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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System? 715

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-a-scale-1-10 dept.
theodp writes "'You go to these charters,' gushed Bill Gates in 2010, 'and you sit and talk to these kids about how engaged they are with adults and how much they read and what they think about and how they do projects together.' Four years later, Gates is tapping his Foundation to bring charter schools to Washington State, doling out grants that included $4.25 million for HP CEO Meg Whitman's Summit Public Schools. So what's not to like? Plenty, according to Salon's The Truth About Charter Schools, in which Jeff Bryant delves into the dark side of the charter movement, including allegations of abuse, corruption, lousy instruction, and worse results. Also troubling Bryant is that the children of the charter world's biggest cheerleaders seem never to attend these schools ('A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' was Bill Gates' excuse). Bryant also cites Rethinking Schools' Stan Karp, who argues that Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education, functioning more like deregulated 'enterprise zones' than models of reform, providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many. 'Our country has already had more than enough experience with separate and unequal school systems,' Karp writes. 'The counterfeit claim that charter privatization is part of a new 'civil rights movement', addressing the deep and historic inequality that surrounds our schools, is belied by the real impact of rapid charter growth in cities across the country. At the level of state and federal education policy, charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life. It's time to put the brakes on charter expansion and refocus public policy on providing excellent public schools for all.'"
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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?

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  • by DarkFencer (260473) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:44AM (#45939045)

    If charter schools are allowed to operate, then they shouldn't benefit from special privileges that public schools don't have. They should have to accept any students in the area (regardless of academic level, just like the public schools). They also should be required to have all students take the standardized tests (instead of finding reasons to exclude children who they know won't do as well, so the school looks better ranked in comparison).

    If charter schools aren't cheating and they are showing an improvement that is one thing. But too often they are cheating to make themselves look better compared to public schools.

    • by alen (225700) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:56AM (#45939151)

      the point is to take students who's parents care from bad schools and put them in an environment where they can get a decent education. the rest will end up in their crappy neighborhood school where the parents don't care about checking their homework and will be passed and graduated just to get rid of them. if their parents don't care there is nothing the school can do

      the good public schools already attract parents who want the best for their kids

      • by DarkFencer (260473) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:06AM (#45939269)

        the point is to take students who's parents care from bad schools and put them in an environment where they can get a decent education.

        Its not always about level of care the parents are providing but what they can provide. How much care towards education can a low-income single parent working two full time jobs provide?

        What is the parent doesn't have a great education themselves and aren't able to help their child academically (and only motivationally)?

        Should that child suffer, not only because of that, but because of dwindling resources in the public school system that are being drained by the charter schools?

        The students who are struggling are the ones who need the best resources/teaching/etc. If charter schools are as great as they are made out to be - they should be VOLUNTEERING to take students who are struggling academically, not shunning them like lepers.

        • by quetwo (1203948) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:11PM (#45940121) Homepage

          Its not always about level of care the parents are providing but what they can provide. How much care towards education can a low-income single parent working two full time jobs provide?

          What is the parent doesn't have a great education themselves and aren't able to help their child academically (and only motivationally)?

          I'm a first generation American, so my parents were not well educated. My dad was always gone at work (out of state) and my mom worked two jobs. While my mom wasn't able to help me with my homework the key was that she made sure I did it and got me the resources when I needed them. Those resourced didn't cost the family a dime -- they were a combination of after-school programs, but more often they were friends and co-workers who helped me out. She would take a shift for a co-worker while they would tutor me on things like Shakespeare.

          It required a LOT of motivation and dedication on my parents part. It wasn't the school that helped me a long -- I came from a failing school, in a failing district that had no resources outside what it was legally required to provide. Hell, sports were "pay-to-play" which precluded about 3/4 of the school from participating. When you go to a school that had 61% of the kids on the hot-lunch-program and a graduation rate that was less than 50%, you know what you are dealing with. I was lucky to escape the environment, graduating HS and attending a University and getting an awesome job out the gate.

          • by towermac (752159) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:37PM (#45940413)

            "I was lucky to escape the environment, ..."

            What you just described wasn't luck.

            What you just described, was hard work on the part of yourself and your parents.

            • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday January 13, 2014 @02:00PM (#45941457) Journal

              Exactly!

              It required a LOT of motivation and dedication on my parents part.

              THIS is the magic bullet that fixes things most of the time. I work in education, and we have both "rich schools" (that get less funding) and "poor schools" (which get more funding) in the same small community, and the results are always the same. It isn't about school funding, it is about parenting. Many lower educated people are lower income people, who don't value education, and this produces a cycle of poverty.

