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I am a progressive and a member of the California Teachers Association.  I am also an advocate for charter schools.

Charter Schools have a nasty reputation here at Daily Kos and among many on the left in general -- some of it deserved, but much of it not.  Today, after reading LeftyParent's blog about the successes of my own Locke High School in Los Angeles, I realized that I needed to reengage with this community on the subject of charter schools.  

My goal with this diary is to clarify, as a progressive, as union-member, and as a charter school teacher and advocate why I believe that much of the antagonism towards charters is misdirected and undeserved.

Disclaimer  Much of what I write about here is not true for those states like Ohio and Arizona where for-profit charters are legal.

Disclaimer #2  As I will note throughout this diary, my experience and knowledge is with California charter law and California has some of the strongest charter law in the country.

What is a Charter:
Charter simply means that a school has autonomy from district policies in terms of delivery method, but in most states is held to the same (and in some states higher) standard of efficacy  as traditional public schools.

Charters, however, have been perceived as a threat by much of the traditional education community.  I do not believe that they are. First of all, we need to stop viewing education as a zero-sum game with competing teams.  While this might be an accurate model if the goal were to simply collect education dollars, if the goal is to actually educate students and improve society then, please, we're all on the same side.

I believe strongly that traditional public education does a reasonably good job for the majority of students, an excellent job for a minority of students and a miserable job for the rest.  Charter schools were designed as a tool to encourage public schools to do better, to offer alternatives for students who were unsatisfied, and to offer an opportunity for students who were being underserved.  

But to more specifically refute some of the most common statements used by charter detractors to dismiss charters, I'll deal with them one at a time:
Here are the common complaints about charters:

1.  There is no oversight.
2.  They are anti-union tools
3.  They exploit teachers
4.  They divert money from traditional schools
5.  They aren't any better
6.  They get to pick and choose their students

1.  There is no oversight: I can only speak for California, but here that is far from true.  Charters are strictly regulated and, unlike district schools who are only assessed officially by WASC every three years or so, charters are assessed by both WASC (on the same basic schedule as all schools) and by the chartering district each year, as well.  Any issue that is out of compliance with the terms of the charter can lead to a non-renewal or, if egregious enough, can lead to the immediate loss of the charter.  This is not the case for district schools who have only NCLB or a parent or teacher led charter rebellion to fear.

2.They are anti-union tools:  I am a union member and I work in a charter.  A charter where I worked for five years unionized the year after I left.  While it is true that charters do not have to be unionized, they are able to unionize fairly easily.  Anybody who says that unions are unnecessary in public education -- that teachers are professionals and should act like it -- needs to spend more time on the ground and working with some of the difficult working conditions, difficult schedules, difficult circumstances and difficult (and sometimes downright vindictive) administrators that populate public education.  

3. They exploit teachers:  There is truth to this statement with regards to teachers.  Charters tend to hire younger teachers and work them harder, piling on outside duties that in a traditional school are dealt with by administration.  As a charter teacher, I have done master scheduling, discipline, security, lunch duty, recruitment, schoolwide data analysis, charter revisions for renewal, and many other tasks large and small that wouldn't normally fall on a teacher.  I have had schedules where I was expected to be in front of kids for 6 hours straight without a break, and I have had work schedules where I was expected to be on-site and available for 9 hours each day.   It is circumstances like these that are inspiring union efforts throughout charterdom.  The flip-side, however, is that I have spent a teaching career free of pacing guides, district mandates, forced textbook adoptions, and tenure-enforced hierarchy.  I've gained incredible experience which has shown me that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in being an administrator, and I have had opportunities to teach classes that would never be given to me in a traditional school.  

4. They Divert Money:  The money follows the students.  The state provides a set amount of money per day of attendance per student so yes, if a student goes to a charter school, the district loses money.  They also lose the cost of educating that particular student, so it's a bit of a wash.  Charters have been historically more aggressive and dynamic in the pursuit of private and grant money, too, which often gives the perception that charters are somehow better funded and therefore they must be stealing money from traditional schools.  The fact is that the grants and donations that charters cultivate are also available to district schools, but district schools are often unable to convince the district headquarters to complete the grant and are generally forbidden from pursuing them as an individual school.

5. They Aren't Any Better:   Just like the schools in an a district, there is a great variation in quality among charters.  Some are ridiculously bad and some are phenomenal.  Most of them exist in the big part of the bell, just like everything else.  Charters aren't the answer to education -- there is no one answer to education.  I have worked in charters that struggled and I have worked in schools that have done brilliantly with students that the district had foresaken.

6. They Get to Pick and Choose Their Students No. No they don't.  They do not.  My current charter is a former district school -- we must take every single student in our district area, regardless of any factor.  No charter school can refuse students if they are eligible for school.  Many charters have waiting lists and lotteries, but they must take students by chance or by order of application.   There is a propensity for charter schools to be attractive to parents who are more involved and therefore who possibly have children who are more educationally inclined, but in my experience, the net effect has been negligible.

Just as everything negative that is said about charters can be misleading, so can all the positives.  Mostly, the positives I hear are these:

1.  They are run more efficiently
2.  They offer students a choice
3.  They are freed from the burdensome bureaucracy of the larger districts
4.  They are able to respond more quickly to challenges
5.  They are more family-friendly
6.  They are safer
7.  They give more attention to individual students
8.  They offer greater opportunities.

This one is much easier to deal with because the answer for each of them is the same:  It depends on the charter school.

Charters can be more efficient, though that efficiency often takes the form of being underadministrated which can then lead to even greater inefficiencies later.  They do offer students a choice, though in many cases, the choice is between vanilla and french vanilla, or between vanilla and axle grease -- neither of which is a real choice.  

