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View Diary: Public Education's 'Shock Doctrine Summer' Rolls Out (171 comments)

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  •  Well, the answer seems to (1+ / 0-)
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    be from some, "if the public school is failing, replace it."  That 's the gist of what I read.  What I would like to read, well then let's as a community FIX the public school rather than automatically declare it something that needs to be replaced.

    That to me is placing the blame on the educators.  Cause if you are not blaming the teachers, or the notion of public schools, then what are you saying?   That some charter has a magical way of fixing?  That somehow because an entity is a charter, and since it will take all the same students, and all the same teachers, it will suddenly succeed?  
    How is a charter going to be different?   By not being held to the same standards and testing?  By not having the same texts?  By denying some students entry?  
    If a charter is no different than a public school, what's the point?

    •  A charter can be different by... (2+ / 0-)
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      angelajean, Linda Wood

      1. Using a different educational methodology

      2. Using a different school governance model

      3. By using a different curriculum that still covers the same subjects and facilitates students doing well on the standardized tests

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 03:09:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some public schools work but many don't... (1+ / 0-)
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      Linda Wood

      What if your local public school can't be fixed? Teachers' hands are basically tied in the current system. Teachers are required to teach to the test and to stick to only approved curriculums. What if you're a family that knows this isn't the best way to teach kids and you don't have the money for private schools (which aren't much different) or want to homeschool?

      What if parents have tried to find a way to fix public schools in their community and have failed?

      What about places where public schools have closed because the school district can't afford to fund one anymore and they want to bus the kids to another community?

      What about places where school districts are not interested in offering progressive models like Montessori or Waldorf but a population exists to support such a school?

      Those are the charter schools I'm talking about.

      I'm not talking about coming into a community and trashing the public schools. Many of them are already trashed and parents are at wits end. They don't know how to work within the current system to affect change... or, if they do, they know it can take years to convince a school district to do things differently, even if they have the money to make the changes needed.

      I hope you hear that we're not at war with teachers!

      •  Listen to what you're saying. (3+ / 0-)
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        elfling, Linda Wood, Clues

        "What if your local public school can't be fixed?"
        Substitute different words for public services that are guaranteed to your local community because they are a fundamental human right:
        "What if your local police can't be fixed?"
        "What if your local fire protection can't be fixed?"
        "What if your local sewage facility can't be fixed?"
        "What if your local water supply can't be fixed?"
        Fixing the essential service is the issue. Not creating workarounds.

        •  I see charter schools as part of the public system (1+ / 0-)
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          Aren't they? Charters are supposed to be established by local citizens, authorized by local authorities, and accountable to the local school district or country school district. At least, that's the way it works in CA. They are run with taxpayer funds. Teachers earn retirement in the CA system. Some teachers at Charter schools in CA are even union members.

          I know that rules are different in other states but the CA system worked well for us and it works well for thousands of families.

          All I'm asking is that we acknowledge that some charter schools are worth keeping.

          •  But if they are getting taxpayers monies (1+ / 0-)
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            it is incumbent upon all to meet the testing standards.  

            Some public school teachers have been fighting like heck to be heard.  They want to join with parents to end the test mentality.  But instead of working with teachers, what I see happening is certain groups are simply bailing and creating their own school.
            Now you may think that is great but in the end, as a community you abandoning those kids who parents do not care.  As public educators we don't get to choose what kids matter and what kids don't.

            What I see happening is that there is a divide and conquer happening and in the end when some kids lose through being abandoned, it's on ALL of us and we all lost something.

            •  They do have to meet the testing standard. (0+ / 0-)

              The kids still test... it's that many charter schools takes much less time in test prep and in the drama that is associated with testing.

              I'm curious, as a teacher, how do you work with parents to end the test mentality? Do you encourage parents to pull their kids out on standardized testing days?

              Families that use charter schools are not abandoning kids whose parents don't care (I would say that those kids have been abandoned by their parents, in truth).

              Any improvement to a school system will help all kids, in all schools, overtime. We just have to prove that other systems can and do work.

        •  jeff, I agree with you about this, (1+ / 0-)
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          but I think the perspective of many parents is that their districts are entrenched in educational methods that are questionable, ineffective, or harmful, and that their districts' responses are fatalistic, such that nothing can be done until poverty is solved.

          I agree that public schools should be improved rather than starting charters. I agree that privateers will swoop in and kill public education given any opening created by this problem.

          But one of the most awful things about this controversy is that some of the questionable teaching methods used in public schools are also commercial products purchased by districts with an enormous amount of financial investment in materials, workshops, conferences, travel and fees for specialist trainers, whole libraries of books designed to be the only books used by children in the system.

          It's a nightmare because reasoning with administrators who are responsible for all this expenditure, and therefore locked into believing they couldn't have made a mistake, is like talking to a stone wall. They will look at every possible reason for children's failure to achieve proficiency except the commercial program they use in their schools.

      •  Re. financing charters (0+ / 0-)
        What about places where public schools have closed because the school district can't afford to fund one anymore and they want to bus the kids to another community?

