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In yesterday's War on Workers weekly entry, Laura Clawson had a link to this fascinating story of the Los Altos (CA) school district and their woes with an "extremely litigious charter school."  I had heard a little bit about it as Los Altos is near where I live, but the more I read, the more stunned I got.  I had to dig a little deeper into this amazingly atrocious but accurate situation.

A Los Altos town marker: stone plinth with wooden Los Altos signs in white script
Los Altos is a fairly wealthy town in Silicon Valley.  One unusual thing about governance around here: school districts and city boundaries are rarely the same thing.  The Los Altos School District included the even wealthier town of Los Altos Hills, where zoning pretty much requires a minimum site of one acre for each house.  That may not sound prohibitive to anyone living outside coastal California, but land in Silicon Valley is so expensive that most homes are built on lots between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet.  And that's the houses built 60 years ago!  

Houses in Los Altos are unobtainable for under a million.  Houses in Los Altos Hills are even pricier.  Now watch what happens when the people in the more expensive town organized a charter school when their one and only public school was closed down.

Take a leap over the orange eclaire and see how one of the top school districts in the entire state got completely, and I mean completely screwed by the charter school process.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different format on Burbed, which makes fun of Northern California real estate.  On the occasional weekend piece, I get passionately political, which means this piece will be right at home on the DK.

Editorial cartoon: Everybody Wins!  3 people pointing to, left to right, new community centers, new charter schools, and new debt.
We haven't been shy about sharing our "educational €œreform" position with you: we distrust the charter school movement.  We believe they are a means for private corporations to strip school boards of their resources and teachers of their benefits by providing cut-rate education under the false flag of "school choice."  After all, corporations exist to make a profit.  Would you really want your child's education outsourced to the lowest bidder?  Of course not!  That's why you'll pay anything to live in the Real Bay Area!

Charter Schools' Negative Impact on the Educational System

Anti-charter school protest
Charter schools are being implemented all across the country, whether parents want them or not.  This is happening because some very wealthy people, not one of them with any education background, see this as a way to profitat the expense school boards and teachers unions.  Much of the current "school reform"€ movementhas been taken over by tons of money from foundations from the Walton (Walmart), Gates (Microsoft) and Broad (construction and insurance) families and, of course, the Koch brothers.  These groups have completely derailed real school reform in favor of their plan to corporatize our educational system.

All that money crowds out real reform in favor of forcing charter schools, despite their lackluster performanceand despite their ability to cherry-pick students.  There are stories everywhere of neighborhood schools forced to close, fire all the teachers and administrators, and then reopen as charters, despite complete opposition from the affected teachers, parents and children.  Needless to say, this is most likely to happen where parents are not well-represented in the political system.  That is, this process is most likely to happen in poorer neighborhoods rather than wealthy suburbs.  Remember Waiting for Superman (which is, of course, pure propaganda)?  The Bay Area school in the film was in Redwood City (a city with mixed socio-economic characteristics including a large low-income barrio).  And look at all the corporate charter schools that have popped up in Oakland and San Jose.

But That Doesn't Happen in the "Real Bay Area," Right?

Bullis Charter School logo
So what would you think of a charter school setting up in an RBA wealthy suburb and leeching off the school board?  Surprise!  This is the story of a private group that is trying to strip a school board of its assets by providing a really expensive education for some really wealthy parents' kids.  Welcome to the continuing saga of Bullis Charter School of Los Altos.

This story began when the Los Altos School District closed Bullis Purissima Elementary, the only public school in Los Altos Hills (see intro, that's the really wealthy town), in 2003 due to reduced enrollment.  Or they closed it in order to renovate but the economy slowed down, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe.  A group of parents in that attendance area were unhappy about this decision, and decided to fight it using the charter school facilities language enabled by Proposition 39.  Prop 39 was ostensibly about lowering the voting threshold for school bonds from 2/3 to 55%, but charter language was added to gain support from those school operators.  And this language says that "public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools."

Santa Clara County Office of Education logoAnd thus the Bullis Charter School was born, ready to demand its fair sharing of public school facilities.  Rejected twice by Los Altos School District, the school won a charter via the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Its charter reserved half its spots for students in the original Bullis-Purissima attendance area, which is the wealthiest part of the school district.  Here is BCS' enrollment preference sequence.  (We're not linking directly to that page because the site appears to use trackers on their FAQ answers.  To verify this language, go to the FAQ and select "How does the enrollment process work?"
How does the enrollment process work?

California Education Code and our charter with the Santa Clara County Office of Education govern the enrollment procedures. Bullis Charter School accepts registrations for any student residing in California. If the number of students who wish to attend exceeds the school's capacity, then enrollment is determined by a public random drawing.

If a random drawing is necessary, SCCOE authorized enrollment preferences are applied based on the following hierarchy within each grade level:

  1. Siblings of current BCS students who reside within the Los Altos School District (LASD) have first preference.   
  2. 50% of the available openings for students residing in the former Bullis-Purissima School attendance area as defined by LASD in 2003 have the next priority.   
  3. Other LASD students have the next priority.   
  4. Siblings of current BCS students who reside out-of-district are given priority after that.   
  5. Out-of-district students without BCS siblings receive the final priority.
Now, in order to get those facilities they wanted shared fairly, that means another LASD school will lose them. In order to get more facilities, they need to recruit more students. So they did. And thereby lies the root of many of conflict.

Bullis Charter School & Los Altos School District: A Miserable Marriage

Bullis Charter School walkathon
 BCS is demanding their own school site for 450 students because they don't want to share a school site with an existing one.  They find the current offer to have K-6 at one school and 7-8 at a different school unacceptable and claim the Prop 39 language says their charter cannot have split sites because their program is a K-8 inclusive one.  Instead they want their own 10 acre site.

The result: a school land grab in LASD, and it has gotten UGLY.  Simply check out some of the reportage on this issue and be sure to read the comments sections to see what we mean.  BCS Supporters just want what's best for their kids.  They want equal funding, as they say they receive less per student.  And supporters of the school call detractors "envious" and imply they know who detractors are who post under pseudonyms.  There are insinuations that BCS students are being harassed by non-BCS students.  One BCS supporter (hi there, Ron!) openly taunts detractors.

Los Altos School District logo
Said BCS detractors refer to the "billionaires"€ who organized BCS and treat it like their "own private school" and are "€œBullis bullies"€ to the other district families.  There are demands that the admission lottery needs an outside auditor.  There are demands that the donations and budget be audited as well. There are claims that Special Education students have been forced out of BCS.  There are claims that applications to BCS asked for information illegally, such as whether the student had an IEP (e.g. for Special Ed).  There are claims that parents unwilling to pay the “voluntary” $5000 per student “donation” have had their names posted on a "Wall of Shame."  There are complaints of online harassment.  There are allegations that all the organized opposition to a 2011 LASD parcel tax came from BCS parents.  There are observations that BCS doesn't negotiate, it threatens.

In 2007, there was a formal finding that BCS filed special education reimbursement expenses that appeared invalid.  The school district, in their court filing, called BCS a "semi-private school"  that should not be given Prop 39 facilities.  The local PTA has taken a public stand on the issue against the "€œlocal boutique charter."  The Los Altos City Council got dragged in over eminent domain.  (Remember, city governance is completely unrelated to the school board.)  LASD parents have formed a formal group opposing BCS's designs on a school site.  There are suggestions that County Board of Ed members may have voted to renew Bullis' charter for another 5 years because of campaign contributions.

There have been lawsuitsMany lawsuits.  BCS has sued LASD several times.  There have been motions and countermotions and attempts to submit amicus briefs to the current suit.
The bottom line, according to Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis board, is that the district continues to ignore the law. BCS is simply trying to get what it is due and the district is obstructing them any way it can.

