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How do you feel about charter schools? - Page 3

post #41 of 124

Some more problems with charters -- (at least where we live)

 

  • They don't address the needs of sn students, and they run kids with even minor LDs out.They take the *cheapest* children to provide education to. This is so huge and offensive to me.
  • When re-locating for a job (or the military or whatever) in cities with a high % of charters and magnets, which sometimes go along with a lack of neighborhood schools, it can be impossible for a family to get their child into a decent school, or even insure that all children will be attending the same school. It becomes a system that parents need to play into and plan a year in advance, screwing over children  who's parents lives are changing. It makes getting a child into a decent school a game that parents need to devote months and months to. And if you move there, you are just screwed for the first year, and then your kid has to change schools twice for one job move.
  • Transportation. In our city, magnets provide transportation, charters do not. It makes them self selecting again, and can cause children to not be able to continue attending if something changes, such as a parent's work hours.

 

post #42 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

Some more problems with charters -- (at least where we live)

 

  • They don't address the needs of sn students, and they run kids with even minor LDs out.They take the *cheapest* children to provide education to. This is so huge and offensive to me.

 


My son receives special education services through the school district, so this is a big concern of mine as well. In theory, charters are supposed to comply with IDEA, but the reality is there are various exceptions and loopholes and little in the way of accountability not to mention resources, so kids with special needs often don't have equal access to charter schools.  Count me in on finding it offensive.

post #43 of 124

Our school's PTA e-mail newsletter included information about that petition (or a similiar one,) I signed the petition. I am not against charter schools, in fact I'm applying to the one in the county to our north for my children, but I'm against THAT particular company. From what I've read, they are a very conservative, anti-gay, group. That's unacceptable to me.
 

I am, though, very curious about the environmental education charter school. I haven't heard of that one. I'll have to do a search and see if I can find it. I suspect that we'll get in to the northern one but I want to explore all possibilities. I have no interest in the charter school that is in the county to our south or the one in the northern part of our county.


 

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.    


Last week, I toured the one in the northern county. It definitely was racially diverse. Not as much as my kids school but most schools aren't. They have an outreach program to help groups learn about their program (that normally might not.) They want to reflect the community around them but there are legal restrictions that make the difficult.

 

post #44 of 124
Thread Starter 

Polliwog, the one I'm talking about for my dd1 is 6-12th, so that may be why it's not on your radar. PM me for more info. I think I know the one you're talking about that you like, but not sure. It's elementary?

 

I'm learning a lot more about this issue and appreciate everyone's input. 

post #45 of 124


Quote:

Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

Last week, I toured the one in the northern county. It definitely was racially diverse. Not as much as my kids school but most schools aren't. They have an outreach program to help groups learn about their program (that normally might not.) They want to reflect the community around them but there are legal restrictions that make the difficult.


That's really cool that they're trying to actively address the issue.  I do think there are good charter schools out there for sure, and in certain communities, diversity is going to be an important goal.  

 

Unfortunately, charter schools in general have been shown to be more segregated socioeconomically and racially.  Some of the charter schools to east a couple counties over are examples of the kind of segregation that can occur with some almost all white and some almost all black.  I think this is at least in part why charter schools have become such a contentious issue politically.

post #46 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Polliwog, the one I'm talking about for my dd1 is 6-12th, so that may be why it's not on your radar. PM me for more info. I think I know the one you're talking about that you like, but not sure. It's elementary?

 

I'm learning a lot more about this issue and appreciate everyone's input. 


My oldest is only in first grade so it's no surprise I haven't heard about it. I am curious, though, so I'll send you a PM soon. I'm pretty sure that you know the one that I was referring to. It is elementary, but they said they are hoping to expand to middle school at some point. Some far point, most likely.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post


Quote:


That's really cool that they're trying to actively address the issue.  I do think there are good charter schools out there for sure, and in certain communities, diversity is going to be an important goal.  

 

Unfortunately, charter schools in general have been shown to be more segregated socioeconomically and racially.  Some of the charter schools to east a couple counties over are examples of the kind of segregation that can occur with some almost all white and some almost all black.  I think this is at least in part why charter schools have become such a contentious issue politically.