Charters can be freed from burdensome bureaucracies, but they are also fully capable of developing their own triplicate forms and circular chains of authority -- and they are also capable of having too little bureaucracy (not something I ever thought I'd say) and therefore having no ability to consistently apply policies and procedures.  They are, indeed, more capable of responding quickly to challenges, but they often lack the resources to respond effectively.  

Independent Charters are small and underresourced.   A small independent charter, when confronted with even an insignificant drop-off in student achievement as measured by the API will be forced into Program Improvement by the state.  They will have a short window of time to produce an Improvement Plan that will then have to be authorized by the chartering district.  This generally means choosing off of a menu of predictably approved choices for change and the end result is that small independent charters that try to create change in struggling communities end up looking very much like the neighborhood schools in terms of academic and curricular approaches.  Chartering Organizations like KIPP, ICEF, my own GreenDot, and PUC are all now equivalent to small districts in their size and behave accordingly.  In the end, the ability to respond quickly to student needs, because of the ways that the charter laws and national education laws are worded, usually means throwing out the original mission of the school and being forced to mimic the same one-size-fits-all approaches that are showing modest gains in all public schools.

With regards to being more family-friendly and safer -- there may be some truth here.  Charters are assessed as part of their charter on how they will increase neighborhood and parent involvement.  Also, charter families tend to be at least slightly concerned about the quality and safety of their child's schools.  The exceptions for this are the district take-over schools like Locke, Jordan, Camino Real and Palisades. These schools are forced to accept whatever child lives in their district area just like any district school.   Here, the improvements in safety and family involvement are generally due to the fact that, as a smaller organization than LAUSD, they have more riding on the safety records of these schools and therefore focus  more highly on them.  GreenDot has turned Locke High School into a very safe school.  In order to do this, they have spent a considerable amount of extra money over the last four years on safety and security -- money that the district was not willing to spend.

Individual attention and opportunities are truly going to be school by school.  If I had a choice between sending my child to Diamond Ranch HS, a high quality public school, or a small independent charter, I would choose Diamond Ranch unless my child was one who would benefit from being on a small campus where s/he felt known.   The resources are greater at Diamond Ranch, the opportunities are better at Diamond Ranch, the systems themselves are better at Diamond Ranch and my child would be offered a consistent and high quality education.

Of course I don't live in Diamond Ranch and my kid's local high school will be Belmont.  This means that I will be looking at local charter high schools and inter and intra-district transfers.  It all really depends on what is available.  If she got into the magnet program at the Downtown Arts High School, an LAUSD public school I would want her to go there.  If not, then I would probably try to get her into Camino Nuevo or Downtown Values charter high schools.

To sum up:  Charters are not the answer.  Charters are an answer.  There is no "The Answer," and until people stop trying to find silver-bullet style solutions to the education problems in our society, we will not make progress.

More on my personal blog

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

    by xajaxsingerx on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:04:41 PM PDT

  •  I don't know much about charter schools. (0+ / 0-)

    I had a really terrible public school experience. They cared nothing for the students, bullying was rampant, it was a pit, teachers and students suffered heatstroke while the principal enjoyed the only room in the building with air-conditioning: her office. Most of the teachers were solid, a few awesome, and a few terrible. But teachers aside, everything else sucked.

    But I don't know where charter schools fit into this, and it's honestly not something I've had to look into since I don't have a kid. So this was very educational.

    What about Christian indoctrination? Does this happen in charter schools, or are they protected from religious corruption and school-enforced prayer? I've heard of private schools having this, but I don't know what the difference is.

    •  Being in Ohio, I am not open to this (6+ / 0-)

      We are being robbed and swindled, our children are being cheated and our future is being subprime mortgaged by unaccountable, failing for-profit charter schools. Yes yes, I know the idea in theory is good, and yes yes, I know there are a handful of outstanding ones. But unfortunately, the idea has been hijacked to destroy public education, and so i believe it needs to be eliminated, and we need to start over with stringent safeguards.

      I am sick and tired of my tax money going to enrich David Brennan who then recycled $3 million of it to purchase himself the finest team of GOP puppets money can buy.

      The entire paradigm needs to be carefully rethought.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:44:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A lot of things need to be carefully rethought. (4+ / 0-)

        Basing school funding on the neighborhood property tax base, for instance. As far as that impacts the reality of your child's school, it may seem fine or it may seem like a very bad idea.

        But, in the meantime, the years are going by. Kids need a decent education and a safe place to get it. Eliminating a choice is not the same as coming up with solutions for the actual children in school today.

    •  No Christian indoctrination. (5+ / 0-)

      The schools the diarist is talking about are public school charters in the Los Angeles USD. They are non-sectarian, and subject to the same restrictions as any other public school regarding religious instruction. They are not even permitted to be conversions of private schools, as is being fooled with in other areas of the country (Fla, I think).

  •  So WASC, eh? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anastasia p

    How many charter schools have had their charters taken away in California?  

    Also there's this:

    until people stop trying to find silver-bullet style solutions to the education problems in our society, we will not make progress.

    What are charter schools trying to do if not that?

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:29:55 PM PDT

    •  I know of at least seven (6+ / 0-)

      that have had their charters revoked in the last three years.  That's seven more than the district has shuttered of its own schools.

      WASC oversees each and every school in California -- to call them toothless (not that I disagree) is to condemn all schools in Californnia, not just the charters.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:13:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  did I suggest "toothless"? (0+ / 0-)

        or did you just read it in?  I know about WASC because I teach at a community college in California and they accreditate us too. I respect them and I'd never say "toothless".