The district's lawyers aren't so sure, however. After Bullis filed its "motion to compel," the LASD legal team fired back arguing that the district had already agreed to more than enough. "BCS's request to order the closure of a district school has no support in the law," LASD officials said in a July 24 press release.

Mesel and his cohorts'€” seven community members working to defend the district €” agree that LASD should not give up an entire campus. And according to Mesel, plenty of others living within the LASD boundaries share his view€” as evidenced by the about 200 signatures of support he says the Huttlinger Alliance for Education has gathered.

What's Happening Now & Who's Talking About It?

4 1950s type women's heads, with central caption: We're not gossiping, we're networking
 The current situation is that LASD is proposing a school bond to build a new elementary school so BCS can have its own site, but they expect the bond measure to fail.  Not many school districts in the RBA are building new facilities these days, because they aren't making any more land.  (Note: recurring joke on Burbed.)  However, if the bond fails twice, this is where it gets really nasty.  If that happens, BCS can take over an existing neighborhood school, and students in that attendance area will be dispersed to other elementary schools.  And BCS has made it very clear to LASD where they want that school to be: in Los Altos Hills, preferably at the old Bullis-Purissima school.

But the original cause for the creation of BCS, namely the closure of Bullis-Purissima, is no longer the case. The school has since reopened as Gardner Bullis. That means the whole point of the charter school is moot, but at this stage nobody wants to back down.

And with so many highly educated people involved, there are many places to talk about these issues.  One of the LASD board members comments on his own blog.  This LA-wide blog seems to prefer BCS to the district.  There is a blog supporting the school district over BCS.  There's also a Facebook group for LASD parentsthat specifically prohibits any mention of BCS!  (Wonder what the backstory to that rule is!)  And here's a Facebook group that talks plenty about BCS.  Look at the number of comments to each entry!  News stories regularly appear in both the Los Altos Town Crier and the Los Altos Patch, with the aforementioned spirited discussions.  And you know by "spirited" I actually mean vicious.

Bullis Charter Scam website masthead
And how's this site for a non-confrontational title?  (It does have some rather interesting additional background on the issue, such as the wrinkle that many BCS founders were actually in the Palo Alto school district and lost access to LASD with the school closure.)

Why We Care: Because there's Real Estate Involved!

Oh, and there's a real estate angle.  Of course there is.  It wouldn't be a Burbed article if we couldn't tie it to real estate, and this isn't just schools-set-housing-values.  You see, it turns out that BCS loaned the principal of the school $250,000 to remodel a house (or maybe not remodel it) that she already owned.  The problem is, since the house was purchased before the loan was made, that may not have been exactly legal for a 501(c)3 nonprofit benefit corporation to do.  And someone has already filed a complaint with the State Attorney General over this.


There is an August 15th court date coming up in this never-ending saga.  Stay tuned.

Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:56 AM PT: Wow, Community Spotlight!  I am flattered beyond belief!  Thank you, all!  There are still a lot of typos in the piece injected when I moved it from the original blog post, but I'll need some uninterrupted time to prune it a little more.  And thank you to everyone posting on the very complex subject of charter schools.  I know they aren't all terrible... But the process is destroying education as we know it.

Originally posted to madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  One day, I promise, I will post a diary... (21+ / 0-)

    ... under three thousand words.

    But... Not today!

    In capitalist America, bank robs you!

    by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:59:36 PM PDT

    •  n/t (9+ / 0-)

      Please don't!

      I would like to hear more about this, not less.   ;-)

      "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato

      by Bcre8ve on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:02:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  long is never long enough when well done! nt (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus, twigg, banjolele, bnasley, chimpy
    •  Well you gave me a problem :) (9+ / 0-)

      I have to read every word, and check every link!

      And you put in enough links to make even Avenging Angel blush!

      It's a nice problem to have though.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:44:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my cousin sent me a lengthy email in response (6+ / 0-)

      to me sending her a link to the article Clawson had in her story. She has lived in Los Altos for at least 30 years and is furious with the charter school people there. I'll ask her if I can post her email (with no identifying info, of course). Since she's been involved from the very beginning, I think you'll find it interesting -- and in agreement with a lot of what you said.

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would love to see that description (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        From apparent actually living through this mess.  Or your cousin could create a new ID and post in response to what I covered here.  This is so complex and the two sides so enraged at each other that I couldn't cover every piece of it.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:01:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  did you see that I posted most of what she (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madhaus, mrkvica

          said? She has lived through and knows all the details, just as you suggest.
          And she's a very solid reliable person, not prone to exaggeration at all.
          She was very interested in your diary -- didn't know anything about Daily Kos and found the site intriguing. Which is ironic since it was her son who first told me about Daily Kos (in 2005? I think).

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:11:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately your quiz lacked the option (4+ / 0-)

      of "several of the above", e.g. vampire squid + vultures + piranhas, etc., which would have been my choice...but I had to settle for merely 'vampire squid.'  Damn!

      Well, keep up the excellent work, regardless.  At bottom, the charter school movement is about two things, which I have been unable to prioritize: i) destroying the teachers' unions (one part of labor not easily outsourced or off-shored) and ii) the manufacture of ignoramuses, because an ignorant populace will vote for whatever (or whomever) the plutocratic oligarchy tells them.

      Which of these two is closer to the plutocratic heart's desire?  (Well anyhow, desire-- check the heart part.)  I tried to go figure it, but I'm still stumped.

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:09:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  madhaus, Please update to tell us how this (0+ / 0-)

      destroyed "A Top Notch School District" as the title promised. What happened that destroyed the school district?

      LASD is one of the very top school districts in the state based on academic performance and BCS is one of the top if not the top charter school in the state based upon academic performance and has higher performance than LASD.  see

      Most every reader here would love to have their local school district perform academically as LASD does.

      I live an adjacent town, I have long seen the BCS issue as the residents of Los Altos Hills resented that after paying $10,000 to $100,000 a year in property taxes they lost their local K-8 school. As this community has a population highly effective at getting things done, they worked the system to get their local public school through the charter process.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:52:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  charters are notorious (8+ / 0-)

        for accepting high-performing students and rejecting others. Their numbers for English language learners and special ed students are often much lower than for the district within which they are embedded.

        I also know of a charter high school whose claim to fame is graduating dropouts from other high schools. Looks great on paper. However, students have to commit to being present and actively work towards graduation in order to remain in the school, by contract. By definition, then, they have selected students who are committed to graduating.

        Don't let the high performance numbers fool you. The kids who do well in the charter school would do equally well in a non-charter. And unlike the neighborhood public school, charters find ways to "discourage" low-performing students.

        •  In this specific case the local Public School (0+ / 0-)

          has academic scores in the top 1% in the state.

          This is an instance of a very wealthy school district Vs a section of Very Very wealthy households.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 12:37:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and yet they STILL pushed out Special Ed! (4+ / 0-)

            There are declarations on file from parents who say they were made to feel unwelcome because their kids would use more resources.  Same problem, different scale.

            In capitalist America, bank robs you!

            by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 01:25:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As is generally the case, Charters get less (0+ / 0-)

              public funding per student than regular public schools in the same district.

              It would be interesting to see how the charter school would react to special needs students if their per student public funding were the same as regular public schools.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:51:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nope, not buying it. (0+ / 0-)

                The whole point of a public school is to serve ALL students.  If Charters get to pick and choose who they will or won't take, then they aren't public schools anymore.  Their refusal to serve Special Ed is illegal, but they do it anyway.

