or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › How do you feel about charter schools?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you feel about charter schools? - Page 2

post #21 of 124

We have a semi attractive option of a math/science based public charter.  I say semi-attractive because there are two sides to the coin.  First, if you have a serious math/science kid, it's a good option.  Grade acceleration only goes so far-some kids really require (and want) depth and focus, which just isn't found in our PS classrooms at this point.  It's great to have a place where being this type of kid is ok.  The downside is that there isn't enough money to keep up, so the school appears to be constantly balancing whether they can remain open.  We're not there yet, but that would be a huge concern for us.  Also, any special needs are really not going to be dealt with.

 

I'm opposed to taking $$ away from the PS's, but I am also opposed to the crazy curriculum decisions that have been made here regarding some subjects.  I want an option.

post #22 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

start by asking this directly to your local state rep and see what you get and check the sources for this info - your state should give you a break down on where the funding is coming from and your local tax agency should also give you information - most seems to be only if you ask

 

Well, I'm not really asking the question about the local situation although that is what prompted my question. I'm just asking, in general, in the US are charter schools bad for traditional public schools because I was surprised to read about people being opposed to the idea of charters across the board. I haven't run across this sentiment before and was surprised to hear the political edge to it. In fact the parents I know with kids in the charters are very happy. And most of the parents I know with kids in the public schools in our area are very happy, too. I do know a few who pulled out to homeschool because they felt like their average kids were sort of invisible and fell thru the cracks—the gifted kids and the special needs kids getting more attention, but by and large with the exception of a few cases of bullying and one particular weak school in the district most people seem to really like our system.

 

So I'm interested in this political position of being against or for charter schools. And it is political, the request to sign the petition against this NHA charter came from our local Democratic party. They say that "our party has had a long standing opposition to attacks on public education" and that they take the position "that charter schools are an attempt to undermine the strength of public schools" and I'm just not sure I understand how or why. I self-identify as a Democrat and was unaware of this position so it took me by surprise, especially since we have already applied for acceptance to a charter school next year which is really a crunchy, hippie, eco-conscious, artsy, dare-I-say-it "liberal" school by all appearances.  
 

I can't say I'm in favor of this NHA charter. I don't like the idea of charters run by a for-profit corporation. But charters in general — I'm just not seeing the problem and I'm wondering if somebody can elucidate the position against them. I can see the positives easily as a parent of a quirky kid, but I'm not seeing the negatives, aside from the for-profit corporation. 

 

post #23 of 124

I guess it is how you want to look at it - in basic terms I view the masses (that will be educated) where they have the REAL chance of going- to me that is not a charter school- so IF you take money from one pot (PS) and put it in another- that to me = less funding for PS- to me it's quite basic

 

I also factor in a established building (up to code and accessible to special needs, etc) and think "charter" and doing all over again- that to me breaks down to $$$-big $$$$!

 

In my state it is a hugh political issue-one wants it the other doesn't- very simple- no wiggle room.

When you ask the "party" that wants it - all you get is "it's parent's choice" - well, what does that mean? sure parents have choices- lots of them- fight for a BETTER PS system, HS or start another tax payer funded school (charter) and say it's better----few years into this, my state is finding it's not that rose-y- so I don't see it-IMO

 

I see a lot that don't get the chance and it hurting the masses that fill up society because of this.

 

Personally, the teachers I know only take a job at a charter because they needs it- they would take it a PS if they could, really doesn't matter to the ones I have spoken too- I don't know any parents that had a good experience but I know few who wanted or supported charters or use them - so it doesn't really factor that much into how my personal love / hate is- it is more a practical issue for me and I see it as YET another political issue that is one side supports, the other HAS to hate- frankly only Dems have ever given me a real argument for their reasoning and that speaks a lot to me- if all you can say is "parents choice" you really lack a lot-IMO

post #24 of 124

Well if we're talking generally, I'm opposed to charter schools because in addition to the financial issues and looser regulations not to mention the fact that they can be run by for profits companies, I don't like the self-selecting nature of them.  They tend to be more segregated both socioeconomically and racially thus leading to potentially greater inequality.    

post #25 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

I'm just asking, in general, in the US are charter schools bad for traditional public schools because I was surprised to read about people being opposed to the idea of charters across the board.