I think that county has problems overall. Public schools, too.

 

 

DS will likely age out of his IEP this summer when he turns eight. While he's now doing well at school, I'm not sure how it will be going forward. I'd love him to be in a constructivist program of some sort. Private school is NOT an option for me financially.
 

 

post #47 of 124

oooooooooooooooooooo


Edited by mattemma04 - 4/21/12 at 2:44pm
post #48 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

I think that county has problems overall. Public schools, too.


It certainly did when a certain political party that wanted to move to neighborhood schools gained control of the school board.  Thankfully, I think reason has prevailed to some extent.   Either way though, charter schools lacking diversity is not specific to that county.  

post #49 of 124


The same type of sitiation where I live has led to my mixed feelings about charters.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I'm not a fan of charters, but it may just be how they operate here.

 

We have lots of for-profit charters with lovely high test scores.

 

And they run kids out who cannot keep up the pace.

 

The deal here is that people put there kids in them because they have high scores, but to maintain the high scores they work the kid to death and gently push kids/families away who need extra time or energy or are never going to test well. Nothing overt enough for a law suit -- just enough misery that the child/family finds another option.

 

Then the for-profit charters brag about how much better they are doing with less money.


My kids did try a charter that was contracted w/ a for-profit company the first year it opened b/c my oldest needed something that she wasn't going to get at our neighborhood school.  They placed kids in different grades for different subjects regularly, which was a good thing for her.  However, there were so many other problems that we couldn't stick it out past the first year.

 

The other two charters in our local district are chartered w/ the district and, like LOM mentions, have very high test scores.  They also have a reputation for extreme rigidity and running out families who disagree with the administration on anything or whose kids don't test well.  A mom I know recently had her child testing to get into one of the charters' high schools and, when I expressed surprise that they could require academic testing to get in (that is illegal for a public school), she said that they don't require a specific test score for admission, but they do tell parents of kids whose scores aren't high enough for their liking that their kids will need to repeat a grade.  That has the effect, not surprisingly, of turning away kids with average test scores or below.
 

 

post #50 of 124

How do charter schools run by a for-profit company run?

Are the teachers on a different payscale from public school teachers?

Do they charge tuition? Can they be selective of students?

post #51 of 124

I'm not a fan of charters, and I'm not even that big a fan of magnet schools.

 

Why?

1. Money. Charter schools need considerable money to start up. They usually get federal and state grants (to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars) to do so. This does take money away from general education budget. Once the schools are open, they get the same amount of money per student, but...

 

2. Most charter schools are not able to serve students with special needs, students who don't speak English fluently or any other student who needs more help than average. They usually have very few such students in their classes. As such, their operating costs are lower (special ed money and ESL money does not cover the full cost of educating those students). The children they are educating are rarely representative of the district.

 

3. There are enough well documented cases of charter schools running out children with special needs or who are low achieving to make me mistrust most of them. They're supposed to be public education, but they don't serve the same functions. They behave a lot like publicly funded private schools.

 

4. Equity. Who attends charter schools? Children whose families have the most resources, both academic and financial, usually. In order to attend a charter school, you need to have a parent who understands how the system works, works to get their child into the system, and is motivated to do the extra work to keep them there. Even if you're financially poor, you can be rich in this knowledge. Living above the poverty level helps too. In our district, for example, the district does not provide transportation to the charter school. That immediately rules out many low income families, or parents who start work before school starts. If you don't have a car, you can't drive your child. If you have to start work and put your child in before-school care, the affordable before-school care will deliver your child to the local public school, but they won't drive them all over town. You can't carpool if you can never drive.