              I'd bet, that the #1 indicator of poverty is not poverty, but values instilled by parents. I look at the recent video of a three year old boy being disrespectful and using vulgar language, raised by a 16 year old mother and a grandmother who is a convicted felon and I think, "there is no way this is going to be good for the kid". However, I've been trained not to mention any of this because people who don't know me will cry "racism" (now you know the race). How can we have a discussion on poverty when people who see the problems are called names because it doesn't fit the politically correct theory of the day?

              • by Taxman415a (863020) on Monday January 13, 2014 @04:12PM (#45943467) Homepage Journal

                THIS is the magic bullet that fixes things most of the time. I work in education, and we have both "rich schools" (that get less funding) and "poor schools" (which get more funding) in the same small community, and the results are always the same. It isn't about school funding, it is about parenting. Many lower educated people are lower income people, who don't value education, and this produces a cycle of poverty.

                Yes same in the districts near me. The "poor schools" get as much as 1.5 times as much funding as the "rich schools". Admittedly because of the poverty issues from the students they serve they do have higher costs. There are higher incidences of untreated ADHD, behavioral disorders, hungry kids, violence, etc. But that doesn't change the point that you're right, it's about the parents.

                I'd bet, that the #1 indicator of poverty is not poverty, but values instilled by parents. I look at the recent video of a three year old boy being disrespectful and using vulgar language, raised by a 16 year old mother and a grandmother who is a convicted felon and I think, "there is no way this is going to be good for the kid". However, I've been trained not to mention any of this because people who don't know me will cry "racism" (now you know the race).

                It's pretty independent of race. I see examples similar to what you point out from a variety of races. Poverty doesn't care about race.

                How can we have a discussion on poverty when people who see the problems are called names because it doesn't fit the politically correct theory of the day?

                Very carefully and with more understanding of the causes of racial tension than you have displayed. It's fairly clear you are from a privileged race and don't have much understanding of what it would be like to not be. A good book for starters is Lisa Delpit's "Other People's Children". It'll make you mad and she beats the point home, but eventually it will sink in and you'll get a glimpse of how different it is to be part of the dominant race vs not. It subtly affects a large number of seemingly small things that you don't need to notice when you're on the dominant side of it.

        • by cfulmer (3166)

          Charters often serve niches of students. A charter which is good with, say, kids with learning disabilities, may be horrible with kids without those disabilities. You can't take the "it's either a good school or it's a bad school" model -- you have to ask "Is it appropriate for this child, or not."

          Also, note that many charter specifically target students who are struggling academically.

    • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:57AM (#45939171)
      So what? They don't need to "make it look" they are better. They are better.

      And regarding your problems with selective acceptance, in the absence of resources to attend everybody better schools the best resources should be used to teach those that have the greatest potential.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ebno-10db (1459097)

        They don't need to "make it look" they are better. They are better.

        Obviously something schools aren't teaching well is the scientific method and intellectual skepticism. "They are because I say they are" is not an argument.

      • by mjm1231 (751545)

        So... those who need the least help should get the most help, and those who need the most help should get the least amount of help?

        Should we apply the same rationale to other areas? Maybe health care?

      • by jythie (914043)
        That cuts to one of the hearts of the issue, are we optimizing for the best people getting the best education, or the getting the best education for the largest group of people we can? The two are not mutually exclusive but they do represent two distinct educational philosophies (not to mention economic theories since the former has ties to supply side economics and the later demand side). Thus 'should' is pretty subjective.
        • Like you said yourself one optimization does not exclude the other. If makes very little difference for the education of a large group of people or for the allocation of resources which small fraction of them have access to the best education, and it is a very bad idea to a country to deny the best education available to those that have the highest potential.
    • by sycodon (149926)

      If you want to be fair, then all the parents of the public schools should have to pay tuition to the Charter/Private schools since the parents of those students continue to pay property taxes for the public schools.

      And did you ever notice that the biggest cheerleaders for Public schools usually have their children in private schools? Sidwell Friends, anybody? Even many pubic school teachers send their kids to private schools. [slashdot.org]

    • by mjr167 (2477430) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:12AM (#45939337)

      I attended a charter school when I was in high school.

      We had to take all the standardized tests and meet all the state requirements to graduate. I ended up having to take American History from the local university because I could not fit the required course into the art curriculum I has elected to pursue.