I think we need to consider if it MATTERS if charter schools are bad for public schools. If the traditional public schools aren't keeping their students, they need to evaluate why. Our own district has fantastic traditional public schools that offer a multitude of languages, arts, high tech and quality teachers, flexibility and non-trendy curriculum. This is a small, very middle to lower middle class district that stays in their budget but people KEEP their kids here and others drive them in from other areas. So much of what they offer takes no money at all... namely positive staff with a mandate to offer a flexible education. Unfortunately, this district doesn't have a high school. There is a local charter high. Do they steal from the local traditional high? Yes, but so does every other traditional high school in a 15 mile radius. Our local school is terrible. If they only continued the fantastic programs that the elementary and middle schools in their immediate area started, they would be a viable choice. However, where the other schools in their high school district have made changes.... one turned into an IB program, one pumped up their arts programming, ect... they choose not to. The kids in the middle school pre-engineering programs, the kids from the flourishing orchestra, the kids from the middle school dance and drama programs, the kids from the horticulture science programs, all these kids go to schools that will continue these studies and why shouldn't they? 

 

We can all talk politically and theoretically but when it comes to your own kid, you are going to hunt down the program that works for them whether it's homeschooling, public, public charter or private. If the traditional schools are being left behind in a particular area maybe they deserve it. Maybe the government needs to re-evaluate how tying the hands of their staff with mandated curriculum isn't what the public wants. Don't get me wrong, our public school experience has been overwhelmingly positive and while we toured plenty of charters over the years, we didn't move to them, but there are plenty of kids who aren't getting that experience and so deserve all the options they can get. They can't all manage private schooling. They can't all homeschool. Charters give options and maybe that hurts public schools but maybe those schools need to hurt before they fix their issues.

post #26 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

If the traditional schools are being left behind in a particular area maybe they deserve it.

 

(snip)

 

Charters give options and maybe that hurts public schools but maybe those schools need to hurt before they fix their issues.

 

But what about the children left behind in those schools? Won't they be hurt in the process?  

post #27 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

Well if we're talking generally, I'm opposed to charter schools because in addition to the financial issues and looser regulations not to mention the fact that they can be run by for profits companies, I don't like the self-selecting nature of them.  They tend to be more segregated both socioeconomically and racially thus leading to potentially greater inequality.    


Abby, what about magnet schools. Aren't they self-selecting too? I really don't know much about them since we didn't have them when I was growing up and don't have them in our town now, but I know lots of districts tout them. 

 

I think the socioeconomic and racial argument is interesting, too. I'm not disagreeing, but the proposed school would by law be open to everyone, but their focus is on serving the low-income minority student. I guess some other charter schools in the area might have a whiter, more affluent student body. I'm not sure what to make of that kind of potential for self-segregation. Do most magnets reflect the same racial and economic make up as the other schools in the area? What about the local neighborhood school movement?

post #28 of 124
Thread Starter 

Well, the charter we're looking at for dd1 has been around since 1998 and the teachers I spoke to there sounded very happy to be lucky enough to teach there. At least two moved across the country for the opportunity. They have PhDs, and Masters level degrees.Yet, the chances of getting in via the lottery are about 50/50, not bad at all. Again, it's that robust high achieving school system in our local area (many parents and kids are happy there and not looking to change) vs a small charter that offers something different for those who want/need something different. This charter serves grades 6-12 with about 150 kids total. My kids' fairly small elementary school serves about 600+ kids Pre-k thru 5th grade.

 

Our local public schools are fairly well-funded I believe (although state-wide they're not) but I guess when you say, "so IF you take money from one pot (PS) and put it in another- that to me = less funding for PS- to me it's quite basic" you're talking about the tax dollars that follow the child to the charter (which is still Public School). I'm not sure if I'm seeing the problem there clearly. My kids were in private school before this year and I still paid very high property tax much of which goes to fund education and I don't have any problem with that. If my child's public charter school gets a portion of of the tax dollars used to fund her education -- well shouldn't that money follow her? I'll still be funding my local system with my high property taxes, won't I? I'm not sure I have a good handle on the money trail. I know that schools in our state receive federal, state, and local funding, some of which comes from property tax and also the state "education" lottery (which I don't like because rich people don't play the lottery), but I don't really follow how the money is allocated per kid. I mean, obviously, my tax dollars aren't directly paying for only my child's education... I'm not even able to articulate the question clearly.

 

I guess I can see the parent side so clearly I want to understand the bigger picture. As a parent, I want the best fit for my kid. I don't want her to have to tough it out at a school that doesn't work for her because she "should" for the greater good when there's an alternative that would work much better for her. 

