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View Diary: Charter Schools and the CREDO Report (218 comments)

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  •  Essentially I believe (6+ / 0-)

    comparing schools is like comparing children.  It's too subjective.    Too many variables.  
    Even twins, virtual or otherwise, are affected by too many variables to make a scientific study really mean too much.

    Yes, I know in our "competitive" mentality in society, we MUST test or how would we know anything.  Well, in Finland it seems to have served them well to do no "standard" testing until a child's education is near completion.  
    Of course, throughout schooling in Finland, a teacher's "assessment" is used because teachers are actually respected as "professionals".    

    I understand some people believe home schooling and charters fit "their" needs for "their" children.   But in the end, in a system where teachers are not viewed as experts, that is sadly no surprise.
    But true professionals know kids are developmentally different.  We also know environment is a huge factor: everything from nutrition, to family stability, to health, to climate, to family finances, parental style, etc.    Even children in the same family develop at different rates.
    In countries where teachers are trusted professionals, parents entrust their children to them.
    But here, in too many places, teachers are viewed as daycare and sometimes parents believe they can control the curriculum, how the teachers delivers lessons and who their children play with.  
    Over the years I have had parents come in and demand I teach "intelligent design" (I refused and told the parent to take it to the school board); demand I be fired for talking about Halloween (on Halloween) because I was teaching the religion of Wiccan; take Harry Potter books off the shelves; keep their child away from another child and not allow them to play on the playground together; grade harder, grade easier;  don't dare tell my child "no they can't".   And on and on and on and on.
    In between I managed to do my job but to me "charters" have become in too many places the answer for disgruntled parents who do not believe teachers are professionals.  

    While the concept of local control and parental input are good things, there are lines that have been crossed that, imo, are not healthy for kids.  

     I understand many charter school proponents don't see or don't care about the "not-so-hidden" agenda of getting rid of collective bargaining.  In the end, that hurts all teachers including the charter school teachers.  
    Students matter.  But so do teachers.  Teachers being treated as trusted professionals has a positive effect.   Teachers treated as sweatshop works with no rights has a negative effect.  

    If I had time I could write tons of stories of how having a strong union protects people against unreasonable demands, unreasonable accusations.  All things that affect teachers, affect their students.  
    Want to empower students?  Empower their teachers.  
    And yes, I know some charters have been started by teachers themselves.  In the beginning, it seems the ideal.  Doesn't work that way because ANY organizations evolves into one where leadership is required, rules require and where people will have differing points of view and thus conflict.  

    In the end, I think the idea of an "equal playing field" for all students should be the goal.   And while public education has flaws, the charter movement is being spun as the answer.  In reality, I believe now what I have said before.  Charters NOW are being used as a stepping stone to end "public education" and thus end those damn teachers unions'.  We all know it.  If the idea of charters is to provide a unique alternative for that small percentage of the population with unique needs, then fine.  When it is there to replace schools that were neglected due to poverty, and circumstances not controlled by the teachers, then it's obvious.  Urban areas are targets of the charter school companies for one reason.  The corporations will not get nearly the battles nor the scrutiny they would get in areas where parents have more political clout.   It's a trend seen all over.   It's wrong.  Just wrong to me.  Abandoning children to the corporations is just another way to kill democracy.

    •  Again, you've written a diary for a comment :) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      congenitalefty, Balto, princss6

      You make it tough to hold a conversation about this. I feel like we're always lecturing each other.

      What do you think about this report? That's what this diary is really about, what this report has to say.

      Do you think it's worth taking a look at or do you think it's so flawed we should just throw it out?

    •  I agree with so much of what you say here. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, ubertar, princss6

      I do believe there is a corporate conspiracy to privatize schools and to control curriculum for corporate purposes. I also believe that corporate control has been a part of public education in the United States for generations. Destroying teachers' unions and destroying students' rights to an excellent education are part of the same agenda. Tracking systems and unequal educational programs within schools and within districts have been carried out by teachers for generations, either by following blindly the edicts of corrupt policy or by carrying out such policies knowingly and approvingly.