 

5. Misrepresentation of test scores. It's pretty easy to have high achieving kids when you skim off the kids with the most motivated parents and the parents with the most resources (especially resources concerning how education works in our country). These parents are highly invested in their children's education, they make the time to make sure their children have the experiences in and out of the classroom that will enhance their education. I'd be a brilliant teacher if I only had to teach the top 25% of my classes. Meanwhile, the local elementary is forced to report the scores from not only the kids with motivated, educated parents, but the kids whose parents can't help with homework because they're working 2-3 jobs, the kids whose parents never were educated beyond grade school, the kids with special needs, the kids who entered school a year and a half ago speaking no English (and whose parents are still learning English), the kids who have moved 4 times in the last year, etc. etc. Charter schools can't/won't deal with these kids, and yet the public school has to. As such, charter schools are often held up as examples of 'succeeding' where public schools fail. But, charters play on a level playing field. Very few educate the kinds of students the other public schools must. Because of that, I feel they're really motivated by the desire to demonstrate that the public education system can't be fixed and should be privatized.

post #52 of 124
Thread Starter 

Lynn, I feel like some charter schools in my area are really trying to offer something that the public schools don't. The different charters focus on different educational models from the public schools.

 

How would you make charters better? Would busing, Special Ed, ESL, etc make it more even? I would be interested in knowing how it could work because I don't feel like public schools are a great fit for every kid. My kid needs a flexible small environment and traditional public school just can't really provide the things she needs to excel.

 

One of the charters in our area (in the county to the south) does provide bus transportation. State law does not require charters to provide buses and therefore charters receive no funding for buses, so this charter has raised money to buy and maintain their own fleet of buses. They also have their own building in a new neighborhood—the developer donated it.

 

How do you feel about specialty schools — not sure what to call them, but we have a state school of the arts and a state school of science and math? These are both tuition free for state residents, but applicants have to go through an audition or testing process to get in, so they are for the best and brightest. They are residential high schools and the Arts school also includes college and graduate level courses. They aren't charters or magnets, but definitely are very selective.

 

Thanks for all the thoughtful discussion on this subject. Everyone has given me a lot to think about.

 

 

post #53 of 124

I see a hugh difference between a 

 

Quote:
 specialty schools — not sure what to call them, but we have a state school of the arts and a state school of science and math? 

 and a "regular" / general charter-

 

why not select for a science, math, art, etc? IF you want a special art school - fine, have a test to get in- I am all in favor it

 

but for a "general" elementary/middle charter type-----------------------------no way!

 

regular/general charter would weeding out who they don't want to deal with (as others have put- only keeping the cheap one! SN, etc- no thank you) - if its allows (and would flourish) without mandate to take those - we end up back to the way schools use to be-----they didn't take those students yeas ago

 

special needs, etc were not "mainstreamed" most were not even left in the public school building

 

I for one DO NOT want to go back and I really see it happening in many ways

 

 

ETA - I think if more people knew what public schools were like prior to meeting needs of SN (etc) children you would RUN from charters but so many with children now don't have a clue- this just maybe a case of not knowing how bad things once were, not saying things are super great now- but we came a real long way

post #54 of 124


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

How do you feel about specialty schools — not sure what to call them, but we have a state school of the arts and a state school of science and math? These are both tuition free for state residents, but applicants have to go through an audition or testing process to get in, so they are for the best and brightest. They are residential high schools and the Arts school also includes college and graduate level courses


 

I don't have a problem with  a large district having limited selective programs as long as they are up front about the fact they are selective and most of the public funded programs in the city are not selective admissions. Part of my issue with charters is that in our city, they are fundamentally dishonest. They like to PRETEND that they are doing the same thing as public schools when they aren't. It's all a big lie.

 

(I used to think charters were a very cool idea, but seeing how they play out, esp for kids who are a little different or have even minor learning disabilities makes me want to barf)

 

I believe the majority of publicly funded programs in a city should NOT have selective admissions -- because every body has the right to a free education, and part of that is just access.

 

Our city has a public college prep high school that has competitive admission and I'm fine with that. They are quite clear on their policies. They also recruit minority students and visit the poorest middle schools in the cities activity seeking out students with potential. They work with those families on the admission process, and they do provide transportation. Although the school is free, they have scholarships for school related expenses. But it is a regular public school run by the district, not a charter.

 

I do question the spending of tax dollars on residential education. It's an extremely expensive way to educate kids, and while we are cutting programs right and left and letting go of staff, dropping arts and musics programs, etc., it sounds very questionable. But I don't live where you are -- may be there is some reason why it is necessary.