 

I hear people saying "work to make the public schools better" and I think that's a laudable sentiment, but what my kid needs is a small environmental and arts focused school (her two loves) and I don't think I can make the local middle school shrink or change things that much I guess. 

 

I guess it's that problem of what works for one individual doesn't always jibe with what works for the group at large.

 

 

post #29 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post


Abby, what about magnet schools. Aren't they self-selecting too? I really don't know much about them since we didn't have them when I was growing up and don't have them in our town now, but I know lots of districts tout them. 

 

I think the socioeconomic and racial argument is interesting, too. I'm not disagreeing, but the proposed school would by law be open to everyone, but their focus is on serving the low-income minority student. I guess some other charter schools in the area might have a whiter, more affluent student body. I'm not sure what to make of that kind of potential for self-segregation. Do most magnets reflect the same racial and economic make up as the other schools in the area? What about the local neighborhood school movement?


Magnet schools are different in that IME a) they are not entirely or even mostly self-selecting and b) they are usually magnets to create diversity.  I have mixed feeling about them too, but I'm not completely opposed.  I grew up in a district with magnet schools, and I'm glad we don't have the need for them here.

 

As far as self-selection, it can go either way racially and socio-economically, neither of which is beneficial for students IMO.  High poverty schools tend to have lower performance overall.  More balanced schools benefit academically not to mention the social aspect of it.

As far as the neighborhood school movement, that's a whole thread in and of itself.  lol.gif I'm not touching it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #30 of 124

 

 

Quote:
 If my child's public charter school gets a portion of of the tax dollars used to fund her education -- well shouldn't that money follow her?

 

 

the argument (in my state) also is - IF we send little Mary to the Catholic school shouldn't they get her money(tax payer funds) too instead of the PS?

 

I know we (meaning my state) can not break the money down and do it----what happens to the children really left behind? (those not lucky enough to get into the lottery or get into that school way across town when their parents are happy at their PS)-what is to happen with all the PS students?

post #31 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

 

But what about the children left behind in those schools? Won't they be hurt in the process?  


and so what is the answer? Lock all children into a system you know isn't working? Let a school continue to have good attendance when they aren't giving a quality education? What is the motivation for them to change if they know their students are stuck?

 

When my own kids were 3 and 6 like yours, I was more idealistic... I could afford to be because the stakes are still so low. There can come a point though when you must decide how much of YOUR baby's childhood you are willing to sacrifice. How long will you let them be unhappy? How long will you let them work below level or be taught with methods that clearly don't work for them? Like I said, we have had great fortune to have a wonderful elementary and middle school district in our area where my kids were treated as individuals and parents were true team members. It can absolutely be done especially when a district fights for their kids like this one did. My rose colored glasses shattered when we had to change districts for high school. This district is the 6th largest in the country and it's a gigantic mess. DD's at a magnet which shield them a little but I still cannot believe what passes as acceptable education and behavior from the staff. They have mismanaged their money into trendy programs that don't work, hired corrupt administrators (like seriously corrupt, stealing money to buy luxury houses corrupt,) cut the few quality programs they had, ect. They are enormous and many of their kids don't have the option of leaving. I feel really terrible for those families but do I knowingly allow my children to have a substandard education and be treated like a number? Sorry, can't do it. We're pulling our DD out of this district end of the school year and into a specialty program she qualifies for. Charters give families in these sort of districts options they wouldn't have otherwise.

post #32 of 124

 

 

Quote:
Charters give families in these sort of districts options they wouldn't have otherwise.

 

 

but again, in a perfect world this would be great- real world it doesn't happen for all and there are those who get really left behind

 

 

are there real live area that there are enough spots at charter schools to fill all the needs? I know it is not happening where I am (for that matter the surrounding states near me either)

post #33 of 124

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

but again, in a perfect world this would be great- real world it doesn't happen for all and there are those who get really left behind

 

 

are there real live area that there are enough spots at charter schools to fill all the needs? I know it is not happening where I am (for that matter the surrounding states near me either)



Nope, it doesn't happen for all but it's a start. It's prompting traditional schools to fight for their students and thus bettering their schools in general. That is how our district improved itself. Our attendance was starting to dwindle. They had to close a school for lack of attendance. The district took notice, listened to what the community wanted and made radical changes like adding a low-cost and free preschool program, moving to full-time kindergarten, starting and early admittance kindergarten program, adding before and after care, adding free after school programming for middle schoolers, adding an immersion school because a group of parents came to every board meeting for a year asking for it, making sure every campus had arts education, requiring schools to offer flexibility, and more. They were smart with their money. They took advantage of every grant and source of funding they could get. They started involving local businesses that now give money and support to the schools. They started being a presence at every single community event and so when the proposition came up for more school funding (first in 30 years) it passed with flying colors. Now their populations stays and there are campuses with up to 50 percent of the students coming from outside the district. All this started because they were losing hundreds of kids to other districts a year and they couldn't afford to let that continue.