      Teachers are professionals. But the proof is in the pudding. If parents are being told their children can't read because their parents don't earn enough money, parents begin to question the whole system. Teachers are going to have to take part in this discussion about instruction whether they like it or not.

      •  Teachers have mainly been locked out of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        the discussion. No one in power consults teachers about these issues. It's all about administrators, who often lack experience in the field. Take Bloomberg's Cathie Black fiasco in NYC, for example.

        "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

        by ubertar on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 12:34:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But that's the thing.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        teachers are NOT a part of the conversation. I spent nearly 40 years in public education with over 30 years IN THE CLASSROOM.  Yet, Michelle Rhee who spent three years in a classroom and ONCE had substantial jumps in scores (which she lied about) and now she is given credence by Arne Duncan, by the news media.

        For the record, no teacher I know (and I know a lot) ever told parents "your child can't read because you are poor."

        *However we have had to explain to parents that when a third grade student is in his fourth school, it may have an impact.  
        *We might recommend highly to a parent to "talk, have conversations with your children daily, when at home, on the way to the store....etc. etc.
        *We may tell parents, not pointing out anyone in particular, how important nutrition is.  
        *We used to hold an annual health fair at our school, with the help of the county health department, so parents could get info on shots, or places to go when children were sick.
        *We worked with out local Rotary Club who sent volunteers for weekly mentoring.  Also they bought books from our book fair (so we could get the credits from scholastic) and then gave every child in our school two books.

        In the end, we did all we could do.  We talked to parents, to the community and in the end, they closed our school?
        WHY?  Because the district needed to save money and so they combined our school with a school a few blocs away.  Meanwhile schools in the zip code on the north end (richer part) of town, also losing enrollment, were not closed because their parents have political clout.  

        Schools in urban poor areas have problems. Poverty is one.  The transitory nature of those neighborhoods is another.  The fact that teachers get blamed make it hard for those teachers to want to stay long (and the research is really clear...in urban neighborhoods, a big part of the ability to get parents and students to buy in to the value of education is to establish trust).  In a system where no matter how hard you work, no matter how much the kids improve, the staff is derided because funny thing...those other kids keep learning too to the "median" score does not stay the same.   Sure there's lip service given to "we don't compare the schools" BUT IT'S BS.   One year we made a 300% growth in math.  Did we get accolades?  NOPE.  But the school a few miles up the road got a huge banner for making it to the top...one of the top ten in the state.  News media was there.  All kinds of hoopla.  (No one mentioned that this school housed the "gifted" programs for the whole district.  And many of the top students including two from our school went there.  THAT school not us, get their scores).   Of course their growth was from like the 90th %ile to the 93%ile or something like that.  

        The corporations don't care about kids...they care about making money.  Failing urban schools are prime areas for the privatization........now of course they want them to be "charters" for a while until they get the "voucher" legislation passed.  They see $ signs on the foreheads of poor children and they don't really give a damn about those kids...just what they represent.  

        Until and unless the public recognizes this game, the battle between the corporates and the advocates of public ed for all goes on and the corporates will win because they have convinced many progressives to join them in this.

        •  I agree with you totally on all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          princss6

          of what you have said here. I am 100% for public schools and opposed to profit-making schools funded by taxpayers. I am a deeper conspiracy theorist about the ruthlessness of corporate control over education than the current debate covers.

          I don't believe teachers or their unions are the problem, but I do believe teachers are vulnerable to falling under the spell of instructional methods that may be questionable and that may have led to disintegration of reading and math skills in this country and subsequently led to parent disaffection and the charter school/private school problem.

          I hope teachers are open enough to consider the possibility that instructional methods, especially in basic reading and math skills in early grades, have been questionable over the last decade and that parents have had a right to expect success, regardless of family income.

