably would have gone with Waiting for Superman, but I’ll give you points for relying on an equally dishonest and execrable film.
Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you taught in an urban school with a majority of students who were poor and/or racial or ethnic minorities?
You obviously don’t understand the subject well enough to articulate an argument.
Again, deal with the correlation.
I have never taught, either in the inner-city or in a rich suburb. The reason is that I lack the talent to teach – just as a majority of the “teachers” do today.
What liberals fail to acknowledge is the fact that teaching takes a specific talent. Regardless of degrees and years of experience, if a person lacks that talent they don’t have the ability to transfer knowledge to another. Unions protect these credentialed failures.
What liberals fail to acknowledge is the fact that teaching takes a specific talent.
This is a charmingly American attitude at the root of many of our problems in education– an obsession with “talent” rather than education and hard work. It even plays out with the anti-testing crowd who believes that schools should babysit students until they find “talented” one’s rather than drill them into literacy and math ability.
If you genuinely believe in this model for public education (and I think you do) you had better protect it, because IMO the grifters and crooks/ sincere reformers ratio is reaching a sort of critical mass in Ohio.
There is going to be blow-back when taxpayers here figure out that they are funneling public money to proven failures like White Hat, and getting little or nothing of value in return. White Hat managers and investors are doing very, very well. It’s the students who aren’t doing so great. That corruption is going to discredit the whole public charter school movement. Getting into bed with outfits like White Hat, calling them allies, relying on them for lobbying expertise in school deregulation, is going to discredit your whole idea.
No, it doesn’t. Talent for teaching and an empty sack gets you an empty sack. What teaching “takes” is years of dedication and hard work. It takes the understanding that proficiency in virtually every skill under the sun is neither fixed nor innate; an understanding that you can pass on to your students so that they too realize that they can achieve great things even if they’re starting out with little or nothing.
You’re not going to get that by looking for some golden child with an ill-defined “talent” for teaching, because those are the kind of things people get through years of training. Take the other road and all you’ll end up getting are people who take a five or six week crash course offered by Teach For America and then quit within two years because they deluded themselves with fantasies of “summers off” only to be sorely disappointed.
Do yourself a favor. Go to a local school (any school will do) and ask if you can observe a few lessons. Ask the teachers you think are successful what their path was to the profession and how much work they had to put in to get where they are. Ask them what they think of “accountability” and all the other buzz words that the Reform Movement throws around like they were at a mandatory corporate ethics seminar.
Or you can put your faith in a propaganda film starring Joel Klein, the man Rupert Murdoch just put in charge of News Corp.’s “internal investigation” into phone hacking.
Kay: yes, that is a real worry. In fact, I’d be in favor of suspending all new charter applications until the current mess can be sorted out. (We may have to wait for a governor who isn’t a SOB. e.g. 2014 at the earliest.) The major issue for me is allowing school choices within the public framework, and that was the original model. Things like chain for-profits are poachers, pure and simple. But it’s worth remembering that a lot of charter schools are good and have parents behind them. Focusing on the bad actors makes these people allies.
So much ignorance, so little time:
1. If you see a general statement about charter schools overall it is almost certainly wrong. Rules for forming, funding and governing charter schools differ widely from state to state.
2. If you see a general statement about charter schools within a state it is almost certainly wrong. Charter schools result from the particular vision of the founders, as modified to fit the rules for founding schools in the state. Thus, charter schools do not follow a consistent pattern.
3. “Charter schools are x, public schools are y.” Try again. Charter schools ARE public schools, but with a different founding, funding and governing structure that varies from state to state.
4. “Charter schools are racially segregated”. Show me the data. Is this statement the result of a study that controls for location? Families seldom choose schools distant from where they live, especially families where both parents work full-time.
5. The study quoted above as stating that traditional public schools didn’t change as a result of nearby charter schools actually says: “The only category in which more than 10 percent of TPSs have
made changes is instructional practices with 11.6 percent of principals responding that
they made a change. However, while never a majority, a substantial portion of the
principals from the six districts claim that the school or the district had an effect on some
operational features, with 25 percent of principals responding that they had changed their
instructional practices and professional development.” This sounds like the conclusion should be “DID have an effect”.