        This is the part I don't get.  If your school district is strapped for cash and closing schools, how can they afford to open a charter school?  And doesn't this argument imply that just wanting a school in your own neighborhood is a good enough reason to open a charter, even after the district has had to close such a school for lack of funds?

        If this is considered a reasonable argument for opening a charter, then why does one neighborhood get a school and not another?  If they all get schools, then how on earth is this affordable?

        •  I agree that this part is confusing. (0+ / 0-)

          Charters in CA are funded at 2/3rd ADA. So, when a charter school starts, they use the funding of their projected ADA to make their budget. If they can get kids to sign up for their school, they will have money coming in. And, yes, it means another public school in the district will lose students unless the charter is attracting students that aren't already enrolled in school (private school students, homeschool students, etc.)

          The one example that I have been using is occurring in CA right now. The school district has had to close a local elementary school because they can no longer afford to keep it open. They are going to bus the students to another school. The parents in the neighborhood fought the closing... they want to keep the school open, but no joy. So, a large group of those parents decided that the next best thing would be to start their own charter in the very same building that their kids have been attending school. They can manage it on 2/3rd ADA. Lets face it, this charter school is starting out of a sense of desperation. But these parents feel like they have few choices other than to bus their elementary age children. They like having a local elementary school and I can't say as I blame them. I would have been joined them in their fight.

          •   I don't think I'm confused (0+ / 0-)

            And  I think my questions are pretty logical.

            You have a school district facing budget deficits, and they decide to close a school. The new budget shows the lowered costs of maintaining that school, and they manage to balance the budget.  Then a charter school starts up for that neighborhood.  The charter pulls 2/3 of the revenue for those students out of the budget, leaving the district short on the revenue side even though they've cut costs on the expenditure side.

            So what happens next?  The public school faces further cuts, and the expectation has been set that if each neighborhood doesn't have its own school, those parents are should feel "desperate" about that and demand their own charters?

            I suppose at some point, if the public school is getting 1/3 of the money for all the students no longer attending it, and the charters become numerous enough, the public schools could become quite posh, but I don't exactly see that happening.

            And I'm curious as to how the charters can operate happily on 2/3 the budget previously needed to educate those kids.  Is there a conscious tradeoff that parents are making that they would rather have an under-equipped school in the neighborhood than a fully-equipped school in the district?  Are they busting teachers' unions and cutting salaries and benefits?  How exactly does this happen?

            •  Charters that I'm familiar with... (1+ / 0-)
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              typically pay their teachers less with less benefits.  They have less administrative staff than conventional schools and pay less for janitorial and groundskeeping services.  They tend to be much simpler, "back to basics" operation than a conventional public school.  

              This can be for better or for worse of course, but the charter schools I have been involved or familiar with tend to have an energy that I have not seen in most conventional schools that I've entered.  Often its the energy of the founder(s), present on the staff, exuding their educational vision.  Not simply worker-bees following district directives, but folks with real "ownership".

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Sat Jun 25, 2011 at 09:50:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm sorry I implied you were confused. (1+ / 0-)
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              Linda Wood

              It was a poor choice of words.

              And you understand how it works. You don't like the system. I'm not sure I can ever convince you that in some circumstances, charters are the best solution out there.

              I will continue to work towards understanding the entire public school system better and see if I change my mind but I highly doubt I will on this one. I am for any school that gets us back to local communities making decisions and in the few times we've chosen to use public schools, charter schools have been the best option for my family.

              I will continue to argue that all families should be given the options of a great a school in their neighborhood - be it a traditional public school or charter school. I think having that small, local school within walking distance is too much to ask parents to give up... in any community. Better that we make all of those small schools successful than keep pushing more and more neighborhoods to abandon their local schools and move to the mega school down the road.

              Trust me, if a small public school exists and serves it's local community well, I would fight to keep it as well.

              •  If your community can afford it (1+ / 0-)
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                then sure, I'd support a public school within 1 mile of every student's house.  (possibly less in areas where 1 mile isn't walkable due to bad weather.) I'm assuming that these schools can be funded to pay the teachers and other workers there decent wages and benefits, and the school has enough money to be supplied with the things they need to run well.

                I just don't think this is the situation in many communities today, or that school reform is necessarily a priority in such rich communities, since they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.  But if you happen to live in such a place, and the community agrees t pay for that, I have no problem with it.

                And now we're talking "neighborhood" schools again, rather than charter schools...or whatever we plan to call them if we're not talking charters anymore.  Maybe it would be interesting to discuss a list of what we consider acceptable reasons to demand a new school -  proximity, special educational needs, ....other?  I guess my feeling is that we'd have to prioritize the list, because nobody can really afford everything we'd like to do for education.

                •  A prioritized list sounds like a good idea. (0+ / 0-)

                  Have you seen the list of demands from the Save Our School march this July? It's probably a great place to start:

                  For the future of our children, we demand:

                  Equitable funding for all public school communities

                  Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
                  Full public funding of family and community support services
                  Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
                  An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools
                  An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation

                  The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
                  An end pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
                  An end to public school closures based upon test performance
                  Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies

                  Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
                  Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
                  An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators
                  Curriculum developed for and by local school communities

                  Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
                  Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
                  Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
                  Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities

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