      We also had admission requirements. We had admission requirements because in 9th grade we were expected to take Algebra. If you did not have the math background to succeed in Algebra, you were not going to do well. It was a college prep school and you were expected to be able to handle the curriculum upon admittance. This school expected it's students to graduate with gobs of AP credits and to test out of a lot of freshmen college classes. I started college with almost 30 credits from AP tests. Admitting someone who could not read or add numbers would have done no one any favors. It does not help the students who are prepared and ready for the advanced curriculum if they have to be held back for students who aren't. It does not help the students who aren't ready to throw them into a curriculum they are not prepared for.

      My brother did not attend the same high school. Instead, he attended the public high school down the street from our house because he always struggled with school work and would not have done well in the high pressure environment.

      This idea that every child should get exactly the same education is ludicrous. Not everyone can do calculus in high school. Not everyone wants to play football. Not everyone wants to study art. There is a difference between opportunity and forcing everyone into cookie cutter education. My brother could have also attended the college prep charter school I went to, but it was not an environment he would have succeeded in so he didn't.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I work for a public school. I won't say where, hence anonymous, but I agree 100% with you. Not only can charter schools cherry pick their kids but at least my state the people backing them have already been indicted for corruption by letting some of the richer ones fudge their test scores.

      Charters are the flavor of the money in education and many if not most are worse than public schools. Some whole states who advocated for them have gone back to public schools (Virginia comes to mind).

      Too many people no

      • by Jhon (241832) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:11PM (#45940119) Homepage Journal

        " Not only can charter schools cherry pick their kids but at least my state the people backing them have already been indicted for corruption by letting some of the richer ones fudge their test scores."

        This isn't entirely accurate but I understand your bias.

        There are two problems with public schools (more in fact, but lets look at these two): Teachers and students. It is virtually impossible in most large cities to get rid of bad teachers *OR* disruptive students. With that, I welcome charter schools. If a student is disruptive or violates code, they are out. If a teacher doesn't perform well, they will be replaced. These qualities ATTRACT parents who are involved and want their children to do well in school so they will bend over backwards to get them out of the public school system leaving the parents who either cant or wont care.

        If we want that feedback loop to change, we've got a LOT of work ahead of us. Work that not only includes defeating some of the strongest political unions in the nation, changing the notion that having children out of wedlock is acceptable and shameless (yes, we need SHAME -- its an important social tool in any civilization -- think we don't use shame STILL? Just look at the Duck Dynasty claptrap recently), and we need to FORCE parents to be involved at some level with schools (yes -- force. The school my children attend require 40 hours of volunteer work each year -- otherwise your child goes back in to the lottery).

        It's a statistical truth that just having a FATHER in the house reduces the risk of living in poverty. Further, *NOT* having a child before your 20s improves a MOTHERS changes of not living in poverty (and by extension, her child(ren)). The statistics are available -- look them up. They're easy to find. Easier to ignore.

    • You use the word "should". So I think you're making a statement about how it's either a moral imperative, or a pragmatic imperative, for schools policies to be the way you described.

      Which of those is it? And, can you make an argument in support of your position?

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:48AM (#45939091) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, like the present public school system is a shining beacon of success.

    Yep, we're just churning out bright, qualified students one right after the other.

    Geez, our present system is an utter failure in most of the US. I would posit that pretty much anything is worth trying, in an effort to start trying to reign in cost, and get more results from our efforts.

    There is one thing, however, which I don't know how we can fix, at least not from a legislative or policy standpoint, and that is the lack of parental participation.

    So many parents think of the schools as a dumping ground for their progeny for day long child care. They don't participate except to raise hell with the administrators they their little Bobby or LaTonya is accused of mis-behavior (MY child would never...), or if they need to be held back due to lack of progress.

    Do they even hold kids back anymore?

    • by alen (225700)

      yes
      i've heard of two kids held back in kindergarten
      i don't know about flyover country, but here in NY, kindergarten is now what first or second grade used to be when i went to school. my first grade older son is doing some work that i didn't do until third grade

      • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:33AM (#45939619)

        As a fellow NY'er, whose kids are fortunate enough to attend decent schools, I'd watch that "flyover country" term. IIRC Colorado and some of the northern Midwest (not an exhaustive list) have good schools. OTOH San Diego public schools suck.

        Overall though your point is well taken. Saying that public schools in America suck is a gross generalization. When it comes to those international tests where everyone bemoans America's poor ranking, there are large areas (e.g. Mass.) where the students rank up there with those other countries we're supposed to emulate. Tell the geniuses who want to improve America's public schools that they don't have to look beyond the borders - just look at the parts of America that have decent schools.