          •  The problem is, as I have observed, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            in the past years of teaching/subbing, it is all dependent on how secure people are about keeping their jobs; how dictatorial their admin/principals are.  

            Principals are under the gun, so to speak, with all kinds of pressures and threats.   People like me, before I retired, with decades of experience and superior evaluations never felt threatened.   None of my principal's questioned my methodology even if I refused to use the damn scripted, stupid texts.  

            But young teachers were scared and easily bullied into following the scripts despite how bad it is for kids to follow some stupid script for learning.

            •  Thank you so much for this information. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              Your diary, Here's the Deal..., is the most profound essay on this subject that I have read. And your description of particular tests and the ways in which students' writing may be evaluated under current circumstances shocked me. People need to hear about this from teachers. And maybe it has to come from retired teachers. Thank you again.

              So here we are. Bushworld. We really are in a war over this. Difficult, infuriating stuff. Let's hope the struggle continues to be non-violent and that the kids win.

        •  Big business makes the most ed money... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood, angelajean

          on selling text books, testing services and special programs to the conventional public schools!  That is the huge money making proposition!

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:04:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You got it! (0+ / 0-)

            Get rid the amount of standardized testing requirements we have to currently meet for Federal Standards... obviously we need to lobby nationally to get that one done.

            Get rid of textbooks and replace them with Kindles or iPads... that one needs to be lobbied locally. Initial costs would be high but the long term savings could be huge.

            Special programs - I'm not sure about. Some are good and some are bad. Definitely an issue to take up locally.

        •  Your response to my statement was fair, I think. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean

          I said,

          If parents are being told their children can't read because their parents don't earn enough money, parents begin to question the whole system.

          And you responded,

          For the record, no teacher I know (and I know a lot) ever told parents "your child can't read because you are poor."

          I believe you. But you continue with,

          *However we have had to explain to parents that when a third grade student is in his fourth school, it may have an impact.  
          *We might recommend highly to a parent to "talk, have conversations with your children daily, when at home, on the way to the store....etc. etc.
          *We may tell parents, not pointing out anyone in particular, how important nutrition is.  
          *We used to hold an annual health fair at our school, with the help of the county health department, so parents could get info on shots, or places to go when children were sick.
          *We worked with out local Rotary Club who sent volunteers for weekly mentoring.  Also they bought books from our book fair (so we could get the credits from scholastic) and then gave every child in our school two books.

          Your response, along with the current mantra that poverty is the cause of the achievement gap, makes me feel you may believe students can't read because they are poor, but that you wouldn't say that to their parents' faces. Why not? Why not tell them the truth if you think it's important?

          I apologize if that is an irresponsible question. I understand you to mean that each of the separate problems you list may effect student achievement to some extent and that none of these problems is exclusive to poor children. Higher income parents also move a lot, fail to communicate with their kids, fall into the junk food trap, send kids to school without jackets, get divorced, experience stress, and have belongings that may not include a sufficient number of books.

          What I object to in your list is the absence of any reference to what children experience in school. In a world in which all American children experience equally excellent instruction, then maybe the factors you list are the problem. But I don't think we have that situation. We have never had it historically, and I believe the controversy over early reading and math instruction in this country is what is missing from the debate.

          •  Years ago when I was at a poor school, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            poor in socioecomomic ways, the whole NCLB testing was starting.  This was around 2002 or so.  Anyway, our school was under the gun and local conservative radio was constantly talking about the scores.  
            One year, they announced, for everyone to hear, (as the radio host was interviewing a "private/charter" school proponent who was itching to have our school close so he can rent the building, and run his own charter), that A (the school I was at, was the "poorest school, in the poorest neighborhood, with the poorest teachers...."

            It caused a real ruckus in the neighborhood.  The next day, as school let out, tv trucks had come to school...as apparently people from that area, had called in angry at the description, as well as a few teacher had called in.
            As the trucks pulled in, a group of our 5th graders who were just being dismissed for the day, spontaneously started chanting: "We're not poor. We're not poor!!!"

