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what's wrong (or right) with charter schools? - Page 2

post #21 of 41

In my experience, I like them in a general sense.  Utah, at least my area of the state, is full of them. Some are company-founded, but there are just as many if not more of the grassroots type.  I came from teaching in the traditional public sector myself and like that system, but I do admire the diversity of charter schools and the choice it gives parents.

 

I suppose the key is to be wise and to study the schools you're considering, whether they be traditional public, charter, or private.  I don't think the school's category in and of itself determines the school's worthy.

post #22 of 41

Another point - maybe I'm too jaded from living in Illinois and seeing Chicago politics up close, but I think here part of the aim is union busting. Charter school teachers are not members of the teachers' union (at least in Chicago). Some of them have unionized separately.

 

http://www.aftacts.org/charter-news/152-unions-move-in-at-chicago-charter-schools-and-resistance-is-swift

 

Full disclosure - my Dh is a teacher and union rep. There is plenty that could be changed and improved about the union, but I don't think throwing the whole concept out is the answer.

post #23 of 41

I live in a super small area where there are 3 charter schools in the immediate and outlying areas. None are run by for profit corporations and is instead run by a parent council that changes every couple or so years.

The three have very distinct characteristics and displays both what @beanma and @Linda on the move have experienced.

My son goes to one of the 2 that offers bussing, free and reduced lunches and does not "cherry pick" the kids. The only caveat is that if you live outside the area of service, then you bring your child to school. I live 17 miles away so I bring my child to school. We have our share of special needs students, students with individual service providers (behavioral stuff), low income families and we have tutors.

The other charter on the other hand, while not allowed to refuse enrollment, somehow is allowed to deny enrollment when they don't adhere to a behavior contract. Bussing isn't offered and neither are hot lunches in general (so free and reduced lunch is out). They also "strongly encourage" kindergarteners to be 6 years old. Anyone whose child is 5 and meaning to enroll in kindergarten is counseled and advised to wait until the child is 6. BUT, they ace nationwide assessments and they learn their stuff 1-1.5 years in advance. However, if your child doesn't fit their "norm" (be it special needs or your child being gifted), it is not the place for you. They won't say it outright but when you ask what services are available, they say that their curriculum addresses that already. We all know that there is no curriculum that fits all. So you either stay in misery or you leave. That's how the cherry picking happens in a legal way.

So... I'm torn about charter schools. I've seen it succeed and be an awesome school for kids but I also see how it can be abused.

post #24 of 41

BTW- Our school has an innovative whole food lunch program ($5/per day to $0 for free lunch); produce year round from the farmer's market. Last year we raised more than $100k in a fancy fundraiser to renovate the schools kitchen so it can be reopened. Lunch is integrated into the garden and kitchen classroom element.

 

Entrance is lottery based, no priority, except for 5%of seats to founding families and some staff. Kids with a wide range of special needs are accommodated. 


Edited by JudiAU - 2/7/14 at 9:29pm
post #25 of 41

It sounds to me like so much of this is district relative.

 

For instance, our charter teachers are union members but there are issues with charters having to pay actual salaries, which I worry stifles the mobility of teachers because they are so aware of their beloved school's budget. We also have some schools that have very strict rule for admission. But these rules are not allowed to influence who gets accepted -- but they can influence who chooses to send their kid to that school. For instance, we have a college prep 6-12 all girls schools with very high standards for tardiness, attendance, homework and parent participation. It's also in an area that is difficult to get to (downtown, lots of traffic, no parking).  Their requirements were a deterrent to our DC going here but I've got to say that I'm glad the school is there for our city's kids.

 

I think when we see inequity it is hard to not notice where it is magnified by certain policy but the core issue is the inequity. 

 

I have been in at least half of our many charter schools I can say with certainty that none of them started to serve the privileged kids - to the contrary. Not all are able to meet every kids needs, that's true but many meet most kids needs (including students with special needs) better than those kid's other options. 

 

I wonder how everyone feels about magnet programs?  These have some similar consequences but magnet programs have been embraced in my district for like a 170 years. 

post #26 of 41

Oh, and I also wanted to say that not all charter in my city are non-zone. Some are zone school or zone preferential.  I do think the situation where a kids can't attend a charter school that's right across the street from their house because the school is lottery is pretty sucky. There are other negatives I see to lottery systems in terms of neighborly issues. 

post #27 of 41

Charter schools are non-profit, public schools.  

post #28 of 41
Charter schools are public but may be for profit or non profit, it depends in the state.
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by swimama View Post
 

Charter schools are non-profit, public schools.  