        -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

        by Dave in Northridge on Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:50:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The charter was revoked by the LAUSD... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xajaxsingerx

        of the school launched by our friend that our daughter Emma attended and her mom worked at as the school counselor.  The school had to negotiate with the LAUSD Board to recharter under a different name and now a decade since the original launch, the new incarnation of the school is being acknowledged as very successful.

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

        by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:00:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've warmed to charter schools (7+ / 0-)

    After decades of local school board and administrative buffoonery and waste, I've gone from being an opponent of charter schools to being an advocate.

    I've spoken with parents whose children were enrolled in this debut year of a public charter school in our small city and, to a person, they rave about the safe, nurturing atmosphere that was not available in the local school system and how their reading grade levels have improved. Also, there is no pink slime served in the charter school. The school serves organic and nutritional food for not only lunch but for breakfast as well.

    The school board has spent about $500k in a legal battle to shut the charter school down while eliminating all arts instruction systemwide.

    BTW, there was no cherry-picking involved. Students, including special needs, were selected by lottery.

    •  I've cooled to them (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smiley7, nikilibrarian, grimjc

      to the point of being icy because in Ohio, the charter schools have robbed the taxpayers of hundred of MILLIONS of dollars they can't account for. Given how much they DON'T spent on their schools, in Ohio they probably don't serve pink slime because they don't feed the kids. Ohio charters are crap. ALL for-profit charters need to be legally banned.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:46:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What we're talking about here is a tiered (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TexMex

      education system. Above and beyond that which exists between wealthy and poor districts.

      It's like advocating for leaving all the other students on the sinking ship.

      I'm against it. If you're willing to work that hard to build and administer a charter school, why not just apply that energy to improving the schools we have?

      As I see it, the more charter schools the fewer parents willing to fight to improve the public school system, the worse we'll be.

      Romney - his fingernails have never been anything but manicured.

      by Pescadero Bill on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We humans have to operate at a human scale... (3+ / 0-)

        We can't change a whole huge system in one swoop.  We have to bite off what we can chew and try to transform that.

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

        by leftyparent on Fri May 18, 2012 at 09:22:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lausd (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftyparent, Huginn and Muninn

        has over 700,000 students and covers an area that stretches from the high desert to the sea.  

        I know my limits.

        Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

        by xajaxsingerx on Fri May 18, 2012 at 11:50:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's a very selfish element to your argument. (0+ / 0-)

          That is what I'm saying.

          Romney - his fingernails have never been anything but manicured.

          by Pescadero Bill on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:20:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So given we have that 3-tiered school system... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, xajaxsingerx

            With elite private schools at the top, "successful" public schools in the middle, and  "failed" public schools in "failed" communities at the bottom.  Is an effort to try to pull a tier-three school up to the tier-two level really not a step in the progressive direction?

            For over 200 years I believe we have had that 3-tiered system, and the public school system has willingly participated in it, providing the bottom two tiers to appease the elite corporatist interests.

            Lets agree to join forces in an effort to overturn that system and teach all our kids the keys to leadership, agency and power that are generally only taught currently to the kids of the elite in private schools!

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

            by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:41:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  As the diarist said... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftyparent, xajaxsingerx, angelajean

        Even in a relatively good public school, Some of the kids excell, some do well, but some do very poorly. These are the kids who don't thrive in a public school environment, period. It's not leaving the other kids on a sinking ship, for them the ship may not be sinking at all. Even kids in the same family, often, one will do well in a school and one will struggle every year. Charters give an option for those kids who are struggling to move into an environment that may work better for them. Charters are an answer to the problem that not all kids learn the same way.

        As has been pointed out in many other diaries, parents fight for years and the public schools just shake them off. They aren't improving, and the changes they are making are making it even more difficult for many students, especially those with disabilities. This doesn't mean we give up, but we HAVE to do what is best for our children during those few precious years they have before they are adults.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:43:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  it is a zero sum game (7+ / 0-)

    There is only so much of an education budget to go around.

    Charter schools have done more wrong then right. The numbers show this. You have had a good experience and that is how you look at the subject.

     overall charter schools have not delivered on their promise.

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:31:49 PM PDT

  •  xajaxsingerx... thanks for posting your diary!... (9+ / 0-)

    I think your piece is a thoughtful and reasonable assessment of the pluses and minuses associated with charter schools.  But as you say, they are one of many educational paths that make up the spectrum of educational paths, acknowledging that we are all different and a one-size-fits-all education cannot work for all of us.

    I am a parent and not a teacher, and I have been at least peripherally involved in a charter startup here in Los Angeles, a school started by a close friend, where my daughter attended and her mom worked as the school counselor.  Here's a piece I wrote on that experience...

    http://www.leftyparent.com/...

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

    by leftyparent on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:33:44 PM PDT

  •  The Proper Vehicle For Funding is Public Taxpayer (4+ / 0-)

    funding only.

    If private money is available for only select schools in a system they're like a national chain that erects a pizza shop next door to my mom & pop pizza store. They have the power to beat the original in competition without actually being better, possibly being quite a bit worse.

    It rewards public districts for not spending wisely or adequately on their schools like in your example of the district not maintaining a safe school, by shifting the normal public sector pressures on public institutions to increasing demand for more private-supported schools and further decreased responsibility for the public schools.

    This is another variant of the donor empowerment movement Dick Cheney's wife promotes with universities.

    If a donor wants to see better schools in Bedford Falls they can donate to the Bedford Falls public school system as an entity. Clearly they don't want to do that, they're not doing it.

    They're sponsoring select schools that will increase demand for privately sponsored and influenced schools and decrease demand and satisfaction for the public schools.

    It doesn't matter which part nor which sector of public life practices conservative governance. The outcomes are the same regardless.

