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I've read a lot of diaries on DKos of late that slam charter schools. Specifically, they intend to slam for profit charter schools but tend to paint with a broad brush.

I've decided it's time to share our experience with a small charter school in Northern California.

And, I'm going to tell you the end before you even read the diary - not all charter schools should be judged alike. Charter schools, like public schools, come in all shapes and sizes, some successful and some not. I think if more charters followed the model of the one we had joined, public education could be in a better place. Of course, I wouldn't want a whole bunch of schools just like this one. That would defeat the purpose, but charter schools that are pliable to the needs of the community are a great asset to possess.

First, it's only fair to share a little background. I homeschooled my kids during their elementary school years. As a military family, we found that homeschooling provided a level of stability that public schools could not. My kids always knew who their teacher would be and were never concerned that they wouldn't know enough to keep up with their peers or know too much and be pushed ahead to the next level of older kids. As a parent, I wouldn't have to struggle with the inability to make a difference in a school district - quick moves and the lack of time to build connections in a community make it very hard to make a difference, especially in the world of elementary school education where change occurs at a glacial pace.

That said, when we arrived in North California at Beale AFB, I learned about a new type of school, a charter school for homeschoolers. The State of California has few rules for governing homeschooling, but they do exist. By joining a charter school, I could avoid the hassles of filing paperwork and reporting to the State. Furthermore, the charter school would provide a certain amount of money to help me purchase school supplies. Add enrichment classes one day a week, a library of resources to be checked out, and a trained teacher to translate our eclectic mix of curriculum into state standards and file necessary paperwork and I was convinced to give it a try. After a couple of months, I was hooked. This system worked well for both my kids and for myself. Ironically, it worked for some unschooling families we knew as well. The teachers at this school could work paperwork magic.

I did have to give up some of the freedom I had enjoyed as a homeschooler. I had to meet with the teacher once a month and she had to meet with my kids. However, she did not expect me to follow the state standards nor did she require us to complete assignments, etc. She told me which boxes she had to fill in for the state and I would supply work in some form to prove we were doing our job. Often the proof would come in the form of pictures from a field trip rather than worksheets from a book. This fit our style of homeschooling just fine. And it didn't hurt that we liked our teacher and that she liked us. I would mention that my youngest son was interested in x, y, and z and she would bring me books and resources the next month about x, y, and z.

But I gained new freedoms as well.  On Thursdays, my kids went to enrichment classes with other homeschool kids. I was given a day off. I could do what I wanted, including volunteering in my local community, catching up with the housework, writing a blog, researching better homeschooling options, or just reading a book. It was great, especially for a homeschool mom with two young children and a deployed husband.

A year into our time with this Charter School and I was invited to serve on the Charter School Council. Charter schools in California have to be started by people within the community or, at least, that's the way it used to be. By design, the Charter Council was comprised of parents. Meetings were led by the school director and one teacher would come to the meetings as a representative for all the teachers. The parents elected a lead parent who was the actual President of the Council. We basically made all of the decisions for the school. We decided how the money would be spent and, if money was tight, where we would have to cut the budget. Granted, we did this with advice from the staff, but the relationship was one of goodwill.

The Charter Council also did the hiring and firing... I got to be a part of that process as well. We fired and hired a new director while I was there. The school was what the parents wanted it to be... a home-study charter with enrichment classes. The school also fit a niche for this community. Without the home-study charter, these students would not have been a part of any school district.  The charter brought in kids that would not have been on the rolls... this was a benefit for the local school district as it brought in more federal and state dollar that they otherwise would not have seen.

The Charter Council found new property. The old school building we were using was being reclaimed by the local school district and we had to find solutions. We did so. And we did it within our budget.

Now, this Charter School wasn't perfect. We had issues. We participated in annual testing, much to my chagrin. I would have loved to forgo the federal dollars supplied to us for providing test scores, but I was among the minority. Also, I would have loved to give our teachers raises and pay them a higher salary. However, our teachers belonged to two different teachers' unions and the unions required that we pay our teachers the going rate. If we paid more, it could cause issues for other teachers in other schools.

But, overall, this Charter School helped improve the level of education in the entire district. It provided a good model with which to build other charter schools. A new school opened nearby that provided schooling four days a week of school in the classroom with Fridays off so that families could have more family time. High school homestudy schools developed using combinations of enrichment classes, apprenticeships, and agreements with local community colleges to educate kids. And some charter schools developed curriculums much like those of your average elementary school - they just had more parent involvement at the administrative levels because they worked with the charter council model and had parents making important decisions.

Charter schools aren't the enemy.

Charter schools for profit might be.

Interested in other conversations about education? Follow us at Education Alternatives.

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  There is A good charter school here (8+ / 0-)

      in Cleveland too. It gets named every time someone wants to defend charters — of which Ohio has a staggering glut, almost all poor. I am sure there is A good charter school in many places. But A good charter school does not justify the willy-nilly expansion of unaccountable, mostly for-profit schools sucking resources from our public schools and killing them. In fact, i think citing A good charter school and asking for sympathy for charters weakens the case for them.

      I hate to say this, but I think for now, ALL charter schools should be banned. First we need to clean house. Then we need to fully and adequately fund public schools. After that — when we have plenty of extra education money and teachers aren't being asked to take pay cuts and pay for supplies out of their own pockets — we can add the extravagance of funding select and very very carefully monitored NONprofit charters.

      Until that day, sorry, it's great that there is A good charter school here and there, but we can't afford them.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:27:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And there ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Azazello, OHdog

        and  Charter's defenders trot them out to prove that for-profit education is naturally superior to the public elementary school system.

        •  I don't think any of us are trying to say that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Huginn and Muninn

          these schools are superior. I think we trying to say that they are a valid option for lots of families.

          Read some of the comments. You'll find that lots of Kossacks have found viable charter school models in their communities. These schools are offering solutions to some of the problems in their communities. Should we discount them just because some big business has taken over some charter schools in some states?

          •  Only "Some" schools in "Some" states ? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie

            and only "Some" solutions ?

             Is that a good enough  reason to dismantle  public schools  and de-professionalize the teachers.  For the sake of "some" and to the harm of "others?"

            It's not that SOME charters are sub-standard.  It's that when their performance metrics are equalized with public schools,  so very few of them are even EQUAL to the public systems -- charming Chancellors,  flagship schools, and Potemkin villages notwithstanding.

            I think everyone would like a taxpayer-subsidy voucher to send their kids to the private academy of their choice.

            All it takes is a willingness that "some" people's children get "left behind" -- as they are in  India and China.

            •  I like to see charters under the control (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty

              of the local community. And the criterion should be: does the existence of this school raise the quality of schooling for local kids as a whole?

              It's possible that they do, even when test scores don't reflect that. For example, there's a Waldorf charter school in our area, and it tests out in the middle overall, but it gets a 1/10 on the measure of 'similar schools rank' - where 1 is worst. The parents love it, though, and the kids seem to do well. It's just that the curriculum does not match up terribly well with the California state standards. They teach the kids knitting, for example, which isn't on the bubble test.

              It's okay for some schools to be different, and if that is done via charters or magnets, I'm fine with that - as long as the effect of the charter isn't to damage kids left behind other public schools.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:28:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Charter school improved my neighborhood (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, congenitalefty

            The elementary school on my street in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood went Charter a few years ago. I know of TWO families that were sending their kid to private school that brought their kids back to the public school which was under a charter once they found out the school improved. Very few people will choose a private school if their public school is decent. That's all we are saying. Empower people to seek alternatives and the public schools will benefit.

            While my neighborhood is mostly upper middle class, there are a few apartment complexes with lower middle class kids who appreciate the charter.

            of course, this is anecdotal. One approach will not solve the problem. Let each community be encouraged to experiment and over time, let the better systems(there will not be one best sytem) prevail and be replicated in like minded areas.

            you can call me praveen.

            by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:46:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's simple to make rules (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          congenitalefty, iTeachQ

          that preserve the good aspects of charters while avoiding the bad.

          1. They must be nonprofit.
          2. The individual school must be under the control of some locally comprised body - a school board or other community group, even if it's a school board specific to that school drawn from the community.
          3. Union rules should be the same as for other school districts (essentially I would think of them as districts of one, or districts that are not geographically based).
          4. The school must serve the interests of the whole community... this is a nebulous way of incorporating a couple of ideas. IOW, the kids who do not go to this school should either not be harmed or actually benefit from its existence. It's fine to make schools, IMHO, that do not serve all children. You can conceive of a standalone school that serves gifted or disabled kids, or that serves kids who want a different curriculum (like the homeschool), or a dual immersion, or a specialty magnet-like operation.
          5. They should be subject to the same accountability measurements as any other public school.

          In my area, you can send your child to any public school with a minimum of hassle. This includes some charter schools and at my particular nexus, 2 (or for the ambitious driver 3 or 4) different school districts. I think allowing parents to choose a different school from their neighborhood school within the public system is a very reasonable option to provide, and it need not be particularly disruptive. The (California) state money follows the child.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:22:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  of course there are good individua charter schools (12+ / 0-)

    it is the principle behind them that is at fault.

    •  What principal behind them is at fault? (7+ / 0-)

      Could you explain.

      •  Some of the principles at fault (14+ / 0-)

        and these do not hold for all charter schools are:

        1. The schools do not accept everyone who applies. Public schools do based on geographic area.

        2. Not all charter schools admit the learning disabled, while all public schools do. The receive funding as if they did.

        3. Charter schools tend not to admit students whose parents are not interested in their child's education. In short parents have to apply and those not interested do not apply. This leads to public schools having more difficult students to teach.

        There are other principles.

        Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

        by LWelsch on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:27:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If charter schools were (7+ / 0-)

          required to admit all students from a given geographic area and forced to admit difficult students in the same proportions as public schools, and finally able to demonstrate superior learning over the corresponding public school; then I would not have as many issues with charter schools.

          Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

          by LWelsch on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:32:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  read my comment above (3+ / 0-)

            I do think these are state specific problems.

            I know the you can't deny a student access to a school based on their IEP in the State of CA. Charter schools there cannot hand pick their students.

            •  They are not (8+ / 0-)

              Charter schools can, do, and will continue to cherry pick students. This is permitted by every state that allows charter schools.

              The least obvious way this happens is via the parents themselves and a lottery and/or application process. A parent has to be at least moderately motivated and involved to get his/her child into a charter school (even a simple step such as applying for entrance will eliminate the most apathetic parents and this does not even cover additional expectations for the parents of children in charter schools such as mandatory meetings or involvement in organizations).

              When charter schools pull randomly from all students, just like the public schools are legally required to do, then we can see just how effective they and their methods are.

              But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

              by banjolele on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:09:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do you have any links for me? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gramofsam1, congenitalefty

                I'm trying to do my homework. Unfortunately, my experience speaks otherwise, but it's only a single school.

                I agree that people do have to apply... but you also have to register your child for public school. The process for us was no different.  

                I'm trying to figure out what is actually hype and what is actually fact for the majority of charter schools. Any links would really help.

                •  Registration is required by law (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tonedevil, tommymet, buckhorn okie

                  Now if charter schools were required to draw off of the registration lists.

                  I was home schooled for 1 year. The reason was a learning disability the school was not able to deal with. The school with the Calvert School which used to be used by military families. The school had a curriculum that was adhered to and was comparable to a public school curriculum. I also had a teacher who graded homework and exams. The only difference between that and what you described was that we paid the school. I believe that your charter school should be paid not with tax money, but with your money.

                  Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

                  by LWelsch on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:13:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There are huge differences between the Calvert (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Debby, congenitalefty

                    School and the school that we used, the least of which the Charter School actually has a campus. That said, virtual schools like Calvert are a valid option for many families. They are definitely not a good fit for my family - we believe in a looser educational system for younger elementary age students and would come closer to following a Montessori or Waldorf model (those are charters in CA as well).

                    Why shouldn't public education include different educational models? Why should tax payer money only be used for traditional public schools? And who should make that decision? The people who pay the taxes that support the school? In CA, that's property owners. The broader community? The parents and the students? The local school board? The state school board? The Federal Government?

                    I'm thankful that the current system allows me options and that my charter school was available to my kids and myself when we lived in California. I hope that we continue to provide more options to more and more communities, whether it be through improved public schools or through improved charter schools. Overall, I hope that funding will finally go where it is most needed - to underpaid teachers, no matter which model a teacher works for.

                    I'm also thankful for the conversation... as far as I can tell, I think we ended up agreeing that as long as charter schools take all students, they have a place in the system. Since that is happening, at least in some schools in CA, we have a place to start.

                    •  I think it's worth noting that (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      congenitalefty, iTeachQ

                      traditional public schools have changed quite a bit from when most of us were kids, in terms of the curriculum and in how it is presented. And I agree with you that there is a public interest in providing options of different school options for a particular child that doesn't have to require moving one's residence.

                      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                      by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:30:48 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Isn't this what we call a "Private School?" (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    iTeachQ, buckhorn okie

                    I don't think that there's any question that Private schools are every bit a good as the students' families are willing and able to pay for.  Some even have generous scholarship programs to accommodate a lucky few students whose parents can't or won't.

                    That was the whole argument in favor of charters ... a public/private partnership to give a good "Choat" education to every child ... and break the leftwing feminist Teacher's professional elite in the process.

                    And failing the "good education" objective ... let charm and salesmanship convince Striver parents that the new system is better than the old, because THEIR kids are in it.

                •  The process is different (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buckhorn okie

                  The act of choosing a school requires research and thought, and sometimes quite a bit of diligence in discovering options besides the local school. It's quite clear that families who go through that effort have children that score better on the exams regardless of whether they are admitted to their first choice charter (in the case of a lottery) or not.

                  Also, a charter generally requires the family to commit to providing transportation, which adds significant effort and expense over the neighborhood option.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:32:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Wrong, at Least in the State of California (8+ / 0-)

                I live near the largest public charter school in the country, Granada Hills Charter High School.  They have an enrollment of over 4,000 students.  They are required to accept any student within their enrollment boundries, including those with learning disabilities and students for whom english is a second language.  That accounts for about 3500 of the students.  the other 500 to 700 students are selected from a waiting list that is open to all LAUSD students.  The waiting is always between 2,500 and 3,000 students.

                GHCHS consistently places much higher than other comparable LAUSD shcools in terms of testing, graduation rates and attendance rates.  This year the school won the nationwide Academic Decathalon, and have been recognized as one of the top schools in the state.  They are also in much better financial shape than LAUSD.  The school is run by a Board of Directors and includes teachers, staff, parents of former students, and community members.

                It can happen if community, teachers, and parents want to make it happen.  It is no coincidence that two other LAUSD High Schools iin the San Fernado Valley are also applying for status as a public charter.  

                •  So what's the status on the project (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buckhorn okie

                  to determine which of their methods are causing the improvement and to integrate those methods into the public schools, and re-integrate the charter back into the public schools.  After all, the mission is to improve education, right?

                  Yet, I never hear of such a project.

                  •  Unless the public education system decided (0+ / 0-)

                    to use the same curriculum, how would you reintegrate the charter into the larger system?

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:33:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I guess (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Azazello, AverageJoe42, buckhorn okie

                      my point was that many people like to point to one good charter school and say, "See those test scores, and the achievement of the students?  Public schools could never do that, which is why we must have charter schools."

                      So?  You take the successful model and integrate it back into the public schools if that model is so good at producing results.  

                      Otherwise it's like saying "Our model is so much better than yours, and you can't have it."

                      •  You have a strange picture of people that promote (5+ / 0-)

                        charter schools. None of us on this website are saying that public schools can't have what charter schools have. Not a single one of us.

                        I think the bigger question is what is preventing public schools from creating the same success as some of these charter schools. Well, in reality, some public schools are as successful as some charter schools. I guess we need to look at all successful schools and go from there. But what are we using to measure success?

                        Currently, test scores. Which don't necessarily correlate to great schools.

                        We have no methodology for comparison at this moment in time. A successful school is one that the local community has faith in, in my book, be it in the public school model or the charter school model. Quit worrying about trying to follow a model and start making changes that work for your community. That's the way to build a successful school.

                        •  "some public schools are as successful as some cha (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          buckhorn okie

                          Wrong.  The fact is that most pubic schools are better than most charter schools and this by most any measure.

                          •  Again, for the 100th time, we're talking about (0+ / 0-)

                            community organized, non-private, non-voucher, non-corporate, non-profit charters that run a progressive curriculum.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:36:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes, I'm well aware (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            buckhorn okie

                            In my neck of the woods of Northwest Indiana, we have just such a school.  A group of "progressive" parents whined that they wanted a school focusing on the environment.  They were able to get a charter against the wishes of the local school board, set up shop, and stripped about 6% of the local school's funding, this after our governor enacted huge education cuts the two years previous.

                            Test scores are out and low and behold, the charter school is not performing on par with the public schools.

                          •  So close it (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            angelajean

                            That's what happens in my city when charter schools fail like that.

                            But then again, we have some excellent charter schools as well.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:07:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I didn't say anything about failing (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Clues

                            I stated that the charter school did not perform on par with the public schools.  The public schools in the district I am referring to are among some of the best in our state, so it is no surprise that the charter can not match up.

                            The problem is that now the pubic schools are having to do more with less and at a time when our schools are already strapped for cash.  This charter did nothing to promote "competition", it merely diluted a finite set of resources by spreading it across additional schools.

                            Now there's word that a group of conservative parents want to open a charter that promotes "free market" principles and entrepreneurship.  Should it open, this would further dilute the resource pool.

                            Where does it stop?

                          •  It stops when the charters underperform (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            angelajean

                            That's when. Any school based on entrepreneurship is going to fail. Edison and the like are proving it.

                            As I said, we have some charters that are very successful. They show that alternative curricula can energize a lot of kids who would otherwise not be performing well in the public system which is otherwise traditional, classical, and to my mind somewhat oppressive.

                            That's fine, I went through public school, I went through that system, i found it oppressive, and I even learned quite a bit from oppressive teachers. All I'm saying is that there are better ways--why not look into alternative ways of teaching?

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:03:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I fully support the notion (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Clues

                            of implementing alternative ways of teaching, so long as it is within the public school system were public dollars to be used.

                            In our system we have an alternative school, one set up by the public school system designed to educate kids who might otherwise be on the verge of expulsion or repeat suspension, as well as for those high school students on the verge of dropping out due to poor academic performance.  The school also provides an option for high school mothers, students who serve as head of household, etc.  This school works wonders, but was developed within the system and is subject to school system oversight.

                            Our small system of about 6,000 students is well served by this alternative.

                            Charters, at least in my state, function outside the local district level funnel public dollars away from public schools, and move schools away from a collaborative process and toward a market-based competitive one.  This creates clear winners and losers rather than lifting all boats.

                          •  The difference between charters and public schools (0+ / 0-)

                            where I live is one of administration. It's about alternative curricula, not alternatives for kids who have been expelled.

                            In fact, what I find interesting about this discussion is that charters get the brunt of the criticism, but magnet schools receive relatively little criticism. Why is that?

                            The charters are more egalitarian. Yet no one goes after the magnets? Why? Because magnets are administered by local administration?

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 05:36:49 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It has to stop before then (0+ / 0-)

                            We can't afford all these schools.  What if they're successful?  Do we then get to have a system of regular school, environmental school, free market school, luddite school, family values school, human rights school, etc?

                            As a taxpayer, how is one supposed to have input to all these schools, or is the whole idea supposed to be to confound that notion?

                            Why should we be supporting 8 physical plants, 8 sets of administration, supplies, fixtures, utilities, roadways and grounds, especially when there's not enough money to support the first one properly?

                            Where does this all end?

                          •  Are you really complaining about school cost? (0+ / 0-)

                            I mean, if charters are excelling at educating students, that's worth its weight in gold, and we'll get paid back fivefold.

                            Every school has a different plant. The beauty of charter schools is that teachers are empowered and there are fewer administrators.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 05:38:17 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes I am! (0+ / 0-)

                            Our public schools are in desperate need of money.  The local funding is based on property values, which have plummeted.  In some areas, there is a huge percent of foreclosed and empty homes, and those no longer provide the money needed to fund the schools.   Unemployment is high, and even the people managing to keep their homes can't afford to pay more.

                            At a time when public schools have cut music programs, extracurricular activities, and many of the other programs that keep marginal students invested in the schools, I don't see where the money is going to come from to support all this duplication of resources.

                            I have family who teach in public schools in upstate NY.  They have to buy their own school supplies, and are being pressed to accept wage cuts, benefit cuts, longer hours and increased responsibilities.  How can we blithely decide that this should continue while we spend money on a new building, administrators, and associated costs so that some lucky students can have an "enriched" education and additional schooling in languages or technical subjects?

                            I understand that there may be cases where there is an absolute necessity to focus on some segment of the student population and provide them with some help -  teen mothers, special needs students, etc.  But this idea that we should underfund the main schools in order to enrich a few students during the worst economic crisis since the great depression is ill-thought.  It's unworkable.

                            And if the charter schools programs devolve, as they are beginning to in some areas, into little cloisters of partisan ideology, you can bet your ass I won't want to pay those school taxes to fund the "Family values" charter that gets formed as a reaction to the "environmental studies" charter.

                          •  Has it been established that these schools (0+ / 0-)

                            soak up too much taxpayer money? Or are we talking about hegemonic turf battles here?

                            In upstate NY, we have classes filling to the brim in public schools, and that's with an average cost per student of $17k--in the poor cities. On $17k per student, those schools are failing.

                            This is the reality of upstate NY:

                            http://blogs.buffalonews.com/...

                            The most recent data -- for the Class of 2010 -- shows that 45 percent of black students in Buffalo graduated in four years, compared to 58 percent of white students.

                            This is the public school system that my daughters attend.

                            I'll say this again: how are the main schools underfunded? They still receive the same amount per pupil. They still have the same teacher to student ratio.

                            It makes me wonder: the number of administrators will surely have fewer students to administer to. Are we talking about not enough work for administrators? Not enough money in the system to justify the pay of administrators? As students leave for charters, and administration stays intact, that would be a logical conclusion. BUT, teacher pay doesn't decrease. Teacher-student ratios and class size don't increase. So how is this defunding the school system in anything other than administration?

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:47:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Put very simply (0+ / 0-)

                            Your response is pre-loaded with all kinds of irrelevant and emotional statements.

                            Or are we talking about hegemonic turf battles here?
                            The most recent data -- for the Class of 2010 -- shows that 45 percent of black students in Buffalo graduated in four years, compared to 58 percent of white students.

                            Those have nothing to do with my comment.

                            If you have a school system with 4 buildings and 25000 students, and you remove 4000 of those students and set up two new schools, each of which need their own building, utilities, insurance, grounds workers, custodians, utilities, maintenance and administrators, then you've increased your costs.

                            Really, it is common sense that you gain some economies of scale by not splitting your school district into as many small pieces as possible.  You may make the argument that if your school district needs to expand anyway, they could build a charter school instead of expanding the main school facility, but if you look farther down the road, this model gets much more expensive.