In some states that is true but some states allow for-profit schools. For-profit schools (like for-profit prisons - how's that for inflammatory :p) are not something I'm in favor of. If a district can't budget and support traditional schools, they should go out and scalp those for-profit models or at least sub-contract. There's something about the direct for-profit model that just irks me. Does anyone have a list of states that allow for-profit schools?  I know I've seen that somewhere.  For the OP, it would be very interesting to know if IL is on that list. 

post #30 of 41
All in all I think it is a very good idea for parents to be involved with their child's education. Parents who are "disengaged" and not participatory at all are the major concern.

It would be interesting to try to create the one-room school system where all ages were put in-to a bunch and children brought their own lunch to school. No bus system at the time of one-room school.

Seems that charter school is trying to create the one-room school with a "modern twist."

If the charter school is trying to recreate the one-room school, it should have a classical emphasis and leave the commercialized stuff out. Education is not commercialization. That is one of the big reasons we home-educate. Although I have seen some big commercialized stuff in home-education too. That's kind of disturbing especially if it is considered "christian" material.

Is the K12.com public education similar to charter school? There are not any charter schools around here, though smaller districts are closing in our small-town area. I have heard that K12.com and connectionsaccademy.com is more popular in usage around our area where districts are small.
post #31 of 41

Laura, charter schools vary almost as widely as private schools and more widely than traditional public schools in their approach to education. I don't at all agree that they're trying to recreate the one-room school, although there may be certain schools out there that resemble that. 

 

Three of the biggest for profit corporations involved in charter school education are:

National Heritage Academies

Imagine Schools

Kipp Schools

I linked to their home pages, but you can google for more pros and cons on those companies.  I'm not a fan of for-profit national corps running charters, but some of them have achieved some degrees of success. You can read good stuff about KIPP schools out there, but you can also find scary stories. In any case it sounds longer and more intense than what I would want for my kids.

 

Here's an interesting article about for profit corps in charters: http://rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/education-profit-darker-side-charter-schools and another in Time about some of the good side of charters http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2025310,00.html

 

Here's a PDF of a study from the NC State Department of Public Instruction titled, "Charter Schools That Work: Policies and Practices of Effective High-Poverty Charters" that follows 5 successful high poverty charters (including at least one KIPP charter) in my state (NC) as measured by at least 40% participation in Free and Reduced Meal programs, which is the benchmark for Title 1 schools. 

 

And here's a story from that rag, the New York Times, on the success of charter schools in NYC vs the traditional NYC schools. I'm sure Chicago leaders are looking at success stories like this and thinking it's worth a try. 

Quote:
 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/opinion/better-charter-schools-in-new-york-city.html?_r=0

From a national standpoint, the 20-year-old charter school movement has been a disappointment. More than a third of these independently run, publicly funded schools are actually worse than the traditional public schools they were meant to replace. Abysmal charter schools remain open for years, even though the original deal was that they would be shut down when they failed to perform. New York City’s experience, however, continues to be an exception. 

 

For the second time in three years, a rigorous study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes shows that the typical New York City charter school student learns more in a year in reading and math than his or her peers in their neighborhood district schools. The difference, over a typical year, amounts to about a month’s more learning in reading — and a whopping five months’ more learning in math.

 

Charter schools are also outperforming traditional public schools in Boston:

Quote:
 

Boston charter schools outperform other public schools on three popular barometers of student achievement — the MCAS, the SAT, and the Advanced Placement exams — but tend to have lower four-year graduation rates, accord­ing to a study being released Wednesday.

The biggest bounce in achievement ­occurred on the SAT. On average, charter school students scored 100 points higher than their peers in other public schools, according to the study, which was prepared by the School ­Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

I really think there are so many different approaches to charter school education that you can't just lump them all together and make judgements based on that. 

post #32 of 41

KIPP is for-profit, Beanma?  In that case we do have for-profit schools in our city...interesting!  

post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
 

I really think there are so many different approaches to charter school education that you can't just lump them all together and make judgements based on that. 

:truedat:

post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

KIPP is for-profit, Beanma?  In that case we do have for-profit schools in our city...interesting!  

Now that you mention it, I am not sure if they are for profit but they are a very large national organization. I'll have to look into their corporate structure more.
post #35 of 41
Charters are big in CA. There are Waldorf , Montessori, classical, project-based, college prep, and home based charters that support homeschoolers. They all require standardized testing (state requirement) beginning in 3rd grade, but they aren't tied to using standardized curricula. So, even if kids score similarly to other schools in the district, the difference is many kids aren't spending their days constantly prepping for the test and being assessed. This is a good thing.