 

The only publicly funded boarding school in my city is for blind and/or deaf children. Child who attend the school who live locally go home at night, but the school serves an extremely large geographically area so going home every night isn't possible for all the children who need to go there.

 

While I'm venting, I'll add that I really hate to see test scores equated with how well a school is doing their job.  Some schools do a wonderful job but still have low scores because they start with kids who are in a very different place. I think our extreme over emphasis with testing is insulting to teachers who choose to teach in schools where the kids come not even knowing English, or who are dealing with gangs when they go home. I think our current focus is extremely hurtful to the men and women in our culture who feel called to work with disadvantaged students, and downright hateful to the students themselves. The message seems to be "no matter how hard you try, you will still be a failure compared to the rich white kids"

 

And this over emphasis on test scores is part of the problem with charters -- they play on the same nonsense, but mange to take it to the next level.

 

 

post #55 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Lynn, I feel like some charter schools in my area are really trying to offer something that the public schools don't. The different charters focus on different educational models from the public schools.

 

Yeah, I get that. But I wonder whether the energy that went into creating the charter couldn't have been better spent reforming the current schools.

 

Quote:

 

How do you feel about specialty schools — not sure what to call them, but we have a state school of the arts and a state school of science and math? These are both tuition free for state residents, but applicants have to go through an audition or testing process to get in, so they are for the best and brightest. They are residential high schools and the Arts school also includes college and graduate level courses. They aren't charters or magnets, but definitely are very selective.

 

I'm of two minds about those -- kids with special needs do need special education at both ends of the spectrum. But I worry about those schools for the same reason I worry about charters: Who has the money/time to invest in music lessons for their children when they're young? SAT scores are highly correlated with family income. Is this a case of the rich getting richer? Our state doesn't have any schools like you describe, so it's a moot point for me.

 

Our district does have some 'options' schools starting in 6th grade  that focus on different areas: one arts focused, one science focus, one international school, one school (grades 6-8 only, I believe) for highly gifted kids. Admission to those is mostly by lottery and there is bus transportation. There are some spots that are 'interview' only spots which means that kids who really do want to focus on the arts or whatever and don't get in by lottery do have a chance. At the same time, only one of these schools has a population that's similar to the district population. These options schools have fewer kids who are ESL, fewer kids in poverty, fewer minorities. Is that fair and equitable education for all?

post #56 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Lynn, I feel like some charter schools in my area are really trying to offer something that the public schools don't. The different charters focus on different educational models from the public schools.

I agree. We don't have a large number of charter schools in our (mutual) area, but some of them are doing some really neat things. The one that I hope my kids get into is project-based and since it's in the city, allows the school to be part of the surrounding community.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

I see a hugh difference between a 

 

 and a "regular" / general charter-

 

why not select for a science, math, art, etc? IF you want a special art school - fine, have a test to get in- I am all in favor it

 

but for a "general" elementary/middle charter type-----------------------------no way!

 

regular/general charter would weeding out who they don't want to deal with (as others have put- only keeping the cheap one! SN, etc- no thank you) - if its allows (and would flourish) without mandate to take those - we end up back to the way schools use to be-----they didn't take those students yeas ago

 

special needs, etc were not "mainstreamed" most were not even left in the public school building

 

I for one DO NOT want to go back and I really see it happening in many ways

 

 

ETA - I think if more people knew what public schools were like prior to meeting needs of SN (etc) children you would RUN from charters but so many with children now don't have a clue- this just maybe a case of not knowing how bad things once were, not saying things are super great now- but we came a real long way


Many charter schools have similar special education services. Not self-contained classes but definitely inclusive ones. The schools have OTs, PTs,, etc. They might not be able to meet the needs of every child but that's not a bad thing.

 

post #57 of 124

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

How do you feel about specialty schools — not sure what to call them, but we have a state school of the arts and a state school of science and math? These are both tuition free for state residents, but applicants have to go through an audition or testing process to get in, so they are for the best and brightest. They are residential high schools and the Arts school also includes college and graduate level courses. They aren't charters or magnets, but definitely are very selective.