                            I don't understand why we aren't looking at different models to achieve these goals.  It's perfectly possible, and cheaper to have a school district that uses satellite programs where the students have 80% of their school day in common, and the other 10% spent in smaller programs that enrich language, or arts, or remedial reading, or whatever is needed using programs that provide alternative learning methods.  Then ALL students get the benefit of them and we don't have to keep building more and more duplicate schools for every area of focus that parents decide they want.

                          •  If the problem with education is (0+ / 0-)

                            perhaps these monolithic buildings with thousands of students, why not smaller schools with tailored curricula?

                            This is why I pointed out the dropout rate.

                            I'm emphasizing that the setup itself is a failure, the top heavy administration, etc.

                            So, I don't buy the premise on three counts. One, the schools have the same ratios of teachers to students. Two, the charters take less per student. Three, the big schools are failing at such a huge rate that your taxes are rising to accommodate all the social repercussions of massive dropout rates.

                            The difference between the non-profit charters in my city and the public schools is like night and day. Same demographic. Same school lunch. Same special needs.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 09:03:11 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You've solved the problem with education? (0+ / 0-)
                            If the problem with education is
                            perhaps these monolithic buildings with thousands of students

                            Well, that will certainly help the construction sector.  Usually if an idea creates jobs, I'm all for it, but this one doesn't really seem like a winner to me.

                          •  In my town... (0+ / 0-)

                            we renovate unused old buildings...

                            http://archives.buffalorising.com/...

                            Cost: $0

                            ...at a cost far less than the renovation of new schools:

                            http://www.buffaloschools.org/...

                            Cost: $22 million

                            Now, why the $0? Because no public funds are allowed to be used for charter building space. Charter school founders have to arrange for buildings. This school, Elmwood Village, rents from the renovator.

                            A school with an established legacy in the city could potentially bond out a building, but I think the bonds for it might go through the State University system that oversees the charters. Not sure about that.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:09:54 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Forgot to answer your question (0+ / 0-)
                            I'll say this again: how are the main schools underfunded? They still receive the same amount per pupil. They still have the same teacher to student ratio.

                            It's not a matter of ratio!  It's a matter of having enough money to provide appropriate class sizes, and the full gamut of education including "soft" studies like music, the arts, languages, etc.

                            It's a matter of cutting teachers, driving down their pay scales, making them pay for their own basic classroom materials, not to mention anything "extra" that they'd like to use in their classes.

                            Do you not see how underfunded your own schools are?  It just seems like such an odd question to be asking, especially after you've noted the classes are filling to the brim.

                          •  We spend $17k per student here. (0+ / 0-)

                            My property taxes are $9k a year on a 250k house.

                            I think we're spending enough money. But we're not getting the results from the current system.

                            The charters are outperforming the system by a wide, wide margin. It's like night and day.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 09:04:44 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you can build (0+ / 0-)

                            yourself enough tiny schools to handle all the students in your public system and run them all for what it took to run a school all under one roof, more power to you.  Have fun with it.

                          •  I'm just surprised that you believe this (0+ / 0-)

                            isn't possible. It's very possible. Neighborhood schools were the common link in much of urban America up until a couple decades ago.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:11:14 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  really (0+ / 0-)

                            this says nothing at all about the cost

                          •  Again, the cost of massive dropouts and illiteracy (0+ / 0-)

                            dwarfs any increased cost (if any) for smaller buildings.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:11:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and this (0+ / 0-)

                            compares an unknown cost to society in general to a tangible measurable cost to a school district.

                            If this argument is actually correct, and you have any success at all in selling it to the general public, then the result says nothing about small vs large schools either.  It just says that better methods are needed to prevent this future cost from occurring.

                            I can't debate the subject with you further, I don't think.  Your arguments are all based on your own local circumstances and they wander off the logic so much that it's frustrating.

                          •  I think you're looking for rigid answers (0+ / 0-)

                            that only fit your worldview on this, and charters are outside it. I mean, you're saying we can't measure the cost to society of illiteracy? We can.

                            Besides, you got off on this kick about charters being smaller without taking into account that charters are the same size as their public cohort. We're talking about 750 students in my daughter's public school. When I went to public school, we only had 2 classrooms per grade.

                            There's not a big difference in size here.

                            I'll say it again. It comes down to administration. That's the main cost driver.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:53:44 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Do you have any links to this project? (0+ / 0-)

                            Sounds like a topic worth writing about, especially if the school board didn't want the school. I would be very curious to read more. Also, I don't the rules in IN... wonder how different they are from CA?

                            How are both schools doing now? I have tons of questions about this, really. Would you like to write about it?

                          •  Let me see what i can dig up. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            angelajean

                            I'm on my way out of town for a few days but will get back to you soon.

                        •  I don't think that's right (0+ / 0-)
                          None of us on this website are saying that public schools can't have what charter schools have. Not a single one of us.

                          People have clearly and repeatedly said this.  A number of people here have the opinion that charter schools must exist because the public schools aren't good enough and can't be made good enough.  And nobody who likes their own charter school seems to be part of any program to take what has been successful there back into the public school and re-integrate the two.  At least one poster here sees charters as the way to unravel the existing school systems so they all disappear.

                          Oh sure, nobody says you CAN'T do the same things back at the old school, but we both know that if the charter is not established as some sort of temporary project to produce new methods for the older school, it's not happening.  And nobody here who promotes charters is involved in any actions to make it happen.  They got what they wanted, and now they're happy and they don't care.  

                          I understand that your charter school is different.  The students are very different, and need entirely different things than most public school students.  Maybe there is a need to have an entirely different school with it's own physical plant, administration, teachers, materials and all those associated costs.  Maybe it could be done equally well as a program with 2 classrooms in the existing public school and save a lot of money.  I don't know.

                          But in this comment thread, there are comments about having separate schools for "progressive education", and for "free market" education.  One commenter thinks we are discussing just "progressive charters" here.  This sounds like an idea that has gotten way out of hand, and which could never be integrated back into the general public school system.  Am I now to support a whole system of little schools catering to various blends of political thought?  How am I supposed to be a smart consumer and an informed citizen when I have to monitor 50 different schools to see if they are promoting Fox News crap in the classrooms, and throwing science in the trash?  Maybe that's the whole idea.

                      •  What I'm saying is I'd like to see (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        angelajean

                        progressive curricula instituted BUT the bourgeois politicos that influence and administer these school systems would never go for such a liberal touchy-feely concept. A friend of mine was recently looking at my daughter's school just this week for his children, and I asked him what he thought about his son taking part in daily dance (I have daughters so this is not a problem) and he said his son would probably love it.

                        So... I'm wondering what the taxpayers are going to think of footing the bill for his boy's dance lessons? Do you think that can be incorporated?

                        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                        by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:35:20 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't think there are any magic formulas!... (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    upstate NY, feebog, angelajean, elfling

                    Just good leadership, good staff, and good communication between staff and students.  The complexities of human culture that are very hard to quantify and isolate.

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

                    by leftyparent on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:35:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are Exactly Right (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angelajean, elfling

                      It is the involvement of community, staff, teachers and parents that make a public charter work.  The Board of Directors are making the decisions on cirriculum, calendar and finances.  The key here is local control, and decisions based on what works best for that particular school rather than a huge school district.  

              •  What is wrong with schools in which (4+ / 0-)

                the parents who place their children are at least moderately motivated and involved?

                I am as progressive as they come, but I am tired of apathetic parents who do not teach their children how to behave, how to work, and how to be engaged.  
                Even great teachers can only do so much without parental involvement and support.

                "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

                by Going the Distance on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:33:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Its not the fault of the children (0+ / 0-)

                  if their parents are apathetic, you do realise that right?

                  "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                  by Mudderway on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:16:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  apathetic parents disadvantage their kids (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    angelajean

                    in lots of ways, if only by modeling behavior that does not value education.

                    Schools can't possibly make up for that deficit.  

                    I'm an engaged parent, and my kid does better in school because of it.  There's just no getting around the advantages engagement brings.  

                    Faby-o, downrec me again. You know I love it!

                    by Cheez Whiz on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:50:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes apathetic parents disadvantage their kids alot (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angelajean

                      but that is precisely the reason why we should not segregate our schools in schools with parents who don't care and parents who will make the extra effort, because the schools with the better parents will become better schools by far. The victims will be the children who were already born disadvantaged because of their parents and will now also be disadvantaged from the state.
                      this is the same reason why its so bad, that schools get a lot of their money from taxes that are based on the wealth of the community. Rich children already born with an advantage go to schools, that are better, because their community has more money and can afford better schools , while poor children already by birth disadvantaged go to schools that can hardly afford textbooks. The rich kids will now get into better universities, and get better jobs while the poor will go to worse universities if any at all and get bad paying jobs.
                      The result of all of this is that you destroy all upward mobility and get a continous cycle of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
                      so to answer Going the Distances question, this cycle is whats wrong with schools in which the parents who place their children are at least moderately motivated and involved?
                      their children might be better off, but society as a whole is much worse off, and the victims are not the apethetic parents, but rather the innocent children born to them. And maybe even your children in the long run, because when society as a whole goes down, even the standard of most upperclass people goes down.

                      "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                      by Mudderway on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:27:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I think this is a topic that deserves a stand (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Mudderway

                        alone diary. It's an important one and I think it as at the root of why a public education system is so important to progressives. Education is the great equalizer - we do need equal access for all.

                        I'm not convinced that charters don't help disadvantaged kids in their communities. I don't think we have enough charters in communities where they could do the most good but that's because the local community doesn't have the political will to get one started. That's because the parents aren't engaged. It's like a never ending circle and I wonder how we change the circle in the first place.

                        •  Well I've been thinking of finally writing (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          angelajean

                          my first diary, but I'm much to swamped with university stuff right now. But I agree this is an extremely importatnt topic, one that deserves a well done diary, so I think I'll try to tackle it once I have the time to dedicate to it.
                          i hope that untill then, someone else puts this issue up front and center, because thats where it deserves to be.

                          "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                          by Mudderway on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 03:08:27 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  There really isn't much you can do about (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean

                the issue of parents who can't be bothered to fill out an application. The whole point of charter schools is (supposed to be) to allow parents to have somewhat more choice/control regarding their kids schooling.

                But then, you can't do anything about parents who move to better school districts either. Nothing is perfectly just. It's not really much of a criticism to observe that charter schools aren't either.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:34:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  If charter schools did that... (0+ / 0-)

            Then they would soon be as ineffective as public schools.

        •  I have a feeling these rules are state specific... (5+ / 0-)

          I know that the charters schools I was familiar with in CA would take every student they could get and that many charter schools there did a better job than the local public school about providing IEPs for students. It was actually a problem, because many parents would pull their kids from public school, place them in a charter, have the charter pay for the IEP, and then, the following year go back to the public school with the IEP in hand. It was strange, to say the least.

          I have to agree 100% on the last one - if your parents aren't interested in a child's education, they probably aren't going to apply for that child to attend a charter. I'm not sure we should blame the charter school system for that.

          •  "providing IEPs" (0+ / 0-)

            Could you clarify what you mean by this?

            IEPs are not something that is "provided". They are a plan for additional educational services that students qualify for based on evaluation of diagnosed educational disabilities related to performance on state standards. They also cost a great deal of tax payer dollars. What you are describing if I understand you correctly is essentially parents gaming the system to received additional tax payer provided educational services their child didn't qualify for originally in public schools.

            If charters were doing such a fine job with those IEP's, why not stay enrolled rather than transfer back "IEP in hand" to the public school?

            Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

            by michael in chicago on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:52:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Those parents believe that their kids needed those (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty

              IEP's. The public school system disagreed. The charter school system evaluates and many times agrees with the parents. I've seen it happen multiple times in California.

              I guess you can call it gaming the system. I call it parents that are concerned about their child's education and going about finding the best solution in whatever way then can afford.

              As to leaving afterwards... I think some people left our charter afterwards because it was a homestudy charter and didn't allow for daily school attendance. A lot of people prefer that their kids are in school everyday. I wouldn't say this was a common occurence but it did happen a couple of times during our three years with the school.

              •  Agrees with the parents? (0+ / 0-)

                Many parents believe their child needs an IEP when in fact they may need other accommodations that are temporary or temporary intervention. An IEP requires services based upon objective evaluation, not belief, and is long lasting and very costly to implement. I'm not saying that IEPs are not necessary, but this troubles me, especially given your statements in the post about parents being on the governing board of the charter you write about.

                Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

                by michael in chicago on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:37:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The school districts (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  evaluation of my son determined that he was within normal range, Yet when we got an independent psychological work up it came in as Severe ADHD (as not even close to normal range) Sensory integration disorder, and as well as possible mood disorder (hard to differentiate some of the symptoms due to overlap). Oh and on top of all that he appears to have P.A.N.D.A.S.

                  Not to devalue the school districts evaluation but their work up is far less intensive that what an actual psychologist will do.

                  We're not waiting for the IEP process to work through the bureaucratic channels,  he's been seeing a psychiatrist and we have an appointment Thursday for an OT evaluation (at our expense). But we're not exactly rolling in money so any accommodations we can get him through the district will make a huge difference.

                  So I'm not ready to just assume that parents at Charters are gaming the system, I think it's more likely that parents who send their kids to a Charter are just more likely to push back if they don't agree with a school districts initial evaluation.

      •  For me it's the principle (7+ / 0-)

        that we can afford to fund two parallel education tracks when the message we are getting is that there's not enough money to maintain our public schools. The theory is fine, but first we must have ALL the money we need to fund excellent public schools.

        Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

        by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:28:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i have difficulties with that as well, and (0+ / 0-)

          find it hard to reconcile one with the other. that said though, at least based on the diary it seems the example cited should be considered a win/win due to the freedoms and opportunities it provides for parents while bringing in additional funding to the school district.

        •  I don't understand why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clues, sandblaster

          the district to the north of us can build a sports complex and a state-of-the-art performing arts center while the district to the south has buildings that aren't even air-conditioned.

          There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

          by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:13:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Property taxes. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            congenitalefty

            261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

            by MaikeH on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:00:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You'd be surprised. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              I wouldn't say property taxes. It's more like wealth. My city's property taxes are really high (I pay $9k a year for $250k home) but it's such a poor city with many more kids than the property tax base. So, you're right that in aggregate we have lower tax revenues per student than the wealthy suburbs, but it's certainly not an issue that raising taxes could solve.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:40:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I know that. (0+ / 0-)

              Philosophically, I don't understand it.

              There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

              by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:13:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Why are they considered parallel, however? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean

          The initial progressive principle behind them was that schools could opt to tailor their curricula. It's like a neighborhood school without administrative oversight beyond the principal and board of trustees.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:14:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, if you don't have parallel options (0+ / 0-)

            then all you have is a progressive public school system.  If it's THE public school for a district, then it's not really a charter.

            •  I wouldn't be so hung up on what they are called (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              It's because of the rigidity of the system that they are outlier in the first place.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:23:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm hung up on it (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil

                because "public schools" keeps the money all in one bucket and equally available to everybody.  It keeps the federal government in the game, and for better or for worse, that's where the civil rights come from, and it's where we separate church and state.  It keeps all the taxpayers involved and not just the parents, and it keeps us together all working for ALL the kids, rather than siphoning off handfuls of support here and there as small groups of parents get what they want.

                "Public Schools" means that the fundies have to fight the rest of us every step of the way to push their agenda forward.  "Charters" means everyone can have what they want, and if you complain about that, well, just go start your OWN charter.

                It means that, while I'm not opposed to supporting the kind of charter you like, I'll be damned if I'll support the kind of charter they like, only I'm not allowed to pick and choose, so I choose to not support the idea at all.

                 Our public schools have been pushed rightwards in many places, but I believe it's easier to get them back than it is to fight the battle all over again in a million tiny charters all over the country.  In that regard, I believe we are wasting a great opportunity to use the Shock Doctrine to our own advantage for a change, and take advantage of the bad economics to invent some changes that we can make palatable to conservatives on a financial basis.

                That's probably enough soapboxing for me for today..but you do understand that I'd absolutely love to have the kinds of schools you're talking about, right?  I just don't like the price of the "charter" idea, and I think we can do better.

                •  When I said the name doesn't matter so much (5+ / 0-)

                  I was naturally emphasizing the context under which they operate.

                  We are talking about non-profit public charters here that are held to state standards. They respond to the state board of education of trustees. They are not for-profits. They are not privates. They can't undertake religious education. They can't siphon money into the pockets of administrators.

                  In that sense, the distinction between a public non-profit charter and the public schools is the different administration.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:18:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  EXACTLY (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    congenitalefty

                    While I am for more alternatives than you may be advocating for, the point you make here is a good one and people like me can have discussions with open minded people like you. We have some Dkossers who are so hung up on public school terminology that they fail to see the big picture which is having the government ensure all income groups have access to a quality education by whatever means necessary. If that means a charter school which is held to the same standards, how can one oppose that?

                    you can call me praveen.

                    by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:49:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Charter schools are back door privatization (10+ / 0-)

    Nothing more.  Nothing less.

    •  Could you be a little more explicit? (6+ / 0-)

      That's a pretty broad statement to make.

    •  I could as easily say... (8+ / 0-)

      Public Schools are the front door to failed education models.

      Statements like that don't further the conversation. They shut it down. And, they're not true 100% of the time.

      Let's find where both models are succeeding and build on the successes.

      •  No thanks (13+ / 0-)

        Glad to see that you acknowledge that charter schools are not real public schools.

        Charter schools take funds away from public schools.  Charter schools are part of an effort to eliminate unions.
        Charter schools are not limited to so-called "failing schools," their original raison d'etre, but are in solid performing school districts.
        Look who's pushing charter schools.  The very folks who want to privatize and corporatize education.  As well as voucher advocates.

        I could add a lot more, but as I said, they're part of a larger effort to privatize and corporatize education in this country.

        •  Did you read the diary. (8+ / 0-)

          This charter school does not take away funds from public schools. They actually are teaching students that would remain out of the school system if this school didn't exist as a choice. And, the school district where the charter school exists, receives federal funding for that charter school as well.

          This charter school hired unionized teachers. Charter schools in California are required to allow teachers to unionize if they request.

          I didn't address this in the diary, but this charter school actually served a student population that is considered struggling in the state of California. The school district provided free lunch to the charter school because so many of the students qualified. It was easier and less expensive to just to send free lunches for everyone that to figure out who should pay more.

          I'm also pushing for charter schools but I don't want to privatize and corporatize education in this country. I want families to have honest choices... in Monterey, CA the school district is closing a local elementary school. The parents in the neighborhood want to keep a local school and not bus their kids. They are working to create a charter school in the same building that the public school used to be. They're not trying to become a corporation. They're trying to do what is best for their kids.

          Please, add a lot more. Would you be interested in writing some diaries? We're looking for writers.

      •  Except that MOST public schools are failing (5+ / 0-)

        so you'd be wrong. Failing schools are a result of a failing society, so where society is failing the most schools aren't good (and this is where most of the horrific failing charters are located in Ohio). In wealthy suburbs, hell no, schools aren't failing. But here in Ohio they are being stripped of resources to fund more atrocious, failing for-profit charters. So pardon my hostility toward charters. We need to find the will to fund a quality public education for EACH child, not just siphon off the children of the most motivated parents and funnel them into different schools. I understand the parents' motivation, but we as a society have to care for the kids who don't have motivated parents.

        Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

        by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:32:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A public school is democratic. A charter school (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, Nespolo, Tonedevil

      less so.

      You see- your public school is run by your public school board. This board is directly elected by the residents of that school district.

      A charter school , like the one you were involved in- maybe democratic in that the parents run the school. But the community at large (ie. people paying property taxes and supporting the school financially) has no say. It is a more restricted form of democracy.

      That is my main  issue with charter schools. Its an end run around the local school board.

      •  This is probably one of the more logical arguments (6+ / 0-)

        I have seen.

        What if a school board is required to approve the charter school? That is the case in California. Charter schools are required to have a sponsoring body - usually the local school district or the county school board. I believe that the State School Board can also certify schools. Charter schools are not removed from the democratic process.

        Do you know how it works in your neck of the woods? Maybe the rules are different in your state?

        •  You are right- charter schools are approved (0+ / 0-)

          by the school board. However I see it as a form of surrender. An admission of failure on the part of the school board. Simply put- it is the school board outsourcing its responsibility to an outside group.

          So now in some instances that may in fact be the right course of action. Some local governments and local school boards are so corrupt as to be dysfunctional. In that case I suppose a charter school is better than what existed before. But I just don't see it as a success story for local democracy.

          •  School systems are so huge and so (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Skex, angelajean

            beholden to cultural ambitions among the community at large that it's questionable whether the wherewithal would EVER be there to adopt, for instance, a progressive curriculum. I seriously doubt it. It's just not how they were constructed.

            When I have gone to general meetings at both public and charter schools, it's clear to me that few parents understand the specific interventions that each curriculum hopes to make, and in fact, sometimes the teachers seem confused as well (at least in their presentation to parents).

            I can draw an analogy between what happens when the aspirations of the community are literalized in a curriculum. You often get pre-professional high schools. That might be well and good, and though I would not want my children attending such a school, it's every parent's choice. However, I'm almost certain that there would not be groundswell for a progressive education curriculum in my area. Our charters that have such a curriculum are well know for academic success with students, but I'm pretty sure that the parents (for the most part) do not know what they are volunteering their children for.

            I really believe that these decisions are best left up to dedicated teachers, and not school boards and politicians.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:11:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It's a very odd idea of democracy (7+ / 0-)

        I'd say.

        When the local politicians are all about giving their cronies a leg-up, and they are all about putting political motivations on school boards, a charter with community and parental involvement can present a good alternative.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:37:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Would you object to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, gramofsam1, angelajean

        a liberal-minded charter school in a fundie-infused area in the south?

        There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

        by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:17:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Our charter is through the local district (6+ / 0-)

        Our charter is granted by the local school board. We actually have two separate charters because we run both k-8 and a high school. Since there are two separate local districts for elementary and high school we have to get approval from both. Our charter is for 5 years at a time.

        We then have two separate school boards for our own schools. Those boards are made up of two teachers plus members of the community. There are term limits, each board member can only serve for two terms.

        •  Thanks for the info (5+ / 0-)

          Yeah- I suppose charter schools are so different from place to place it's kind of hard to make any kind of blanket statement about charter schools in general.

          •  And that's exactly the point I wanted to make! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            icemilkcoffee, bsegel

            Thank you for coming to that conclusion!

          •  Exactly -- and in particular, what they (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, icemilkcoffee

            are is determined by the laws of each state.

            Incidentally, another of Scott Walker's evil legislative initiatives is to remove most of the restrictions that prevent Wisconsin charter schools from turning into McSchools.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:41:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That really deserves a diary! (0+ / 0-)

              Would you be willing to write it?

              If not, could you send me any links?