    • While I agree with most of your points, I will add the problem is also the teachers and the schools.

      The teachers make it as difficult as possible for working parents to communicate with them or be involved with their kid's school work. My daughter has been to 4 public schools and the only way we are able to get information from the school is to continue to hound the school.

      At the school my kid is at now, my daughter's grade in math went from a 84 to a 33. When I asked my daughter to see her work, she said

    • by LehiNephi (695428)
      There is one thing, however, which I don't know how we can fix, at least not from a legislative or policy standpoint, and that is the lack of parental participation.

      While I agree with some of your points, I'll take issue with this statement. In my opinion, the lack of parental participation and school/legislative policy have degenerated in a vicious cycle. Schools try to do more to help kids, while discouraging/preventing parental influence on school policy. As a result, parents are less involved, whi
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The big difference is that Charter Schools are not compelled to accept a student. The standard public schools cannot turn away a student who is disruptive or below the curve academically. Charter Schools can. This allows them to select the best students and avoid the ones which would drag down the school and the other students. This has positive and negative implications, but it does mean that statistically the Charter Schools are going to show higher grade point averages.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chriscappuccio (80696)

      In my experience, charter schools in Oregon have only one prequalification: you have to get in early enough before the classes are full. Otherwise, the main difference is that the schools are not closely managed by their local school district, because they receive federal funding and not state/district funding. And in our situations, this has been a generally positive experience.

    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      Actually, they can. Here in New York City, as part of the "no student left behind" initiative, the schools are given the opportunity to do that every year. The student provides a list of schools they want to attend and the school then picks from the pool of candidates that want to go there. Unfortunately, the 'progressives' that have a choke hold on the schools and control the teacher's union won't allow students to be picked based on merit. They actually use a bell curve; 1/4 from the top, half from th

  • by unitron (5733) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:52AM (#45939115) Homepage Journal

    ...to be involved in charter schools as there are people involved, some more laudable than others.

    But I don't see much upside for public schools.

    Years ago Lester Maddox said that if you want better prison systems you need better prisoners.

    Naturally everyone had a cow, but he had a point.

    If charter schools bleed off all of the kids from homes where learning and education are prized, whose parents are going to be involved, and all that's left in the public school are the kids rounded up by the truancy officer, it's not going to go well.

    • If charter schools bleed off all of the kids from homes where learning and education are prized, whose parents are going to be involved, and all that's left in the public school are the kids rounded up by the truancy officer, it's not going to go well.

      Since we're talking about public schools here, the question has to be one of balance of benefit to society. Can those parents make a significant difference in a sea of indifference, or would everyone be better served if they at least made sure their children were well-educated instead of being dragged down by the public school system?

  • why are Charter Schools so big on college but not so much other post secondary education?

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:58AM (#45939183)

    They're called enterprise schools in my district, but the one that I was involved in was a big success. We had a plan, which was to bring E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge curriculum to middle school students, to prepare them for high school and beyond. We wanted the entire school to be an honors school. Students had to have a B average to get in. The school district went along with the plan, and we opened the school in 1998, and my daughter was in the first class. The NAACP warned us that they would be watching us closely because they suspected that we were creating the school only for middle class white kids. What happened surprised them and us. Middle class white kids ended up being a minority in the school. The biggest ethnic group came from lower class hispanic families who saw the school as an opportunity for their children with good grades to get ahead. We also had a number of black and asian kids from poorer neighborhoods. The district was more than happy to bus the kids from all over the city to the school. The NAACP quietly shuffled off. I think they were actually disappointed.

    The school was a success, but it required the interest of parents, administrators and teachers who agreed with the vision, diligent oversight, and a district that entusiastically cooperated. If any of the above elements are missing you have a potential disaster on your hands.

  • I volunteered at a charter school (BASIS Tucson North) in Tucson, spoke with some of the teachers, and later one of my friends worked there. It's a wonderful place; the teachers are given a great deal of freedom to teach effectively, since they were hired as professionals who can figure out what the students need on their own, rather than being micromanaged by policies and administrators. This fellow taught physics, and was encouraged to do things like make the senior class a special projects course, teach

  • I've had experience with charter schools in Coos Bay and Redmond, Oregon. Both have been a sort of alternative place for kids who don't fit in to the social mainstream. Both have been accepting of kids regardless of performance. Both have used alternative teaching styles, both have been free from district funding and district control for the most part. And it comes down to the desires of teachers and parents, and the kind of environment they want to create and participate in. They aren't particularly better

  • Applying an industrial paradigm to what is not an industrial process. People far too often look at schools in terms of producing "widgets", streamline the operation, standardize it, and pump out the product. Which does not work when you have huge variation between children. If all children are individuals why don't they each have an individualized learning program? What's that you say, too expensive? Don't want to pay a few more dollars a year in taxes? You get what you pay for.

