Full post here because I’m reblogging myself and long posts are long and going to get longer. Basically parents are getting arrested for sending their kids to good schools in districts they don’t actually live in cause god forbid we actually do anything about the state of the education system. Lets just ruin people lives for having the audacity to be poor instead.
maybe charter schools really are the answer?
See, but they’re not though.
The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), at Stanford University did a 2009 study titled Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States. Which found that
"Our national pooled analysis reveals, on the whole, a slightly negative picture of average charter
school performance nationwide. On average, charter school students can expect to see their
academic growth be somewhat lower than their traditional public school peers, though the
absolute differences are small. Charter students trail the academic growth of TPS students by .01
standard deviations in reading, and by .03 standard deviations in math. Though small, these
effects are statistically significant. These findings hold for students across the board of initial
starting scores, except for students in the lowest and highest starting deciles in reading.”
While there are some positive findings, charter elementary and middle schools for example average higher rates of learning (however, high schools and multiple level schools have significantly worse results.)
The Quality Curve shows that there are a substantial number of charter schools that provide superior
and outstanding results for their students; 17 percent of the charters in this study deliver
learning gains that are better than the results that their TPS peers achieve. These schools fulfill
the promise of charter schools — both for the students they educate and for their collective
demonstration that such schooling is feasible.
But the good news of the top performers is diminished by the preponderance of charter schools
that do not perform to that high level. Thirty‐seven percent of the charters in this study produce
learning gains that are significantly worse than what equivalent TPS students accomplish. This
proportion is both alarming and regrettable.
Here’s an article discussing the findings and implications in more detail.
Center for Education Reform July 28, 2008 survey of charter schools reported that 59% had a waiting list, the lists averaged at 198 students.
From the National Education Association:
In 2004, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) released an analysis of charter school performance on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card. The report found that charter school students, on average, score lower than students in traditional public schools. While there was no measurable difference between charter school students and students in traditional public schools in the same racial/ethnic subgroup, charter school students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch scored lower than their peers in traditional public schools, and charter school students in central cities scored lower than their peers in math in 4th grade.
NAGB looked at the impact of school characteristics and found that:
- Charter schools that were part of the local school district had significantly higher scores than charter schools that served as their own district.
- Students taught by certified teachers had roughly comparable scores whether they attended charter schools or traditional public schools, but the scores of students taught by uncertified teachers in charter schools were significantly lower than those of charter school students with certified teachers.
- Students taught by teachers with at least five years’ experience outperformed students with less experienced teachers, regardless of the type of school attended, but charter school students with inexperienced teachers did significantly worse than students in traditional public schools with less experienced teachers. (The impact of this finding is compounded by the fact that charter schools are twice as likely as traditional public schools to employ inexperienced teachers.)
In a study that followed North Carolina students for several years, professors Robert Bifulco and Helen Ladd found that students in charter schools actually made considerably smaller achievement gains in charter schools than they would have in traditional public schools.
It seems to me pretty clear here that some of the educational regulations that Charter schools get around by virtue of being charters actually hurt their students.
Also according to the NEA
In its official evaluation of the federally funded Public Charter School Program, Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Final Report, the U.S. Department of Education found that many charter school authorizers lack the capacity to adequately oversee charter school operations, often lack authority to implement formal sanctions, and rarely invoke the authority they do have to revoke or not renew a charter. Where charters have been revoked or not renewed, the decision has been linked more to noncompliance with state and federal regulations and financial problems than with academic performance.
Accountability is also lacking in oversight for federal charter school programs.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the frustration with the public school system, the anger at the clear inequality that exists within it, and I will be the first one to say that it is a model that at present disproportionately harms lower income and minority students and quite often students with disabilities. It’s nice to hope for a brand new public education system, it’s nice to see the possibility of schools which vaule creativity and variety in teaching so that students, all of whom learn at different rates and in different ways, have the opportunity to have the material presented to them in the way they understand. However, I just don’t think charter schools are the answer.
Some regulations exist within the education system for a reason, such as employing teachers who have some education in teaching. Not only that, but these schools aren’t consistently being held accountable for their practices and evaluated accordingly. However, they’re still part of the same broken system of standardized-testing-as-god-and-primary-indicator-of-successful-learning that all public schools are trapped in.
Then take this article which discusses the marginalizing of the same underprivileged, minority, and disabled students we discussed earlier.
"On the surface, the existence of different kinds of schools for parents to choose from would appear to provide more opportunities for disadvantaged students. In fact, quite the opposite is the case, as an important study from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Civil Rights Project explains. It’s worth quoting the study at length:
The ability to choose assumes ready exposure to available school options. Research suggests that families’ access to the educational marketplace is unequally constrained by a number of factors, including contact with advantaged social networks, … language barriers, socioeconomic status and the ability of parents to arrange transportation for their schoolchildren. Education studies both in the U.S. context and abroad… all highlight a basic point. Unrestricted choice results in stratification.
From the same article:
"One effect of charters’ drive to improve their test scores is that students with disabilities are systematically marginalized. Moreover, the pressure to reduce costs means that they often don’t employ the extra staff necessary to serve special education students. In 2009, students with disabilities attending charter schools in Los Angeles made up 7.6 percent of the overall charter student population, but 11.3 percent of the overall student population attending district-operated schools. During the 2008-2009 school year, just 8.1 percent of Los Angeles charter schools offered a special day program for students with disabilities. In contrast, 87 percent of district-operated schools provided this same program option.5
In Boston, charter schools were able to outperform their public counterparts by excluding special education students and students whose first language was not English. According to a 2009 Boston Globe report, nearly one-fifth of public school enrollees were English-language earners, whereas English-language learners were only 4 percent of charter enrollees.6 A 2009 study conducted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association found that more than half of students enrolled in the previous five years in charter schools never made it through graduation, reinforcing the argument that charters tend to weed out poorer performing students in order to boost their academic standings.7
So, there are significant indications that what improvements Charter schools do show over their public counterparts are due in large part to their being able to choose potentially higher performing students as their attendees, ‘weeding out’ the populations we discussed above. Not to mention the NAACP lawsuit against the inequality between NY public schools and their Charter schools.
Also, although Charters are privately operated they still receive public funding (sometimes in addition to private donations). So there’s still the potential of them pulling money away from already underfunded public schools in the area.
With $100 billion in stimulus funding, Duncan has sternly warned states to embrace unlimited charters or risk losing money: “States that don’t have [authorizing] charter laws or have artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will have jeopardized their applications under the Race to the Top fund. Simply put, they put themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the largest pool of discretionary dollars states have ever had access to.”
So, in reality, we have to opportunity to truly focus on changing policy and improving educational funding, measures of performance (beyond standardized testing), and completely revitalizing education in this country simply by admitting that the current system, and especially no child left behind, are broken. And to focusing some energy on coming up with real solutions, one of which, yes, IS more funding for education. And yet we are choosing instead to try and build a new, privatized, system from the ground up ALONG side, and suffering from some of the same problems (and some brand shiny new ones) that plague our current system. Which is in some cases negatively impacting our current system by competing for funding, but which is allegedly better because…companies can own it?
TL;DR Charter schools are not the answer for reasons. Many of them.