              •  not sure it's worth a diary. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean

                i've sort of given up on diaries -- they never get as much attention as commenting in other, already popular diaries.

                here's a link to the bill itself:
                http://legis.wisconsin.gov/...

                here's a link to a non-objective site, whose general attitude i share. note the key McSchools feature: don't need certified teachers, and school management megacorps can now get in on the action. it's pure privatization.

                http://www.defendwisconsin.org/...

                key excerpt:

                Senate Bill 22

                Creates a 9-person authorizing board for charter schools: 3 appointed by the governor, 3 by the senate majority leader, and 3 by the speaker of the assembly. This limits legislative oversight and allows Walker’s cronies, who have no experience in education, to make influential decisions about schools.
                Changes current law that limits organizations to opening only one charter school. SB 22 permits one organization or company to open multiple charter schools which allows non- and for-profit franchised Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) to enter Wisconsin.
                Modifies teacher licensure requirements so that teachers in charters do not need certification.
                Lifts cap on and promotes virtual (online) charter schools

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 04:04:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I hope you change your mind (0+ / 0-)

                  As people get used to groups, I think you'll find that diaries targeted at certain groups will have lots of conversation.

                  Honestly, this diary was dead in the water except for the fact that Community Spotlight picked it up. This obviously was not a popular topic to choose for DailyKos. I have had more conversation in this diary but the least amount of tips and recommends for the amount of comments that I have ever received. We had conversation going the entire time this diary stayed on the Community Spotlight.

                  Write a diary - write it well enough that it makes the Spotlight - and you'll be happy with the results, I think.

                  At the very least, if you publish through our group, your diary will show up in the streams of everyone following our group. And we're growing everyday.

    •  There are a lot of charter schools in N. Cal (8+ / 0-)

      that are community based and grown and are providing interesting and valuable alternatives.

      I know of another homeschooling charter, different from the one described by the diarist, that provides similar services. In my area, many people homeschool because they live far from any public school - and sometimes off of muddy dirt roads that are not passable every day of the year. They don't want to obligate their kids to an hour or two of transit each way each day. The once-a-week option gives them access to science labs and other specialized services that they can't provide on their own.

      http://www.lavidaschool.org/

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:15:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (6+ / 0-)

        These schools provide answers to questions that most of us didn't even realize needed answering.

        We forget that not all communities fit a traditional public school model and that other options may be appropriate.

        Thanks for sharing the link!

      •  The first time (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, gramofsam1, angelajean

        I heard of charter schools was from a Californian in Iowa during the Perfect Storm. Her kids went to a school that focused on Pacific Islander culture, or something. It sounded like a neat curriculum.

        There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

        by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:19:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds neat, yes, but... (0+ / 0-)

          I know a family that sent one of their kids to a small Hawaiian immersion school in Hawaii until it became painfully obvious that the child wasn't getting a basic education.

          •  Well, this was California (0+ / 0-)

            not Hawaii. And I really don't know what happened as I only spent a few days with her in Iowa.

            There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

            by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:04:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  So, this was a bad school. Or, at least, a bad fit (0+ / 0-)

            for that family.

            If people stop using the charter, it either has to change and adjust or it fails.

            •  Actually, the Hawaiian Language Immersion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              schools were in the public school system beginning 1990 and now have dwindling enrollment because a number of immersion charter schools have opened. Public or charter, I don't believe that one hour a day of English instruction achieves a good education. I understand the wishes of parents and the overall community to teach Hawaiian history, customs, and revive the language, but I don't believe the kids are well served with the immersion program.

              More than you wanted to know. ;-)

              •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

                I have my kids in a self imposed immersion - we're living in Buenos Aires and we put them into a local school for Spanish acquisition. It's an interesting experiment, to say the least.

                The immersion programs here are all day school - mornings in Spanish only and English in the afternoons. The kids speak English really well as they start in 1st grade and go through high school in this manner. But it makes for a very long school day - many start at 7:30 and don't finish until 3:30 or 4pm.

                Probably more than you wanted to know as well :)

                •  Very interesting! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  I hope the experience is as wonderful for you and your family as it seems it would be to me.

                  Spanish language fluency can be an asset in many parts of the globe, and the half-day programs make sense to me. My personal experience is limited to French immersion classes in high school and college, but I like the concept of immersion schools if they are well designed for good, overall education.

                  But I have large concerns with the Hawaiian immersion schools from what I've heard and read of them. I think there must be better ways to teach the culture and language without sacrificing a good education. The Hawaiian language is spoken by less than 1% of the Hawaii population, and most of that 1% lives on the very small island of Niihau. I left Hawaii a long time ago but lived there for 20 years and my kids are part Hawaiian (and two other races, several nationalities), so I'll always feel a vested interest in Hawaii.

    •  How so? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      If they're public, how are they private?

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:35:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My children attend a publicly financed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      charter school that operates as a nonprofit and is generally indistinguishable from a public school -- including the fact that they must meet various district requirements.

      Your assertion is, simply, wrong.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:38:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yay!!! (4+ / 0-)

    I'm all for families having more control over the education of their own children.

    I learned on Dkos that because I think Anthony Weiner is a cheating liar, I am sexually immature and I think I'm superior to everyone.

    by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:39:25 AM PDT

    •  Do you have any experience with charter schools (0+ / 0-)

      in your neck of the woods? Curious to know... want to see more about good models, not just hear about the bad ones.

      •  No kids for me (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, Debby, gramofsam1

        I'm from Minneapolis and there are a few in the city.  

        I just think they can be a great way for people that need more flexibility, feel they have been let down, or are just looking for another option in their families education.

        With all the different options we have for post secondary I don't see why the same thing can't happen for children at a younger age.  

        I can try to find some good stories on charters here.  

        I learned on Dkos that because I think Anthony Weiner is a cheating liar, I am sexually immature and I think I'm superior to everyone.

        by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:52:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you're interested, (0+ / 0-)

          we're looking for writers for the group. If you wanted to look for those articles, you might want to go one step further and just post a diary? What do you think?

          If not, the I'll take links :)

          I might be able to use them myself if you don't.

        •  We have different post-secondary options (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TiaRachel

          where you pay for what you choose. WE fund charters at the expense of public schools. Yes, of course, there are some good charters, but i am tired of a handful of success stories being used to justify what has turned into a right-wing political jihad to destroy public education. It may not be showing itself in California yet, but it has Ohio's schools in a death grasp. And believe me, once they've killed the schools in the heartlands, they'll come for you. Charters are a trojan horse. For god's sake, improve ALL the public schools.

          Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

          by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:36:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Stop the ideological stuff (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Balto, congenitalefty, mim5677

            True progressivism is to educate as many people as we can . Your paranoia about trojan horses is responsible for true reform being blocked.

            The fact that even democratic states have been unable to reform public schools for inner city kids to a significant level in decades just shows you cannot isolate politics from public schools and just blame it on the "if only we would improve them" excuse. Well, what is stopping your reps from doing so? That is my point. You are a hostage to entrenched interests either way. At least , if you give parents a choice, they can find a school somewhere for their kids while ideologues bicker.

            you can call me praveen.

            by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:34:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  How about we do this... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, congenitalefty

            let's look at the differences between the California and Ohio charter systems. Why is one seemingly creating schools responsive to their communities and the other creating monster schools that are destroying public education? That would be a diary worth reading, don't you think?

            •  I think that's an interesting idea (0+ / 0-)

              I would also add in the question of how the fact that California allows school money to follow the child while Ohio does not affects the various situations.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:44:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  This is one near me that people enjoy (0+ / 0-)

        http://www.riveroakcharterschool.org

        It's a Waldorf methods public charter.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:42:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      avsp, radmul

      as long as they pay for it. Otherwise, i am in favor of providing a quality public school for every child in America. As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for your little prince or princess to have something different and special.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:34:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't get this (5+ / 0-)

        "As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for your little prince or princess to have something different and special."

        Why shouldn't schools be special?

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:15:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why shouldn't all kids be treated like princes and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, congenitalefty

        princesses?

        Of course, in reality, charter schools don't treat kids like they are royalty either. Successful charters schools only happen with hard work from the community. Kids aren't spoiled in them; they are taught.

        Hyperbole won't win you any converts. Nor will calling my kids princes.

        I think all parents will agree that all we want is the best education possible for our kids. We just disagree on the methods that are best used. Obviously, in a diverse society, no single method of education can work for everyone. Why not offer more choice?

        •  That is my point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          congenitalefty

          ALL children should have "something special" and when we peel away swaths of resources from the poorest and most struggling to give them to kids whose parents are in a better position to advocate for them, we are abandoning the kids with the least and providing a "special" education for a handful (90 percent of kids in Ohio go to public schools, most of them successful). Charter schools stratify. I do not pay taxes so a select group gets special consideration and  the poorest are dumped in the trash early.

          Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

          by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:10:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh please, the public school system stratifies (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            congenitalefty

            The way the public schools have operated for decades, what more example of stratification can you pick? Why not have a model where the system is still tilted in favor of funding for a public school run the old fashioned way by the local school board, but at the same time, you allow private (preferably non profit) schools take poor kids in and be forced to give them scholarships in return for accepting vouchers from everyone qualified or maybe school  management groups(charters) , you will have public schools that still survive if you tie in vouchers to the MARGINAL COST of adding that student to a public school. The fixed costs can be funded by everyone.

            THis way, if a community doesnt get its shit together, a few poor families that want better for their kids have the ability to send their kids to an alternative school that accepts public funds. This is how it works in India in some places and it works beautifully. In some schools, you got students of every freaking income group study together. Not just from one neighborhood. Parents get to choose schools which tailor their emphasis to their interests. Schools cant be a one size fits all crap system. It's about choice. If parents move from one neighborhood to another, why should their kids have to lose their friends?

            you can call me praveen.

            by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:56:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I gave you the demographics of the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean

            charter schools in my city. They mirror the city's demographics precisely.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:43:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you know who is lining up for these schools? (0+ / 0-)

            or is this just personal attack on people who you don't know?

            Anthony Weiner on Obama: "He's not a values guy." Bwaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!

            by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:08:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I am opposed to homeschooling and charters. (7+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but teaching is a profession, and not just anyone can do it.

    Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

    by Desert Rose on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:12:43 AM PDT

    •  Okay. So I hear two arguments in one statement. (3+ / 0-)

      One, only teachers can teach so homeschooling should be illegal.

      Two, only teachers can teach so charter schools should be illegal.

      Number one makes sense - I disagree but I understand your chain of thought.

      Number two doesn't make sense. Charter schools hire teachers. Our charter school even hired unionized teachers. So, what's your real beef with charter schools?

      •  In AZ, (13+ / 0-)

        charter school teachers do not need to be certified.  That is a degradation of my profession.  We don't let people practice medicine without a license or fly a plane without a license, but for some reason, states will allow an uncertified person to teach children.

        Homeschooling and charters isn't a legal vs illegal situation.  Research studies have shown that most charters do not perform any better than public schools and many perform worse.  So what's the point?  In my mind it is to undermine traditional public schools.  

        I think it's great that you spend a lot of quality time with your kids and that some of your curriculum involves field trips, but I'm a believer in public schools.  It is one of the cornerstones of democracy..

        Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

        by Desert Rose on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:39:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is a definite problem... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, congenitalefty

          I agree that teachers at charter schools need to be certified or to have appropriate education to teach the subject that they are hired to teach.

          Is there a movement in Arizona to change the law?

          I would also love links to any studies that you have access to. I'm going to do some more homework on this issue.

          And of course it's legal vs illegal... especially for homeschool. Families have gone through hell and back to legally homeschool their children. When you say you are opposed to it, does that mean you want it to remain a legal option and will just turn a blind eye? Or that you want to regulate it and require parents to have a teaching certificate (that is a requirement in some states, btw)?

          I also want you to know that I'm a believer in public schools as well... I believe in choice for all US citizens and to that a decent education should be available in all communities. Public schools are part of the equation. However, they aren't the equation by themselves. Some communities need to have other options.

        •  A serious question. (0+ / 0-)

          Are acheivment gaps and failure rates also a degradation of your profession?

          It hardly seems fair that licensing of teachers which is not comparable to flying a plane or practicing medicine, is so cut and dry yet the performance of students is not.  

          No doctor or pilot could continue their work if they crashed planes or killed patients all the time.  

          You could make the personal responsibility argument in the case of a doctor that has to perform heart surgery on people that eat three big macs a day.

          I don't believe money is the only issue with public schools.  

          I am not a supporter of teachers unions.

          I learned on Dkos that because I think Anthony Weiner is a cheating liar, I am sexually immature and I think I'm superior to everyone.

          by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:50:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Too bad, because the states with the (12+ / 0-)

            strongest unions have the best school systems too.

            Achievement gaps are not due to teachers.  They are due to poverty.  

            Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

            by Desert Rose on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:06:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And if charter schools or homeschooling could (0+ / 0-)

              help poor kids learn better, would you be open to them as valid methods of education?

              •  Moot question. They for the most part, don't. (0+ / 0-)

                Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

                by Desert Rose on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:43:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  They don't (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Clues, docmidwest, BaxKen
                This report presents a longitudinal student‐level analysis of charter school impacts on more than 70 percent of the students in charter schools in the United States. The scope of the study makes it the first national assessment of charter school impacts.

                Charter schools are permitted to select their focus, environment and operations and wide diversity exists across the sector. This study provides an overview that aggregates charter schools in different ways to examine different facets of their impact on student academic growth.

                The group portrait shows wide variation in performance. The study reveals that a decent fraction of charter schools, 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students. Nearly half of the charter schools nationwide have results that are no different from the local public school options and over a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their student would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools. These findings underlie the parallel findings of significant state‐by‐state differences in charter school performance and in the national aggregate performance of charter schools. The policy challenge is how to deal constructively with varying levels of performance today and into the future.

                Link: (PDF)

                Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

                by michael in chicago on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:29:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This looks like the same data that azezelo offers (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elfling, congenitalefty

                  further down in the comments.

                  leftyparent points out that the study relies on standardized test scores. I'm not fond of standardized testing in the first place and believe that using those scores to judge the viability of a school is a poor way to do so. Most progressives would agree with that, I believe.

                  And CharlesII points out that the funding for this study comes from some pretty conservative sources. Doesn't necessarily change the outcome, but makes me want to take a much closer look what the report is saying.

                •  It's flawed (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  The study doesn't disambiguate between corporate run charters, foundation charters, for-profit charters, privates with vouchers, etc.

                  The diary is clearly about community organized non-profit charters.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:44:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  That's accurate (9+ / 0-)

              Not only states but countries as well. And the states with the worst outcomes are more likely to be ununionized.

              In fact, mim5677, your point about the doctor operating on someone who eats three Big Macs a day blows your own case to smithereens. That doctor is NOT sanctioned for a poor result. Yet the teacher who has a roomful of kids who live in poverty, who don't get regular meals, who may live in a violent home or a shelter or be sleeping on relatives' couches IS sanctioned for their not performing to the level of the child of affluent educated parents.

              Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

              by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:40:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't think teachers give themselves (0+ / 0-)

                a strong argument that poverty is what affects achievement gaps if education is the way out of poverty.

                The shit doesn't add up and it doesn't provide a strong argument against funding options that parents seem to want.

                Anthony Weiner on Obama: "He's not a values guy." Bwaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!

                by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:40:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Really? (0+ / 0-)
                  I don't think teachers give themselves a strong argument that poverty is what affects achievement gaps if education is the way out of poverty.

                  So can I educate a student out of pain from a needed root canal, a fever from an infection, a neighborhood that is noisy and unsafe all night, no access to a library?

                  I am all for a SCHOOL SYSTEM working on making these things happen, but as an individual teacher I can't do anything about these things.

                  •  No, if (0+ / 0-)

                    the root canal and fever last 9 months at which point most normal Americans would have called cps.  

                    Otherwise yes.

                    Noisy neighborhoods and library access, fucking really?

                    Naming some extreme condition as if it is a permanent affliction that all children face doesn't make the argument stronger either.

                    Anthony Weiner on Obama: "He's not a values guy." Bwaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!

                    by mim5677 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 04:35:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Well if that's the case (0+ / 0-)

              then I don't see why it's an issue that parents want to choose different options.

              I mean it's pretty clear that teachers have something to do with it or else we would have never fought to have things like equal education right?

              If it's only about money and parents just want to have more choices, then should the parents not have the right to use their public dollars in a way that parents feel that helps their kids the best?

              I guess I don't understand why teachers are the voices we should be listening to when it comes to the choices families want to make with regards to their children's education.  

              My teachers were good but if my parents had a choice the education I got would be drastically altered.  If charter schools offer those options, I don't see how it's the business of a teacher or a teachers union.

              Anthony Weiner on Obama: "He's not a values guy." Bwaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!

              by mim5677 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:38:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  more often than not, no (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean
            Are acheivment gaps and failure rates also a degradation of your profession?

            They are a failure of society. Come back at me and my fellow teachers after society provides the following things in schools:

            1)    Wrap around services – students in poverty greatly lack medical, dental, vision, nutrition, etc. All of these gaps vs. affluent students lead to achievement gaps. Check the UF study on this. Provide these services in full for ALL human beings and watch achievement rise.
            2)    Context building activities – allow the urban poor access to the afterschool, weekend, and summertime activities that build real learning through context.  Trips to museums, zoos, semi-historical vacation spots, music lessons, summer camps, and a million other places are readily available to all people of affluence.  These types of activites will aid the achievement of urban students in a significantly more profound way than extended school days and school years.
            3)    Clean, well-maintained, safe, climate controlled, and close to home school buildings. This should require no explanation, but too many urban students lack access to these things.
            4)    Modern and up to date instructional materials and technologies.  Too many urban schools lack current texts, access to modern research materials, useful science lab equipment, and useful computer systems. Many urban schools lack these things and the students suffer as a result.
            5)    Class size – Urban schools need class sizes small than their suburban counterparts.  Student who lack adults in their home who can edit essays, double check math homework for correctness, or provide literary opinion need a higher level of this interest from a teacher.  A smaller class size allows a teacher to focus more attention on the individual student.
            6)     A special education system designed around something other than warehousing students.  I’d need a whole doctorial dissertation to explain how many special education students are misplaced and under supported.  Parents in affluent districts push heavily for outplacements for a reason.
            7)    The legal system designed to make more African Americans convicts than college graduates.  Our drug laws are designed to push criminal activity into urban settings and then highly punish the folks drawn into it.

    •  My homeschooled kid (4+ / 0-)

      started school in 7th grade with hardly a blip, hitting the ground running. Maybe I wasn't teaching, but she was learning.

      There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

      by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:06:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mine did the same with 9th grade. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1, congenitalefty

        And now he's in 10th, bored with school, and asking to go to community college next year :)

        My kids hate wasted time... ironic really when you consider how much time I thought we wasted in a homeschool day. What I thought was a waste was time for them to learn on their own schedule. They both know how to fill their days and I rarely ever hear, I'm bored, because they always have some project they want to work on.

    •  I like teacher-based and teacher-led (8+ / 0-)

      and community-led charters.

      My objection is to for-profit charters, and somewhat to chain-type charters.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:25:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who says the teachers are charters are not (0+ / 0-)

      professionals?

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:37:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm a professional teacher (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      and I plan to homeschool my own kids if things don't turn around in public school policy pretty soon.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:31:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interested in writing some diaries for our group? (0+ / 0-)

        I would love to have another teacher write diaries for Education Alternatives.

        •  Perhaps I should have said (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean

          I'm trained and certified as a professional teacher. For the last four years, however, I haven't done any actual teaching, unless you count subbing. I can't get hired. Too many candidates glutting the market, many of them with more experience than I have, and I'm too attached to authentic practice, as opposed to the same old traditional methods that were being used when I was in school. So it looks like this is the year where I finally give up on it altogether. I love teaching, but it's just not that into me.

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:47:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Fine, but do not impose your wish on others (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, congenitalefty

      You have every right to want to boycott such schools for your family.Who the hell are you to make every family have to choose only a publicly RUN  school if they cannot afford a private? Public education should just mean the state will provide funds, schooling whatever it takes to educate a citizen. It doesn't mean one way of schooling.

      you can call me praveen.

      by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:35:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Faulty Principles (10+ / 0-)

    The Stanford study compared charter schools with public schools and founds some charter schools better but most charter schools worse.  So when an unsuspecting parent goes out into the free market to get education they may not be getting what is being paid for.  The two basic issues with charter schools are (1) as a replacement for public schools they will worsen education (2) when one funds a charter school it is done at the expense of the local public school- regardless of whether the charter school is better or worse than the local public school.

  •  My Prep School Is Better Than Almost Any Public (11+ / 0-)

    school in the country. It is so, because for a century and a half the rich have been throwing money at the problem of educating their children and only their children.

    There are more ways to create better individual schools than all of us together can count. That's not the challenge of society, the challenge of society is educating the people, and the profit system cannot be the answer to that challenge. Educating a people is not a market type of activity, the entire concept is insane and sociopathic by its very existence.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:15:16 AM PDT

    •  Well said. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tommymet, bkamr

      ¡Viva Baja Libre!

      by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:58:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We're discussing charters that are not-for-profit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1, congenitalefty

      I think we can agree that for-profit schools are a problem. Though I am going to do some more homework on these. My only sources on that have been from stray diaries on DailyKos and I don't think I've read a source that links to studies.

      What about all the charters than don't run on a for-profit model? Should we get rid of them all? Or allow more to open up? Or just hold the status quo?

      •  I don't know if there are studies or not (0+ / 0-)

        Personally, I am willing to make a blanket statement that a shareholder-owned school is necessarily sucking money out of the money that should be going to kids.

        (Not to say that there aren't ways to do that with a nonprofit, of course.)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:50:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Versus a LAUSD run school system run inefficiently (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          congenitalefty

          What about cronyism, overpaid do nothing superintendents, food contracts that dont feed our kids the proper nutirtion because public beauracracies are satisfed with a formula instead of real nutrition. There are entrenched interests in any system.

          FWIW, in this case, Angela is talking about non profits. So this analogy doesnt even apply.

          you can call me praveen.

          by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:59:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wouldn't fight breaking LAUSD (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, angelajean

            into smaller components.

            I recall them boasting that they'd finally gotten their payroll system 99% accurate. The superintendent and I joked that 1% they were messing up still dwarfed the size of our district's entire payroll. :-)

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:19:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  She's talking about community organized (3+ / 0-)

      non-profit charters, not for profit corporate charters.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:17:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Charter schools are set up to destory public ed (6+ / 0-)

    Sorry - but I am a firm believer in public education - charter schools are set up as 1 step above vouchers as a way to destroy public education in this country.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:34:11 AM PDT

    •  How so? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      I still don't see any meat to any arguments.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:38:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How closely have you followed the issue ? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        avsp, radmul

        You could start with this from the current issue of The Nation. I can give you many more links to bring you up to date. It's about privatization. The US spends $500 billion per on public ed., Big Biz wants a piece of it, that's all.
        It's really not that difficult to understand.