  • When I was in high school there was only one local charter school and it sure didn't resemble any institution such as those depicted in Waiting for Superman. Students who had no shot of graduating went there. All the coursework was on a computer (which was kind of a big deal then, I graduated over ten years ago), students only had to be there three hours a day, and there was no certified teacher present. The 'teacher' was more like a supervisor - a guy who only had a high school diploma, was only in his ear

  • by plopez (54068) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:14AM (#45939361) Journal

    As long as charter schools are publicly funded privately run institutions that is all it is. Not unlike the private prison movement that has turned into a disaster.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:19AM (#45939425)

    But Charter Internet and TV have been pretty reliable recently.
    Fast too
    but their rates just went up again

  • The public school system is growing increasingly dysfunctional because it is chasing the doomed goal of "closing the achievement gap" for non-white students, a gap that exists not because of inadequate teaching but because most of those students are a byproduct of a corrosive social and cultural environment.

    This had led schools into the business of providing social welfare services, something they are not equipped to handle, especially in terms of budgets and personnel. There is no amount of money that th

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:32AM (#45939605) Journal

    The fact is that our education system in the US is outdated and terrible (as Sir Ken Robinson has brilliantly and repeatedly explained - example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U [youtube.com]). It needs improvement in many, many ways.

    HOWEVER, just throwing more, and more, and even more money at the system (as endorsed by teachers' unions and government bureaucrats everywhere) hasn't solved anything. The city of Minneapolis spends nearly $21,000 per student per year (http://www.better-ed.org/20911-minneapolis-public-schools-avg-spending-student). With an average class size of 26 (actually pretty good), that's $546,000/year/classroom*....which is rather obscene, particularly when you consider their abysmal graduation rates.

    So yes, I might agree that charter schools are not individually the solution, but we have to try SOMETHING different, and accomplishing change in small charter school 'hothouses' (where the parents are essentially volunteering their kids for an experience that is HOPEFULLY better than the norm) is far more possible than in the shitty public school system that is overwhelmed and ossified with bureaucracy, teachers' unions, and a cultural aversion to substantive change. The hope is that these changes, if they're successful, might actually percolate back into the stultified public schools.

    And no, I don't think schools should be held to the same standards as a commercial business - they are intrinsically and substantively different. But there is an analogy to a refining company: schools are processing raw materials (our children) in an effort to make them finished products (fundamentally-educated adults). The difference is that schools can't simply throw out the dross, but are compelled to reprocess and reprocess until there's something useful there, fighting the 80/20 rule all the way to the bottom of Zeno's dichotomy paradox.

    *let's dissect that, shall we?
    Let's pay the teacher ~$120,000 year - so their total cost is ~$146,000/year - that rounds out our numbers, and I don't think any teacher would argue with that salary. So $400k/year left.
    Lease rates for commercial, furnished offices in Minneapolis: let's use high-end, as we want our schools to be nicer than most office places: $304/psqft/year. We'll use a generous 40x40 room for the 'classroom' to account for other, shared spaces like gymnasium, cafeteria, etc., and ignore that - as the building builders and owners, the actual triple-net cost should be far less than half that (note, they don't pay property taxes, either...) - $50,000/year; $350k per year left.
    Let's spend $100k PER YEAR PER CLASSROOM on 'stuff' - materials, dvd rentals, books, shared costs of projectors, smartboards. $250k per year left.
    So in waste/bureaucracy, you could hand each student nearly $10,000 PER YEAR.