I have mixed feeling about those schools.  On one hand I think residential education at the high school level is too expensive, and for those types of subjects, it just seems wasteful.  On the other hand, I like how both schools level the playing field for low income kids who wouldn't be able to afford specialty private schools.  I don't know what it's like at school of the arts, but I know science and math has a relatively diverse student body and has an outreach program.  They also get a lot private funding, so taxpayers aren't footing the entire cost.  That said, it seems really unfair that those programs stay open while the old school for the blind is in jeopardy of be closed due to budget cuts.  

 

post #58 of 124

The public schools in my town are wonderful. They are going great things. My son is currently doing well (with his IEP in place.) But, would I LOVE for him to be in a project based, arts focused, family oriented school? Heck, yes. He would LOVE to have "real arts" at school. Would LOVE to have yoga and akido (I think) as part of the curriculum. The charter that I'm looking at (but now I hear that we might not have priority for) offers those. We live kind of far from the school and would like to carpool if we get in. The school doesn't provide transportation but helps to arrange carpools for those who need help.
 

 

post #59 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

Many charter schools have similar special education services. Not self-contained classes but definitely inclusive ones. The schools have OTs, PTs,, etc. They might not be able to meet the needs of every child but that's not a bad thing.


I think this really varies from school to school and district to district and state to state.  I think some schools, particularly around here, offer these things because that's part of their shtick so to speak, and it's often for kids who can manage in regular classrooms.  And while to some extent I agree that every school probably shouldn't be expected to handle the needs of every child, the fact is charter schools can be very selective when it comes to special needs.  Couple that with the fact that they don't have to provide transportation or free/reduced lunch or reflect the diversity of the community, and I think they have the potential to be quite exclusive which I think is unacceptable when it comes to a school that receives public money.   

 

post #60 of 124
Thread Starter 

Linda on the Move, the residential merit-based schools are high schools (and high school/college) that accept students from across the state. Our state also has a residential school for the blind and 2 residential schools for the deaf, but because of budget constraints they are trying to consolidate services and were talking about closing one of the schools (probably one of the schools for the deaf). 

 

 

 

Quote: Linda on the Move
(I used to think charters were a very cool idea, but seeing how they play out, esp for kids who are a little different or have even minor learning disabilities makes me want to barf)

 

See, this is why I am interested in a charter for dd1, because she has some minor learning disabilities (she got a Non-Verbal Learning Disorder label and possible ADHD on an eval a few years ago)  and is a little different (anxiety issues). It seems like she would be better off at the small environmental/arts charter (total enrollment gr 6-12 about 150) than in the big middle school (total enrollment gr 6-8 about 750). We know a few kids who go there—there are several former homeschoolers—and I get a really mellow vibe from this particular school. I actually think it's a school with lots of square pegs and as such they don't force the kids into round holes if they don't fit. I don't think they do any testing beyond what is state-mandated. We have about a 50/50 chance of dd1 getting in there and if not we will be at the big middle school and I hope that will work out okay, but it scares me to think about it. She is having some trouble this year in 5th grade in elementary school. For MY kid a F.A.P.E., especially the appropriate part, may not be what would be available in traditional public school. 

 

 

 

Quote: LynnS6

But I wonder whether the energy that went into creating the charter couldn't have been better spent reforming the current schools.

 

Well, I don't have a huge problem with the current schools, although they are a little too structured for my personal taste, but I know I'm probably on the far end of the spectrum on that. Our schools are above and beyond fine for what they are, but I'd like dd1 to be in this small environmental/arts charter where she can go out to the river nearby and count river critters and can become involved in their community art sale and can do canoeing for PE. I don't see how I can reform the current public school to reduce enrollment to that degree (25 kids per grade in this charter school) or offer the kinds of things that this school has the flexibility to offer. It's not that I have an issue with what the current public schools in our area offer, but just that I would like the option to explore some avenues of education that are a little out of the mainstream. I don't know that dd2 will go there also. She may be perfectly happy with our districted middle school when the time comes.

 

It seems to me if you could have an awesome public school system where there were many academic programs for gifted kids and where kids with special needs got their needs met and plenty of programs for the kids in between, then I'm not sure I see the issue with having a few out-of-the-mainstream public charter schools that offer something different. I understand it's not always the way it ends up, but it seems like that would be the ideal.

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