 

You are absolutely right, kids are getting left behind and it's tragic. It truly is. It pulls on every heart string and makes us all want to be heroes. What is the answer though? Let them all get substandard education while we beat our heads against the wall trying to reason with unresponsive districts? Do you let your own child suffer when you have the option to give them better? Maybe you are willing to give a failing school (and I'm not talking just test scores) your child but I'm not. I get my kids the best I can and then donate copious hours of my time helping others. That's how I make peace with it all.

post #34 of 124

 

 

Quote:
What is the answer though?

from every teacher I ever spoken to about this - none think it has anything to do with "teaching" - it's really economic and just sending a poor student to a charter doesn't correct the real issues in the child life that are at the heart of the problem and showing up in low test scores 

 

as a society we dance around it (or use to certain gains!) but just thinking going to a different school (type) is going to be the magic sure does not seem to pan out when you do the numbers (again, not in my state)

post #35 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

from every teacher I ever spoken to about this - none think it has anything to do with "teaching" - it's really economic and just sending a poor student to a charter doesn't correct the real issues in the child life that are at the heart of the problem and showing up in low test scores 

 

as a society we dance around it (or use to certain gains!) but just thinking going to a different school (type) is going to be the magic sure does not seem to pan out when you do the numbers (again, not in my state)


The difference is, children who go to charters have parents looking for different environments for their children. These tend to be involved parents and thus, their children tend to do better. Kids who do not get in charters but have the sorts of parents that are paying attention to the sort of environment they want their children in do better no matter where they land. That's not a secret. If you are totally comfortable sending your child to a school where they don't fit because it's good for the community, go for it! I'm not stopping you. Personally, I do plenty other for the community that doesn't involve sending my own child to a substandard school.

 

Teachers aren't always the best to talk to. There tends to be a lot of jealousy and defensiveness towards any school that has anything special. When our district started the immersion school, the other teachers in the district flipped out. You still find a few who like to tell people that this school sucks up all their funding when truth is, this school doesn't get anymore money than any other school in the district... they go out and find money through grants and donors. You still find teachers who accuse the school of "teaching to the test" but we had one on that campus AND one on a regular campus and it's simply not the truth. A lot of teachers are afraid right now and making deflecting blame a real art form. There are some FANTASTIC teachers out there but for whatever reason, they don't seem to want to own the fact that there are some really lousy teachers that they can't get rid of too. Yes, traditional public school teachers are often very negative about charter schools and yet you'd be hard pressed to find a family in a charter that doesn't glow about it. What is really more important? That outside teachers like a school or that the families involved with the charters are happy and appreciative of what their kids are getting. 

 

I highly recommend "Waiting for Superman" if you haven't already watched it.

 

 

 

post #36 of 124


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

and so what is the answer? Lock all children into a system you know isn't working? Let a school continue to have good attendance when they aren't giving a quality education? What is the motivation for them to change if they know their students are stuck?

 

I'm sorry, but I didn't see an answer to my question in there.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

 

When my own kids were 3 and 6 like yours, I was more idealistic... I could afford to be because the stakes are still so low.  

 

That's just petty and uncalled for.  You have no idea what the situation is with my children or what I've had to deal with in regards to their education.  They may be young, but they are both in the public school system. And the state I live in just lifted a cap on charter schools.  I'm pretty sure I have every reason to be concerned about this issue.  

 


Edited by AbbyGrant - 1/31/12 at 2:28pm
post #37 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post


 

 

I'm sorry, but I didn't see an answer to my question in there.  

 

 

 

That's just petty and uncalled for.  You have no idea what the situation is with my children or what I've had to deal with in regards to their education.  They may be young, but they are both in the public school system. And the state I live in just lifted a cap on charter schools.  I'm pretty sure I have every reason to be concerned about this issue.  