        ¡Viva Baja Libre!

        by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:44:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This sticks out big time: (7+ / 0-)
          In the 1990s, when public charter schools became a halfway house between “choice” and the status quo, there seemed to be a clear distinction between vouchers and charters. Albert Shanker, the visionary president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) who helped launch the charter school movement in 1988, believed that with the right oversight and regulation, charters could bridge the gap and provide choice for teachers, parents and kids stuck in bad schools. In 1993, realizing that charters were being exploited by for-profit entrepreneurs, charlatans and ideologues, he turned against them.

          So, charter schools started out as a solution... big business jumped on board and the solution suddenly turns bad. Sort of like mortgages, right? Do we get rid of the whole housing market to fix mortgages? No. Anymore than we should get rid of all charter schools.

          Charter schools can be a part of the solution. Especially the good ones. I don't see why we have to throw them out in order to improve public education. They can be a part of the mix. Especially in communities where they fit well.

          •  I've been following this issue for decades. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            avsp, michael in chicago, rick

            Friedman's original idea was full-on privatization via a voucher system. Remember, there is no law against starting a private school, anyone who wants to can start one. Ironically, this is not what the "free-market" ideologues want. They want vouchers, like the ones Ryan proposed for health care, where the government collects the tuition, in the form of taxes, and then gives consumers the opportunity to spend their vouchers in a for-profit school. The important thing, for them, is to get the public away from the idea of a good public school in every neighborhood and to get them thinking of education as a consumer product. This is where charters come in. In Arizona, the Right demanded vouchers but settled for charters. This is our beef with charters, they are an intermediate step to privatization, the camel's nose under the tent.

            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:02:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  NOW you're cooking ... sort of (0+ / 0-)

            I DO see why they have to be thrown out. We pretty much need to purge most of them, and then put a serious limit on them UNTIL there is adequate funding for public schools. When there is extra, then by all means expand well-supervised nonprofit charters.

            Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

            by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:14:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You're confusing vouchers with charters (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          congenitalefty

          These are two different things. The article is about vouchers. I am VERY familiar with this subject.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:02:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not confused, read my reply (0+ / 0-)

                 to angelajean, just above.

            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:04:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But we're talking about public charterts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty

              not for-profits or vouchers. Again, there's a big difference.

              Again, the slippery slope argument reeks of so much we hear coming from the rightwing.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:19:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Many charters are already for-profit (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                radmul

                and many administrators of non-profit charters pay themselves outrageous salaries.
                The promotion of "School Choice" is a right-wing campaign.

                ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:25:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It really sounds to me you're prepared to (4+ / 0-)

                  reject them no matter what.

                  I am against for-profit non-inclusive charters.

                  It really is a failure of our imaginations if we can't even countenance an inclusive non-profit school that could be run by members of the community who want to offer progressive education to students who would not otherwise have that opportunity.

                  It's not a matter of "choice" or "competition" but rather of imagining alternative and successful education systems.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:30:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There is no magic bullet, no Superman. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    congenitalefty

                    Our traditional public schools do a good job with kids from middle-class families. The problem is with the disadvantaged kids. This is an economic issue and destroying the traditional public system isn't the answer. You want educational outcomes like Finland's ? Try reducing Income Inequality to Finnish levels.

                    ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                    by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:40:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And what of a charter that has great success (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angelajean, congenitalefty

                      with disadvantaged kids?

                      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:41:04 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not sure that there are any. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        radmul

                        The Potemkin charters get huge amounts of outside funding and it's still not clear that they do any better. Again, it's Income Inequality, not the "teachers's union" or an outdated educational model.

                        ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                        by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:52:38 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  And yet there are people all over this diary (3+ / 0-)

                          including myself who have linked to schools that do have great success. Multiple schools in my very neighborhood. I cans end you to the state database where the scores are given alongside the school's demographics and you can compare to both the public schools in the city and the wealthier public schools in the burbs.

                          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:05:07 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm concerned with the bigger picture. (0+ / 0-)

                            When you've succeeded in tearing down the traditional non-profit system it'll be too late. We won't be able to get it back and we'll be stuck with a corporate, for-profit system like the one we have now for healthcare.

                            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:12:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is why we're having this discussion (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Skex, angelajean, congenitalefty

                            I happen to think that if we ignore the benefits of progressive models (which is where many charters excel) we're only hurting ourselves in this since we will have abrogated the responsibility to corporate and reactionary interests. I think we do ourselves a favor when we emphasize what charters d quite well, and that's empower teachers.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:18:26 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Did you even read (0+ / 0-)

                            my links to The Nation or the Stanford-CREDO study ?
                            83% of charters do no better, or worse, than traditional public schools!
                            This is the problem
                            , and charter schools won't solve it.

                            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:25:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The Nation article was deeply flawed (3+ / 0-)

                            and short on facts.

                            The Stanford Credo study did NOT disambiguate among the types of charter schools.

                            How could you miss that this is precisely what this diary is about? The diary asks that one consider separately the different types of charter schools. The Stanford study did not do that. Repeatedly here, several people have said that we are not in favor of vouchers or for-profit charters. over and over again. And yet it never gets through to you.

                            Above, you stated that no charter shows better results among the disadvantaged, and I said it's not true, there are scores available that show this is not true, and I provided the results of those scores compared to the demographics.

                            I'll offer the same results I mentioned earlier:

                            http://blogs.buffalonews.com/...

                            Look up the scores for Tapestry Charter School in Erie County and compare it to the Buffalo Public Schools. Then compare it to the Williamsville Public Schools (Williamsville being the welathiest suburb of Buffalo), and in particular Heim Elementary and Middle School in Williamsville with its 2% free lunch demographic.

                            40% of the students at Tapestry Charter are African-American, 3% at Heim are African-American. 4% at Heim have free lunch, 31% at Tapestry have free lunch.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:09:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, The Nation article was not deeply flawed. (0+ / 0-)

                            You just didn't get their point or mine. It doesn't matter how many times you repeat that you are not in favor of vouchers or for-profit charters, the general public is not going to disambiguate. They just hear "charters are the solution", so they want charters. I'm glad that you found one of the 17% of charters that outperform TPS, although I'm not that impressed with Gardner and his whacky "Multiple Intelligences", but I'll continue to oppose charters in general because I understand the motives and the methods of the Corporate Right

                            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:03:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I find it interesting that you bring up Gardner (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Azazello

                            and multiple intelligences.

                            How do you feel about left brain and right brain learners?

                          •  I bought into that one in a big way (0+ / 0-)

                            for a while. Now I'm not so sure. Didn't I read somewhere that new research is showing that maybe that distinction is not so cut-and-dried ? Gardner, incidentally, years ago said that some people had gone overboard with the MI thing. One of the most important factors in early childhood ed is the home environment; how much culture, how much conversation, how much TeeVee, things like that. A child's success in the first few years is largely determined by what goes on in their pre-school years at home. I haven't meant to criticize your decision at all in this thread. I'm pretty sure your kids would have done OK no matter what kind of school you chose, or at least that's the impression I get from your writing. Peace.

                            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:00:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One of the problems with theories is that someone (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Azazello

                            always takes it too far... that's why the pendulum swings like it does. But it doesn't negate the original theory.

                            I have limited experience but I do have two right brained learners... I had no idea until we encountered issues with learning to read. I won't go into it here, but I do think we need more people to aware not just of 'learning styles' or of Gardner but of the inherent difference in some kids' brains. Kids are wired differently and different approaches to education can make a huge difference in the lives of kids who are usually labeled slow and behind from a very young age. Ironically, charter schools or public schools that tend to more progressive models help these kids tons... they just don't happen to be a majority of kids in the system.

                          •  Excuse me for having the capacity (0+ / 0-)

                            to think in more complex terms than the knee-jerk reactionaries. If we're going to join the slippery slopers, let's end the push for gay marriage. Sex with frogs is not very appealing to me.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:47:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I ain't all that impressed (0+ / 0-)

                                 with your intellectual abilities and I don't like your insulting tone.

                            ¡Viva Baja Libre!

                            by Azazello on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:30:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I wasn't talking about you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Azazello

                            for heaven's sake. I was responding to your point about the rightwing and those who can't separate the notion of non-profit charters from for-profit charters. Those were the knee-jerk reactionaries.

                            If we're going to sink down to a level where we can't exercise higher intelligence, then we've lost automatically.

                            I'm not here to impress you, by the way.

                            It just seems to me that the principle that we should toss out good ideas because they are being corrupted is more rooted in the way Republicans typically go about life.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:47:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As a note, on free lunch stats (4+ / 1-)
                            Recommended by:
                            aoeu, Ana Thema, cville townie, jgkojak
                            Hidden by:
                            angelajean

                            one thing to watch out for is that 'free lunch' covers a pretty broad range of income levels and situations. In a low poverty situation like you discuss, it's probably telling you what you want to know.

                            In high poverty situations, where you see that a charter and a neighborhood school "match", it may be that the charter school has mostly kids that are on reduced lunch and are in families that are relatively functional financially, but are being counted the same as kids who live on three different couches a week or whose family sleeps in a car.

                            Bruce Baker writes a lot on this at http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/

                            and his point is that we use numbers that are chosen because they are easy to come by rather than because they are accurately reflecting a phenomenon we want to study.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:59:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good point (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            angelajean, Ana Thema

                            You certainly need to break it down. I'm guilty of this myself. When I said above that my daughter's school is 31% free lunch, that wasn't correct. It's 23% free lunch and 8% receive subsidy.

                            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:50:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This HR has to be a mistake. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ana Thema, LaughingPlanet

                            Someone should look into that one . . .

                          •  It was a mistake and now I can't seem to take it (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            aoeu

                            away :(  I got too caught up in other threads and never headed back.

                          •  If you didn't mean it (0+ / 0-)

                            and I'm pretty sure you didn't then the question arises, did you get a warning, and did you answer it or is there a reportable bug?

                          •  You know... I didn't get a warning (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            aoeu

                            and, no I didn't report the bug. I'll do that. thanks.

                          •  Uprated against possible accidental HR (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            LaughingPlanet

                            mistake.

                            “Don't talk unless you can improve the silence.” ~Vermont proverb.

                            by Ana Thema on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:46:12 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  I agree, no magic bullets (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Azazello, congenitalefty, angelajean

                      However, on an individual community level, sometimes there is value in providing an alternative curriculum or structure.

                      Of course, one might ask why they don't exist as magnets within an existing school district? And, one of the reasons has been that charters have some advantages with respect to funding and administration, in some places.

                      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                      by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:54:25 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Define public education (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, congenitalefty

      Look at the LA or Atlanta school boards and tell me they are less corriuptible than a private non profit.

      you can call me praveen.

      by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:38:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know if they are truly corrupt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, congenitalefty

        but my inclination is that boards covering that many schools and students have gotten too far from the kids they serve.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:02:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So there are economies of scale (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        with something like LAUSD, but it also creates a certain sameness and gets the school board very far away from the students and teachers in the classrooms.

        By contrast, you could try something like we tend to have in the rural areas, which is many more small districts that are lightly glued and overseen by a county office of education (with its own board). The county provides a relatively local source of sharable resources and oversight that would be hard to provide to a small district from the state level. But, the districts have a lot more autonomy to react to local conditions and to be responsive to their communities.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:18:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with that. (0+ / 0-)

          As much as I am a strong proponent of alternatives to public schools, I am also pleased to see good suggestions to improve the public schools we do have.  I think we need to attack this in a multi pronged way.  If I am passionate here, it's just that I am fed up with too many generations of undereducated minorities. They deserve better.

          It is beyond the scope of this diary. But I am curious how those limited experiements with providing poor kids from dysfunctional neighborhoods a boarding school environment? It is still cheaper than building prisons for some of them later on. I wish liberal politicians would use the language of the right to sell them on liberal programs like this.

          you can call me praveen.

          by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:32:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a sticky wicket (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thePhoenix13, upstate NY, elfling

    IMO as a society we simply don't devote enough resources to education.

    So instances where unique education opportunities are available can be of great benefit to individual students.

    Charter schools have an upside in that they bring more resources (money and devotion) into education is the short term, but they have a serious downside. They would provide an avenue to those who want to take over some or all of education in the name of Jesus.

    Yes they are out there, and they are willing to spend money, especially if they can promote their faith and expect a profit somewhere down the line.

    One thing would help education IMO and that's decent wages for hard working parents. That would help everybody.

    God is the problem, not the solution.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:55:17 AM PDT

    •  This is the only anti-charter school (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, pravin

      argument I've agreed on here.

      But it does remind us of the favorite argument of Republicans, the so-called slippery slope.

      The idea is to rigidly define what a public charter school is. A for-profit or a religious school should not qualify as a public charter school.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:40:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good luck with that (0+ / 0-)

        The only reason the Republicans want charter schools is so that they can make their religious base happy.

        They certainly don't give a flip about education.

        God is the problem, not the solution.

        by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:44:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Republicans are only taking advantage of charter (0+ / 0-)

          school regulation in some states... perhaps the regulations need to be re-written or atleast fine tuned. It doesn't mean we should throw out all charter school options.

          I made the point above - it's like banks and the mortgage industry. The banks took advantage... we don't get rid of the entire industry. We revamp it. We make sure those that use it, use it honestly and use it well. The same thing should go for charter schools.

          •  IMO the political reality is that (0+ / 0-)

            we have charter schools so that they can have the abuses they have, including for profit and religious charter schools.

            God is the problem, not the solution.

            by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:04:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Charter schools did not originate to give big (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, congenitalefty

              business opportunities to corrupt the system. Charter schools began because parents and teachers were looking for solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable within the traditional system.

              Conservatives are very good about finding ways to take a system and apply their own brand to it... that's what they're doing with charter schools. Why should we have to give up progressive charters? Why don't we point fingers at the real problem - for profit charter schools - and quit trying to take down all charter schools?

        •  So, get rid of charters because (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, congenitalefty

          of for-profits and religious fundamentalists?

          Get rid of charters so that only the well-to-do benefit from progressive curricula?

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:20:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Funny, then, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, elfling

          a local Catholic grade school is turning into a charter school next year, I believe. The school applied for charter status because it can't afford to stay open otherwise. While it is a Catholic school, it's in a very depressed area of town and provided a good education to area kids, Catholic or not. One thing they've been required to do is get rid of all the religious trappings in the building. A friend of mine went there many moons ago so is kept abreast of the happenings. Some folks are up in arms about the loss of the Mary statues, but the school seems happy that it gets to keep going.

          There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

          by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:30:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is interesting. I've not heard of this (0+ / 0-)

            happening before.  I wonder if it's because the local community could no longer afford to pay for the tuition at the school but the church still wants to serve the local community by offering a good school? And, with a charter, they can still offer their teachers jobs and their students an education even if it means giving up the religious side of the equation.

            •  It's a very poor parish. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              They probably couldn't afford the upkeep anymore. (Of course, we won't go into why a wealthy church like the Roman Catholics can't support their poor parishes; just like why in the same area are there schools with professional level sports facilities and others without air conditioning?) Of course, the upside is that the neighborhood kids who were using the school still get to go there and it becomes cheaper for them.

              That's sort of the funny thing about vouchers. I found only a handful of non-religious private schools in the area. The one that was closest to us costs almost six times what the parochial school costs. Generally, that's the typical cost difference I've seen in private schools.  There's no way that a voucher is going to help anyone go anywhere but a religious school. Maybe in other areas of the country?

              There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

              by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:12:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Guesss what public schools in conservative areas (4+ / 0-)

          promote religious ideas too and they find subtle ways to circumvent church and state. Do I really want my future kids to learn from idiot teachers who dont believe in evolution?

          you can call me praveen.

          by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:03:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The real charter downside (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      avsp, Nespolo, Azazello

      is that they are being eyed by wealthy corporate interests as a cash cow. In some states — Ohio, for instance — they are already tools to vacuum scarce education dollars into private pockets as profit. And considering how much money is spend on education, you can bet if this isn't the case in your state already, they are eying you.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:43:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ironically (3+ / 0-)

      The only school option for my son that wasn't run in the name of Jesus was the Charter school.

      I got bad news for some of ya'll, down here in the bible belt our public schools are the right wing fascist factories and the charters are the exception that don't do morning prayers err I mean "moments of silence" and pledges to a cloth under god.

      School boards are a favorite target for the bible thumpers to push their anti-science agenda. They are generally low turn out "non-partisan" (OH how I hate non partisan elections) with very little interest from the general public meaning it's quite easy for the fundies to pack those boards with their wackadoos.

  •  It sounds like a nice idea which (12+ / 0-)

    has provided you some benefits, but I have some problems with it.

    My biggest problem is that you've cut me out of the picture entirely.  I've paid school taxes for over 30 years, but I have no children.  With public schools, I can have a voice in how my money is being spent.  I can vote for school board members and even run for the board if I want.  As a member of the community I can ask questions and make my opinions known.

    By design, the Charter Council was comprised of parents.

    Parents aren't the only ones with a stake in education.  That's why we all pay for it.

    I also have some smaller problems with things like this:

    However, she did not expect me to follow the state standards nor did she require us to complete assignments, etc

    I don't know what that means in practical terms, but if charters aren't being held to the standards then it's going to be a mixed bag of acceptable and unacceptable practices.  There may very well be some that go over and above what is required, and there may be some that don't.  That's why we have standards.  I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while I might approve of a particular charter school, I can't approve of a system that incorporates charter schools unless there's a standard.

    And this -

    A new school opened nearby that provided schooling four days a week of school in the classroom with Fridays off so that families could have more family time.

    How do they make up the time and/or prevent their students from falling behind?  That's got to be roughly 32 fewer classroom days, which is a great deal of time.  What about students who have 2 working parents?  Do they just get more quality daycare time?  

    And finally -  do these schools accept everyone or do they cherry-pick their students?  That's another thing I look for when I'm talking to someone about charter schools.  

    •  No taxation without representation! n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

      by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:20:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also wouldn't a school with Fridays off (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thePhoenix13, avsp, TiaRachel

      self-select from a group of families where a parent can take Friday off or they can afford day care, if the parents work five days a week? That's really a luxury many families can't afford.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:45:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But they don't have to use the school so what does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1, elfling

        it matter? It's not like this charter school would be your only choice in the neighborhood. There was also a local public school that many families used and enjoyed.

        The irony is that this school district had great schools over all. But the community was obviously open to some diverse methods of education - this is Northern California in the Sierra foothills - and this school model was a good fit for a large enough portion of the community.

        Why shouldn't charter schools exist if the community wants them and uses them effectively?

        •  Well, for just that item (0+ / 0-)

          I'm just really questioning the wisdom of doing it at all.  Pointing out the logistical challenges with it was just a side comment.

          To clarify -  if someone wants to tell me why charter schools are good, and they point to things like this as en example, it makes me wonder how interested they are in education.

          As a taxpayer, this is not a feature I'm clamoring for when I say I want to see improvements in education.  In fact it seems to support the opposite.  It makes me wonder what that school is doing with the money they save by not having 5 school days/week, and whether this was some kind of odd cost cutting or money-making scheme.

          •  And you would be welcome to view their records. (0+ / 0-)

            Our budget was spent mainly on teacher salaries. Next, I would say the building. After that, probably books and supplies for the library.

            Each family received a stipend to help pay for classes - we could choose enrichment classes with the school which then came from our stipend or from a list of classes offered in the community that had to be approved by the school district. If we used the stipend to buy curriculum, the curriculum had to be turned into the school at the end of the year so that another family could use it.

            Charters schools are accountable to the people in some way, shape or form. Different states obviously have different rules, but it's not like you can run a charter and just hide how it's managed. It's not like there is really that much money to be made in education in the first place. Honestly, I'm not sure how a for profit charter would actually make money. I think I'm going to have to do some more digging into that one.

            •  But I can't keep up (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dragon5616

              and I suspect most other people couldn't keep up with reviewing multiple schools to make sure that they can provide a reasonable amount of input to make sure their taxes are being used wisely.

              If I have to monitor one school board, I can do that.  (And, boy, do I have to do that here in the bible belt!)  But there's no way I can be an informed citizen and an educated taxpayer for a public school, and a series of charter schools.  It's really too much.

    •  I've answered one by one: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Debby, gramofsam1, Huginn and Muninn

      My biggest problem is that you've cut me out of the picture entirely.  I've paid school taxes for over 30 years, but I have no children.  With public schools, I can have a voice in how my money is being spent.  I can vote for school board members and even run for the board if I want.  As a member of the community I can ask questions and make my opinions known.

      Charter schools in California have to be approved by the local school board and/or school district. They don't just spring up out of nowhere. There is a democratic process involved and it does include the community. Taxpayers, at some point in the process, can give their 2 cents.

      By design, the Charter Council was comprised of parents.
      Parents aren't the only ones with a stake in education.  That's why we all pay for it.

      I believe that most community members don't sit on the local PTA either. If you had wanted a place on the charter council, you could have had one. We did not prevent community members from belonging. Most community members don't want to be bothered to make decisions for the local school.

      However, she did not expect me to follow the state standards nor did she require us to complete assignments, etc
      I don't know what that means in practical terms, but if charters aren't being held to the standards then it's going to be a mixed bag of acceptable and unacceptable practices.  

      That's probably my poor explanation. At the end of the month, when we met, I was not given a list of standards that I had to accomplish for the next month. I was allowed to homeschool by my own guidelines. The only thing I was prevented from using for work samples were religious curriculum, not a problem for us. The teacher would take whatever work we had accomplished and match it to the guidelines set by the State. But I never had to figure out where we fit into the bigger picture. Does that make it a little clearer? The school very much had a responsibility to the State.

      A new school opened nearby that provided schooling four days a week of school in the classroom with Fridays off so that families could have more family time.
      How do they make up the time and/or prevent their students from falling behind?  That's got to be roughly 32 fewer classroom days, which is a great deal of time.  What about students who have 2 working parents?  Do they just get more quality daycare time?  

      I'm not sure how they managed. I know the school was full - many families loved this model. I know that the school district was happy with the school. I know that their test scores must have been sufficient because the school was still open when we left. Can't ask for much more than that. Happy teachers, happy staff, happy students, happy parents, happy school district, happy community.

      And finally -  do these schools accept everyone or do they cherry-pick their students?

      The schools I know about in California could and would take anyone. I don't know of a school that had an actual waiting list. Most schools would try to add space and take all the students that were interested in attending. However, I am only familiar with a small corner of California. I think this would be an interesting area to follow up on - it's been referred to again and again in the comments and I wonder how true the statement - Charter Schools can handpick their students - really is.  

      •  Ca. seems to be quite a bit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TiaRachel

        more strict with their implementation of charters, at least in your area.  But that brings me back to a point which I guess a few other people here have made.  That is that your diary, including the title, is a bit of a strawman, in that there really are very few people here who would claim that there are no good charter schools.   In fact it brings up the question of definitions.

        Is a school that's run by the public school board, using public money, accepting all students, adhering to state and federal standards, and accepting public input a charter school?  What then makes a "charter school" different from a public school?

