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Charter Schools

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I've seen charter schools take a beating on these boards, so I found the following to be interesting reading. To the extent that local charters may be performing badly, this suggests to me that perhaps we have a poorly designed or implemented charter program, not that charters are an inherently flawed concept.

From the Wall Street Journal, By JOHN HECHINGER and IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN

New York City students who win a lottery to enroll in charter schools outperform those who don't win spots and go on to attend traditional schools, according to new research to be released Tuesday.

The study, led by Stanford University economics Prof. Caroline Hoxby, is likely to fire up the movement to push states and school districts to expand charter schools -- one of the centerpieces of President Barack Obama's education strategy.

Among students who had spent their academic careers in charter schools, the average eighth grader in Ms. Hoxby's study had a state mathematics test score of 680, compared with 650 for those in traditional schools. The tests are generally scored on a roughly 500 to 800 scale, with 650 representing proficiency.

Ms. Hoxby's study found that the charter-school students, who tend to come from poor and disadvantaged families, scored almost as well as students in the affluent Scarsdale school district in the suburbs north of the city. The English test results showed a similar pattern. The study also found students were more likely to earn a state Regents diploma, given to higher-achieving students, the longer they attended charter schools.

This year, the Renaissance Charter School in Queens and the Democracy Prep Charter School in Harlem each had 1,500 applicants for 80 seats. Rennaissance co-principal Stacey Gauthier says 90% of students achieve proficiency in the state test and end up going to college. "We have to perform well or we lose our charter," she says. "It makes us step up our game."

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued that New York City's charter schools aren't representative of the nation's, because the state caps charter schools and agencies vet them thoroughly before authorizing them, assuring they are of higher quality than elsewhere.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools, typically with nonunion teachers, that are granted more freedom by states in curriculum and hiring, and are often promoted as a way to turn around failing schools.

Critics of charter schools have long argued that any higher test scores were not necessarily attributable to anything the schools were doing, but to the students themselves, on the premise that only the most motivated students and families elected charters. Ms. Hoxby's study sought to address that argument by comparing students who attend charters directly with similarly motivated students -- those who sought to attend charters but were denied a seat through a random lottery. She concluded the charters did have a positive effect.

Charter supporters, including many conservatives, have often cited the school-choice research of Ms. Hoxby, a well-known economist who is also a fellow at Stanford's right-leaning Hoover Institution.

New York City's 99 charter schools are concentrated in poorer neighborhoods such as Harlem and the South Bronx. Some 30,000 students attend and another 40,000 are on waiting lists -- a small fraction of the 1.1 million students in the nation's largest school district.

Ms. Hoxby's study noted a strong correlation between achievement and charter programs with the following practices: a longer school day, merit pay for teachers and a disciplinary policy that punishes small infractions and rewards courtesy.

"We want to make New York City the Silicon Valley of charter schools," says schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who supports lifting statewide caps. "This study shows that when districts aren't antagonistic to charter schools, and instead welcome them, the results are very powerful."

But Ms. Weingarten, the union leader, cited another study this year from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes -- also at Stanford -- that looked at charters in 16 states and found that half did no better than traditional schools, and more than a third performed worse.

Pierina Arias, an Ecuadorean immigrant, turned to the Renaissance charter after her twins were rejected by a private school because they didn't speak English. "I was crying," says Ms. Arias. "I didn't know what to do." The twins won charter admission in a lottery, recently graduated with honors and are both in college, she says.

Patricia Hesselbach won a place in Democracy Prep's lottery for her 14-year-old daughter, Ayanna Mason, now a ninth grader. She had been at a traditional public school and needed to take outside courses to keep up with such basics as reading, her mother says. At Democracy Prep, Ms. Hasselbach says, her daughter is thriving. "They hold them to high expectations, and make sure they have discipline and dedication," Ms. Hesselbach says.

But Cynthia Lee, a hospital manager in Harlem, entered ten lotteries to get her 13-year-old daughter into Democracy Prep and didn't win a place. So, the single mother enrolled her daughter in a Catholic school for $3,100 a year. "I had no choice," she says. "I'd rather pay every last dime than put her in a public school."

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"But Ms. Weingarten, the union leader, cited another study this year from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes -- also at Stanford -- that looked at charters in 16 states and found that half did no better than traditional schools, and more than a third performed worse."

I wonder how many among the 1/3 who performed "worse" were closed. Therein lies the difference. The public schools who perform badly don't close. It will be interesting to watch the CPS schools which were totally revamped as a result of their continuous poor performances.

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I think this article should be posted under General Discussion where it would be more noticed by people who are interrested in Publicly funded education. smile.gif

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I'll move it if you can tell me how.

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Just repost under General discussion as a new topic. I started a new topic under both Political and Winton Woods schools once.

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OK, its moved now.

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From the Wall Street Journal, By JOHN HECHINGER and IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN

The study, led by Stanford University economics Prof. Caroline Hoxby, is likely to fire up the movement to push states and school districts to expand charter schools -- one of the centerpieces of President Barack Obama's education strategy.

Critics of charter schools have long argued that any higher test scores were not necessarily attributable to anything the schools were doing, but to the students themselves, on the premise that only the most motivated students and families elected charters.