                In capitalist America, bank robs you!

                by madhaus on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 01:11:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Public schools mean public funding (0+ / 0-)

                  Magnet schools typically pick their students as well, and they are still public schools.

                  Special eduction is generally more costly than for typical students, so having lower per student funding at charters conflicts with a requirement to take students requiring more costly educations.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 07:26:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not how it works (0+ / 0-)

                    Charter school admission is supposed to be by lottery because they are publicly funded.  The lower per pupil cost is usually because the school itself is smaller and has less administrative costs.  But as several other comments here pointed out, these schools have, illegally, found ways to push out certain students, or discourage, again illegally, their applications in the first place.

                    In capitalist America, bank robs you!

                    by madhaus on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 10:05:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  My son (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kamakhya, madhaus

            attends a great charter shool in tampa (TCMS).  It wasn't founded by a corporation, and has had a role in the closing of private schools in the area.  Its founding principal was a proud Kennedy Democrat.

            I am suspicious of some of the push behind charters - but my own experience has been nothing but positive.

            The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

            by fladem on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:46:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Is this really the case (0+ / 0-)

          Is this being stated from statistical analysis or personal observation? My experience with charters is the direct opposite of what you're saying but I don't have any numbers to reflect whether charters schools aim for high performing students or not.

      •  How did they destroy the district? (5+ / 0-)

        Do you know how many millions LASD has had to spend on all these lawsuits?  Did you not read the kajillion links provided in the article?  Did you not read the descriptions of how angry the rest of the LASD parents are that BCS csn force the district to close a neighborhood school, dispersing all the neighborhood kids, just so these parents can have their danged charter school?  And right now the majority of BCS students are not from the preference area anyway.  There are even out of district families in there due to the heavy recruiting mentioned above.

        There is absolutely no reason a charter school should offer preferential admission to kids from the wealthiest part of town, but according to SCCOE only the school can change the language in the charter and they have no intention of doing so.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:09:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Education deform is easy to solve..... (0+ / 0-)

          The 1% need to pay their fair share of taxes, reallocate funding from the DoD and increase federal spending on public K-16 public education, eliminate standardized testing, put expert certified teachers (not ass-hat policy wonks or politicians) back in charge of designing curriculum, assessment and educational experience, eliminate overcrowded classrooms and engage learners with authentic learning experience...there...problem solved....

          Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

          by semioticjim on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 03:10:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  take a look at my comment below with info (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        madhaus, mrkvica, banjolele, LillithMc

        from my cousin who lives in Los Altos. Maybe not destroyed totally but certainly damaging the public school system in that community:

        We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

        by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:15:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Re: test results in LASD and BCS (6+ / 0-)

        Is anyone surprised that the kids of multimillionaires had the best test scores?  That really has little to do with the quality of the school.

        I actually have something beyond observation on this. Long, long ago I worked in the statistics department for one of the major testing companies (as in if I named them you would know exactly who I am talking about).

        The best predictor of test scores, by far, was parental income.  Their own data showed it again and again.  Didn't matter what test or where or what subset of students.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:52:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I got permission from my cousin to use her email (9+ / 0-)

      (with somethings deleted to protect her identy), so here it is:

      In 1998 we passed a facilities bond measure in our elementary district (K-8) to allow considerable refurbishment and seismic upgrades to aging structures on all seven of our campuses.... we were thrilled by strong community support for a 98 million dollar bond.  Then came the collapse and the economic downturn and we had to accept that the money would not address all campuses and all needs.  After a lot of agonizing, the district closed its smallest school (also the one requiring the greatest dollar commitment from the bond because of poor construction and siting).  Unfortunately -- and hindsight is so much better than 20-20 here -- the school was located in the wealthiest part of the district, a town called Los Altos Hills.  There is a great sense of entitlement that goes with that wealth apparently. Some of the parents there were infuriated by what I believe was a fiscally responsible decision, chose to interpret it as hostile and pre-meditated, and formed a charter school.  The district refused to approve the charter but the group went over the school board to the county office of education.  The charter was approved and our district is obligated to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities as part of that approval ever since.  The charter is permitted to have their teachers be non-union, to screen out students for learning issues and ELL needs AND they have been permitted to "ask" for a parental contribution of $5K or more annually.  

      Why the county board of ed approved this is a mystery, as is their stubborn refusal to admit that it was a mistake.  Charter schools are supposed to be an option for districts where schools are failing.  We are a high performing district, have been #1 in the state, and that despite California's  abysmal public education funding. We have been in and out of court with these folks for years with the rulings mostly in our favor until recently.
      Now the charter school has grown from K-6 to K-8 and they want more space.  The district offer splits their 7-8 from the K-6, JUST THE WAY THE DISTRICT DOES IT.  But, oh no, that is not their "vision" and they want room for K-8 all on one site. (Also a pony barn and field trips to Costa Rica, but I digress.....). We are a fully built out community; there is no open space.  So they have decided they want one of our schools... and the heck with the kids who currently attend it.  They reneged on an agreement from the spring that would have given us a year to find another school site, pass another facilities bond to build them a school (WHY is this right???) -- and want what they want and want it now.

      The general feeling around here is this is a bunch of wealthy people who want a private school on public money and don't care a bit what they are doing to an award-winning district.....bleeding it at a cost to the rest of the children.  Two of the schools they are eyeing serve a portion of an adjacent city (school district boundaries predating city incorporations) and these areas are low-income, primarily Latino and other first wave immigrants.  Often these children walk a fair distance to school with grandparents (if they are lucky) as California has few school bus programs left.  Their route takes them across El Camino Real, a major thoroughfare and even getting crossing guards has involved funding crises.  How can the county board, or anyone else for that matter, support this?  It makes me heartsick.

      The article you saw has reference to the fact that in preparation for the next court date, August 15, the district has come out swinging....finally.  And this parent group has stepped up.  So maybe there is hope.

      I have heard about questionable practices with charter schools, but they have always been in communities where the school system seemed to be floundering.  There is a lot of teaching to the test rather than truly educating, that's for sure.  But I have not heard of a situation like ours where a charter manages to bully its way into a district that by any measure doesn't need the alternative of a charter school.  Have you?  

      Pretty distressing.

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 10:35:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would love to hear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        your cousin's take on this diary.  Please let me know if she has any feedback, good or bad.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:13:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  will do. Very interesting discussion with most (4+ / 0-)

          of the comments in good faith on either side. As I said, I'm not a totally anti-charter school person having seen a couple of instances in which public charter schools make sense (schools not run by profit-making companies who do not cream off the best students and whose leadership is really committed to the students).
          But I'd rather see creativity within the public school systems. My husband consults (he's a child psychiatrist) to the elementary school with the lowest income families in the county. The county committed significant resources to the school. The principal and ass't principal both chose to work there (the principal was a very successful and beloved principal at one of the richest elementary schools in the county but felt he could do more good at his current school). Apparently when this principal came in, he outlined what he wanted to do in the school and asked every teacher to commit to it, or to move to another school with no hard feelings. So he has a group of teachers -- all public school teacher union members -- who care deeply about the school and its students. My husband loves the school! Parents are there all the time. There's a special program to help families with things like emotional problems (my husband's area) and adult illiteracy. The kids are engaged and doing well. The different parts of the school work well together -- my husband keeps talking about the art on the walls from the kids. He was particularly impressed with art and writing that had to do with how so many of the kids (the vast majority are immigrants) came to this country (lots of amazing stories).
          Unfortunately, this kind of school is not common and the middle school and high school that come after this elementary school are not of the same caliber.

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:49:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Superb diary (13+ / 0-)

    and essential reading - especially for the small knot of Charter School enthusiasts/proponents who post on these pages.