        In most of the discussions here on charter schools, you get a pretty good consensus that it's entirely possible to create a great school outside the public school system.  The problem many of us have with these schools is that when such a school shows great results, it's because of one of two things:

        elitism

        or magic dust, which somehow can't possibly be replicated in a public school, even though the charter uses the same buildings, the same teachers, and the same student body.

        So, pretty well no one who discusses the subject seriously here will make the claim your diary tries to refute -  that there are no good charter schools.  What we DO tend to say, though, is that the policy of setting up charter schools is not good.  It's often biased, elitist, unevenly administered, and it removes resources from the public schools needed by ALL the kids to be successful.  In addition, it exposes us to providing taxes to support some of the worst educational approaches with no oversight. If we need to dictate very specifically what charter schools should be in order to make sure we don't get the undesirable ones, there's no reason not to just make that happen in the public schools for everyone.

        •  Here at my school (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clues, elfling

          we prefer to use pixie dust. It is Southern Calif after all.

          ;)

        •  In California a charter school is different from a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Huginn and Muninn

          public school in a couple of different ways.

          First off - a charter school actually files a charter with the local school district and the charter has to be approved. The charter includes school governance, how the school will operate, basic rules and regs for the charter council, etc. It's a pretty indepth process, actually. There are a couple of organizations in CA that will help you prepare your charter. I believe a charter is good for 5 years and then it has to be approved again. Charter schools are up for review.

          Second - charter schools follow a different set of regulations than public schools. This is what allows them to have more freedom in operation, especially in that they can set up shop in some pretty untraditional settings. That said, the setting still has to meet State Standards for Educating Children - no hazardous materials, etc. And the building also has to meet ADA requirements.

          Third - charter schools have control over their own school calendar. There is no requirement to match the same calendar as the local school district.

          How charters are not different - they have to follow the same State Standards for Education, what math gets taught what year, etc. That stays the same.

          If teachers want to unionize, the charter school is obligated to allow unionization.

          If charters want national funding they have to do standardized testing, just like public schools.

          Those are the barebones but I hope it helps you understand a little more how they are the same and how they are different.

          And I guess you might call my title a strawman... but from the amount of conversation happening I'd say this was a conversation ready to be had. I have a feeling we'll be seeing it repeated in the next few months. That can only be good... we really do need some solutions. Our education system in the United States is struggling in many, many places and for many different reasons. Any successful school, in my book, is  a good thing whether we call it a charter school or a public school.

          Would you be interested in writing some diaries for the group?

    •  I'd like to know where you live (0+ / 0-)

      In every city I've lived in over the last 2 years (in RI, CT, MA, NY, PA and MI) the school boards have been political types with very little of the type of investment that might yield good results. If I saw a school board that worked well in administering education, I might change my mind.

      So, when you allow for the principle behind charters but question the reality, I do too but from a  reverse point-of-view. From my experience, I would trust an educator at a non-profit community based charter school 100 times before my local board of ed.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:24:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BaxKen

        I do the opposite of this -

        So, when you allow for the principle behind charters but question the reality

        I allow for the reality that there may indeed be some good charter schools (as well as some horrendous ones) out there.  What I don't like is the principle of charter schools, because it allows for both the charter schools I like as well as the ones I don't, especially when charters are allowed to be privatized.

        My take on charter schools is this -  we need to improve education for ALL the students, not just some of the students who happened to win a lottery.  Many times someone will point to a "good" charter school, and talk about their achievements and their alternate teaching methods.  If we really do have a school that has found methods that improve education, why do these schools have to be "special" and "charters" and only for some students?  Why aren't these methods rolled back into the public schools to improve education for everybody?

        I would have no problem with charters if the idea behind them was to develop ideas for better education, with the goal of rolling those ideas (and the Charter school) back into the public system at the end of the project.

        There seems to be some sort of magic fairy dust contained in these schools that make them very wonderful, and that cannot possibly be used in the public schools, necessitating the creation of more and more "charters".

        The endgame of this plan seems to be to subvert support for public education by dividing everyone into small self-selected groups, probably with privatization in mind for the future.

        •  Almost everyone on Daily Kos (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, elfling

          is not in favor of privatization and for-profits and vouchers, so we're all agreed there.

          Your question about incorporating progressive educational models is an excellent one, but it needs some skepticism. Are local school boards capable of recommending progressive curricula? What these curricula require is a great deal of hands-on experience. You simply must have a principal and surrogates who are involved. This is what charters do. They obliterate the administrative strata between politicians, school boards, principals and teachers. They walk hand-in-hand with teachers into a curriculum which is often new to the teachers themselves and certainly the parents and students.

          For this to work in the larger system, you'd have to eviscerate administration, empower principals and teachers.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:51:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

            but if charters are created with the goal of developing better approaches in mind , then a school board would have a pretty hard time throwing it all out at the end of the project.
            It also bring up another point -  either school boards have control over charters or they don't.

            If they do, then they'd prevent the charters from doing these things in the first place, as you point out.  If they don't, then that prevents the public from being involved.

            Maybe what we need are not better schools but better school boards.

            Wouldn't that be an interesting proposal?  Instead of beating up on teachers what if we started holding school boards' feet to the fire and make them accountable for results instead?

            •  The school boards should perhaps be run (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Clues, angelajean

              by LICENSED EDUCATORS, and then we'd get somewhere. When school boards approve charters, they wait for the results, and perhaps that's what a politician should do, and that's fine, but I'm pretty sure they don't actually take great interest in the nature of the curriculum itself.

              I am of course leery of results oriented school boards precisely because they are liable to reduce education to the most common denominator.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:14:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  School boards approve of charters because (0+ / 0-)

              charters bring in money.

              In the state of California, it is possible to attract students from a neighboring school district to attend a charter school. Any student from a county that borders the county where the charter school resides may attend a charter school in the neighboring county.

              This is where your argument about taking money from public schools comes in. Sometimes, these students come from public schools in neighboring counties. Competition can be fierce among school districts to create the best charter to attract the students back. And then they create an even better model sometimes.

              •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

                The charter gets its own money, which does not go to the district. It generally will take some students away from the existing schools, causing a drop in enrollment and potentially causing layoffs or school closures among the neighborhood schools.

                This is more of an issue in areas where enrollment is stable or declining than in a district that is growing.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:20:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Good charters in CA seem to be responding (0+ / 0-)

          to a couple of different issues.

          1. A school district that is too large.
          2. A community with specific unmet needs or desires. You could include people who want Waldorf or Montessori, and some who want a more independent study situation, and also sometimes people who want more foreign language instruction.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:17:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  one comment only here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      regarding the less time spent in class...i don't know how many times i heard from my kids that they watched a movie at school. these were rarely instructional videos...they were mostly rented the night before by kids in their class and viewed during the school day...
      while i also believe that more classtime is needed, i guess it actually comes down to how that time is spent, eh?
      btw, this was in a very highly regarded public school system in a northwest milwaukee area suburb.

      •  Malpractice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, Dragon5616

        is what that is and it should be treated as such. Teachers that do this or allow this need to be called on it. That means administrators need to confront and earn their salaries. First time, letter to file. Second time, sit down and make sure everything is clear about what the problem is and what happens if it continues. Third time you're fired. Bet that would stop random videos in the classroom real quick.

    •  Our public school did a 4-day week (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      for a year.

      It was paired with an aggressive afterschool program that could offer art and music and science and other stuff, along with a strategy to move all sports to Fridays.

      I think it worked pretty well for the community, but there were some financial disadvantages and some logistical issues since it shared staff with a 5-day a week school.

      Now, the whole school system is on a 4 1/2 day schedule, which kept most of the advantages of both.

      This is a neighborhood public school, not a charter, and there are more than a few schools - mostly rural - who do 4 day schools in something like 20 different states.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:09:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  angelajean, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, avsp, Debby, Azazello, radmul

    thanks for bringing your personal experience to the table and starting a discussion.

    Let me say two things:

    1. I have no problem with anyone who wants to homeschool his/her kid. It's a free country.

    2. I have a big problem with spending federal, state, or local tax dollars on homeschoolers, for-profit schoolers, and private schoolers.

    Just my two cents.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

    by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:24:52 AM PDT

    •  But you're leaving out what she's discussing... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, Pager

      which is, public charters that are not-for profit.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:40:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What Clues said above. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

        by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:55:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He said a lot of things (0+ / 0-)

          What are you referring to?

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:41:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
            With public schools, I can have a voice in how my money is being spent.  I can vote for school board members and even run for the board if I want.  As a member of the community I can ask questions and make my opinions known.

            (snip)

            I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while I might approve of a particular charter school, I can't approve of a system that incorporates charter schools unless there's a standard.

            "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

            by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:46:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No one here disagrees that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              there should be standard for charter schools. The entire diary is about that. The OP is literally saying we shouldn't throw the bay out with the bath water. And if Clues feels that he might approve of charters that were not non-profit or relied on vouchers, that's at least some common ground.

              As for the earlier point about represented by the politicians on the school board, we disagree in the sense that I'm much more comfortable putting my faith in dedicated teachers and principles than I am with anything my school board would have to say.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:03:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  She (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling

                And really, I don't think I would approve of charters in any form.  What I think I WOULD approve of is a new model for public education where, if the district is big enough to need multiple elementary schools, for example, they could produce 3 different educational models and anyone in the district could send their kids to whichever one they wanted.  Such an approach would also need to compare results and modify the schools to adopt methods from each other if those methods were producing excellent results.

                I don't see why we would have to set such schools apart by calling them "charters".  I don't see why public education cannot be innovative and flexible, and why improvements being made by various schools aren't adopted back into the mainstream.

                I firmly believe that setting such schools apart as something special, something different, does set them up as trojan horses for privatization, and the easy way around that is to create such schools under the umbrella of public schooling.  This also serves to preserve the entire community's stake in the school.

                Caveat -  if we are talking about a district that only has one school for each grade level, then I don't approve of setting up any parallel schools until the prior ones are fully funded.

                •  Once you have lots of administrators (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  they become entrenched, and they become entrenched. With the high stakes involved in testing now, in the future it will be ever more so that they will need to please school boards and politicians. I think that's the basic problem. Not enough faith in teachers leads to a reliance on administrators.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:13:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The reason public schools (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, elfling

                  can't be flexible is mostly political. It's also a matter of scale. It's like comparing being a cook at a small bistro to being a cook at a cafeteria. One can focus on individual details and specialty sauces while the other has to come up with a product that palatable for the majority of his diners. Which is why cafeteria food tends to be bland compared to specialized alternatives.

                  My point though isn't that the public school system couldn't do what charters do but rather they aren't and realistically they won't.

                  In a perfect world everyone would get access to the best possible education and every school would have identical and adequate resources.

                  But we don't live in a perfect world we live in one where the religious right likes packing school boards with anti-science creationists who want to teach that the Earth is 6000 years old and that oils is an unlimited resource that we can just keep drilling for.

                  The left is giving up a valuable opportunity to turn the tide by ignoring the Charter school system why not use a little ideological judo on the right and turn their own tool against them?

                  •  So the real argument then (0+ / 0-)

                    Is to abandon the public schools en masse, and create a network of smaller schools, because the public schools are politically unfixable?

                    I understand that somewhat, because I grew up in a smallish town, and find it to be the ideal way to live.  But in order for me to consider this a good idea, you'd have to overcome this:

                    But we don't live in a perfect world we live in one where the religious right likes packing school boards with anti-science creationists who want to teach that the Earth is 6000 years old and that oils is an unlimited resource that we can just keep drilling for.

                    Those people aren't going to go away just because we break up massive school systems into little bits. And if you're considering this solely from the perspective of a parent with a school-aged kid, then I guess you might not care.  There will be enough small bits that suit your outlook (whether you're progessive or a fundamentalist conservative), and you win!  You get the kind of education you want your child to have.

                    From my perspective as a taxpayer who is deeply concerned that all the kids in this country get a sane, rational education that prepares them to be good citizens, this is an awful solution.  If you get to teach what YOU want, then so do they, unless of course, some overlord steps in to regulate it all...and then we're right back where we started.

                    •  No that's not the argument (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angelajean, elfling

                      You're fighting a strawman.

                      My argument is that the Charter system is a reality period. Good bad or indifferent it's a reality we have to work with.

                      Another reality is that there isn't the political will to do what really needs to be done to truly fix the public school system. Which mainly comes down to spending more money to hire teachers to bring down the student to teacher ratio. Whether it's the rational smart or best thing to do is irrelevant because it's not going to fucking happen.  Because it would require generating more revenue which means RAISING TAXES which is the one thing effectively zero politicians are interested in doing.

                      So those facts being understood I argue that it makes sense from a progressive point of view to work within the available reality to make the best of the situation.

                      Part of that work would be to use the charter school system to demonstrate how the public school system could be improved by creating educator owned and operated not for profit charters that use the sort of methodologies that we know would work in public schools.

                      It's not like Charters are going to go away just because we don't take advantage of the opportunity. Hell you never know if the most effective charter programs turn out to be progressively biased the right might torpedo the project itself to stop the spread of librul ideology.  

                •  You need some time on a school board. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, elfling, Clues

                  Where are you going to get the money and buses to move all these kids to whichever school their parents selected? There's been a lot of disparagement of school boards on the thread and I'm guilty as sin myself through my 30-year  teaching career.

                  [insert Mark Twain quote re how god experimented with stupid with the school board but then perfected it with Congress]

                  Fact is they are usually well-intention folks willing to do a thankless job involving constantly trying to get ten pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag while everyone throws rocks at you. I'm amazed anyone will run. One of my favorite board members was referred to as the 'spawn of satan' in a letter-to-the-editor.

                  I caution you about turning everything over to the professional educators. That can also go very very strange very very quickly. Schools belong to the community and the community needs a say in how they are run. That give and take, thesis, antithesis, synthesis process is very American and gets good results. Careful about messing with it too much.

                  Notice how much discussion this thread generates. Public schools might go down the toilet in this country but not without a fight.

                  •  It depends on the city (0+ / 0-)

                    It's not lost on many of us in my town that our local state reps are all ex-school board, and half of them the scions of local families. They kowtow to bankers who actual run the search for our Superintendent!!

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:53:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  How about homeschoolers that use a (0+ / 0-)

      not for profit charter school model like the one we used?

      How do you feel about that?

      •  Unless the school (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radmul

        is subject to a public school board, held to the same standards as public schools, and open to all, then I'm against tax dollars being spent on them.

        I am not in favor of a school controlled by parents of the students attending that spends my tax dollars without my input.

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

        by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:41:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again, I wonder where you live that you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Skex

          have so much faith in your public school board. In my experience, they are politicians with very little understanding of educational issues. They are not educators. I'd much rather insist on dedicated teachers and then put all my faith in them than I would in school boards.

          What standards are you referring to when you say the same standards?

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:55:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, the local school board (0+ / 0-)

            in most places is not professional politicians since it rarely is a substantially-paid position.

            Our local school board is made up entirely of former educators.

            I think representative democracy works pretty well.

            What do I mean by standards? Required courses, graduation tests, state content standards met, hours/days of attendance. The whole ball of wax.

            The charter school described is essentially a private school, run by parents of the students, which gets to whatever they want. The public has no say. You can call it a "charter school," but it's a private school using public funds.

            "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

            by Dragon5616 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:06:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't had a school board of educators (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              in any of the towns in the 8 states I've lived in (northeast and midwest) so my experience is different than yours.

              Public charters have the exact same standards when it comes to testing and such that the system schools do.

              By the way: why required courses? That's way too restrictive for me. If someone can tailor courses that are more effective, why would we make that a uniform requirement?

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:20:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The bad school board argument doesn't wash (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radmul

            with me.

            First of all, it's anecdotal, which means it's not of much use in a discussion about national policies and standards.

            Second, what you're basically saying is that your local democracy is broken, so you're leaving democracy behind and going to some other method of representation (or lack of it) in regards to schools.  In this country we are generally stuck fixing our broken democracy because the alternatives are much worse.  We can't abandon representative government because we've elected bad people in some places.

            •  You're making assumptions about how (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              democracy should work that assume a well constructed system. School boards are open to anyone who wants to secure a school board seat. In my area, we have a policeman, a restaurant owner, a dentist, a public servant, a banker, a former legislative assistant and a lawyer on our board. Not a one of them is an educational expert.

              The democratic system as its constructed is not broken. Rather, it optimizes failure.

              We need to put our trust in educational professionals.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:21:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So, why not run better candidates? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                That's what we're supposed to do in a democracy.

                Typically, school boards are low information and sometimes uncontested races. But they don't have to be.

                Course, if your electorate sucks, that's another problem, harder to solve.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:28:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not everyone has the TIME for school board politic (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26

                  But people have enough time to figure out which school works for their kids. That is the flaw in the argument where public school purists expect some poor working mom to also have the energy to play a big role to reform her school board in a couple of years so her child is not deprived of a qualty education.

                  you can call me praveen.

                  by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:09:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If in the whole community (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mostel26, angelajean

                    you can't find 5 people who find it important enough to take on one or two evening meetings a month, then you have a problem.

                    It doesn't have to be and probably can't be that mom. But it does have to be somebody, and it could be someone retired or whose kids are grown.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:26:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  you're both missing the point (0+ / 0-)

                      I bet in most cases a TON of people would be happy to serve on a school board. Most school board elections in PA and NJ are scheduled in a way that is 100% partisan and relies on being the endorsed candidate of the local party in power.

                      •  Maybe I am missing the point (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        angelajean

                        But, first you said there were no candidates. So step 1 is finding someone (if not 3 or 5 someones) who will do the job and do it ethically and well.

                        Step 2 is getting that person elected. If it will be a contested race, then support has to be built for that candidate to inform the electorate of the new better choice.

                        The person with the most votes wins. Money and connections to the party boss are nice, but they don't win the election per se. Daily Kos is all about using activism to get more and better progressive Democrats in office, including the school board.

                        Find your candidate. Get them to agree to file. Maybe your candidate doesn't feel up to a race, to raising money, or drumming up votes. But maybe that's just fear of doing it alone. The rest of the community can make an effort - if it's important enough - to get the word out, even without money. All you need are a bunch of people with friends who will tell two more friends. You can pool this effort across multiple candidates, too.

                        Daily Kos is here precisely to solve the problem you describe. Find your candidate. Diary and ask for help. You might even succeed.

                        Good luck!

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:54:58 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  oops, missed that (0+ / 0-)

                        you were not the person who wrote the original comment that there were no candidates. But the rest of my reply stands. :-)

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:57:10 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  It is not just me (0+ / 0-)

                      What if a poor family lives in an area where the majority opt to elect a bunch of idiots? Should this family have to move? Thei vote obviously means little. And for them to lobby others to vote for better candidates would take time that they might not have. That is what I meant.

                      you can call me praveen.

                      by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 10:27:16 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  In my city, it's all grassroots. (0+ / 0-)

                  Every church is affiliated, every grassroots organization, every section of town according to ethnicity. It's a machine. We have a progressive spine running through the middle of it and that school board member is a beacon of light. Currently, however, the mayor's stooge chairs a school board aligned with some of the more retrograde actors in town. I can't see any good coming out of their woeful efforts.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:55:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  What do you mean it doesn't wash? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              Geezus the school board here in Texas is constantly doing it's damndest to destroy our education system how the hell could you miss that?

              School boards tend to be low turn out low interest elections that are a favorite target of the fundamentalist wackadoos. They are usually non-partisan (read you have no fucking clue what they stand for) and the outcomes are easily influenced by small groups of determined people.

              I don't know what fantasy world you're living in.

              •  I didn't say they didn't suck (0+ / 0-)

                I'm just saying that if you take away the public's right to make decisions about schools, who do you give it to?  There are actually some decent answers to that question, but all the best ones also provide some sort of accountability to the public.

                Creating special schools to get out from under that mess leaves us with a system where people end up having to pay for public schools run by the school board as well as charter schools run by whoever runs them, having abandoned the public school kids to whatever stupid decisions the board makes, and having no input at all about the replacement schools.

                You do realize that in some parts of the country the fundie whackadoos are in the minority and say the same things about THEIR school boards, and they can now get out from under that and set up fundie whackadoo schools that I have to pay for, because with charters, everybody gets to be whoever they want to be.

                It's just a bad way to fix the problem.

              •  One serious suggestion (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know if it's this way in all areas, but in California, if you want to put a statement on the ballot you have to pay a significant amount of money to do so. In my particular district, the position is unpaid, so no one ever does.

                They're low interest because they're low information, and low information is a solvable problem, especially now that we have the internet and distribution is cheap.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:30:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I've defended school boards (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean, upstate NY

              in an earlier post which as a career teacher makes my skin crawl a bit. You guys make very good points about the weaknesses of school boards.

              Mostly, folks get on because they have an agenda and no clue what's involved in running a schools system. By the time they start to catch on they've screwed up so much they are unelectable again the whole thing starts over.

              Sometimes I think it's a wonder the kids even got fed.

              •  Sounds to me like we all agree that (0+ / 0-)

                school boards need to be revamped.

                I can't even imagine how we would begin that process but it is an interesting idea. They seem to be a lynch pin in a lot of this process.

                •  In my district (0+ / 0-)

                  which is very small, the school board is volunteer and generally candidates have to be recruited by the existing board and superintendent. I don't know if our luck in creating a good board is something that can be replicated with rules and procedures.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:34:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If they're recruited, and there's a tradition (0+ / 0-)

                    of bringing people on with some experience in education (I'm not talking about teachers) yours is eons better than mine.

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 08:57:07 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Essentially, then, you could support the CA (0+ / 0-)

          charter system as it meets your criteria.

          A school board is involved in approval, and reapproval so many years.

          The charter schools are required to teach the same state standards as public schools.

          And, I'll one up you. They are required to allow teachers to unionize if the teachers want it.

  •  Charter Schools=Public School Choice & Competition (7+ / 0-)

    I also find the knee-jerk rejection of charter schools among liberals and progressives to be a wrong-headed broad brush. The immediate closed-minded reaction is that it is an attack on public schools and teachers unions, and both points to me seem fallacious.  Charter schools are public, and are held to public review, usually by school boards.  And, at least in California, teachers by law can, by majority vote of themselves within a school, join or form a union.

    Isn't one of the progressive principles to be community-based, and encourage grassroots diversity, rather than rely upon a bureaucratic/corporate hierarchy?  To me, charters introduce such diversity and choice. Since typical public schools can have issues, the big downside is there NO CHOICE.  So charters, in my experience, help keep kids in the public school system. And if any charter has "issues", student are free to choose another or enroll in school district-run schools --and the charter may not survive if it can't hold onto students. A little competition is a good thing.

    We have a few charters, a couple of which work terrific for students that blossom with their approach. I ran for school board, primarily based charterizing most of our budget-starved district, with idea to save some of the millions spent on 40+ administrators making >$100K.  I was successful in getting the idea to the front, though not elected.  One thing that was very disappointing was the stream of mindless negative feedback from Kossacks ("FAIL!").  I held that our community was more thoughtful and openminded than, say, the Fox viewership.  Apparently, not so on this topic for a good chunk of "progressives".

