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View Diary: My Experience with an Alternative Charter School (137 comments)

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  •  I have written my piece poorly if I am conveying.. (2+ / 0-)
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    angelajean, OrdinaryIowan

    the fault to lie with the school district.  If you read more of my work, I see the biggest culprit being the state with its ubiquitous educational standards (spawned more by politics than sound human development thinking) that mandate what, where, when, from whom and increasingly how you ate learn or at least be taught.

    It was the California state educational standards and their use of the high-stakes standardized tests that were the main culprit in ending the original incarnation of the school.  The district was only the agent of the state in this regard.

    FYI... the school still exists today... rechartered and more like a conventional school but still with some Dewey-ish elements.

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

    by leftyparent on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 12:45:52 PM PDT

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    •  No doubt that much of the standards (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrdinaryIowan

      are overly "standardized" but on the flip side, those standards can have use. I live in an area of the country that's full of religiously-motivated homeschoolers who, if not for the state curriculum minimum standards, would gleefully and cheerfully raise themselves an army of indoctrinated child-warriors devoted to the insular propagation of their various whack-job end-times cults.

      Not to mention our state's biggest organization of "charter schools" is being investigated for funneling most of its money to some Turkish front group of questionable motivation. And yes, those charter schools were obviously failing before now, but our Captain Clueless up in the state capitol took a hefty donation from their CEO (and coincidentally the founder and sole employee of the "consulting firm" that the charter school org paid to maintain their "standards").

      Charter schools I think do have a place in the evolutionary arc of our education system. Just right now there are too many knuckling under from corruption and greed. While the "one size fits all" approach doesn't work for everyone, neither does the "any size, it's all good" approach.

      It goes back to what we expect out of our ed system. It can't ever be all things to all people, so the only thing it can be is the basics to as many people as it can cover.

      The truly innovative stuff coming out of charter experiments would find great use if we as a culture accepted "supplemental education" as a societal standard. The assumption not that K-12 from 9-3 180 days a year gives you all you need, but rather like Social Security, or Unemployment, gives you that which you need to meet the most basic needs.

      I 'ship Obama/America. OTP

      by athenap on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 02:20:47 PM PDT

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      •  Thanks for your extensive thoughts... (0+ / 0-)

        There are two I want to follow up on...

        Charter schools I think do have a place in the evolutionary arc of our education system. Just right now there are too many knuckling under from corruption and greed.

        Say more about where you are getting that from, if you would.  Is that just from the general "conventional wisdom" around DKos or from a particular source.  I just did some research and found that only 14% of charter schools are for-profit or are managed by a for-profit entity.  Most are launched by non-profit organizations with no motive available other than doing some public good, or at least trying to.

        While the "one size fits all" approach doesn't work for everyone, neither does the "any size, it's all good" approach.

        These are the two extremes.  I think we need to find something pragmatic in the middle.  "Many paths" (but not all perhaps).  I think it starts with finding a more holistic way to evaluate schools than standardize test scores which punish all "types" except for the conventional instructional school.

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

        by leftyparent on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 03:45:28 PM PDT

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        •  Ohio (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OrdinaryIowan

          Our charter schools (which sort of include the "e-school" debacle) are elbow-deep in our teapublican/religious nutbaggers' arses. I think there are one or two charter schools in the major cities that are probably doing okay, but when the Dayton schools are a front group for some skeevy Turkish national group (srsly, wtf, school money goes to Turkey? We don't even have a huge ethnic Turkish population around here) and the e-school debacle shows a 35% success rate with twice the money spent on each student as the public schools (and a good chunk of those federal funds going to the CEO-slash-sole proprietor of the "consulting firm" it "hired" to keep it on track instead of to things like accredited teachers), it's hard to see the words "charter school" and not think "con game."

          Like I said, I think charter schools have a place in challenging educational attitudes in this country, but it seems that even the well-intentioned and well-planned ones are still experiments that require students to "field test" teaching methods, and if those field tests fail, then it's the students who suffer most.

          I also think charter schooling varies widely based on the states' educational minimums and requirements for base curricula--I know in Ohio even our homeschoolers have to meet the minimum state standards in curricula (which is, as I mentioned elsewhere, sometimes the only thing standing between kids and extreme wingnuttery). I know that varies by state.

          I'd like to see a way for charter-style progressive education to be allowed for within the public school system. From your experience, it sounds like your school might have really benefited from a handful of voices on staff that were more familiar with the traditional methods, yet could creatively adapt them to the nontraditional environment. It seems like in the attempt to stay true to the methodology, some of the students were being left behind (which is the same problem that the traditional system has).

          It's hard for me to articulate, but I think that right now the fact that just about anybody can open up a charter school if they grease the right palms makes charter schooling a bit like hitting the craps table at the casino. I know there are applications and standards to meet, but it feels to me, at least in my state, like a process that's so easily gamed in the name of profit that the only people who want and who are able to open a school are doing it for the shitloads of federal money that are so easily funneled into private pockets.

          I 'ship Obama/America. OTP

          by athenap on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 07:48:54 PM PDT

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          •  Appreciate your thoughts and expereinces... (0+ / 0-)

            though I think the inconsistencies in charter schools are matched or even exceeded by the inconsistencies in conventional public schools.  The same city can have some really stellar schools and then some horrific ones just a few miles down the road.

            As to the school I'm talking about, it would have made all the difference if they could have staffed the school with teachers experienced in the Dewey method, which, like all holistic teaching methodologies, requires a very highly skilled, talented and committed practitioner to get the kids to lead themselves, rather than be led by an instructor.  Its the whole "guide on the side" rather than the "sage on the stage".

            Various holistic education methodologies (including Dewey's) mostly emerged in the late 19th and 20th Centuries and could are only beginning to be adapted for public schools, but I expect you will see more in the future, particularly Montessori and  Waldorf charters.  Again the trick is in the highly developed skills of the teachers.

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

            by leftyparent on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 08:51:58 PM PDT

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