    •  They won't read (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bwintx, Desert Rose, bnasley, chimpy, madhaus

      Their minds are generally made up. There are generally three benefits of teaching:

      1) Working with children (and all that pertains)
      2) Job security (tenure, demand, decent salary, etc.)
      3) Schedule (no weekends, summers, etc.)

      Education reform these days (including the corporate charter school movement) seeks to destroy all three by sucking the joy out of teaching (standardized testing, rigid curriculum, etc.) and making teaching as a profession less desirable to all but the starry-eyed neophytes (eliminate tenure, freeze salaries, longer school days, etc.).

      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 Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:55:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When do teachers not work on weekends? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sabishi, elfling, bnasley, chimpy, banjolele

        Or was that a myth you were trying to expose?  along with the 2nd point?  And maybe even the first . . . .. (not that I mind kids THAT much, as long as they stay off my freakin' lawn!)

        •  Not so much myth (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          As perceived benefits of teachers by those who go into the profession. And there is some merit to each of them. I never get called in to work late or on weekends (granted, I often do work late and on weekends, but that's not time spent directly interacting with children, so I can do things at my own leisure even in my pajamas should I wish to).

          "Reformers" basically want to eliminate and/or pervert all of these by expanding the school day/week/year or eliminating tenure or turning teaching into "testing" with little opportunity for creativity or passion.

          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 Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:19:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm an enthusiast of charter schools that are well (7+ / 0-)

        run and succeed - especially those that are started by the local community, not by for profit mega corps.

        What I do hate is when a system that has potential to help students is demonized as a whole when it is individual schools that should be targeted.  Ironically, the left's hating charter schools isn't far different from the right's hatred of traditional public schools. Maybe if both sides keep pulling hard enough all public schools - charters and traditionals - will fail and we won't have a public system left to rail about.

        •  If a community-organized charter school is run on (13+ / 0-)

          a not-for-profit basis, it could be a good thing, but taking taxpayer money away from a school to put it into the pockets of profiteers is a bad idea.

          As a property owner and taxpayer, I want a voice in where my tax dollars go, and I want to support the public school system even though I haven't had a child in a public school in more than 20 years.

          I do see reasons to give parents a choice about where their children will go to school, but where is my choice about where my money will go?

          Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

          by RJDixon74135 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:08:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm somewhat with you on this. I'm suspicious (7+ / 0-)

          of charter schools and completely against any profit-making company coming in and taking public school money to make money for shareholders. Non-profits also need to be carefully scrutinized since some of them are just fronts for people who want to scam money out of taxpayers.
          I wrote this to my cousin in Los Altos after she sent me more details about the situation there (I just put her description of events into the comments in this diary).

          Our Board of Ed has turned down all charter school applications until one recently. This one is kind of the opposite of the situation in your school district. It's a Montessori school based in a halfway-residential community for mothers who were homeless and/or substance abusers. [this community] has been around for several decades and started their own Montessori school about 15-20 years ago for the children in their community. They wanted to expand it into a charter school and to bring in other children from the surrounding community (which pretty much tops out at lower middle-class incomes). Some of the elementary schools in that area are not so hot, so this might be a good alternative. The Board of Ed finally agreed to it. But since this is run by a stable and respected non-profit (and one committed to at-risk mothers and children) and since it's focus is on serving lower income families, and since they will use their own current building (unlike what happened in your school district), I think it's fine. But I believe all charter schools should be very carefully monitored and checked, even this one.

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 10:43:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I realize I said something unclear -- I'm with (4+ / 0-)

          you on some charter schools being okay.
          However, I keep thinking about Texas which gleefully allowed charter schools and then had many underperforming charters and charter schools that had a name and a mechanism for collecting tuition, but never established a school.
          They are also often a way to get around teacher unions and protections.
          Like many things, there are some people with creative ideas and a real mission who want charter schools for the best of reasons but there are plenty of people who want them out of greed or right-wing political notions or extreme religious views. I think for anyone to use public money to set up a charter school they should have to meet incredibly high standards for both the creation and continuation of the school. I know too many situations in which the charter schools are essentially a misuse of public education funds.

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 10:50:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  we have a couple of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kamakhya, gramofsam1

          "homegrown" charters where I live, and they don't have a profit motive.  One of them does an excellent job with special ed students, as they have a FT inclusion specialist on staff. The other one accepts kids with significant special needs but doesn't serve them well. (I don't see that as greedy or malicious, just ignorant.) Anyway -- I agree with you that intentions matter, and there are good charter schools out there fighting the good fight.

  •  Replacing (25+ / 0-)

    a public institutional mandate to educate all comers with a private for-profit "hey, we may not have a mandate to take your kid, but we do have a lottery option, maybe your kid is the Lucky Ducky!" is a screaming neon sign warning all who are paying attention of bad public policy nightmares ahead.

    It's going to be a lot more expensive to fix the fallout from the Enronization of education than the hucksters want their marks to get clued in on.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:12:47 PM PDT

  •  the government needs to end the tax breaks they (17+ / 0-)

    give these charter schools (and look into those if you want to really get sick to your stomach); as well as continuing to let these privateers operate under the pretense that these charters are public schools.  They are not.  They are using public (taxpayer) funds.  That is as "public" as they get.

    Now come forth all ye who have a "wonderful" charter school operating in your district...

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:21:37 PM PDT

    •  Wonderful Charter School in Oakland (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa, gramofsam1

      I am a big fan of Oakland School for the Arts.  It is a California Charter School started by Jerry Brown and is doing wonders for kids in Oakland.  It offers a full academic program, along side an amazing performing arts program.  My friend's daughter is in the acting program which performed at the Fringe Festival in Scotland last year!

      Is OSA perfect?  Heck, no.  But, it does offer an alternative for artistic students who are often not made welcome at the mega high schools in Oakland.

      When done properly, Charter Schools can work both with the community and with the students they serve.  Done badly, as we see in this article, they are a detriment to both students and community.  

      •  Or an example you'd know- the American Indian (0+ / 0-)

        Schools in Oakland. Examples of Charter schools done badly  in order to game the test scores (which they have done successfully)

        •  I am dubious about these reports (0+ / 0-)

          There is no doubt American Indian has made huge strides with a difficult base group.  What bothers me far more is their teaching and disciplinary methods.  I don't really think they gamed more than the next school.  Even public schools have been caught doing this.  It is an obvious outcome of teaching to the test and No Child Left Behind.  

          But, seriously, look at Oakland Military Institute for a similar example to American Indian and see it done right.

  •  I don't understand this fight for the campus. (8+ / 0-)

    Why can't they just have the campus that was closed?

    In my area our school district closed two smaller outlying schools. Those people didn't want to drive 20 miles to school in town so they formed their own charter school and the district rents them their old facility. Kind of a win/win for everyone.

    I take issue with the comment that Oakland has so many charter schools. This is the fault of Oakland running a REALLY crappy school district. Many of those schools are doing a great job (i have friends who teach at one) and the district is screwing over the community of poor families just to punish the charter schools. In one area they closed a school and the parents begged them not to do it because they can't get their kids to the next closest school and they can't afford to send their kids on BART because it is too expensive. One school board member told them to buy a car. They are fighting to keep a charter school from taking over that campus.

    I am not a huge fan of charter schools, but the districts bring this upon themselves from the arrogance of severe mismanagement and feeling they are the only game in town.


    by voracious on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:36:24 PM PDT

    •  Exhibit #1. (4+ / 0-)

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:41:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So you think tax-payer money which paid for (15+ / 0-)

      Public Schools should just be given to for-profit schools, while money to educate students is also drained off Public School budgets.  This is CRAZY!  