    •  I buy some of what you're selling but (0+ / 0-)

      not the competition part. If it's competition they're after, then charters are a failure.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:41:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Choice = Competition (0+ / 0-)

        Why would charters be a failure to introduce competition? Please explain....

        from my perspective, they offer a choice, and therefore compete to attract students. A charter school that does not provide a good learning experience is going to fail, one that does will grow.  

        •  I'm just not keen on the idea (0+ / 0-)

          that schools are competing in that sense. I don't see it.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:22:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok, but consider: Colleges compete (0+ / 0-)

            So, its accepted in the education sector. I'd rather have choices in the K-12 range, too.  What's the downside?

            •  The difference is that the competition (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              at the college level occurs mostly at the level of money. Schools with the most money and the most research $$ are the best schools, by and large. While at the primary/secondary level, the difference is not so wide. There's a huge gulf at the college level. U Michigan spends $40k per student whereas E. Michigan which is 7 miles away might spend $10k. not to mention that schools cull applicants according to their academic achievement. This means that kids with lesser abilities attend lesser schools. I would never want to see that sort of distinction being made among, let's say, 8 year olds.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:17:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Charters compete w =$'s and lottery admissions (0+ / 0-)

                I see what you are saying about colleges, and that would apply to private schools.  But charters get the same money per student as other public schools (minus fees by the district for facilities), AND (generally and in CA) they have strict rules about using a lottery for admission.  So, that scenario where money and/or talent leads to elitism cannot happen with charters.  Its more like the car races where everyone has the same car, and the difference is the driver.  Charters get the same money, accept the students that apply on a random basis, and we see which schools perform better.  IMHO that is VERY HEALTHY competition.  If my school isn't cutting it, I'll put my child somewhere else. Plus, with different styles of teaching (innovative, traditional, etc.) I would get more choice to match what works best for my student. Diversity, choice and competition leads to "best of breed".

      •  It does create a good competition (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pravin

        in my experience.

        I think one of the most important things is just giving people the choice, even if they never take it. I recall when my daughter was having issues with another student. She had totally shut down and figured her life was ruined forever. Among my advice and ideas for her, I suggested to her that we could change her to another school if it was simply unbearable.

        The change in her attitude was immediate and positive. She thought it over and decided that starting at a new school wasn't better, and that maybe she could work it out with the other student. But having that choice allowed her to step out of the box.

        I think the same is true for parents. If they are talking with a principal and not getting satisfaction for whatever reason, they can leave, taking their child and the money that goes with the child to another school. Both sides know it, and it affects the negotiations in a positive way. I think that's a very healthy thing.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:39:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you're the only one claiming that a position (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      avsp, Clues, TiaRachel, Azazello

      is the "progressive" one, and all the other "progressives" are telling you it's not, then perhaps you are the one who needs to rethink what constitutes a "thoughtful and openminded" approach to these issues, not us.

      Progressives do indeed favor community-based, grassroots diversity - it's why we favor fully funded public schools, and oppose efforts by corporatists, elitists, and the purveyors of "free-market solutions" to siphon off scant resources and bust employees' professional associations through the establishment of charters.

      •  I think today's public schools are no longer (0+ / 0-)

        community based nor grassroots. We've lost that along the way.

        Maybe charters are away to rediscover those community roots. Maybe charter schools will force local communities to really analyze their education models and start to find real solutions.

        Of course, until NCLB essentially changes or is repealed, public schools have their hands tied.

        •  I respectfully disagree (except about repealing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          NCLB).  The public school in which I teach (pop. 2000) last year produced 24 National Merit Semi-Finalists and graduated several dozen International Baccalaureate diploma candidates.  It's not that way by accident: the community itself is concerned about education (voted itself a tax increase to support the district in the last election), and a culture has developed in which active parent participation is expected, not just encouraged, from newcomer and townie alike.  True, we're not nearly as transient as a town with a military base, but do take in a wide range of students every year, especially given my state's Open Enrollment laws.  It's because we've resisted calls to put our salaries and due process rights in the hands of parent committees that we're successful - operating as a public school has allowed us to maintain a level of academic rigor that is all too often lacking in places where interested parties have control over the paychecks of the people who assign their kids' grades.

          As an Air Force brat and a product of DoDDS myself, it's disconcerting to hear that inconsistency and inadequate funding have led military families to hive off and form their own schools - that sort of disconnect between communities and the families of the servicemembers who protect them didn't exist a generation ago...at least, not as I remember it.  It's a shame, really - I like to think that in my senior year, after we'd moved back to the States following three years in Panama, I was able to contribute a little to expanding the worldview of the tiny Mormon cow town in which we were next stationed.

          •  Actually, when I re-read my comment, (0+ / 0-)

            I realize that I, too, had made a blanket statement that I should not have made. I think a lot of public schools have lost connection with their communities. You probably still won't agree, but I feel better saying that.

            And you misunderstand the school we attended... it wasn't just military kids at all. We actually went off base for a lot of our activities and met local kids that lived in a couple of towns in the Sierra Foothills. We made some great connections in that community through our charter school. If we would have used the school on base, we would have only met other military families. And, like you, we found that the local community knew little about military families and that we were a surprise to them. They learned a lot from us as well. They were surprised to meet a homeschooling family that was military and didn't use religious curriculum! We helped to breakdown a few stereotypes that year.

            Your public school model sounds like a wonderful one. I think the key to the successes of both of our schools is community involvement. And that is such a local issue. We can't make that happen with a national platform. Maybe we can make it easier for the community to become involved, but we certainly can't legislate it.

        •  That's wrong — they are VERY community based (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          In fact, we are so balkanized here. The GOOD charter schools — the handful there are — shatter the community by drawing from all over, or maybe they form a different kind of community. The rotten ones, the majority, are just another brick being kicked out of the wall of community.

          Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

          by anastasia p on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:19:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This can be true too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            But sometimes communities based on something other than geography are important. It's always a tradeoff.

            There are some really great schools for gifted kids out there, as magnets within the public system. I would argue that if you can create a critical mass of these kids, that it benefits them dramatically with no harm to the others, to provide them a specialized school.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:44:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "all over" (0+ / 0-)

            The only issue with drawing from a wide area is that kids lose out on a chance to participate in extra curricular activities, work, relax, do homework, sleep, etc. as the length of their bus rides increase.

      •  Many progressive support nonprofit charters (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, elfling, upstate NY

        Look, there are different flavors of charters, and a significant segment of the DK community has been supportive of the good types, particularly nonprofits.  I don't support for-profit charters, as the goal is education, not profit.  The charters that I know of were started by teachers, with parents-- nothing elitist (California charters have a lottery to get in) or corporate about that.  

        So I think we are in agreement that for-profit, corporate-based charters aren't fitting with the progressive philosophy.    Just don't put the innovative teacher-originated community alternatives to the bureaucratic one-size-fits-all monolithic district adminstration industry in the same bucket.

    •  Very well stated. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BaxKen

      Agreed 100%

      Maybe our experience with California Charters is the key.

      Is there a difference between how charters run in the state of California from other states? My guess is yes and probably, some pretty major differences. If we could figure those out, maybe we could begin to see what actually works and what doesn't.

      Would you be interested in writing some education diaries for the group? We're new and looking to expand... we want to see more conversations about this.

    •  This is similar to a states' rights argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      Yes, you may have fabulous progressive charter schools in Ca. that actually allow public participation and adhere to all the federal standards for public schools.  Maybe they don't teach religion, and subvert science.  But by touting your wonderful charters, you are allowing other states to implement theirs, and some of them are NOT  bastions of progressive thought.

      Typically , proponents of states' rights allow states like Ca. to enact any type of civil liberties legislation they like, but reserve their own rights to not provide any civil liberties whatsoever.

      You could cut this off at the knees by simply implementing a public school system which included diverse methods of learning, and skipping the whole "charter" terminology and ideology  altogether.   I don't understand why this isn't being done.

      (And after doing some reading, I'm not convinced CA charters are as open to public participation as has been touted here, but that would take me a great deal more investigation than I have time for today)

  •  I see two idea's (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, upstate NY, Debby, bsegel, elfling

    being pushed in the comments here that are not mutually exclusive.

    Yes Charter schools were created as an attack on public education. but, like the Diarist points out not all Charter schools are a part of that plot.

    The rules that allow the right to try and undermine public education via charters also allow the left to demonstrate some of our own education principles.

    Understand I used to be in the camp of "Charter schools bad, hulk smash" but then my son was diagnosed with severe ADHD, as well as a probable sensory integration disorder and P.A.N.D.A.S. essentially a bundle of developmental handicaps that frankly the public school system wasn't set up to handle.

    This was obvious in the first month he spent at the local public school which was a constant stream of notes from his kindergarten teacher and the nightly tear fests as we tried different strategies to get his behavior under control.

    Luckily for us my wife had insisted on us trying to enroll him in a local charter school that she liked (which I had acquiesced to because I like being a HAPPILY married man) while he didn't make the cut for the first lottery they ended up making an additional kindergarten class and enough people decided to continue in what ever other education options they'd went with and he got in.

    Now he definitely had problems and we remained in regular communications with the staff including the behavioral councilor that was on staff with whom my son has developed a very close relationship with. But this school was far more accommodating of his needs than the public school had been.

    When the public school system had evaluated him they determined that he was with in behavioral norms yet when we took him for actual psychological testing the testing showed he was anything but.

    Now understand this is a charter that's run the way many on the left wish the public schools were run. It's basically a hippy commune type school complete with a functional garden and a chicken coop. It's pass fail only no letter grades and the only testing that's done is the legally mandated standardized tests.

    The classes are mixed grades with two teachers per class at least one of whom is special ed certified. It has lots of outside play time rather than the 30 minutes of recess per day that our public school has, and they have a nature hike every Friday.

    It's small enough that all the teachers know my son and can accommodate his behavior issues.

    There is nothing that I'm aware of that says a charter school has to be run as a for profit enemy of the public school system. It is entirely possible to run one as an extension of the public school systems as a test bed as it were for other education paradigms that aren't readily acceptable for mass adoption in the public school system at large.

    As I said at one time I was one of those public school or nothing anti-charter school folks. But I have come to think that the left is making a huge mistake in not taking advantage of the charter school system to push some of the teaching paradigms that we know work.

    If a district cuts teachers then why can't those teachers gather together and create a collective charter, Rather than a privately owned for profit charter why not a teacher owned collective?

    Since the right has no qualms using the Public Education system to push their memes (school prayer, the pledge) why shouldn't we return the favor and use the charter system to make the types of schools we'd like to see our public system be made of?

    •  Can I ask which state this school is in? (0+ / 0-)

      And would you be willing to write a diary about it?

      I think another diary could really further the conversation. I would be very willing to send you an invite to write for our group.

      •  Texas and I'm thinking about it. (0+ / 0-)

        I don't diary very often and education isn't really my issue of interest (not that I'm not interested just that I tend to be more economics focused)

        I might write something up though. In fact I'd been thinking about doing one on P.A.N.D.A.S since not many people seem to have heard of it and it kind of ties into the potential value of charters to the left.

        Hell I hadn't heard of P.A.N.D.A.S myself until my son's psychiatrist suggested we have him checked for strep after he had a particularly bad regression when he went from sleeping in his own room through the night to insisting on sleeping in our bed because the nightmares were in his bed but not the big bed.

        •  We recently lived in Texas and I noticed that (0+ / 0-)

          there are far fewer charters available there than in California. I wondered it that was a result of the charter schools laws in the state or the lack of desire of the local populace to use charter schools.

          I'm sending you an invite so that if you decide to write that diary, you can publish it with the group.

    •  Where's the money coming from? (0+ / 0-)
      Now understand this is a charter that's run the way many on the left wish the public schools were run. It's basically a hippy commune type school complete with a functional garden and a chicken coop. It's pass fail only no letter grades and the only testing that's done is the legally mandated standardized tests.

      The classes are mixed grades with two teachers per class at least one of whom is special ed certified. It has lots of outside play time rather than the 30 minutes of recess per day that our public school has, and they have a nature hike every Friday.

      It's small enough that all the teachers know my son and can accommodate his behavior issues.

      I know of no public school in my state (NY) that has the money to have a small school with two certified teachers per class.  This sounds like a wildly expensive operation (although I like the sound of it, and if children aren't worth it, what in society is?).  Where is the money coming from?  If it's coming from the public schools, I have a serious problem with that, since public schools tend to be chronically underfunded.

      •  I'm in NY and our local public (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        schools often have a teacher and a teacher's assistant.

        The charters get somewhat less money per student than the public schools do.

        In NY, half the money comes from the board of regents of the state university system and the other half comes from the local public school.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:16:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but (0+ / 0-)

          a teacher and a teacher's assistant is not the same thing as having two certified teachers per small class. I've taught upstate and down and never seen such luxury in a public school.

          •  A teacher's assistant may have certification (0+ / 0-)

            as they enter the profession. I believe this is what the charter is referring to. Otherwise, I can't understand how two fully-paid certified teachers could be in the classroom since charters receive less money per student typically.

            Unless the money is being culled from administration? Hmmmmm.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:20:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It operates on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        The funds it receives from the state per pupil as well as donations from parents and other sympathetic supporters as well as some fund raising activities such as bake sales and the like.

        They run a very basic operation no fancy gymnasiums or sports fields, not a bunch of multi-media stations and computers or a cafeteria (they actually tried to do a hot lunch program last year but all the oddball dietary requirements people had pretty much killed the idea), The library is mostly paperbacks and donations.

        The school itself was an old complex that's been repaired and upgraded overtime through lots of sweat equity by the parents and teachers.

        It's not fancy it's not pretty but it works. and I think a lot of why it works is that it focuses on the human side of education rather than the facilities and technologies.

        Of course I recognize that its generally going to be populated by students who's parents are more engaged in their education but those same advantages tend to apply in public schools as well.

        In fact the more I think about it I think that one of the biggest reasons why so many public schools are failing despite all the money thrown at them is that the administrators focus so much on the facilities rather than people.

        After all it looks better on the TV or to visiting politicians who provide the funding if you have freshly painted modern buildings with nice computer labs and huge gymnasiums with new equipment.

        You look at my son's charter school compared to the neighborhood elementary school he attended originally you'd think you had stepped into the 3rd world. It's dingy and worn down looking in an almost constant state of construction and repair as various projects remain half completed.

        But where it matters it shines. They seem to be putting their money where it really counts in the human side of the equation rather than simply making things look good.

        •  Facilities are generally paid out of (0+ / 0-)

          different funding streams, so fancy new buildings may be paid for with one-time money that can't be used for staff (ie "anything that eats").

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:50:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If you mix the grades (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        allow the class size to float higher, and pay your staff on the low end of the scale, you could probably do it with the same per pupil money.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:48:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's fine in moderation. (0+ / 0-)

    Charter schools should not become our national plan for fixing education, but having a few of them around doesn't bother me.

    What does bother me, and I don't know enough about it to know whether or not this is happening, is if they take away a significant portion of public school funding while not accepting any student in the community. That's just wrong. Taxpayer funds should be spent on everyone equally when it comes to education, and if charters get that money without a diverse representation of the community, then that needs to stop.

    Ideally there would be enough money put towards education so that it wouldn't matter what went where, but that is obviously not the case, and likely won't be for a very long time, if ever.

    •  This is a point we here again and again: (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know enough about it to know whether or not this is happening, is if they take away a significant portion of public school funding while not accepting any student in the community.

      But I have yet to see anyone link to a study that proves this. Sounds like more homework. Sigh.

      I know that our charter school attracted a population of students that otherwise would not have been in the public school system at all. They actually brought additional funding to the district.

      •  In some areas it's simple math (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        Not every school district in the country is large enough to have multiple schools for each grade segment.  Yet, charters are being formed in these districts too, and we all know that there's not a lot of support for doubling school taxes.

        There have been some terrific battles in Mass. over charter schools starting up in various places there that would have taken money away from the existing public schools.

        In some cases you have to wonder why people push so hard for charter schools in these areas.  One I was reading about in Quincy Mass. was being pushed as an Asian/American school specializing in language education, and the cost of it would have pulled 750k out of the existing public schools' budget.  What's wrong with pushing for increasing the  language programs in the existing schools that everyone can participate in, and which would cost so much less?

        •  It's a good question. (0+ / 0-)

          I know of an opposite situation in California. School district is loosing students because the economy was hit hard and people are moving out of district. They need to close an elementary school. People in that neighborhood fought hard to keep the school but the district just can't afford it. The parents have banded together to form a charter school for the neighborhood. They don't want to bus or drive their kids. This is K-5 and I get that. They want their neighborhood school that the kids can walk to from only a couple of blocks away. It's sad that the local school district has to make such choices in the first place. With better funding, maybe they wouldn't have to close the school. It's ironic that a charter school can make it work when the school district can't.

  •  Charter schools: a resort, but the last resort (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Skex, elfling

    I agree with Angelajean that charter schools should be an option. There are children in my community who no public school will accept (yes, I know they're supposed to accept anyone. They don't.) A charter school exists which accepts only/primarily those students. It has a good graduation and college placement rate. It is run by an extraordinary leader with a deep commitment to education and boundless energy.

    Nor are public schools as good or as bad as the sides in the debate have them. They are about average by developing world standards. Twenty some years ago, when the Sandia Report was done, that was actually pretty remarkable, since so many countries discriminated against students with learning disabilities/profound disadvantage, and didn't test them (so our scores were artificially low). But now, standards of inclusion are improving and the level of profound disadvantage (think Mississippi Delta 1960) is declining, so our average test scores represent a relative decline.

    I don't think that the relative decline of our schools is primarily a money issue. Teachers are not paid great salaries, but they are reasonably well paid. I think that textbooks are really, really bad. I think the interference of the religious right (and protective parents of other kinds) damages public schools. I think we need a media that is much more oriented toward education than entertainment. I think that administrative leadership is often bad. And I think that teachers as a whole need to develop more spunk, and not let themselves be pushed around by the various forces.  

    Charter schools are both a threat and an opportunity. They are a threat because they create an under-regulated segment of education, which often underperforms the public schools and yet receives all kinds of adulatory press coverage. They are an opportunity because they can create a space where the factors that detract from education (bad textbooks, self-interested administrators, pushy parents, etc.) can be pushed back, and examples of successful teaching demonstrated.

    Charter schools: a resort, but a last resort.

  •  A timely diary--my kids go to a public charter (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Debby, Skex, Pager, elfling

    These are the two charters in my neighborhood:

    http://www.tapestryschool.org/

    http://www.elmwoodvillageschool.org/

    Contrary to popular belief, not all charters are aligned against the public school system. In fact, some of our teachers and administrators sympathize with the public school system. They elected to carve out a space for their charter for one reason, and for one reason only: a tailored and creative curriculum.

    The charter that my daughters attend is affiliated with Outward Bound, an Expeditionary Learning model. It's a progressive curriculum based on the research of educator Howard Gardner. Earlier, we sent my daughters to a well-run Montessori, and so we very much believe in the value of a progressive school system. That doesn't mean all the charters in town are run well (they are not) nor that the others that are run well deliver a progressive education (one successful charter in town is located on the medical campus and pretty much guides students into various medical careers, as it was conceived as a feeder for colleges and hospitals in the area).

    Liberals should not be against progressive curricula and alternative education models.

    Here are a few facets of the charter that my daughters attend:

    1. The faculty are unionizing without resistance by the school.

    2. The school admits students based on a transparent lottery system.

    3. The school is selective only in the sense that more white parents are likely to apply for admission than minority parents.

    4. The school has special education teachers on hand for students with learning disabilities.

    5. The school emphasizes the arts with attention devoted daily to music, dance, fine arts.

    6. The school scores higher than the vast majority of the western half of the state's wealthiest suburban elementary and middle schools. Out of 300 schools, the two charters finished in the top 25, with private schools with very high tuition topping them.

    7. The school scored higher on state tests against schools in wealthy districts with quite different demographics. Despite a very high % of poor students, the charters are outperforming the wealthy suburbs. 30% of the children at our charter qualify for free lunch. In the burbs, it's 2%.

    8. While my city is 43% white, 40% African-American, 10% Hispanic, 4% Native American, 3% Asian, the charter school is 57% white, 40% black, 3% other minorities. In the suburbs, it's 92% white, 5% Asian, 3% African-American.

    It would be great if progressives got on board the movement, insisted on tight regulations, and commandeered it to progressive education principles. Charters have a lot t offer, and if we leave it up to retrogressive forces to determine their future, we'll be quite sorry.

    The failure that I see so far in our charter is that the word has not yet gotten out to the recently-immigrated Hispanic and Southeast Asian community, who do not apply to the charters in significant numbers. This has been noted and now outreach has begun.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:00:38 PM PDT

    •  This comment is a diary in itself. (0+ / 0-)

      Would you be willing to publish under our new group, Education Alternatives? I think this comment alone would garner lots more conversation as a stand alone diary.

    •  Progressives are on board (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Musa, Azazello
      It would be great if progressives got on board the movement, insisted on tight regulations, and commandeered it to progressive education principles.

      This is exactly what we advocate for PUBLIC schools.

      Your charter does sound great.  It's too bad that by advocating for charters, you've forced your local taxpayers to pay for the ones you've mentioned that are not as good.

      Maybe if charters weren't providing a steam valve for frustrated progressive parents, they'd not abandon the effort to improve public schools for everybody.

      •  The ones that aren't good get shut (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        down. More open up, and the last couple that did replicated the successes of the ones that tried alternative models.

        Quite frankly, given that our school has 14% of its students who need special help or otherwise have disabilities (which is only 2% less than citywide) I wonder why people are making this a funding issue. The only ones who bear scrutiny are the administrators and school boards. The money per student and per teacher isn't dwindling for the system. We're talking about the opening of new schools, right? Still public schools.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:34:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks to Azazello for fact-based argument (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, elfling

    Anyone can have an opinion. Too few of us research an issue before posting on it to substantiate our opinions.

    Azazello linked a study by Stanford and by U. Arkansas. Adding facts to a discussion is a good deed and deserves to be rewarded.  

    Aside: note funding of UARK study from right-wing sources, including the Bradley, Robertson, and Walton foundations; I haven't been able to open the Stanford study to see what its funding sources are. Ideological funding doesn't invalidate the studies, but it suggests caution should be used with interpreting them.

    •  Leftyparent also pointed out that the main (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Musa

      criteria is test scores... haven't double checked it myself but most of us agree that standardized testing is actually apart of the problem. When they are used as the main measure of success, the study becomes problematic for me.

      •  Standardized testing is very useful (0+ / 0-)

        As long as there's no cheating, that is.  

        Mastery of an area can be described by two parameters: what is memorized and the ability to use what is memorized creatively. A highly creative person cannot be a great artist or a great scientist or a great author without having technical skills. A person with great technical skills will only be able to become an artist, scientist, or author when they learn to tap their creativity.