    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 Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:34:23 PM PDT

    •  Eli Broad (3+ / 0-)

      has given millions to LAUSD.  The public high schools in Seattle have Boeing programs.  Public schools, both charter and district, receive millions from private sources.

      In principle, I completely agree with you, but until we actually do provide proper public funding, all public schools will seek, receive, and bend to the will of private dollars.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:09:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most conventional public schools... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      Go for extra grants as well to fund various parts of their program.

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

      by leftyparent on Fri May 18, 2012 at 09:25:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The close connection between public schools... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xajaxsingerx, angelajean

      and big business has been an issue throughout the 20th century and this continues to be a problem into the 21st.  IMO the learning process for many kids can be done more holistically and organically using the larger community's resources rather than setting up this huge infrastructure of schools and a monstrous bureaucracy to run them, which becomes a feeding frenzy for corporate public school vendors.

      http://www.leftyparent.com/...

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

      by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:21:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You Have To Do What You Think (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, bkamr, blueoasis, eleaba, hulibow, TexMex

    is best for your children. Period. But with that said I come from a family of PhDs. We could have afforded to go to Harvard or Yale. We went to public schools. Public schools rock. I'll put the education I got there against any education in this country.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:38:02 PM PDT

    •  Let's be honest here, (3+ / 0-)

      being from a family of PhDs first tells me the gene pool has done your family well. That said it would not matter where you went to school, your physical being and your family environment has had more to do with your success than the choice of schools.  The opportunities a child has is unique to them and a myriad of influences at crucial times.  Balancing life of course is not and will not ever be equal for all, there will be a bell curve with education, rational behavior, crime, religion, politics, etc. ad infinitum.  We strive to do better as many ways as we can, with diversity, with compassion and accept all cannot be as we want it.  First be thankful for a life, then struggle for something better, for yourself, for others.  Leave something of value behind for others.

  •  sorry, but you are partially wrong (6+ / 0-)

    first, the rules on charters vary from state to state

    second, in many states charters are able to avoid taking the harder to educate -  those with IEPS or ELLs, claiming they lack the resources to handle them

    third, it is well documented that KIPP in CA has "counseled out" students whose families will not give the commitment they want, in other words, those students whose families lack the ability to support as well as say middle class families

    are there some good charters? yes.

    But I do not think you want to be touting Locke HS, not given the horrid rate of remediation needing in public colleges and universities in CA for its graduates.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:50:20 PM PDT

    •  Locke HS (11+ / 0-)

      Has yet to send it's first graduating class to college, teacherken.  The first GreenDot class will begin in the fall.

      The horrifying remediation rates and 1st year drop-out rates for csu's and uc's are not the result of charters, they are the result of the fact that California has the 6th lowest per-pupil funding in the country and has invested little in its schools since the Ford administration.

      I have immense respect for you and for your amazing career in education.  I read your blogs with admiration, but on this issue I believe you are very wrong.  

      I will be proud of Locke for increasing graduation rates.

      I will be proud of Locke for improving test scores.

      And I will be consistently ashamed of California until schools in neighborhoods like Watts, district and charter,  are properly funded, properly administrated, and on the mend.  Until then, I will support any system that improves the lives of children.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:07:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The lives of some children. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexMex

        Romney - his fingernails have never been anything but manicured.

        by Pescadero Bill on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:15:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Locke held celebration for 2007 class (0+ / 0-)

        it is this class that has something like an 85% rate of remedial courses in public institutions in California

        Locke claimed them

        Locke has to answer for the results

        it is still not clear that Locke is improving the lives of children.  The jury is still very much out.

        Test scores are an insufficient measure, as most psychometricians would tell you.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:45:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Locke didn't became a charter until 2008 (5+ / 0-)

          And of course we claimed the students that attended there.  They are our responsibility and they are our kids.  

          We are responsible for them and we are working tirelessly to improve their education.

          You brought up KIPP's counseling out of students who did not toe the line.  I'm sure that happened and, frankly, KIPP's success has not been without controversy even within the charter community, but you should know that they aren't the only ones who do so.  

          When GreenDot took over Locke, LAUSD changed the local area map to include both Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts -- both of which had previously been assigned to Jordan High School.  Both Nick and Imperial are Blood dominated while the rest of the Locke service area (and the rest of the Jordan service area) are dominated by Crips.  KIPP is not the only place that finds ways not to serve undesirables.  LAUSD is a much bigger offender.

          Even now, I work in the alternative school within Locke which is designed to serve students who aren't being successful within the cluster, but a full 2/3rds of my new students this year were from LAUSD -- each of them counseled out of Washington or Gardena or Fremont and told to go to Locke where they were guaranteed to be accepted even though they had been expelled from district.

          Even so, we are making progress (and by most metrics, not just test scores, we are seeing some success).  Our school is safer.  Our attendance is higher.  Our graduation rate is better than the surrounding schools.

          Your dismissal of one of the few moderate successes in education here in South Los Angeles is disheartening.

          Please reconsider your wholesale condemnation of charter schools.  

          Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

          by xajaxsingerx on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:05:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary (8+ / 0-)

    I have really struggled to put our experience into a diary. I understand why some folks are anti-charter but our experience was beyond positive and I believe every child deserves what mine has been blessed with. Regular public school was fine, but a charter focusing on character development helped her soar.

    This year my daughter and her classmates learned about identity. The topic was integrated into every single class. From their DNA to their place in school, family, community and country.  They learned about ancient Greek/Roman civilizations and how the western world is similar. As the year progressed they learned about Germany and what happened to the Jewish people and their identities. They learned about forgiveness and held Socratic seminars to discuss their viewpoints. They met holocaust survivors and WWII vets, and delved into the Manhattan Project and the Japanese internment camps and the role the United States played in human rights violations. The end of the year culminated in a community wide youth for human rights event where groups of students picked topics to present that ranged from LGBT issues to Syria.