      •  Maybe a more graphic depiction of what they (4+ / 0-)

        are up to might help:

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:50:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not every charter school is run by a (13+ / 0-)

        corporation. In my area they have all been organized by parents who are sick of being hosed by school districts. I am politically opposed to them but I have seen plenty of bad districts punishing schools that are just trying to teach kids. Which is what is happening in Oakland. In my area the district closed rural schools that had low enrollment and when parents opened them as charters enrollment exploded. Parents want out of dealing with frustrating school districts.


        by voracious on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:32:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please write a diary about what is happening (8+ / 0-)

          in Oakland, then.  I have tried to be as thorough as possible in covering this Los Altos situation.  I agree with the people running the "Bullis Charter Scam" site: the school was founded on anger and runs on spite.

          In capitalist America, bank robs you!

          by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:40:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree the Los Altos situation is BS (6+ / 0-)

            AND I agree that charter schools have destroyed public education. But I also know how frustrating it is to deal with school districts that are grossly mismanaged. I have seen frustrated parents in our area check out and form their own schools. What happens is the super involved parents take their kids to charter schools and then the other schools start floundering.

            That, coupled with standardized testing has just spelled the end of education as we used to know it. For the first time ever our high school will not have band. This is because band was eliminated in elementary schools years ago. Of course the charter schools have managed to keep music programs.

            Oakland is a nightmare no matter what. I know that they had to turn their schools into charter schools to comply with NCLB because so many of them were underperforming. Now that those charters have turned those schools around the district wants them back. And just like with anything political, the actual people do not matter, it is all about the assholes in administration and telling poor people who cant afford 3 BART tickets a day for their kids to attend school when they had previously been walking to buy a car is heartless.

            I am politically opposed to charter schools, but school districts make it hard for me to support them sometimes.

            AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

            by voracious on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:23:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I have started referring to Corporate Charter (5+ / 0-)

            Schools so that we can target the complaints directly at the for profit model. There are many successful charter schools out there (and I'm recruiting folks to write about them!). When you write with such a blatant title attacking all charters, you have to expect people to defend their own charter school if it is working in their community.

            At NN12, during Teacher Ken's panel on education, a charter school principal stood up and asked if she and her school are really part of the problem. This woman is working her tail end off in her community to bring progressive education to her neighborhood and her school is succeeding. But it is more than disheartening to see all charter school tore apart by the left and it happens again and again and again. I am afraid that we are losing cohesion on the left when it comes to fixing our education model because we can't even support progressive endeavors that are working simply because they have the name charter attached.

            •  Instead of "Corporate Charter Schools," a better (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mconvente, a2nite

              way to differentiate would be "for-profit-schools" and "not-for-profit schools." Even not-for-profit charter schools  organized by rank amateurs should be incorporated. If they're not incorporated, the directors and administrators are PERSONALLY and financially liable for whatever the school does and whatever happens there. If you are involved with a school that's not incorporated, they (and you) seriously need to wise up.

              Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

              by RJDixon74135 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:30:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Then please tell us what or whom is running (5+ / 0-)

          the charter school(s) in your district.  

          If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

          by livjack on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:48:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are no corporate charter schools here in my (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            banjolele, eru, elfling, Kamakhya

            small school district in Northern California. Two of them are in tiny rural areas in schools that were formerly operated by the district but re-opened as charters by involved parents. Another charter school is a homeschool charter school that offers classes at their center. The kids I know who attend there are very successful and they love it. The first charter school here is 20 years old and again operated as a non profit by a local board.

            Now we come to the worst charter school I have ever personally seen. It is a Waldorf-method school that has the lowest test scores in town and the district is trying to revoke their charter. They have been around for 10 years and not really shown improvement. This school is a classic example of a waste of taxpayer money but it is not run by a corporation.

            AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

            by voracious on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:26:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is a HUGE difference (11+ / 0-)

              There is a huge difference between school-run charters, and the commercial charter schools.  The original kind of charter allows a single school to make decisions about curriculum, as a "lab school" environment.  This is the kind of school my children attended for elementary school, and it was and is wonderful (they're now in middle and high school).  The commercial charters are pure and simple theft of public funds.  That the two kinds share the same name is more than unfortunate, it is dangerously confusing.

              The situation described in this essay seems to be its own special kind of awful!  WOW.

              •  True--they are often confused. That is what the (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madhaus, cslewis, mrkvica

                corporate charter movement takes advantage of.

                They take that original warm and fuzzy concept of a "charter" school and hide behind it in order to deceive the public that they are something other than a profit-making scheme using taxpayer money and tax breaks to run their con.

                These are the kind I'm addressing in my comments.

                If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

                by livjack on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:44:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Voracious, are you SURE the schools in your (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lostinamerica, spacecadet1

          district are not being run by corporations? If not, they are doing an extremely foolish thing. Almost all not-for-profits, including churches, are corporations, and for good legal and financial reasons.

          Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

          by RJDixon74135 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:15:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It might help to relabel. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Instead of calling them "charter schools," how about calling them "non-profit charter schools" -- or anything to distinguish them from the money-is-the-basis-of-all-value brand of corporate charter schools.  

    •  Take a look at all those charter schools in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Oakland that are run by for-profit companies.  This isn't what the school board wants, their hands are tied by the same process that let this wealthy parent group push around an entire school district.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:41:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which of the Oakland charters are for profit? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        madhaus, gramofsam1, Kamakhya

        I'm a former assistant superintendent for the district and i can't identify a single for profit charter in the city. That's not to say there aren't unscrupulous people running oakland Charters and ripping them off. But a number of the charters are doing what a previous commenter wants schools to do... namely rejecting the test prep approach for teaching critical thinking, strong writing and communications skills and other skills for necessary for good citizenship, that is fulfilling the role of public education in a democracy. For instance Arise high School, (full disclosure,: I provided some assistance in the launch of this school) is one of the lowest scoring high Schools in Oakland but graduated all of its first two classes and all the graduates but one gained admission to a four year university. Here's coverage of the first graduating class. It's doing this while the district follows state and federal mandates making its high schools deadening test prep factories where half the kids drop out. Don't get me wrong the district can and was trying to do better but for now several of the charters in Oakland are providing a better education to low income students than OUSD. And for those children and families that's good thing regardless of the larger issue of how hedge fund managers, other billionaires and philanthropists are using charters to make a buck, undermine unions and privatize public education.  In sum there's a lot to criticize about the charter movement but there is a progressive side of it that is worthy of support.

        I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

        by Lcohen on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 12:08:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My kids went to a "progressive" alternative school (0+ / 0-)

          But it was completely under the umbrella of the school district.  Alternative, not charter.  That's the way I would prefer to see different approaches to education go.

          In capitalist America, bank robs you!

          by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 01:28:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Because the campus that was closed is now open (5+ / 0-)

      and is a NEIGHBORHOOD school.  Not a school for the people who set up the charter and want to keep their little exclusive club going.

      That's why.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:43:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, ok. I thought it was closed for low enrollment (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        banjolele, elfling, Kamakhya, gramofsam1

        The sad thing about charter schools is anyone can start one and get the start up grant. This process has been totally corrupted. I just can't hate them because I have seen too many people with special needs kids who end up loving the charter school they move to.


        by voracious on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:27:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I found articles saying both (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          banjolele, elfling, cris0000

          one saying low enrollment, one saying it was closed for renovation and then they couldn't afford to renovate when the economy worsened.  Like I said, depends on who you talked to.

          If the neighborhood school stayed closed, I don't think there would have been an issue.  The charter school could have had it.  But I guess all along they were planning on reopening it.   Then again, maybe LASD reopened it as a "fvck u" to the charter parents.  Hard to say.