        Standardized tests tend to address technical skills. It's very difficult to measure creative skills. Those are better measured by life experiences. It would be wise for colleges to insist that applicants have experience from jobs, volunteer work, or other concrete life experiences where their creativity can be measured.

        •  Isn't teaching to the test essentially "cheating"? (0+ / 0-)

          The kind of standardized tests we use can maybe judge a fraction of a person's learning, but not enough to really tell the tale.  And these kinds of tests are too easily "gamed" by the curriculum (a mile wide and an inch deep) and the approach to teaching, at the expense of giving students a real opportunity to "deep dive" into the material.

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

          by leftyparent on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 08:25:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  My daughter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, elfling

    spent a semester in a charter school this year. We wouldn't have left but we moved. We were also coming from a homeschooling experience.

    We didn't start to homeschool out of some commitment to the idea of it. When the kidster was going into kindergarten, our district had one district-wide kindergarten, on the grounds of the largest high school in our state. Plus, we lived at the other end of the district and it took me 20 minutes to drive straight to the school during morning rush hour. If she had ridden the bus and drove back and forth to pick up all the other kids, how long would that have taken? Ridiculously long. This was also the early days of Bush's NCLB and standardized testing, which I was not crazy about. So we skipped kindergarten and formed a co-op kindergarten with some acquaintances. That worked out so well, we kept homeschooling for first grade. And so on, and so on, and so on. I met gung-ho folks who were homeschooling for excellence and I met unschoolers. And lots of people in between. We found a great group of liberal-minded, diverse people to co-op with. The kidster did eventually see her peer group whittled down (through moves, or kids going into school) and decided she wanted to go to school. Several people we knew had started attending a hybrid charter school in town so we looked at it and decided to try it.

    The hybrid concept is (in this instance) two days in the school building and three days at home, working from books and on the computer. Each Monday, she'd have a live chat with an online blackboard with her teacher; the subject varied. I did some checking when we decided to go there--the principal came from a public school and didn't seem to have any blemishes on his record. Her teacher was certified. She had less than 20 kids in her class. On two of the days she was home, the teacher had another batch of about 20 kids in her room, so she was teaching about 40 kids. The online session included all the kids. This teacher taught all the core subjects but the kids went out for specialties like art and gym. When we had parent/teacher conferences, I tried to feel the teacher out on her opinion of the charter model. She seemed to be happy with her situation.

    This school performed about on par with the school she would have gone to in our district. It was actually in the next district but since we were on the edge of our district anyway, it wasn't too far to travel, less than 10 minutes. Some people traveled much longer and the school had a diverse student base. There were city kids, suburban kids and somewhat rural kids. There were a range of economic situations.

    The thing I liked best about it was the size. We keep throwing money at schooling and creating bigger and bigger schools when I wonder if we shouldn't be putting that money into smaller, more localized schools where the teacher can know his or her students and know how they need to be taught. I don't know that economies of scale should be applied to teaching children. And despite our homeschooling background, I really have faith in teachers. They're not there for the glamor. The vast majority are there because they want to teach. Let them.

    We are homeschooling again after the move. It's kind of hideous because my brand new teenager thinks I'm an idiot. We just registered her for parochial school for next year. Never a choice I thought I'd make but the school system we're in now is not certified. The charter schools here are for specific populations, like "troubled" kids. So we'll be shopping for plaid skirts next month. I'm not expecting or even wishing for a voucher, but I'm not going to apologize for doing what is best for my kid.

    There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

    by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:08:24 PM PDT

    •  I feel your pain! (0+ / 0-)

      I have a 15 year old who decided to attend public school last year. It was an experience for us all. Good, overall, but an experience. It will take another diary in itself!

      I love the charter school model of 3/2 days. What a great compromise. And the fact that the teacher works everyday with kids is great too. A full time teacher at our school would work with about 15-20 kids. What a regular class should actually look like.

      Would you be willing to write any diaries about your experiences? I would love to hear more about your school. Our groups is new but we're growing and would love to have you join as a writer.

      •  Actually, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Monday was an "office" day for our teacher. She did the hour-long online class then the rest of the time was for her prep and meetings. But it is an interesting idea to manage the class sizes that way. My daughter loved the days she got to be in class, working together with her classmates, but she liked her days at home, too. She usually finished her schoolwork before noon and then we were free to do field trips or she could work on something of her own interest. It will be interesting to see how she handles doing five days a week this coming year.

        I enjoyed hearing about your school, too. The year prior to our charter time, a military family joined our homeschool co-op. My daughter enjoyed the kids so much and I did the mom, as well as the dad when he visited on leave. He was stationed overseas, Mideast somewhere, so the family decided to spend the year near grandparents. Meeting them and learning about the challenges (and opportunities!) of their life was really interesting.

        I'll keep an eye on the Education Alternatives group. I don't know how much I'd be able to write. The previous post pretty much gave the highlights of my charter experience and since she's going into school next, I don't know if I'll have much to contribute. But we'll see!

        There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

        by Debby on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:32:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Charters DO segregate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling

    You may want to call it choice, but it is segregation.  And I'm not sure it is always a bad thing.  It is segregation in that the students are a group self-selected to enroll, making them a group of students and families who are willing to follow the rules and programs of the school.      They also segregate by encouraging students who are not doing well or are behavior problems to drop out.  And the public school has to take them back, often with the charter school keeping the funding for the rest of the school year.  Charter school do enroll fewer Special Ed & ESL students.  They may be required to enroll those students, but often hint that they don't have the resources to meet their needs.  This is happening in New Orleans right now.  I don't have any specific links for the author, but would recommend looking at:

     http://www.schoolsmatter.info/

    •  The outreach however needs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      to deal with the problem of self-selection.

      Self-selection is going to be a problem until administrators decide to go to neighborhood schools the size of charters, and also decide to look into progressive education models. Until we do that, self-selection will continue to some degree.

      But if you look at charters whose demographic mirrors the town's demographic not only racially, ethnically but also in terms of economic class, I think then you might make proper comparisons, and not only with that city's public schools, but compare it to the wealthier suburbs around it. You might find that some of these charters are very successful at a rate far beyond this question of self-selection. And what I mean by that is, what if a city charter school (with say 30% free lunch) was producing better results than a public school in a wealthy suburb (with 3% free lunch)? If you can establish that, then the question of self-selection becomes moot.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 12:40:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The majority of kids in our charter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      are from the local neighborhood. We do have disabled kids, poor kids, and kids from families that have nothing to contribute to the school but their child. Nobody is turned down.

      Charter schools are all different. That's the point of them. People at this site tend to not be prejudiced when possible. Please do not judge all schools by the example of the poor ones. We need to be judged as individuals.

      "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

      by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:33:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you have proof of this: (0+ / 0-)
      They also segregate by encouraging students who are not doing well or are behavior problems to drop out.

      That has not been my experience at all. Even anecdotal proof of someone you know who experienced this?

      •  There's clear evidence that this has happened (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        with KIPP schools in California, for example. They seem to be pretty successful with the kids who stay with the program... but they have quite a lot of kids who don't stay.

        At least in California, the money goes with the kid on a by-day basis. By contrast, in some other states, there's a magic day where all the money for the year is awarded based on enrollment. Those schools have an incentive to kick low performing kids out between the time when they get the money and the time that the tests are administered.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:59:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Peep the Washington Post (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Val Strauss has been putting some solid stuff up about how KIPP plays these types of games. Check it out.

  •  Good charter school experience (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, elfling

    by some of my grandkids in Southern California. The school has a large campus and offers two or three tracks as I recall: home school four days a week with one day a week at campus in enrichment classes, or a combination of classroom days, home school days, and a day each week of enrichment classes. All of the kids were encouraged to participate in the school's several extracurricular activities and excursions.

    My grandkids were in the combined homeschool/classroom program for their first few years of school. Their mom is very organized (and fun!), and made that work well. The school provided curriculum, support and oversight, and allowed the kids to move ahead in the usual curriculum. One of the kids skipped a grade while at the charter school. I helped out occasionally in the classroom and activities at the school and considered it quite good overall. The combination of charter school flexibility and parental involvement served the kids well.

    One aspect that bothered me about the charter school was the lack of racial diversity in a diverse geographic area. The kids have now been in great public schools for two and three years, all thriving in advanced placement programs. As for diversity in the public schools they now attend, the elementary school has english learners, white is minority, and a significant number of kids qualify for the subsidized lunch program.

  •  Thanks for writing this diary (6+ / 0-)

    I usually avoid posting in the diaries that discuss Charters because of the heated debate that ensues.

    Took some guts to publish this diary since you knew there would be some people that would come in to just post some anti-Charter talking point then leave. You have handled the discussion with respect and I commend you for that.

    What I've come to realize, through diaries by TeacherKen and others is that a lot of people have only been exposed to bad Charter schools, it's all they know. The proliferation of "for profit" schools on the east coast has given the charter movement a seriously bad image. These schools are only just now starting to appear on the west coast, so those of us out here haven't been exposed to what those of you in the rest of the country have seen.

    I am a veteran teacher going on my 28th year. I started teaching in Southern California, moved to Northern California and taught there for 11 years then moved back to Southern California after getting married. I was invited to join the staff at a Charter school that a former high school teacher of mine had started and have been here ever since. I'm in my 12th year here.

    I didn't realize how lucky I was to be teaching at this school until the whole Waiting For Superman controversy erupted. While I've always known we are a good school I didn't realize how good when compared to Charter schools around the country. We have expanded over the years to include both a traditional high school, independent study program, traditional elementary k - 8 program and recently have added digital middle school program. I teach high school, we are recognized as one of the top high schools in the San Diego area and our elementary school is also one of the top schools.

    We do not turn away students using any type of litmus test. We have lots of students with IEP's for both learning disabilities and physical disabilities. My daughter who attends our elementary school has Cerebral Palsy. In areas where we do not have the staff to handle specific cases like my daughter we contract with the local district to fill those needs.

    My paycheck is issued by the San Diego County Dept of Education. We are a public school, period. We are a public school who operates on 2/3rds the ADA (Average Daily Attendance) money that the other public schools in California operate on. Yet we are able to offer an excellent education in facilities we paid for ourselves.

    I can go on and on, honestly. Are there areas we need to improve on? Of course there are, we are always working to do a better job. For example we do use the lottery system for our traditional programs since we have limited space and can't physically fit all the students who would like to attend those programs. We hate the lotto system, but have not been able to come up with a viable alternative. I follow Diane Ravitch on twitter and was reading in one of her articles that we should use some kind of mail in system, she didn't expand on her idea though and I have no idea how that would be any better than what we do now. If any of you know of a better system please pass it on, with links if possible.

    I'll stop here, or I'll never get this posted.

    Sorry for not posting this earlier, I was headed out to lunch and didn't want to post and run.

  •  Old Teacher Perspective (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upstate NY, bsegel, Clues, Skex, La Musa, tb92, pravin

    Charter schools can be a valuable way to experiment to find out what works and that is their greatest value. In an ideal world, charter schools that performed well would be replicated and expanded and education would get better. In the real world, there are a host of reasons this seldom occurs. Most of those reasons have already been delineated in the thread.

    Bigger fish to fry than charter schools if we actually want to improve education. Note the term 'actually want.' I mean that. Words are cheap but money is what can change things and we choose to spend our treasure on war not education. You want schools with technology, science equipment produced some time after sputnik, credentialed, highly educated, enthusiastic teachers, and buildings that work?? Money.

    Until we choose to put money into education of our children, charter schools will remain mostly a band-aid that works for a small subset. Tools not answers.

  •  Many questions (0+ / 0-)
    But, overall, this Charter School helped improve the level of education in the entire district. It provided a good model with which to build other charter schools. A new school opened nearby that provided schooling four days a week of school in the classroom with Fridays off so that families could have more family time. High school homestudy schools developed using combinations of enrichment classes, apprenticeships, and agreements with local community colleges to educate kids. And some charter schools developed curriculums much like those of your average elementary school - they just had more parent involvement at the administrative levels because they worked with the charter council model and had parents making important decisions.

    How do you know this Charter improved the level of education if these students wouldn't have been on the rolls anyway?

    How does a four day week work with working parents who work five days a week?

    How do parents with no educational certification, experience or expertise qualify to make "important" administrative decisions about education?

    However, she did not expect me to follow the state standards nor did she require us to complete assignments, etc. She told me which boxes she had to fill in for the state and I would supply work in some form to prove we were doing our job.

    So you didn't follow state standards and just submitted "work" so the teacher could fill in the paperwork? What standard is that held accountable to?

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

    by michael in chicago on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:23:40 PM PDT

    •  Many answers: (0+ / 0-)

      How do you know this Charter improved the level of education if these students wouldn't have been on the rolls anyway?

      I guess I don't and I probably shouldn't have made that blanket statement. I certainly felt like it did but that's not evidence.

      How does a four day week work with working parents who work five days a week?

      It doesn't. They don't have to chose to use that model. But it might help a family whose parents work 4 days a week at 10 hours a day and have Fridays off... I know some families that have those schedules. I also know families where both parents don't work. I also know families where some parents work nights and no school really works for them at all. It's not the job for every school to match the schedule of every family. It's impossible.

      How do parents with no educational certification, experience or expertise qualify to make "important" administrative decisions about education?

      With guidance from a great staff and great teachers that we helped hire. And by educating ourselves. I read a lot while I served on the charter council.

      So you didn't follow state standards and just submitted "work" so the teacher could fill in the paperwork? What standard is that held accountable to?

      I obviously didn't write this well as it's the second time I'm addressing it in the comments. The school was held to standards. I wasn't given a list of standards to meet every month. My teacher would basically translate our work into 'teacher code' if you will so that the State of California could figure out that our school work actually did accomplish goals set by the state.

  •  On average (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clues

    charter schools do worse than public schools despite examples of some that work well.  Charter schools are not the panacea they have been made out to be.  Some are good; some are bad.  What they do do is relieve us of working for the ideal that public education is something worth investing in as a nation and that there are factors outside the school which should be addressed.  The charter versus public debate seems to be one of the things we and our elected officials use to sidestep addressing those factors outside of school that stand in the way of an equitable education.  

    "Nothing is more real than nothing." Beckett

    by rx scabin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 01:29:12 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure any of the people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, pravin

      Who are supporting Charter schools here claim that they are some sort of panacea.

      And we fully recognize that some are good and some are bad hell most are probably bad. Then again most seem to be run by the right.

      The point people like myself and the diarist are trying to make is that charter schools exist and they aren't going away anytime soon. Your objection to them in principle isn't going to magically put more money into the public school system.

      So why not take advantage of the system to demonstrate how a progressive agenda can generate better than average results rather than ceding the field to the wackadoos..

       

      •  I guess I didn't say it artfully enough, (0+ / 0-)

        but I think that we unwittingly are part of or victims of a scheme to manipulate the public to take its eyes off of what really influences the results that "failing" public schools get.  

        "Nothing is more real than nothing." Beckett

        by rx scabin on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 12:51:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A charter school is PUBLIC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Huginn and Muninn, angelajean

    It really depends on what your definition of a public education is. I know the mainstream definition of it excludes anything that is not run by a beauracracy. School boards have entrenched interests. If you are lucky enough to be in a school district with a progressive and uncorruptible egoless school board, you are in good shape. What if you are a poor family that is surrounded by dysfunctional families and you cannot afford to move. If the ogvernment gives you money to educate your kids at the school you prefer, I call that public education. Medicare does not restrict you to public hospital network and  public network of doctors that are run by the government. If you can trust the individual family to choose their doctor, why not trust this family to choose their school.

    What about your teacher? He or she is a private entity being paid. Your food vendors. Your vending machines. Building contractors to build classrooms. What is public about all of this?

    Some of you guys are making unfair comparisons to charters where many school boards resistance to alternative sometimes weed out the serious players and leave in groups that are good at playing the process. You just do not have a large enough sample size. We do know that public solutions haven't worked for inner city kids in decades. So what new are you going to change in the next four years??? Do these families have to waste another generation before you get your act together? If you make it a free for all, restrict funding to schools that meet income and race diversity requirements, you will end up wth schools with a better diverse student body.

    And I hate to say it. IN times like this, sometimes you have to write off the bottom 5% to educate the 95% in inner city communities that are not getting a good education anyway. I would rather see 95% get it than 0%. Once we get to this point,t hen think of educating the remaining 5%  that take up way too disproportionate resources. Baby steps.

    you can call me praveen.

    by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 02:29:10 PM PDT

  •  Public Charter Schools in California (4+ / 0-)

    My experinces is that PCS's in California are populated by progressive families.  Conservatives stick their kids in private religious schools.

    My experience is that public charter schools do an outstanding job educating a population that represents the community as a whole.

    My experience is that teachers who will not put in the extra effort are not welcome.  I am okay with that.

    My experience is that a larger majority of parents care about their kids' performance in PCS's than in regular public schools and private schools -- private schools are about prestige not quality of thought.

    My experience is that kids in PCS's in California are given up to a whole year and lots of extra support to improve academically and behaviorally before action is taken -- not to be perfect but to improve.  That's fair.  Their should be consequences for families who do not insist that their children work, make an effort and behave.  Again, not looking for perfection, but an honest effort to succeed.

    Parents, teachers, and kids all have to be responsible for education  outcomes.

    I believe in collective bargaining, but often the union will meddle in issues and protect bad teachers at the expense of students.  Likewise, school districts and district employees are more concerned about protecting their turf, rather than getting the most money into the classroom.  

    Education is failing in this country because each of these groups is entrenched in their way of being.  Charter schools are like intentional communities.  It's the only hope we have.

    "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

    by Going the Distance on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:12:37 PM PDT

  •  The first charter school opened here in the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RetAZLib, elfling

    1990s.....around 1998.  
    We, the public school teachers, were invited to meetings before it opened.  It was being run by the guy who did Channel One for schools...Chris Whittle.   I know a different corporation has since taken over.

    Anyone, it got funded just like the public schools.   And it was given a school in one of the poorest (financially) neighborhoods in the city.  When it opened I was teaching at a neighbor school, one also in a very poor transitory neighborhood.   These two schools often took turns being at the bottom of the scores in the district on national tests.

    Anyway, this new charter called "Edison" made all kinds of promises.....from computers for every child/family to a longer more intense learning atmospere.  They instituted longer days, longer years.  
    This school operated for 11 years.  In the beginning the teachers their (mostly union members) were given the option to stay there (same salaries etc.....all had left by the end of the second year).  

    After 11 years the school ended being a charter and was returned as a public school.  Despite longer hours for the kids, a longer school year, when it came to testing for NCLB, they never did any better than their neighboring schools did and sometimes did worse.  They (the company complained) because one of the stipulations was they could NOT turn away any of the children from that neighborhood.  But they had a hard time attracting good teachers.  
    It took years before the promised computers were given to families (and even then the computers became mostly machines for games because most of the families could not afford internet access).
    The teachers, while remaining on salary scale of the union, had no union protections. So an administrator could give them duties daily, during lunch, and of course they were not compensated for a longer year, longer day.  
    Class size was huge and the "run school like it's a business" philosophy failed in the eyes of the teachers.
    There is no magic formula, magic curriculum for educating students.  If there was, guaranteed every teacher would be thrilled.  
    The "scripted" texts so often forced on teachers (in all schools, public and charter, since NCLB and W's rich text book millionaires got in on it) are a mistake. Teaching is an art, not a science. THERE IS NO ONE METHOD THAT WORKS WITH 100% OF THE TIME WITH 100% OF THE STUDENTS. Any administrator guaranteeing test scores, saying a certain curriculum guarantees a certain outcome is either lying or a fool.

    The reason schools in Finland do so well is because they DO NOT TEST THEIR STUDENTS with standardized tests until the end of high school. In elementary school there it is accepted that students are different developmentally.

    Too many Americans want a simplistic answer to a complex question.  Even the best teacher in the world is not the best teacher for 100% of the students, 100% of the time.   BECAUSE students are humans, teachers are humans.

    I am so sick of hearing about wonderful charters.  There are wonderful public schools too.  But charters, while a good concept for unique situations, cannot and will not ever be what the concept of public education is.
    We have lots of charters here in CO.  They trend exactly like public schools.  Those in rich zip codes do well but so do the public schools.  Same in the poor neighborhoods.  But because they can skirt the rules public schools have to follow, they can do things that cannot be done in public school. If a special needs child is in a public school, by law, that school must meet the needs of that child.  A charter can just say "we do not have this type teacher on staff...."
    One year in public school, I had a boy who was legally blind. By law, our district had to provide a teacher who dealt with blind students to meet with the student and me weekly.  Whatever I was doing, I let her know the materials I was using and she found them for us in large print or braille.  She served all the children with sight needs in the district.  We had a hearing person too.

    One year the building I was in, built in 1949, had to install an elevator (the building was three stories and was built before ADA).  A charter school would not do those things.

    A big charter here now entices poor families with promises of high scores.  They take everyone but after "count day" (the day that determines state monies for a score) families begin getting informed that they do have a "teacher who deals with (name the problem)."  While they do not force anyone out, they do manage to remind the parent that the public school MUST provide services. In the beginning sometimes the student just comes for one hour for the special needs teacher.  But after a parent gets tired of transporting their child one hour a day, they end up taking them out of the charter and back to where their needs are met.

    The school of this diarist may well be a charter that is fair and honest but that is not the norm.....at least not here.
    If people want all the schools to improve, perhaps the charter school cheerleaders might look into WHY there is a difference and see of public got the same support as required by parents in a charter/public if there really would be a difference.

    •  You have a lot of stories to tell. (0+ / 0-)

      It sounds like the charter school model in CO is different from CA. Especially in that charter schools can just deny a child entrance because they don't have the right kind of teacher. I don't believe that is possible in CA.

      It's also a travesty that the charter school you speak of at first was able to operate for 11 years. Their charter should have been revoked much sooner. And why would parents keep their children in such a school in the first place? Did they not realize that they had a choice to leave?

      I agree with you about finding why there is a difference... why do some charters work and some don't. Why do some public schools work and some don't. I honestly think it's going to come down to community. The more diaries people write about their own experiences, the better we can learn.

      •  Our district was one of the first in the country (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clues

        to give "CHOICE".  It's a large district and even before that charter, choice was an option.  Here is what people do not get, or refuse to acknowledge.  In very poor communities, the percentage of parents using the "choice" option is very small because these are often single parent families, or children being raised by elderly grandparents, or families with parents working two jobs to make the money to eventually move.  Here, when parents choose a school outside their own home school area, they have to provide transportation.