            People don't like being described that way.  I grew up in a poor neighborhood only when I was little I did not know or think we were poor.  I only recognize it in retrospect after hearing from my college friends, descriptions of their childhoods, seeing their houses.

            So is it being a hypocrite?  No. It is not just a lack of money that makes one poor.  In my childhood neighborhood, despite our poverty, we were not transitory.  We had extended family.  Many of today's poor are quite transitory, looking for jobs.  
            Even in poverty, in my neighborhood where, btw, I was the only kid who went to college right after high school, kids could grow up and go to work in the steel mill, or in the textile mills.  They may not have gotten rich but they had benefits and security, knowing back then in the 1960s their jobs were safe.  They were union jobs.

            NOW, poverty is not just about money.  It's about knowing you could be evicted, lose a job, have to move, or wonder if you can access health care.   KIDS know this stuff.  It's unsettling.

            Poverty is never good but I think in the past 20 years, things have gotten worse.
            Poor families in the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s, saw education as a valuable asset, as a path to do better than the generations that came before.  

            There is no such thing where every child gets "equallly" excellent of anything.  As long as teachers are HUMAN, education delivery is different from year to year.  It's comparing apples and oranges.  No two teachers are the same and no two students are the same.  
            NO ONE TEACHER can be excellent for 100% of the kids 100% of the time.  To even believe that is possible is to deny the variables of human.  From voice quality to sense of humor to pacing, all teachers are different.

            When I think back, my two favorite teachers were my sixth grade teacher and my high school math teacher who I had junior and senior year.   They were as different as night and day and yet both, imo, excellent.  But I would bet a year's salary, that if you asked every kid in any of my classes, their answers to whether those two teachers were the best ever, would be quite different.  Some may have even disliked them.

            The goal is an equally excellent education for all children. I get that.  I strive for it.  But in 12 years of school, a child will have dealt with at least 20+ different human teachers.
            You can write all the standards you want, you will never standardize human beings.

            If you do not believe poverty (or for that matter, illness, parental support, lack of parental support, nutrition, size of family)  or any other variable you can think of, affects one's education, I am not sure we have much to discuss.

            •  You are my favorite writer on this subject. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              I agree with everything you say. I identify with your age group, your family background as you describe it, your larger world view, and your common sense, which is to say, I truly learn from you when you personalize your values by describing your real life experiences as an American, as a kid in a family within a neighborhood, and as a teacher. I have a lot of similar experiences.

              In a diary by plthomasEdD, Strawman Argument Is All They Have, I commented that the diary's link to the Berliner report on the effects of poverty on children's school lives is absolutely convincing. I completely understand and believe what is reported there. It doesn't mean there aren't additional crimes being committed against children in the form of teaching methods either designed to disable children or inadvertently flawed.

              So while I think it's important to look outward at family life and environment when examining the Achievement Gap, I also think it's important to look inward at teaching methods.

              I want to thank you for making the point here about the changing nature of poverty and its relationship to education, both historically and currently. And with complete respect for Berliner, I want to say that one of the ways in which poverty is worse now is that it effects nearly all children, not just because of the effect of other children's poverty in their classrooms, but because families with higher incomes also suffer stress over money, nutrition, health care, pollution, depression, divorce, crime, and inferior teaching methods.

              •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

                I agree....the amount of stress on students, as well as on teachers, pushed and pressured to use scripts,  just saddens me.
                I loved my forty years of teaching and I still love subbing (because I ignore the scripts and no one pressures subs).  But I am sad to say I am glad to not be teaching now.

      •  True... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        conlakappa, Linda Wood, angelajean
        I also believe that corporate control has been a part of public education in the United States for generations.

        If we are being honest, neither the government or the corporations care about "urban" poor kids.  So that leaves each parent on their own and trying to find a solution.  

        I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

        by princss6 on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:00:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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