    Who would I be if that was my curriculum in eighth grade?

  •  I've pretty much given up (10+ / 0-)

    discussing this subject around these parts.  We sent our son to a charter school for most of elementary school.  It was, and is, a fabulous school.  He got the greatest education we could ask for.  His 2nd grade teacher was a 60-yr-old man.  I'd say the mean age of teachers was about 40.  School population was around 130.  Class size topped at 22.  The turn-over rate for teachers during his years there was 0%.  

    The reason we sent him to the charter school was that the school district closed both of the elementary schools in our neighborhood.  Faced with busing him to a horrendously over-crowded school that has some of the most abysmal scores in the state, we opted out.

    Yes, we work to fix public schools.  We support our local public schools whenever possible.  We've worked to elect better legislators.  We give to the PTA.  

    But, as for the educational situation in which they left us? I'm sorry, but  I'm not about to sacrifice my child's education because they left an entire community without elementary schools.  

    And, yes, I realize that I'm lucky to be able to make that choice.

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:18:22 PM PDT

    •  And, sorry, I should have said thank you (6+ / 0-)

      for braving the backlash and posting this.  

      Best to you,

      Kelly

      Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

      by CJB on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:24:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely, your first responsibility (4+ / 0-)

        is to your child.  If every parent understood that and acted accordingly, we would have great public schools everywhere.  When my son was young, we school-shopped constantly.  It was disruptive, but he got a good foundation in academics, democracy, advocacy, and discernment.  We had no charter options in those days, but he attended public schools, Catholic schools (we're not) an alternative school and one unbelievably wonderful (way too pricey) private school before landing on his feet in a diverse, academically challenging and remarkably welcoming, supportive small-town public middle-and-high school that did right by nearly every kid that wandered through its doors. Parents can make or break a school in any community.  When they either don't care, or care more about, say, sports than academics, kids need other options. Charters can provide them.

    •  that's my issue (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CJB, Villanova Rhodes, leftyparent

      every child should get what mine is getting. Why can't we take the successes of some (not all are effective) charters and integrate it into the public school system?  The teaching techniques and curriculum in my daughters charter is not hard to duplicate. And the teachers are happy. And the students are learning.
      If I miraculously won the lottery and didn't have to work this would be my mission.

    •  Would you be interested in writing about your (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftyparent, CJB

      experience for Education Alternatives? We're talking about starting a series on Charter Schools, similar to our Saturday Homeschool Series. I just need to recruit enough writers to make it happen.

      Kosmail me if you would be interested!

  •  I think you're right. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexMex, leftyparent, FloridaSNMOM

    A good charter can do good. The trouble comes when charters emerge out of cloudy or questionable or commercial motives -- and then, they can drain resources from underfunded public schools, and incidentally, not educate the kids they lure into their trap.  

    In addition, the right-to-work ethos is a problem.  Teachers may have the legal right to organize, but if the whole culture of a school is "dedication" and "altruism" rather than professionalism, expertise, and the right of teachers to, um, teach -- they will have a tough time trying to do so.

    I am glad your school works well, though, and that your experience has been positive.  The kids you teach are fortunate.

  •  Quality does depend on the school, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Villanova Rhodes

    whether charter or public. My grandkids (5, eldest now in 9th grade) and a grandniece have all had great schools here in Southern California, both charter and public.

    Thanks for the post!

    The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

    by SoCalSal on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

  •  Some aricles on Charter schools in Ma, like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexMex, smiley7

    http://bluemassgroup.com/...
    Scandal Rocks Springfield Charter School
    "It hasn't been a good year for charter schools in Springfield. The city's New Leadership Charter School made national news when one of its 11 year-old students killed himself after severe bullying. (In the school's charter renewal, the state cited it for “inconsistent implementation of the character education and leadership elements of its mission”).

    Now, the Robert W. Hughes Charter School–under a cloud since the state auditor found gross financial management issues–is facing an investigation into cheating on the MCAS test. The school's board replaced its sidelined principal with Fred Swan, a convicted felon whose brother is a state representative from Springfield. The school's board and the state aren't telling concerned parents much, raising the question of to whom it is that charter schools are accountable.

     The Springfield Republican reports:

        The upheaval at the 180-student school has done more than damage its reputation. At a time when Gov. Deval L. Patrick is pushing for more charter schools, Hughes stands as a reminder that charter schools – which are independent from local school districts – have the potential to be as dysfunctional as their public counterparts.

        Without notifying parents, the academy’s governing board placed principal Janet J. Henry on leave Nov. 23 while the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education probes the school’s spring scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test. Henry has denied any wrongdoing.

        As her replacement, the board picked Fred Allen Swan, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to nine felony convictions related to his last employer, the Caring Health Center in Springfield. Swan had joined the Hughes payroll in March as a $79,000-a-year development director.

    ,,regrading another Springfield Ma Vharter school
    "Fewer than half of its teachers are licensed in their teaching assignment. The state auditor found that financial “mismanagement” included not using competitive bidding practices, overpaying the rent, and purchasing a $150,000 certificate of deposit from a failing bank. The bank's CEO also chaired the Hughes Charter School's board. The school's treasurer also worked at the bank. Swan was convicted of, among other things, bid-rigging.

    Cronyism and hackery are often endemic in local government–particularly in cities where there is actually enough money at stake to reward wrong-doing. Hughes, however, raises the question of how much cronyism and hackery are present in these “more accountable” educational establishments. Granted, it is only one school, and even if its board is populated by various Springfield hacks, there are plenty of charter schools in the area that function effectively.