I get that corporations shouldn't be involved in education, but they are heavily involved in traditional public schools too. Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Apple provide the technology, testing, and textbooks and readers to nearly all public school classrooms and these corporations are heavily benefiting monetarily. Waldorf charters, in the other hand, don't use these materials (other than the rehired state testing). They don't even use technology with their students until high school.

I believe competition is a good thing. I'm not happy with our local public school (rated best in the state) and homeschool. There is a local charter high school.program that provides resources for kids to take classes at the community college and earn dual credit. For one of my kids, this could be a very valuable resource. For several teens in our homeschool group, this has been a much better resource than the local high school (where a kid just committed suicide in his class due to extreme bullying).
post #36 of 41

For anyone who wants to read a long article about the sordid details of how things are done in Chicago:

 

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/February-2014/uno-juan-rangel/

post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
 

In some states that is true but some states allow for-profit schools. For-profit schools (like for-profit prisons - how's that for inflammatory :p) are not something I'm in favor of. If a district can't budget and support traditional schools, they should go out and scalp those for-profit models or at least sub-contract. There's something about the direct for-profit model that just irks me. Does anyone have a list of states that allow for-profit schools?  I know I've seen that somewhere.  For the OP, it would be very interesting to know if IL is on that list. 


Regarding IL, here is what I found on the Chicago Public Schools site:

 

Charter School applicants must be incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit organization and are strongly encouraged to file for federal 501c3 status. Pursuant to Illinois Charter Schools Law, the District may not grant a charter to a for-profit entity; however , a not-for-profit entity is permitted to hold the charter from the District and contract with a for-profit entity for certain services that are beneficial to the school.

http://www.cps.edu/NewSchools/Documents/AppendixB_InfoThreeSchoolTypes.pdf

post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
I wonder how everyone feels about magnet programs?  These have some similar consequences but magnet programs have been embraced in my district for like a 170 years. 

They are embraced in my district, too, but I agree that there are some similar problems with them.

post #39 of 41

After Hurricane Katrina, the  Orleans Parish school system underwent a complete overhaul. Almost all, if not all, of the schools are now charter or magnet schools. Before the storm, the school district was the worst one in the state and was facing state take over anyway. Since 2006, some of the charters have been wonderfully successful, while others have failed and closed their doors. The schools are very different; some focus on arts, music, etc. Others focus on college prep. Some have become magnets for sports with the coaches recruiting because there are no residency lines (still agains the rules, but it is happening more and more). I teach in a neighboring parish that has always been in the top 5 of the state as far as student achievement and teacher pay; we don't have any charters, but we are a small parish (only 2 high schools). As an outsider, charter schools have been a wonderful thing for the students within Orleans Parish. We have a huge Catholic school population here, with one of the highest non-public school attendance rates in the country, due in part to the poor schools, but also due to the tradition, affordability, and abundance of the Catholic schools here. But for those who can't or choose not to go to the parochial schools, the wide variety of charter schools has really helped more students become successful. Their test scores have improved, as has the number of students staying in school and pursuing some type of training or higher education.

post #40 of 41

I read a few more posts and wanted to add:

 

The charter schools here do provide transportation.

Not all of them are for profit schools; most are non-profit.

 

The main reason charter schools work are the same reason most private and religious schools work. It's not about being able to pick the kids. It is about parent involvement. However, the biggest reason is the smaller bureaucracy. The biggest problem, IMO, with public education is the huge governmental approach to the school system. To get anything truly done or changed takes an act of congress, so to speak. However, in charter schools, as in private schools, the principal makes most of the decisions. There might be a small school board to deal with, but on a day by day basis the decisions are made by one person who takes responsibility. In large school systems, the red tape and politics get in the way of anything getting done and our children suffer.

 

My son has Aspergers with mild ADD. My nephew has ADD. My son has always attended Catholic schools. My nephew attends the best public schools in our state. When the boys were younger and needed certain accomodations, my son's school was far more willing to with me than the public school was with my nephew's mom. All I had to do was talk with the teacher or their resource person (almost allof our Catholic schools now have a resource teacher on staff) and he was allowed to take a certain test in the resource room. I was given an extra text book for him to take home. He could write the prayers instead of reciting them verbally, since the brain to speaking was an issue for him. None of this took paper work, etc. Just a phone call or a meeting. My cousn couldn't request anything without an IEP and official paperwork, etc. None of this was as quick as my phone call to the teacher.

 

This is just one small example, but the smaller bureaucarcy of charter schools can be a positive thing, if the right people are in place.

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