          In capitalist America, bank robs you!

          by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:48:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  cautionary note (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tamar, madhaus, mrkvica

          I have seen many parents move their special needs kids from regular public schools to a charter school that welcomes them, but doesn't serve them. Parents are ecstatic that their kids are no longer in special classes, but a few years later when Johnny can't read the painful truth that the child wasn't properly served becomes evident.

          There may be charter schools that can truly serve their special needs kids, but I know of some that can't. Our district just approved a new charter and when the Supt. questioned the director about her low sped enrollment at other sites, she essentially said she doesn't believe in special needs, that everyone can learn in the gen ed environment if the school is working correctly. That's a dangerous assumption, IMO.

          •  And that was the case with this school (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Many links pointing to their discouraging applications from special needs students or refusing to help them.  Then there was the finding that they misused Special Ed funds for general activities on top of that!

            Right now their special Ed budget is ZERO which says it all.

            In capitalist America, bank robs you!

            by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:20:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sure that happens, but the cases (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I have seen the kids are more successful in the smaller school environments that they move to. No school is perfect and charter schools have caused tons of problems.

            AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

            by voracious on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:22:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I just saw the list of Oakland Charter Schools (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mconvente, madhaus, Tamar, mrkvica

      that Madhaus provided and I have to note that while several are corporate for profit schools, the majority are not.  Many were founded when Oakland Unified School District was taken over by the state due to gross mismanagement and corruption.  I believe the city has now regained control of its schools.  

      I will be the first to admit, probably the majority of these very small community charter schools were created with the best of intentions, but have failed their students.  We need to hold these schools accountable.  There is a move to put more pressure on charter school performance and close the bad schools.  

      I am completely opposed to for-profit schools of any kind, including colleges., but it is unfair to lump all alternative schools in this category.

    •  the campus (0+ / 0-)

      was recently re-opened by the district, so it's no longer an empty, available site.

    •  Did you read the whole thing? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The school that was closed was re-opened, and now the charter nuts want to close it again, boot out its students, and put in the charter students -- while robbing the school district of its money to pay for their school. It's insane.

      As for charters, even though they can boot out students at a whim and create processes in which it makes it very difficult for minority or disabled students to attend, they STILL don't do any better in the aggregate than traditional public schools.

      Most of the exceptions to the rule are the schools that are given inordinate extra help and resources -- that, if applied to a traditional public school, would lift up all the kids, instead of those lucky enough to get in (through processes which are not nearly as fair as made out to be).

      I am not a huge fan of charter schools, but the districts bring this upon themselves from the arrogance of severe mismanagement and feeling they are the only game in town.
      Maybe some of that happens, but mostly  it's just school systems being asked to do the impossible. If we give schools the resources, then they'll get the students taught.

      Want inner city kids to do as well as the wealthiest school districts? Then give every inner city pupil hours of tutoring for when they don't understand something in class, and expand hours so they get all their homework done in school, where it will get done (versus at home, where it won't), and PRESTO, there's parity. We just have to be willing to invest a great deal more into the system to get there.

  •  In our fair city sudents taken from a successful (9+ / 0-)

    public school were sold a bill of goods about how a Charter School would boost test scores. Parents fell for it, but after a year's trial period, just the opposite happened.  The Charter School's test scores were so low that had they been public, school would have been blackllisted and closed with and F grade.  Charter begged for another trial period, but the mayor said NO, The Charter had to operate under the same rules as the Public Schools they were supposed to "improve." While I don't think these kinds of decisions should be made by the political leader of the community, I do think you must have a level playing field with all following the same standards,  Charter schools should not get a pass.

    •  Some states actually enforce Charter performance (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      banjolele, drmah, mrkvica

      and some give them a complete pass.  Three guesses which ones.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:47:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  New Jersey (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drmah, terrypinder, madhaus, Tamar

        We have a Republican governor who actively attacks the local union as well as directs the state commissioner of education to obfuscate any and all standardized testing data related to charter schools. Meanwhile, Governor Cartman is out there decrying all the low-scoring districts in NJ, including those that have been taken over by the state. If that weren't bad enough, he's got a handful of Democrats complicit in his scheme, including one legislator whose husband is avoiding prosecution for theft because she is supporting the governor.

        Generally speaking, New Jersey scores among the highest in the nation in all testing and other methods of achievement, and our governor is determined to turn us into another Mississippi (no offense, Mississippians, but, well, you do score near the bottom in practically every measure) so the corporations can line their pockets with public money.

        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 Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:02:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not surprised, drmah (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus, Tamar, mrkvica

      Here's what Staford found when it studied the issue:

      A new report issued today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes
      (CREDO) at Stanford University found that there is a wide variance in the quality of the nation’s
      several thousand charter schools with, in the aggregate, students in charter schools not faring as
      well as students in traditional public schools.
      While the report recognized a robust national demand for more charter schools from parents and
      local communities, it found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were
      significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed
      gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter
      schools demonstrating no significant difference.

      Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

      by RJDixon74135 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:05:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That 17 percent is key to the intensity of the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        charter debate I think. It's not a small figure. It means that while at 83% the overwhelming majority of charter school kids and parents are having either the same or worse education as at their public school, 17% of parents and kids see charter schools as their saviors. That's enough for compelling anecdotes and advocacy.

        It's not enough, IMHO, to justify siphoning public money for them. But it is enough to muddy the waters of discourse.

        What would be ideal would be a system wherein those 17% of high performing charters could spread their methods while the other 83% are closed down. There should be a rigid evaluation process with strong oversight and clear standards for charters to be renewed (and established in the first place). That doesn't seem to be the case.

  •  we're near each other, it seems. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus, shaharazade, banjolele, mrkvica

    coffee?  my pony is off alpine at the lovely webb.

    good article and good explanation of the cancer that is charter to our public school system.

  •  Side note: not all charter schools are corporate (6+ / 0-)

    for profit. Tallahassee has a couple excellent public funded charter schools governed by citizen boards.

    The modern GOP -- Big noise on the stairs, nothing coming down. 

    by PHScott on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:51:06 AM PDT

  •  Your poll is missing "all of the above" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ipaman, madhaus

    and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

    by ban48 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:13:20 AM PDT

  •  One would have thought that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Desert Rose, eru, madhaus

    a California town might have done some homework that included the Stanford University study on charter school performance (2009).

    Thanks for the great diary.  I have been active in battling the growing movements in the state of KY to push both charter schools and vouchers.  We have a lot of state Senators and Reps who are members of ALEC, so we are constantly having to face down these efforts.

  •  Well now, wait a sec... hold up... (6+ / 0-)

    I'm a little confused - perhaps my coffee hasn't kicked in yet - but if Charter Schools were a bad idea and (as you imply) simply a way for private profiteers to make $$ of the public, destroy teachers' unions, and inject corporations for-profit motive into the education of our children....

    Then wouldn't that mean that Arne Duncan, Obama's Secretary of Education, is advocating policies directly opposed to what most progressives & liberals would stand for?

    This is a snippet of what Obama's Education Secretary had to say last year whilst visiting Oregon:

    Speaking in a Portland school gym packed with teachers who disagree with him, OBAMA'S U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan  reavowed his support Wednesday for charter schools and for judging schools and teachers by the results they get with students.
    Of course, to hear Duncan tell it - just like all for-profit cheerleaders who see our children as a source of revenue - it's all about helping low-income children, etc, blah blah.

    Kinda reminds me of those arguments defending Free Trade (it'll create more jobs here!  people can retrain for better professions! - completely ignoring our trade imbalance which gives the lie to such blatherings).