    A Stanford University study found extreme variability in American charter school performance with 17% of charter schools doing superior work to public schools, 37% doing a worse job, and the remainder doing about the same. Variability is the norm, when it comes to charter schools. It's time to stop assuming that charter schools are a simple answer to what plagues American education, and that some magical market principle is enough to provide accountability."

        When word of the shakeup reached parents a week later, neither the board of directors nor the state education officials would offer many details."

    http://www.telegram.com/...
    Charter schools found lacking on learning gap

    "Information was presented on students at the newly opened Spirit of Knowledge Charter School, which serves Grades 7-9. The district found data on 85 percent of the school’s students from when they were Worcester public school students and found that those students scored higher on the MCAS exams than the district average. In other words, Chief Research and Accountability Officer David Perda said, the schools took “the more academically able.”

    http://www.schoolsmatter.info/...

    MA Inspector General Determines Gloucester Charter School "Improperly Approved"

    "Who would have guessed that Inspector General Gregory Sullivan would have the audacity to offer a decision that challenges the will of the Boston Foundation and the corporate charter school philanthrocapitalists who have bought most State education decisions?

    Are we about to see the re-emergence of common sense and legal process in the Commonwealth when it comes to public education? Will elected officials actually start to pay attention to the outpouring of rage by citizens that is showing up at public meetings where corporate disruptors and dismantlers of public education seek to channel public education funds into the anti-democratic charter apartheid schools? It could get interesting.

    From the Boston Globe, January 3:

        Inspector General Gregory Sullivan has determined that the state improperly approved a controversial charter school in Gloucester last year and believes the board should void its vote, according to a letter his office sent to the governor yesterday afternoon.

        . . . .

        It was not clear yesterday whether the board and its agency’s commissioner will comply with Sullivan’s findings because they have not seen a copy of the letter yet, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

        “We don’t have any comment,’’ said spokeswoman Heidi Guarino. “We need to review it with our legal counsel.’’"

    http://www.gloucestertimes.com/...
    "MALDEN — The state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education took no action today regarding the Gloucester Community Arts School — meaning the school is clear to go forward for at least a third year next fall as Gloucester's first public but independently run charter school.

    But at least one state education official said that, if the school were at the end of a state-recognized five-year  period and came in with the same results and problems, he'd recommend that its charter not be renewed.

    At its regular meeting at the Department of Education headquarters, the board accepted the recommendations of Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester, who, as reported in Monday's Times, acknowledged that the school has had significant problems, but should be allowed to remain open as it continues to address a variety of issues. "
    "The review was the state board’s first since Gloucester Charter Arts students posted woefully low scores on the state’s standardized Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests, and the first since the school’s enrollment, while double its first year, came in some 60 students below projections this fall, bringing new cuts in the school’s per-pupil budget allocation.

    “I don’t remember in my time on the board (a charter school) showing such a poor review the first year and a half,” said BESE member Harneen Chernow.

    Local speakers at today's hearing included GCAS Executive Director Tony Blackman, Gloucester School Committee Chairman Roger Garberg and GCAS parent Kat Brown. "

    http://aftma.net/...

  •  Great diary... (6+ / 0-)

    ... which will undoubtedly be dismissed by those around here with charter school derangement syndrome.

    But you're absolutely right -- charter schools are indeed an answer. And in many cases, a good one.

    It should be noted that in the most recent US News and World Report rankings of the top public high schools in the country, charter schools made up a disproportionate percentage (in relation to their actual numbers) of the top 150 high schools nationwide. So many of these charters are doing something right.

    "We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." -- Willy Wonka

    by Huginn and Muninn on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:36:28 PM PDT

    •  Yes, it's called skimming the cream (n/t) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CentralMass, TexMex

      Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. - John Dickinson ("1776")

      by banjolele on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:01:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, it's not. (5+ / 0-)

        Skimming doesn't happen when admission is by lottery. (Read the diary -- most charters in CA don't admit selectively.)

        9 of the top 15 public high schools in CA are charters (according to the US News ranking)... one of them, in the Bay Area (with which I happen to be familiar) operates on the lottery system. It is 2/3 minority (a greater % than the surrounding district); nearly 40% of graduates are the first in their families to attend college. It doesn't keep out disabled (learning or physically) students. It's operated for almost 10 years with an impressive record.

        The kids are passionate about learning; the teachers are the same. It is a more successful school for the entire student population than any other school in its district -- and has been for several years.

        But it doesn't do it by skimming. It does it by encouraging a community and love of learning.

        "We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." -- Willy Wonka

        by Huginn and Muninn on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:50:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think the lesson for other public schools... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, Huginn and Muninn

          is to encourage more of the stakeholders in the school to get more skin in the game creating, participating in and supporting their local school.  The problem with the huge hierarchical public school bureaucracy is that it discourages that buy-in, since most important decisions on how the school will be constituted are made by a faraway administration in the state capitol.

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

          by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:34:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  3 more objections (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    banjolele, smiley7

    7. They are undemocratic. You may think the school board is inefficient and bureacratic. You are probably right. But the school board is also small d democratic (at least in the places where schools are run by school boards and not from some big city mayor's office). In fact one could say this is the most direct form of democracy available to americans.  Charter schools are a shortcut to get around democracy.

    8. Many charter schools don't have accomodations for disabled students. While you are right that the funding follows the student- the real truth of the matter is that disabled students (especially those on IEP) cost a whole ot more than regular students The federal government may kick in some money- but it is still a huge burden on the public schools. When you take away abled body students from the public schools without taking the proportionate number of disabled students, you are unfairly starving them of funding.

    9. I seem to recall that charter schools are supposed to share their methods openly so it could be replicated everywhere. Not that I've followed this closely- but I doubt this is being done.  I see the KIPP schools have achieved some success- so where is the sharing of knowledge?