 

 

My intention wasn't to offend you and I do apologize if I did. I was reacting to this "But what about the children left behind in those schools? Won't they be hurt in the process?" As I said, yes, kids will get left behind and it's tragic. However, we can't fix problems without trying new things. Parents who put their kids in charter schools are accepting risks that whatever methods a particular charter adopts will be better than what the local public school will provide. It isn't always better. Some fail. Personally, I'm happy to see people trying. It's not an answer but it's an effort.

 

We can actually learn a lot from charters whether they succeed or fail. They are public schools and the only real difference is that the schools are allowed to try different methods to achieve the same goals. Some of the most popular charter schools in our area do NOT have the highest test scores... in fact, most of them are equivalent testing wise. However, charters can cater to particular personalities, interests and learning styles making the process more enjoyable and engaging to them.

 

My comment on your children's young age wasn't about my feeling you weren't justified in being concerned. It just seemed your comment was suggesting that we shouldn't go in any direction if it doesn't benefit every single child. This is, of course, an ideal notion and one easier to hold onto in the early years. After awhile, you realize that you have to place your own child where they will thrive even if that means you pull them out of a local school. Even if it means they will have advantages that their neighbor may not. Will the absence of your child in the neighborhood school hurt the other kids? It could if you aren't the only one doing it. However, should we stop trying for something better because we can't do it on a large enough scale?

 

post #38 of 124
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking that the proposed NHA school in our area isn't going to fly. Either because the State BOE will bow to pressure from the community and not green-light the school or if the school does get approved I don't think that there will be that many parents/students who are interested in it, but I could be wrong. NHA schools test three times a year from what I've read, not just EOGs and I just don't see that being a big draw in our area where, again, almost all test scores district-wide average 10-15 points above state averages. African American and Hispanic scores are more like 5-10 pts above state averages compared to white test scores that are about 18pts above state average. 

 

I know folks in our district who send their kids to charter schools in neighboring counties, even though our school district scores really well. I just don't see a charter in our district hurting our excellent schools by siphoning off the best and brightest students. The one charter we have in our district right now serves primarily high school students interested in vocational choices aka not college-bound students. 

 

So, Abby, in our specific example, I don't think the kids left behind in the public schools will suffer greatly, unless the funding becomes an issue, and I'm just not clear on the allocations there. In our case, I don't think all the best and brightest kids would leave and we would be left with a school that serves less well academically well off students.

 

The money angle is interesting, though. If this school were approved and had 500 students to start with (which is in the ballpark of what their application suggested) they would stand to receive $4,000,000 in funding from the roughly $8500 that follows the child from public school to charter school. For reference, the district's budget this year is about $116,000,000 after several years of budget cuts. I don't know how the $8500 (it's actually a little less for charter students than for traditional public school students) breaks down. It stands to reason if there are less students in a particular school that school would need less of some resources. I'm not clear on how that would play out, though. I know the state or district has set certain benchmarks on class sizes. At a certain level of enrollment the class qualifies for a teacher assistant and at another higher number a new class with another teacher has to be started. A lower enrollment number means the teacher doesn't get an assistant.

 

Do y'all think an analogy can be made between town fire departments and volunteer fire departments? Both receive some taxpayer funding. I was trying to think of something that we pay taxes for, but has two or more alternatives. 

 

I appreciate all the thoughtful discussion. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this.

post #39 of 124

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

So, Abby, in our specific example, I don't think the kids left behind in the public schools will suffer greatly, unless the funding becomes an issue, and I'm just not clear on the allocations there. In our case, I don't think all the best and brightest kids would leave and we would be left with a school that serves less well academically well off students.

 

I agree we have a good district, and I don't see that changing any time really soon.  But I am very concerned about how the bill that was passed that lifts the cap on charter schools, removes the restriction on enrollment growth, and allows districts to give capital funds to charters will affect our district and the rest in the state. Amendments that would have required that the charters provide transportation and free/reduced lunches for low income kids were rejected, so that right there could exclude a great many.  

 


Edited by AbbyGrant - 1/31/12 at 6:11pm
post #40 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

I'm thinking that the proposed NHA school in our area isn't going to fly. Either because the State BOE will bow to pressure from the community and not green-light the school or if the school does get approved I don't think that there will be that many parents/students who are interested in it, but I could be wrong. 

 

I forgot to add that that same bill called for the creation of a charter school commission which would approve and revoke charters as well as be responsible for overseeing the schools thus essentially eliminating BOE involvement in charter schools.  I'm not sure if it's up and running yet though.  

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › How do you feel about charter schools?