    And what does the Heritage Foundation have to say about Charter Schools?

    A study published by the Department of Education (DOE) in June, “The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts,” highlights the many benefits of charter schools. The results show unambiguously that parents are substantially more satisfied with charter schools and the academic and social development of their children who attend compared to public school parents.
    Well, color me shocked!  It seems that Obama's Department of Education is pursuing policies which... the Heritage Foundation cites in a positive light!  Basically, the Heritage Foundation is making their case by citing Obama's Department of Education's own studies.

    Well now.  That's pretty cool, isn't it?  

    Not only is Obama's Department of Education pursuing policies which the Heritage Foundation supports -- they actually give ammunition to the Heritage Foundation to further bolster their conservative Education policies!

    Is It Time To Wake Up Yet?

    I voted for Change. Not Three Chiefs of Staff from Wall Street Banks. Not Bernanke, Summers, Geithner, Holder, Simpson, or a Monsanto Lobbyist. Not more Free Trade. Not more Patriot Act. Not defending Wall Street's Savvy Businessmen.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:45:24 AM PDT

    •  We're awake, but corporatization is the Goliath, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnathan Ivan, k8dd8d, madhaus, mrkvica

      and David's not mad enough yet.

      Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

      by Desert Rose on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:08:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes I am complete opposed to Duncan's approach (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He is completely in the pocket of the school-as-business-opportunity crowd.  Ugh.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:41:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately, education is fad-driven. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And lately, charters are the fad.  I consider myself firmly in the President's camp but Duncan... meh.  Not doing it for me.  Never has.

      But, this fad, like all of the others, will pass.

      "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

      by auron renouille on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:45:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As in fad, you mean the fad (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to privatize will pass, right?  That this incessant drive by corporations to grab every public dollar they can.. will pass?

        I don't think so.

        FYI - this is not an "Education" fad.  You are confusing the drive for privatizing with the various different Education theories experimented with over the past 100 years.

        This is not a new form of education.

        It is privatization.

        Do you think the fad of privatization will disappear when it appears that both parties support it?

        No Child Left Behind (R).

        Race To The Top (D).

        They both end in privatization.

        A philosophy which is firmly in the Heritage Foundation's corner.

        I voted for Change. Not Three Chiefs of Staff from Wall Street Banks. Not Bernanke, Summers, Geithner, Holder, Simpson, or a Monsanto Lobbyist. Not more Free Trade. Not more Patriot Act. Not defending Wall Street's Savvy Businessmen.

        by Johnathan Ivan on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 05:23:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  RW like the Amway people here in Michigan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clytemnestra, Cassandra Waites, Tamar

    push to make both a profit and to control content.  The idea of a free public education was to teach students how to think.  RW idea is to teach what to believe, not how to think. Schools will become conformity and compliance centers and thinking by even the staff will be forbidden.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:57:40 AM PDT

    •  I didn't mention the DeVos family above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because they seem more involved in the voucher method of destroying public education, rather than the Trojan Horse of charter schools.  Vouchers take money from public schools as a group instead of charters taking it from an individual school board.  Worse, vouchers usually go to private, religious schools, which means tax dollars supporting religious education.

      But yeah, the DeVosses are in "school reform" in a big, nasty way as well.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:26:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Painting with a broad brush You Are (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ipaman, elfling, angelajean, Lisa, PHScott

    Look, the problem you lay out seems to be stemming more from rich asshole-itis, a disease that infects anything that falls under the lustful gaze of the 1%.  In my town, the myopic school board closed our elementary school (1 of 4 in the district) due to what they characterized as low and falling enrollment.  Never mind that it was a top performing elementary in the state with a devoted, passionate, long-term staff of educators.  The Super and his crony supporters on the BOE closed it because they'd advocated the building of a new, super huge (1000 student) elementary nearly 10 years ago.  They made an end run around an engaged and informed public, essentially ruling like despotic, tinpot dictators.  So we're opening up a charter school in the same building (which the super conveniently rented out to his church with no lease agreement).  We're in an agricultural area so our charter school will have a strong ag/environmental ethic.  Will we have an impact on the district?  You betcha!  But for us, school choice is no "false flag".  Your article tells the story of a bunch of rich assholes and how they fucked themselves using charter school as a tactic to make real estate deals.  Not all charter schools have this impact.  Our school will hopefully provide parents in our district with other options and leverage greater control over our school board as they learn that their intransigence in the face of public opposition can be overcome through other channels.  Perspective next time please.

    Thanks for nuthin' and go f&#;k yourself! - Uncle Shoehorn Motto

    by antonrobb on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:06:47 AM PDT

    •  17% (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus, mrkvica

      17%. That's the percentage of charter schools that do measurably better than the other schools in the area.

      And most of those schools can (legally or illegally) pick and choose the students that they want, and kick out students that are disruptive or difficult, if not in all cases then in many.

      37% do worse. The rest do identically, statistically speaking.

      Think about that for a minute: people normally allow charter schools because they feel that their local school is failing them. So a new charter school is opened that competes with an underperforming public school. You would expect that if you opened a new public school, even if it was run by the exact same folks as the old one, it would at least do better than the old one as often as it would do worse. (And in reality I would expect better significantly more often, because a clean start that learns from the mistakes of the past, even if it's only some of the mistakes, can really be a great benefit.)

      So here we have a competitor to a poorly-performing school opening up, and it's more than twice as likely to do worse as it is to do better. And more likely than either one, it will do about the same. But in the mean time it has sucked resources away from the other school, which is therefore likely to start doing even worse than it was.

      Sure, there are people that are greatly benefited by charter schools. The people who own them.

    •  No the rich assholes did not fvck themselves (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They fvcked everyone else in the district by doing an end run around the school board and forcing it to give them everything they demanded.  The article was pretty long so I didn't keep on adding details, but this case went to the state Supreme Court, who ruled in favor of the charter school.  Sigh.

      Yes, your case sounds like a corrupt school superintendent with that sweetheart lease deal.  But my broad brush gets most of the charter problems.  Not all.  There have been good schools opened by passionate parents.  And then above we have a good school opened by passionate parents who don't care how much they cripple the school district.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:32:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In general I think charter schools are a bad idea (5+ / 0-)

    however my youngest son is in one.  It's regional and for his needs (needing a smaller school that kept him essentially in the same facility from 5th-12th grade) it has been a good thing.

    Acceptance is by lottery.

    Our public school system and our city's planning committee don't talk to each other and with every new subdivision our schools get more crowded but get no more money (because one of our mayor's "lost" $1 million).  

    Plus they are totally married to a "mega high school" concept - crowded classrooms without enough desks (something my oldest son dealt with when he attended there.

    Because of the over crowding our school dept hasn't really been upset when someone homeschools their kids or sends them to only charter school which is 2 towns away.

    But I will stipulate that our charter school is the exception NOT the rule.  If our city government would actually talk to the school dept they might make some better decisions.

    They didn't even know that our school buses will NOT go down cul-de-sacs  because they can't turn around without backing up (esp if there is a car parked on the street)

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:24:53 AM PDT

    •  You have school busses? (0+ / 0-)

      The only kids I know in this county who get taken to school on a school bus are the special needs (short bus) students.  The fleet of school busses sits in district parking lots doing... What?  They came out for the occasional field trip.

      Getting your kid to school is your problem here.  So we have hundreds of cars convening on every school twice a day.  Ugh.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:35:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Charter Schools (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus, kyril, mrkvica

    are pretty much like Prisons for Profit.

    They claim to do a better job, build a better facility, take care of the prisoners, I mean, students, pay the teachers less, just like the do at these Prisons for Profit, they pay untrained people to man the prisons.