    •  Charter schools in CA answer to their district... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Villanova Rhodes

      They are reviewed by the district and if they fail to meet their goals they are not renewed.

      And it seems to me that what any public school does, how they constitute their program, is not a secret, if someone cares to come and observe or read their charter.

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

      by leftyparent on Fri May 18, 2012 at 09:34:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought the County Board of Education (0+ / 0-)

        certifies the charter school, not the school district?

        •  It can be (0+ / 0-)

          either.  Or it can be the state board of ed.

          Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

          by xajaxsingerx on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:08:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We don't have county boards of education... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean

          in California.  We have school district boards which then answer to a state educational administration in our state capitol Sacramento.

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

          by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:35:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We actually do have them (0+ / 0-)

            I worked for LACOE, The Los Angeles County Office of Education, for years.  LACOE generally handles alternative and "camps"  -- meaning the juvenile justice schools, though they also have International Polytechnic High School and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in their district.

            Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

            by xajaxsingerx on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:08:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was aware of LACSA... (0+ / 0-)

              but did not realize there was a county ed administration.  How does it interface, if at all, with LAUSD?

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

              by leftyparent on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:47:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

                LACOE alternative schools have the entirety of LA County as their service area.  They receive no services from the local district.

                Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

                by xajaxsingerx on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:52:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We tried to get our son Eric into LACSA... (0+ / 0-)

                  because he would have loved the theater program, but he was not selected.  In retrospect that was probably for the best! it would not have worked for him because despite the school's arts focus, it was too academically rigorous for him.

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

                  by leftyparent on Sun May 20, 2012 at 01:19:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  three responses (4+ / 0-)

      7.  In a small "d" democracy, we take direct action.  School boards are, at best, indirect democracy.  In order to even file for a charter in California, you must have parent signatures from at least 50% of your expected first class' parents before you submit.  I find this to be more democratic.

      8. Many public schools don't have accomodations, either.  Most districts have special schools set up to accomodate severe BD, EH, and SpEd students and funnel them there.  Charter schools, because they are part of the district, are able to do the same.  Even so, I have been in three charter schools and our SpEd rates were between 12% and 16% in each of them (although at Locke it is higher) while federal and state reimbursements are only for 10%.  

      9.  KIPP's methods are well known.  They are controversial, but I use one of their chief contributions in my class.  SLANT originated with KIPP and has become widely used throughout the country in many schools.  Sit up, Listen, Ask question, Nod, Track the speaker.

      KIPP's founder has published multiple articles and there entire books based on their methods.

      The one thing that educators do, regardless of whether they are charter or district or private, is share successes and strategies that work.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:23:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The top scoring charter school in Oakland (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.mercurynews.com/...

    http://www.wsws.org/...

    In 2007, Chavis’s disciplinary practices came into question when a local college professor, Sabrina Zirkel, took a group of graduate students to one of his schools. One of the students, Unity Lewis, was 15 minutes late, and Chavis took it upon himself to deal with him directly.

    Lewis, who is African American, recalled the incident in a complaint letter, writing: “He pushed his chest into my shoulder and begun to usher me out of the building, shouting profanities and insults in my face. He called me a ‘(expletive) minority punk’ at least five times and shouted, ‘I’m going to kick your ass’ at least seven times.’ He said ... I was a ‘worthless piece of (expletive) people have been making excuses for’ all of my life.”

    Before this incident, Chavis had previously been known for humiliating children as well as their parents as a form of punishment. One student had to carry an orange cone around for two weeks after reportedly using profanity and making racist remarks to a fellow classmate, only to be placed into a lower grade at the end of the two-week sentence.

    Another student had to shave his head after being accused of stealing. One parent who tried to drop off her child’s forgotten lunch later received a letter from Chavis inquiring about her state of mind. He wrote: “1. You are on drugs. 2. You have psychological problems. 3. You are a liar. Could it be that all the above apply to you? I know that numbers two and three are right on target.”

    Chavis’s sarcastic and abrasive educational philosophy pervades the American Indian Model Schools web site. The seventh of the schools’ “Ten Commandments” reads: “Thou shalt be aware of quacks who believe in communism. Thou hast the quickest route to freedom through free market capitalism and private property ownership. Hast thou ever heard of illegal immigrants risking their lives to enter Cuba?”

    It should be noted that AIM II actually has zero native american students, despite the original goal of the charter school being to help Native american students. Chavis packed the schools with high scoring asian american students, and kicked out any student who didn't conform to his draconian rules.
    •  I am familiar with both the school and the scandal (3+ / 0-)

      and I don't believe I have anywhere said that all charters were good.  I have said, in fact, that some are terrible.

      I could also provide you with thousands of articles regarding the misconduct of district school administrators, but I don't believe it is right to condemn an entire string of institutions based on the misdeeds of individuals.

      Again, there are evildoers and jackasses in lots of schools, not just charters.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:25:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but the comment wasn't talking about (0+ / 0-)

        district school administrators, and I think we all know that the charter school movement grew out of dissatisfaction with district school administrators.

        This isn't a report, it's a polemic.

        -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

        by Dave in Northridge on Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:53:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My reading of charter history... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xajaxsingerx, angelajean

          is that it grew out of school districts trying anything and everything to come up with new mechanisms to evolve the educational program they offered to the community.  In Los Angeles first there was the LEARN program that tried to give schools more autonomy and self-control.  The chartering process IMO was taking that LEARN approach a step further.