        The reasons this school had problems are the same reasons many schools in poor areas have problems.
        **The families are often transitory......moving or being forced to moved (due to not paying rent) quite often.  We would have many kids who had been in three or four different schools by the third grade.
        **Many of the kids had poor diets and often their best meals of the day were at school.  Our schools in that area had over 80% of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.
        **These students were being compared with students who started kindergarten a full two years ahead of them.  When I helped test incoming kindergarten students, the norm was that more than half, sometimes as high as 80% of the students did not know the names of the letters of the alphabet, could not write their own names, did not understand left to right sequencing.   In the school near my home where the majority of parents are college educated, 90% of the kindergarten students come to school ready to ready, many with a site vocabulary.    Yet, the public is being trained to blame the teachers, the system.  We are asking students to run a race where they start a 100 yards behind their competitors and when they do not win or at least come in at the same time, we blame the coaches, the race itself.  

        When children's parents value education and teach their children to value education, they do well in school.   When schools are allowed to acknowledge students are developmentally different, that 10 months difference in the age  of two third grade students can make a HUGE difference in skills acquisition, we stop making students, teachers and parents feel like failuers. At a young age, developmentally a few months can make a huge difference. So can genetic make-up.  So can nutrition.  So can experiences.

        We do not have an EDUCATION problem.  We have a poverty problem.   We have a problem with people thinking that there is a magical time when kids learn skills.  Heck two kids in the same family, with the same parents can and often do develop at different rates.  

        As long as the right wing, and the lefties who buy their spin, insist that education is a competition, we will have these problems.

        Teaching students in a poor, socioeconomically deprived area is a whole different ball game. I have taught in both ends of the spectrum and in the middle in my forty years.
        All have their challenges and their rewards but most definitely when one teaches in an area where families are struggling with daily survival on so many levels, the job can be overwhelming.   But teachers up to the challenge used to love it and stay for years.  Now, not so much.  WHY?  Who wants to stay at a job where no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you put your heart, soul and pocketbook (most of us spent tons of our own money),  you are trashed as a failure.    

        If the public gave a damn about ALL children, not just their own, we might make progress.  It's that whole "it takes a village" mentality so many on the right mocked and were sadly joined by many on the left.  Some schools are overwhelmed with volunteer parents.   When I suggested to our district to get those parents at school A who were on a "waiting list" for volunteering at their school be assigned to volunteer at our school that rarely had volunteers, it was ignored, discourage.

        We have lost our sense of community in this country thanks to the mentality of the privatizers.  At one time schools were the centers of community.  
        Now, the citizens look with scorn at anything "public."  From public schools to public workers, the right has convince too many, including many on the left that the public is not good at doing this stuff.  They have also convinced people that schools should be run like a business and that, frankly, sickens me.   Schools are NOT a business.  School are a place for learning, loving, nurturing, and allowing young people to open their minds.

        Charters and those insisting charters are the answer push every button of resentment I have.   People have bought into the notion that "public" is bad because in public one has to follow certain rules.    Yes, I think schools should be for ALL children. I think schools should be safe. I think schools should value their staff enough to believe a duty free 30 minute lunch is not a luxury.
        So yea I have a lot of stories.  After forty years I still hear from former students.  So do many of my colleagues.  We were good, we knew it, our students knew it.  We never wanted medals but we wanted security......content not to be rich but to be secure in our old age.  Now the right wants to destroy that too...in favor of privates and charters because then they can get around collective bargaining.

        The Chinese continue to say they want to emulate our "creativity."    Yet Americans still are saying that we measure the value of an education by some tests.
        Until and unless people open their minds to the fact that test scores are not the only measure of anything.....we will be debating the wrong thing.
        We have plenty of geniuses on Wall Street who I imagine can boast wonderful grades and test scores forever and yet so many are crooks with no souls.   There are plenty of people who can boast great scores and yet to them the value of a person lies in how many cars, boats and houses a person has.    

        Anyway, this whole thing frustrates me because the debate should not be about whether public or private or charter can produce the best test scores.  We need to have a debate about what we value as a society and how we can all work together to keep our communities working.

        •  I feel your frustration. (0+ / 0-)

          We agree on a lot of points.

          In many, many situations where it appears schools are failing (they're not), it is poverty that is the root of the problem. No doubts that you are correct on that one.

          I also agree that kids develop at different ages, different stages, and actually learn different skills at different times in their lives. Most state standards do not acknowledge that difference and we end up with kids that are always 'behind' before they are even at level.

          Here is where we disagree - and I have a feeling this comes from my being a parent with my own kids to educate and makes me 'selfish' in some ways - we shouldn't penalize those kids whose parents can find solutions to their learning problems.

          I have two of those kids. I have two kids that were delayed readers, poor spellers, and would have been labeled behind in school. I had to find solutions for my guys so that they didn't feel stupid. At one point in our life, a charter school was a part of that solution. The public schools in our area didn't offer the same type of program (I looked).

          What if you, as a teacher, banded together with other teachers and started a charter in your community? Wouldn't you be able to try to start that volunteer program you were talking about? You would be able to control your program in a different way. Teachers have done that here in CA. They decided to work outside the public system in order to force change to happen.

          I just hate that so many progressives see charter schools as the enemy when there are so many positive examples of charter schools helping multiple types of students. Yes, in some communities it seems like they only help middle class, white, anglo-saxon students. But that was not my experience in my school.

          And to be told that I have abandoned my progressive believes because I did what I thought was best for my kids is a load of crock. I look forward to the day when we finally put down roots and settle down in a single community and I can help shape and change the local school system to be a better one. I won't have kids in that school system, but I understand that having a well educated populace makes for a better community. If I have to do it by working with charter schools because the local school system is not responsive to the needs of the community, then so be it. That's what I will do. I will use the means at my disposal for the most effective change possible.

          I don't support charter schools so that poor kids will fail. I support charter schools for the potential solutions they can offer multiple communities. Yes, even yours. It just takes the right kind of people to start the charter in the first place.

          •  I don't understand why "starting a charter" is (0+ / 0-)

            the answer.  Why not fight for better public schools?

            Here is where we disagree - and I have a feeling this comes from my being a parent with my own kids to educate and makes me 'selfish' in some ways - we shouldn't penalize those kids whose parents can find solutions to their learning problems.

            And what do you propose we all do with those kids who lost in the parent lottery?   I would like all parents who insist they are just focusing on their own kids to explain to me what we do with the child who has been neglected, ignored, abused....whose parents are in jail.  Should we jail them?  Kill them? What?
            Because in then end, those kids we ignore, we pretend do not exist will be living in the same communities with YOUR children?   Is it not smarter (and better for the safety and welfare  of your own children) to put effort, time and money into making sure those kids get to grow up educated, with skills for contributing positively in society, with the self esteem needed to be a good neighbor and an honest member of the community?

            You see here is where I believe the parents who insist that they just want to insure "their" kids get a good education, instead of insisting ALL kids get a good education are not looking at the big picture.

            When the right wing extremists, using stealth methods to get an extremist, right wing majority on to our school board, we finally got people to see the light.   These people, much like the tea party members of our congress, hated anything "public", considered the phrase "for the common good" to be commie, pinko, socialist.  So we had put in charge of our public schools, people whose desire was to destroy public school.  Again not much different from the right wing congress critters who sign pledges with Grover Nordquist to destroy the very government for whom they are working.

            Anyway, their first public effort was to make it easier and easier to open "charters" (because despite the cries of many insisting that charters are just like public schools, the reality is that charters have investors.  Investors want to make money and charters eventually have to be "profitable").  Despite the spin and rhetoric of they are just like public schools, we all knew the truth. Investors were needed for the corporations to fund these schools above and beyond the publics.  The charter I explained about in our other posts, the one that promised a computer for every family, did not get the money from their public funding.  They got the public funding and the corporation funding.  That corporation had investors.  In the long run, if the corporation is losing money, guess what?  They do things to turn that around.  If their school is failing, if they cannot spin to the public "better scores than the public school", they lose because that's what businesses do. SO THEY CHEAT.
            One particularly outspoken, super Christianist type, board member became careless.  To someone who he thought was a like minded, greedy business man, he laid out his desires to close the public schools starting with the poorest schools in town by getting parents of poor kids to be given "scholarships" to go to the charters....the scholarship money could be used for transportation.  When the other man mentioned that the possibilities were that in some families, the money would be taken and never used to get the kid to school.....thus hurting the child, here was the response.  "Yes, we know many kids will never make it out of that life but we always will need butlers and maids."  In the end, what mattered is that they could close the public schools, end the "union" teachers, and use charters to get around all those "laws" for education.  

             I do find people who think only about their own kids needs, not so much selfish, as much as short sighted.
            PUBLIC schools, as a concept is an education for the purpose of educating ALL children and NO PROFIT MOTIVE.  

            I totally do not get why people think the "competition" thing is a good thing for education.  If I as a teacher, did a lesson that really worked well for my class, for my weak students, or students with a learning disability, my first instinct was to SHARE it with fellow teachers.   The competition model is designed to set teachers up NOT TO SHARE BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR KIDS, but to wait until they can make a buck off their idea and then sell it so that other teachers or schools have to invest money to get it.
            So again, the schools where parents and community value education might raise taxes, or do fund raisers so they can "BUY" this method.   To me, that's criminal.
            Setting up teachers to compete for money and students is about as selfish as it gets.

            Teachers by nature, the good ones, are COOPERATIVE.  We want to share.  We get just as excited when our fellow teachers succeed.  But now thanks to NCLB, thanks to the pushing of "education as a competitive business" we are telling teachers, "be selfish, look out for yourself, compete" because the winners get money.  

            I remain dumbfounded that any progressive thinks it is good to ask teachers and schools to "compete" for money, for support.   When we decided "some kids matter, and some don't" we are joining the right in helping to push the agenda of injustice and unfairness, and inequality.  
            May as well go back to "separate but not really equal."

  •  The purpose of public schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling

    is not to give YOUR child an education. The purpose of public schools is to give YOUR NEIGHBOR'S child an education.

    If the benefit of educating your neighbor's children should be obvious. Every American should be free to go "above and beyond" to educate their own kids. But they shouldn't be a factor in our decisions about PUBLIC education.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:29:37 PM PDT

    •  Yes. You're right. That's why I'm at a charter. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      I want every child to have the opportunities that Waldorf education offers. The whole point of our charter school is to take care of everyone's child.

      "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

      by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:25:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I certainly believe that there are good charter (0+ / 0-)

    schools that treat students well and teach well.

    But the idea of Charter schools - to give children in stable households, children with no personal, mental, or familial problems a better education than those students who need a good education more than anyone else - is pure evil.

    This is taking from those who need it most, and giving to those with an average need.

    At best, it's a reverse robin hood.

    At worst, it's an attempt to incite working class/middle class class war in order to divide and rule.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

    by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:43:04 PM PDT

    •  Where did you get this idea? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      Some charter schools may cater to those who are doing well, but not all of them. My kids' school is open to everyone. In fact, one of the phrases most associated with Waldorf education is "Every child is honored at our school."

      To judge all based on the actions of a few un-associated programs is prejudiced. Please don't punish my kids because there are criminals who abuse the system. That is true everywhere.

      "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

      by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:24:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our charter school does not take (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, elfling

      only children from stable homes with no personal, mental, physical or familial problems.  But it does take at least one person in the house who cares enough to get them there every day.  There is even help with homework for families who need the help.

      Wanting one's child in a school where the majority of families, teachers, and students are putting their best foot forward is not pure evil.  No matter how good a school is, it will not succeed without a corse of families who are involved with their children's education.  It rubs off on other families, and often these same families help out a kids who needs some good friends.

      "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

      by Going the Distance on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:28:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My daughter's charter has 31% (0+ / 0-)

      receiving meals at school (23% for free and 8% subsidized). It has 14% of the kids in special needs. Our city's population is 40% African-American. The school's population is 40% African-American.

      Ethnicity, Economic status, etc., all track with the demographic of the charter.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:03:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The purpose of OUR charter school is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean

    to educate children in a way that allows them to be healthy, happy, and involved citizens. My kids are in a Waldorf charter. We spent a LOT of money on private Waldorf education before we decided that we wanted to help share this education with other people. As experienced Waldorf parents, moving to the charter school allowed us to make more of a difference in our community.

    School for profit is wrong. But many charter schools exist in order to offer parents better alternatives for their children. Our school accepts anyone who wants to come. And we give a significantly better experience. Why would anyone have a problem with that?

    Charters are, by definition, not all alike. Please do not fall prey to prejudice against them all just because some are misused.

    "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

    by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:20:41 PM PDT

    •  Doesn't Waldorf have a religious component to it? (0+ / 0-)

      The ones in my area do.  Many schools, like Imagine Schools, are teaching religion and collecting taxpayer dollars and that's against the law. Although no one seems to be doing anything about it.

      Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

      by annie em on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:24:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not necessarily. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, elfling

        Every private school may be different, of course. But what all Waldorf schools have a spiritual foundation. Our kids are taught things like "Be nice to Mother Earth", and "Everyone is a valuable part of the class". They are taught that they are creative and loving beings. Much of the education takes the form of story telling and history. For example, the Old Testament mythology is taught, as literature, in third grade, because the stories of man coming down to Earth is appropriate for kids of that age. Norse myths are taught in fourth. Greek and Egyptian are fifth, and Romans are sixth. Each speaks to the psychological needs of that grade. Each is treated with an equal amount of respect.

        The private schools sometimes use Christian symbology. For example, in the fall, there is a celebration of Saint George defeating the dragon to remind the children that they have the strength to stand up to the negative forces in the world. But in the charter schools, they are far more careful. We celebrate the same story, but with references to the Archangel Michael removed. The concept is preserved, but there is no religion.

        My family is eclectic Pagan, and very aware of religious training. Waldorf, we have found, is spiritual, but not religious, and always respectful of everyone's beliefs.

        "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

        by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:36:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Have you filed any complaints? (0+ / 0-)

        Or done anything about it?

        Just curious. It does sound like a serious problem.

      •  THe ones in MN have religious component (0+ / 0-)

        I agree. My friends has kids in one of those schools. Because he had a nasty divorce, the wife convinced the judge to let the kids stay in one of those schools in Minneapolis/StPaul area. But I dont expect perfection. Enough parents seemto like that school. It's just not for me. People will try to cirumvent stuff like separation of church and state even in public schools. So unless it is clearcut, I am going to give it a passs and not worry about it.

        you can call me praveen.

        by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:12:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean
      Steiner-Waldorf education emphasizes the oral tradition, deferring the introduction of reading and writing until age 7.[94] Todd Oppenheimer contrasted the Waldorf schools' approach to reading with early learning approaches:

      Emphasis on the creative also guides the aspect of a Waldorf education that probably frightens parents more than any other: the relaxed way that children learn to read. Whereas students at more competitive schools are mastering texts in first grade, sometimes even in kindergarten, most Waldorf students aren't reading fully until the third grade. And if they're still struggling at that point, many Waldorf teachers don't worry. In combination with another Waldorf oddity -- sending children to first grade a year later than usual -- this means that students may not be reading until age nine or ten, several years after many of their peers. ...
      It's no surprise, then, that Waldorf parents occasionally panic. Others may distrust Waldorf education because they have heard tales of parents who pulled their children out of a Waldorf school in the third grade when the kids still couldn't read. "That's like a standing joke," [one parent], the mother of two graduates of the Rudolf Steiner School, told [Oppenheimer]. "People say, 'Oh, can your kids read?' There was no concerted effort to drum certain words into the kids. And that was the point." Before teaching sound and word recognition, Waldorf teachers concentrate on exercises to build up a child's love of language. The technique seems to work, even in public schools. Barbara Warren, a teacher at John Morse, a public school near Sacramento, says that two years after Waldorf methods were introduced in her fourth-grade class of mostly minority children, the number of students who read at grade level doubled, rising from 45 to 85 percent. "I didn't start by making them read more," Warren says. "I started telling stories, and getting them to recite poetry that they learned by listening, not by reading. They became incredible listeners." Many Waldorf parents recall that their children were behind their friends in non-Waldorf schools but somehow caught up in the third or fourth grade, and then suddenly read with unusual fervor.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      •  This is a miracle to watch. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        My children, in Kindergarten, could recite twenty minute long stories, and would play them out with puppets. The language is never made more simple for their sake. Virtually every Waldorf child knows what a precipice is. Nobody gave them a dictionary definition. They just used the word in context. The memory training they receive is incredibly useful in their later education. The vast majority of Waldorf kids love books, and EVERY healthy child learns to read.

        "We live now in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

        by tb92 on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:41:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Boston Globe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      on the Waldorf Way:

      http://www.hearttohand.org/...

  •  charter schools are now a rightwing weapon (0+ / 0-)

    I agree that some are good some not so much but now all charter schools are being used as a weapon to distroy public schooling in the USA. Or to be more precise, teachers unions.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 05:53:42 PM PDT

  •  My main problem with Charter Schools (0+ / 0-)

    is that they can decline enrollment of children with special needs.

    Going down that road - means additional expenses for the public schools.

    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:41:27 PM PDT

    •  You need to read some comments upthread. (0+ / 0-)

      This seems to be a common misconception and the only person upthread who has made me think it might happen is a teacher in Colorado... anecdotal evidence.

      It's illegal in CA - a charter can't deny someone because they're special needs.

      Do you know where the problems are occurring and do you know if any groups are taking steps to hold the charters in that state more accountable?

      •  Do you have stats on how many children (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, angelajean

        with special needs are enrolled in charter schools?

        How does that compare with public schools?

        I truly do not believe that it is a misconception - but i will give you that I do not have the stats.

        Since you are so sure -- do you??

        "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

        by sara seattle on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:00:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In CA, they can fail to meet those needs though (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        You mentioned several kids who went back to the neighborhood public school with their IEPs. That suggests that the IEP - written at the charter - could not be executed well at the charter.

        And honestly, I'm okay with that as long as we all understand that is happening, and fund with that in mind. Asking a school to educate one special needs child may not be an appropriate best practice... it may make more sense for a school to specialize in those kids and to have a critical mass of them. (BTW, special needs can also include highly gifted kids.)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:11:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  stop making sense (0+ / 0-)
          Asking a school to educate one special needs child may not be an appropriate best practice... it may make more sense for a school to specialize in those kids and to have a critical mass of them.

          AMEN

        •  Actually, we did meet the IEP at the charter I was (0+ / 0-)

          at. Some people just didn't want to continue homeschooling. They really wanted a 5 day a week school but they needed that IEP enough that they were willing to homeschool for a year to figure out where their child needed the most help.

          I don't understand why getting an IEP was so difficult. It could be the difference in school districts. The public school that should have done the IEP was in one school district. The charter school was in the neighboring country and used a different school district. Maybe there was more funding in one school district than in the other? Or just better staffing? I'm not sure.

          •  One of the rules for making an IEP (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Clues, angelajean

            is that since it's a contract, don't make promises there you can't keep.

            It's kind of problematic for one district with one set of resources to make those promises and then to have them imposed on another.

            I don't say that to say that your interpretation - that the original school was trying to slide out of its obligations - was incorrect; it may well be the case. But it can also be that the IEP has accommodations that the other school does not consider to be practical within its resources.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:58:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  There are more kids than special ed kids that are (0+ / 0-)

      Iin an perfect system, we can talk about making 100% sure special ed kids are served. But when you have able bodied kids deprived of quality education in much larger numbers, we can't be nitpicking on special ed students.

      Keep in mind, the proposals I support won't abandon special ed students. But if one proposal serves the vast majority of the many undereducation kids in our country and underserves the special ed student just a tad worse than the current system,  I will go for this systme for now and then change my focus to taking special education to the next higher level regardless of cost and resources once we get the vast majority of our underclass back to speed.

      People, when we start quibbling over a tiny percentage of the population(let me be clear, i dont mean to ignore them under any system), we fail to see how embarassing inner city education is. Just take a walk in some neighborhoods and see how poorly educateed many of our citizens are. Hell, just look at 100M athletes who can't speak as good as their own help.

      you can call me praveen.

      by pravin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:16:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The real problem is when the charters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sara seattle

        skim off the inexpensive students, get paid the average public dollars plus some private funds, and leave the public school with the most expensive children but less money to stretch across them. That's not OK.

        If we do it in a purposeful way and fund with the purpose in mind, it could be fine.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:46:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They can? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      I was unaware of this. The ones where I live are required by law to take kids with special needs. 14% of the kids at my daughter's school are special needs.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 09:04:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  51 Charters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, RandW

    The real trouble with having a conversation about Charter Schools is that there are 50 different states plus DC where charter law can be totally different. As somebody who works in a charter I'd love to be under CA law as opposed to PA. We get killed on the salary and worker rights end here. KILLED.

  •  Reluctantly, I question the Sample validity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, elfling, Clues

    I'm delighted for you that both home schooling and a charter school have worked for your children. Congratulations on the success.

    But fwiw, I think your kids would probably have succeeded anyway, because you were probably intent on that no matter what.

    California is generally a more rational state than many. So is Connecticut where I live. That improves the chances of success. But so is New York and NYC has had some miserable failures in charter schools, including one with entirely altruistic funding that suffered from wrongful good intentions. The mayor's friend saw her school get the axe.

    Having grown up in the segregated south, I'm apprehensive of giving up all hope of equality of opportunity in education. One city after another pays the price for the miserable education systems in those undertaxed states with completely inadequate school funding. Especially given today's trends.

    I am as other commenters are deeply suspicious of efforts to put funding into the hands of for profit companies. You could see that trend coming as Republican extended families moved into that area with the expectation of rewards. Software may be good, but if it's subject to political influence as textbooks are in Texas, it may be deadly to learning.

    As for community control, I assume you hae standards to meet. But there are communities in which local input has brought confrontation about the effort to inject religious belief into courses, whether creationism to some fantasy theories about American history.

    •  Dover? (0+ / 0-)
      As for community control, I assume you hae standards to meet. But there are communities in which local input has brought confrontation about the effort to inject religious belief into courses, whether creationism to some fantasy theories about American history.
    •  So if I am to understand you correctly, (0+ / 0-)

      you're willing to take away local control over education so that the states in the south can't screw up anymore?

      Forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions, but I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

    •  Concur on For-Profit=wrong goal (0+ / 0-)

      I think we should be talking about non-profit educational organizations running charters. Its about education, not profit. Not sure what you mean by  "wrongful good intentions".  If i remember the case, there is not much that can be done about embezzlement, until it is discovered.

      Charters are more of a market model, where ones that do not peform do not survive - unlike district schools.  We had a school charterize, and its doing better.

  •  There are some wonderful charter schools in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean

    Boston and I had been totally against the idea until I recently toured one. I don't think there is anything wrong with a school that requires much more parent involvement in urban areas with terrible academic records as long as there is sufficient outreach to families who need it and rigorous oversight but the state department of edu. Contrast this with traditional public schools having to be taken over by the state?  

    "A lot of the people who call themselves Left I would regard as proto-fascists" - Noam Chomsky

    by HGM MA on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:15:09 AM PDT

  •  Short of charter schools... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean

    what else in our US public education system is at all innovative and represents a developmental "growing edge" for the institution.  The rest seems to me (as a parent with two now young adult kids who spent part of their youth in public schools) like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!

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

    by leftyparent on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 08:29:27 AM PDT

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