  • by meustrus (1588597) <meustrus.gmail@com> on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:32AM (#45939609)
    The more I learn about charter schools, the more it seems that they obviously are not supposed to be a permanent solution. The institution itself is seems explicitly designed to produce a scattershot of ideas and methods, some of which might fail spectacularly, and some of which might succeed spectacularly. While it is troubling that we as a society are learning which ideas work at the expense of our children, that doesn't mean we should just throw away what we've learned. I'm not talking about whether or not to keep charter schools around. I'm talking about taking some of the more successful methods and implementing them in our public schools. It concerns me that every time I hear about how awful charter schools are supposed to be, the speaker acts as though the best solution would be to nuke them and pretend the whole experiment never happened.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:36AM (#45939663) Journal
    What does it do to the public school system? Who cares? The only question is what does it do to the students. Schools exist for the benefit of the students -- not for the benefit of the school system.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:17PM (#45940195)

    What a load of crap. Charter schools are about choice. Of course there are bad charter schools. Kids are getting SHOT in public schools, so should we consider them to be dangerous beds of anarchy? Is it fair to a family that cares about their childs future that they have to either let that child suffer through the Chicago public school system simply because they can't afford to move?

    And lets not forget, this entire issue would not exist if it weren't for the complete and total iron grip the teachers unions have on our schools. If they could admit that there may be some things the teachers themselves could do to help, and that simply throwing more money at the school might not be the answer we might get somewhere. But when their pay is locked to their education level, you end up having teachers with Doctorates in English teaching kids how to read huckleberry fin and complaining that their $80k a year salary is not commensurate with their education level. That's because we don't need people with 12 years of college experience to explain huckleberry fin to 15yr olds! The fact of the matter is you should be getting paid half that!!! gah, this drives me nutz.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:26PM (#45940287)

    Here in New York, at least, they are horrible for the public school system.

    They:

    1) Take money from the public school funds, leaving public schools with less money to work with.
    2) Aren't required to take ALL students. This means that they'll often reject any student with special needs, pushing them back to the now even more underfunded public schools. This is partly a business decision. Special needs kids require more money to help which would lower the Charter Schools' profits. It's also partly a testing decision (see #4 below).
    3) Aren't required to take the horrible Common Core tests that public schools are subjected to and upon whose results teachers' jobs rely. (Common Core is a whole different mess, but it's partly related to the push to "privatize" education - translation: big companies want to make a profit off of our kids.)
    4) Where Charter Schools do take tests, they get to decide which results count towards the reported score.

    So, by sheer selection bias on the part of Charter Schools, they come out looking great (since nobody who might bring their scores down is allowed in) while public schools wind up looking horrible (since all of those special needs kids who might bring down test scores are pushed back to the underfunded public schools). Meanwhile, the Charter schools keep making money by funneling public school funds to the companies that run them.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:36PM (#45940403)

    You know what makes kids want to learn? An environment where they can learn and feel successful in doing it. That means they need to be safe, well fed and have a nurturing home environment that allows them to grow. Nowadays we expect too much out of the public school system. We want the teachers and administrators to deal with all the other issues in our kids lives and not just teach them. If you add that to the low wages, teachers unions, school boards and tightening budgets its amazing that some school districts can keep the doors open. The parents need to step up in their own kids lives and make a difference by helping the schools help their kids. It's the only way they'll be successful.

    • Recently, during a meeting about how Common Core is hurting the educational system, a speaker mentioned something that I agree with. The #1 problem with education today isn't teachers or administrators or curriculum. It's poverty. If you were to chart performance of students across how much money they have, you'd find that the richer students do much better than the poorer ones. Worrying about when your next meal will show up or if you will lose your house or any of the hundred other problems that poor

  • by Necron69 (35644) <jscott DOT farrow AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 13, 2014 @01:34PM (#45941033)

    About 10 years ago, I had moved all three of my kids to a local charter school after frustration with a particularly bad teacher at the local public elementary school, and the seeming unwillingness of the school administration to do anything about it. The local schools had also all switched to the 'new' matrix math method, which was particularly annoying to me.

    For the first year or so, everything was fine. Then a series of administration scandals and teaching problems sent us running back to the public schools.

    The problems:
    1. The school administration decided it was ok to have a school staff member serve as security and carry a concealed weapon. Regardless of your stance on concealed carry, this was illegal in Colorado and against school district regulations.
    2. The school principal and her husband, also a school employee, apparently embezzled over $50k from the school. They were forced to resign in disgrace and were being investigated for criminal charges.
    3. The last straw was that in November of that year, my son's math teacher resigned for a 'real' teaching job. Through the remainder of that year, my son ended up having SEVEN different math teachers. He finished the year doing terrible in math, and never really recovered from that.

    We later found out that staff turnover was something like 70% a year, and that the average teacher pay at the school was around $28k. (the lowest teacher pay in the district). Of course all the teachers were only there on short term contracts while they waited to get a real teaching job with a pension and benefits somewhere else.

    This is no way to run an education system, and I won't be experimenting with charter schools again.

    Necron69

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