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

          by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:41:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think you are glossing over a lot of issues. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexMex, smiley7, BMarshall

    In places like Chicago where this charter school mania seems to have been bred articles state that the brighter students from failing inner city schools were cherry picked and placed in these newly created charter schools. Stripping badly needed funding and the brighter students form already struggling public schools in impoverished neighborhoods.  Causing more problems for the communities involved. There was also reportedly some modification to standardized test that some said were"dumbing them down" to show results.

    Among the links I posted above about come charter schools in MA is this one:
    http://aftma.net/...

    The education reform bill passed in 2010 doubled the amount of funding that can be diverted from public schools to charter schools in districts with low academic performance. In Lowell, the public schools could lose as much as $24 million in the coming years, undermining the progress they’ve made, says Georges.

    “This raises an obvious question: is the state’s policy to help strengthen public schools or is it to expand the number of charter schools, whatever the cost?” asks Georges. "

    •  I think it is misleading to say "diverted"... (3+ / 0-)

      when you are talking about a district authorizing more chartered public schools.  The money is still going to district schools to give kids in the district a place to learn.  It's just that more of those schools can now be independently chartered rather than chartered by the district itself.

      Or do I have that wrong?

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

      by leftyparent on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:48:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In Georgia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, CentralMass

    The state has virtually stripped local school boards of the authority to approve or disapprove charter schools.  The voters will decide in November if this idea should become law, which I believe they will.  This turns local control on its head. Yes, your diary only speaks to California. But the Republicans are more than eager to totally dismantle public schools nationwide in favor of education for the few, their supporters, and people who look and think like them.

  •  Well done diary, however unwelcome the message. (4+ / 0-)

    As usual, the comments remind me of that old Army joke -- "The food's inedible, and the portions are so small!"

    "Charters don't perform any better than non-charters ... and they skim the cream!!"  

  •  Good contribution (7+ / 0-)

    I fund it unconscionable that people are willing to sacrifice generation after generation of low-income, minority kids to lives bereft of hope on the alter being loyal to "public education". Charters are public schools, they're just organized differently. It's no different than a small, exclusive suburb forming its own school district, to break away from the big city school district next door. Why is that not seen as an affront to public education, but opening a charter school in the inner-city is?

    I bet that the percentage of Daily Kos posters who attended and/or send their kids to failing, inner-city public schools is miniscule, but yet, they would restrict their ability of low-income, minority parents to make the same "choice".

  •  Read ALEC's 17th report card, (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.alec.org/...

    140 pages of their eyeopening agenda to privatize public schools.

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Fri May 18, 2012 at 09:54:48 PM PDT

  •  What I am not seeing in the diary (3+ / 0-)

    that is making me think the diarist is a shill or apologist, is a discussion of the difference in charters being set up by their communities vs those being set up by corporations or business backed entities.

    The latter, they are out for profit by taking the most out of funding and donations while paying out the least for actual education. These are what Duncan and Rhee are promoting and are terrible! This is what people are hearing about and thinking of as charter schools. It is a no brainer that this is no way to ensure a quality education when someone is making money off of it and it isn't the student.

    The former, community charter schools, are there to fill a need. They are no better and no worse than public schools. I consider these good as they offer a choice. Depending on the teachers and family involvement, they can vary from adequate to fantastic. The community based charter school near me is wonderful as it holds much of the quirky character of this area, good motivated teachers but economically depressed and seriously underfunded. I would love to work there, despite making less than I would elsewhere.

    If you aren't taking a serious look at who benefits from a charter, you aren't accounting for some major problems with the concept.

    I am in Oregon where charters do have to conform to state standards. There is oversight, in the form of testing. It's better than nothing but I'd rather see something that doesn't punish schools of all forms for economic and social issues they can't control.

    On one point- Charters getting to pick and choose their students- I somewhat agree, but I think ALL schools should have this option in a small way. Students who are discipline problems and/or dangerous should be refused. Especially if the parents are not willing to work with the school(s) on this. (I know of a situation, with a charter, that it has come up) Education is not valued by much of our society and parents should be forced to confront their little darling of a problem instead of treating schools as a daycare where their child does no wrong.

    I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Fri May 18, 2012 at 10:15:43 PM PDT

    •  At the risk of being redundent.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      http://www.telegram.com/...

      "Information was presented on students at the newly opened Spirit of Knowledge Charter School, which serves Grades 7-9. The district found data on 85 percent of the school’s students from when they were Worcester public school students and found that those students scored higher on the MCAS exams than the district average. In other words, Chief Research and Accountability Officer David Perda said, the schools took “the more academically able.”

      Committee member Jack L. Foley made the obvious prediction. “We should not be surprised if their MCAS scores are higher than our average score and they claim success,” he said.

      That, in turn, would be used to justify the charter movement, said Mayor Joseph C. O’Brien. “This is not about closing the achievement gap. This is about ... creating elite opportunities for successful students.”

      On the other side of the coin, the district looked at Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test scores from Seven Hills Charter School, which the state recently put on probation for its lackluster results. According to the data presented last night, the charter school has scored worse than Worcester public schools since 2008 in both math and English language arts. "

    •  I am neither a shill nor an apologist (4+ / 0-)

      and I think I have said several times that for-profit charters are evil.

      Please don't call me names.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:22:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recommend, though, (0+ / 0-)

    as the parent of a special needs child (now adult), I wonder about whether charter schools are better ab;e or quicker to exclude or remove the "hard cases," or children with disabilities.

    •  My experience with a single charter in CA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftyparent

      won't be true for everywhere but we found many parents with kids that needed help found that they could get IEP's conducted much more quickly through our charter school. Many removed their kids from the local public school, enrolled with our homestudy charter, got the needed IEP that year and then took it back to the public school the following year.

      Once that IEP is written, all schools in CA are required to follow it. But it costs a lot of money for the testing, etc. Parents will do what is best for their child, damn the system.

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