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#31 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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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.


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#32 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 10:16 AM
 
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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)


 

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#33 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 10:48 AM
 
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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.


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#34 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 11:24 AM
 
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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)


 

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#35 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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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.

 

 

 


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#36 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 12:59 PM
 
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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.  

 

 

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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.  

 

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#37 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 03:17 PM
 
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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?

 


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#38 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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#39 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 05:59 PM
 
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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.  

 

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#40 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 06:08 PM
 
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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.  

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#41 of 124 Old 01-31-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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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.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#42 of 124 Old 02-01-2012, 05:15 AM
 
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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.

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#43 of 124 Old 02-01-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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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.


 

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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.

 

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#44 of 124 Old 02-01-2012, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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. 


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#45 of 124 Old 02-01-2012, 01:31 PM
 
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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.

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#46 of 124 Old 02-01-2012, 07:11 PM
 
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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.

 



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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.
 

 

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#47 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 04:24 AM
 
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#48 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 06:19 AM
 
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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.  

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#49 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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The same type of sitiation where I live has led to my mixed feelings about charters.
 

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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.
 

 

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#50 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 02:38 PM
 
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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?

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#51 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 03:24 PM
 
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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.


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#52 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 

 


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#53 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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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


 

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#54 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 09:08 PM
 
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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.

 

 


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#55 of 124 Old 02-02-2012, 10:23 PM
 
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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?


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#56 of 124 Old 02-03-2012, 06:09 AM
 
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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.

 

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#57 of 124 Old 02-03-2012, 06:11 AM
 
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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.  

 

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#58 of 124 Old 02-03-2012, 06:13 AM
 
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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.
 

 

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#59 of 124 Old 02-03-2012, 06:30 AM
 
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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.   

 

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#60 of 124 Old 02-03-2012, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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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