    No, No, No.  No public financing of Charter Schools.  The teachers pay will suffer and then the students education will suffer.

    Yeah, sounds great in a sales pitch to people but NO.

    Great posting and thought provoking too.  So much corruption when money is being tossed around.  Why give money to a legitimate school when you can give it to a Corporation?  Oh, don't get me started....

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 07:12:31 AM PDT

  •  Los Altos has the best test scores anywhere (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, mrkvica

    I am amazed that these folks see a need to start a fight over this. Los Altos schools usually test better than any district in all of California. Seems to me that the billionaires objected to having the nanny drive an extra five minutes to get the kids to school where kids of mere millionaires go.

    Some people have too much time on their hands.

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:22:15 AM PDT

    •  The thing is, they reopened the site! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, mrkvica, elfling

      But at this point none of these people are backing down.  Do you knows who the president of that (unelected) charter school board is?  He's the son of the founder of Intel.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 11:37:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't understand why these people (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, icemilkcoffee, Kamakhya

        even bother with a charter school. God knows they could have easily founded and built their own private school and run it however they liked.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 01:46:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, nothing like the haves and the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have mores fighting to have even more!!

    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

    by k8dd8d on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:23:07 AM PDT

  •  It was always a Republican scam.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordgrass, madhaus

    One of many to undermine public education and ultimately privatize and then STEAL all the education monies.

    After all, if the government is doing something and spending money on real needs, how can they steal that money.

    The same is the intention for social security and medicare, if not privatized how can they steal the money?

  •  California? (0+ / 0-)

    You guys are nuts out there.  The whole proposition method of creating legislation is working out real well for y'all, eh?

  •  nice choices in your stupid quiz (0+ / 0-)

    As someone who has had two children receive EXCELLENT educations from an open-enrollment charter school (simple fix for your case in point - open enrollment means open enrollment. Cherry picking should not be legal, and it isn't in Minnesota), I'm kinda disgusted at another one-sided, factually iffy charter-bashing.

    For which I'll be bashed, I'm sure.

    But maybe, just maybe, consider putting POSITIVE choices in your poll next time? Loading the dice is a Republican thing.

    Obama is our Reagan.
    Romney is their Mondale.

    by Orbital Mind Control Lasers on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:04:32 PM PDT

    •  I gave you bunnies, who are not predators (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And it's easy for you to namecall.  If you feel my facts are iffy you better start backing up that substance-free assertion you just made.  I have enough links to back up about 95% of my not that brief article which started with generalities but led to a bizarre unexpected example of charter school abuse.

      I suggest if you disagree that you show some rigor to it.  Cherry picking may not be legal but it seems to happen anyway.  It isn't legal here, either.  And yet, there it is.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:19:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cherry picking still happens (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1. Only motivated parents take the time to enroll kids in charters.
      2. Only parents willing to arrange transportation enroll kids in charters.
      3. Kids/families who don't fit the charter's program (for whatever reason) leave.

      Cherry picking doesn't have to be all bad. Indeed, if it happens in a way that benefits students without harming others I'm all in favor. But pretending that it isn't happening is damaging.

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

      by elfling on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:06:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so choice is cherry picking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And "motivated parents" should be punished for the failure of unmotivated parents.

        I really don't understand the logic here. Life isn't fair, princess. Motivated parents ARE a benefit. The same motivated parents who get their kids into (still public) charters are parents who, with sufficient resources, might go to Catholic schools or private schools and leave the system entirely - and with that, their children's contact with people not of their social class.

        Obama is our Reagan.
        Romney is their Mondale.

        by Orbital Mind Control Lasers on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:38:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I want to point out (0+ / 0-)

          In both my kid's charter middle school (Oakland School for the Arts) and her public (magnet) high school school in Alameda, there were lots of kids who found the schools and convinced their parents to enroll them there.  Many were English as a second language and their parents just didn't know.  So, it is not always about parents looking for the best, it was often the kids looking for their best opportunities.  I know my kid chose her school and I only went along because she convinced me it was right for her.

        •  And I am good with that so long as we understand (0+ / 0-)

          what we're doing and then react appropriately when scores in the neighborhood school fall further. I am good if we understand that the charter is not doing better because its staff is better or nonunion, but because it is picking out the most promising students and providing them with more supportive peers.

          The point is that success by cherry-picking - while certainly valuable - cannot be replicated to 100% of the students. And we can't build education policy by assuming that it can.

          Every kid lifted out of a toxic environment is a success, sure. But if that's our true recipe for success, then firing teachers for low test scores is not going to get us anywhere. (I can argue that it can even make things worse.)

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

          by elfling on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 11:11:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, and if you have kids (0+ / 0-)

        in a crummy school district, then you would cherry pick too.

        As a progressive, I worried about my kid and our district (Oakland Unified), but I actually went so far as to take my kid out of our district and move her to a public school district the next district over.  It was the best decision we made.  Oh, and by the way, the public school she went too was originally funded by Bill Gates as a small school high school.   With the hideous budget cuts, I wouldn't be able to do that today, but I am so grateful we were able to take advantage of these alternative schools.  My kid was able to earn not one, not two, but three community college degrees before she earned her high school diploma.  She will go into university at UC Berkeley with 60+ college credits and a fantastic regent's scholarship.  This is what alternative educations can do, public or charter.  

        •  That's not an argument in favor of charters (0+ / 0-)

          but in favor of small schools and alternative programs.  Which, as you also note, can be done within a school district rather than having a charter force its way in.

          And yes, not all charters force their way in.  My objection to them is primarily the process where they accelerate the decline of an already underfunded school district.  The example in this article does so in a way nobody would have expected.

          In capitalist America, bank robs you!

          by madhaus on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 01:18:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  All sorts of scandals hit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the local charter in a nearby town, up to and including acts that seemed to break the law.

    The case is really simple: since charters are semi-private, they're incentivized to lie, cheat and steal their way out of servicing a broad general population, whereas public schools actually have to serve everyone.

    I get people being concerned about school choice. School choice is great. But that school choice can't come at the cost of other public schools in the district. If a state wants to pay for additional state schools, that's great.

    Let's have more techs. Math-focused schools. Performing arts schools. Science schools. Schools focused on classical liberal arts education. Schools with unique means of teaching. Whatever floats our boats.

    ... but it can't come at the cost of resources for local school systems.

  •  I think Chris Hedges pretty much (0+ / 0-)

    covers it, Were just a frog in a pot of water that seems to be getting warmer. I think it's game over at this point. Obama's education policies are as bankrupt and broken as George Bush's were.

  •  Lottery is also a form of cherry picking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People always invoke this 'but our school has admission by lottery' excuse. The truth of the matter is that lottery is also a form of cherry picking. You are selecting out all the illiterate/ stoned/ apathetic parents, or parents who have very low expectation for their kids (yes they exist!). These parents, even if they wanted to, would usually miss the deadline for the lotto.

    There is a reason why Milliken Elementary in Santa Clara gets the top API scores in the South Bay almost every year. That and the usual cheating via subtly and not so subtly kicking out special needs children.

    Great diary though- your website is also really funny!

    •  Milliken (0+ / 0-)

      I'm familiar with it, but I believe it isn't a charter but an alternative school within the school district.  I like alternative schools.  I sent my kids to one as well.

      Milliken does NOT get the top API scores in the Valley, though, just the top scores for the district.  Top scores for the Valley (heck for the entire state) would be Faria Elementary in Cupertino, which has gotten perfect scores on multiple occasions.  How do they do it?  Rigorous teaching to the tests.

      Thanks for checking out Burbed!  We feature a different house every weekday, and who knows what on weekends!

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 01:22:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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