"I had no choice," she says. "I'd rather pay every last dime than put her in a public school."

I doubt it is a centerpiece for BO's education strategy, as he promptly tried to close all charter schools in the DC area as soon as he became POTUS. Due to the huge uprising of those whose children attended charter schools in the worst school district in the nation, he decided to let those already enrolled finish, and then planned to close them. Meanwhile, his kids attend an exclusive, private school in DC, the same one Chelsea Clinton attended.

Having a son teaching at a charter school in one of the worst parts of Cincinnati, I can tell you with all honesty, it's not the most motivated students and parents that elect charters. All that really matters to most is if the school is closer to where they live. So the charter schools (some), ARE DOING SOMETHING. King Academy, where he teaches, just received an excellent rating. It is due to the hard work of the teachers, having a great administration, and discipline--something these kids crave, because really, to them, it is attention, and most likely, the only place where they receive any individual attention.

It's a sad struggle for a teacher, and more so for the kids. Typically, no fathers, drug environment, no homework support, and kids left to fend for themselves when school lets out. It is making a difference. Somehow, someway, something that is stable and sure motivates these kids.

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The trouble with charter schools is the lack of accountability in exchange for public funds. Traditional public schools are saddled with all kinds of mandates and accountability requirements.

To my mind, either charter schools have to have the same accountability in exchange for public funds, or the requirements of traditional public schools should be relaxed as they are with charter schools.

Charter schools often cover niches that traditional public schools cannot because of limited resources. I believe that if traditional public schools can have the same freedoms offered charter schools they would do a BETTER job than many of these new, untried charters with the sorts of students charters often serve.

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The trouble with charter schools is the lack of accountability in exchange for public funds. Traditional public schools are saddled with all kinds of mandates and accountability requirements.

To my mind, either charter schools have to have the same accountability in exchange for public funds, or the requirements of traditional public schools should be relaxed as they are with charter schools.

Charter schools often cover niches that traditional public schools cannot because of limited resources. I believe that if traditional public schools can have the same freedoms offered charter schools they would do a BETTER job than many of these new, untried charters with the sorts of students charters often serve.

Three Hats, I completely agree. I wish all public schools had the same freedoms that Charters are often afforded. But Charters also face the real risk of closure if they don't make good use of that freedom, which I think also needs to be a part of the equation. I also tend think that there's something to be said for smaller niche schools that have clearly defined missions and goals as opposed to the sometimes enormous one-size-fits-all schools we often see today.

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Three Hats, I completely agree. I wish all public schools had the same freedoms that Charters are often afforded. But Charters also face the real risk of closure if they don't make good use of that freedom, which I think also needs to be a part of the equation. I also tend think that there's something to be said for smaller niche schools that have clearly defined missions and goals as opposed to the sometimes enormous one-size-fits-all schools we often see today.

AMEN!!! smile.gif

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I agree. The problem, though, is the continuing problem of funding. Smaller niche schools may be more effective, comforting, or whatever, but they are not efficient which is why we are seeing more and more consolidation of schools. You know, scarce resources.

For example, if several small schools need a remedial reading teacher, you may have to hire 2-3 teachers for a job that could be done by 1 if it weren't for time and travel constraints.

And if smaller niche schools are very effective and popular they won't be small for long. As a district tries to scale up that success, they may lose the very essence that makes such a school successful, which then lessens the opportunities for all students who want the benefits. You begin to create exclusivity which is diametrically opposed to education for all students.

They also may not serve the needs of all students as defined under IDEA and NCLB which is a violation of these programs which could result in the loss of funds. Accomodations required for all of these students in smaller niche schools may be more expensive than anyone can anticipate. Loss of federal dollars would lead to higher property taxes that taxpayers are loathe to increase. See the problems?

As painful as the reconfiguration of schools has been here, it HAS served to deliver resources more efficiently. We have an 'excellent' school and improvement in all schools in this district. That is often lost in the rhetoric of 'community' schools.

Charter schools face closure if they don't measure up, but we need to be very careful. If a charter school fails midyear, what happens to those students? We run a real risk of major educational damage as these students are forced to scramble to get into other schools with all the attendant issues.

Right now, the charter program that exists in this state if flabby and inconsistent. It also reduces already scarce resources for the traditional public schools forcing them to ask taxpayers for more tax dollars to pay for them!

The whole apparatus needs to be rethought if it can ever be effective.

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This is frankly amazing. Charter schools in D.C. have grown to the point where they are overtaking the traditional school district.

Why Michelle Rhee Has to Play Tough

By Richard Whitmire, Washington Post

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The forces lined up against D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee -- angry teachers, grumpy D.C. Council members, the nation's top teachers' union leader quarterbacking the opposition -- are essentially asking one question: Why can't you behave more like that nice Arne Duncan?

Indeed, with his aw-shucks humility and his anecdotes about playing b-ball with the president, Duncan has undeniable charm. That charm was honed in Chicago, where he never played in-your-face politics and never publicly suggested there was widespread incompetence among the teaching force, qualities that contributed to President Obama's tapping him to be U.S. secretary of education.

By contrast, Rhee appeared on the cover of Time wielding a broom to symbolically sweep incompetence out of her public schools. Yikes.

But there's a reason Rhee plays hardball: She has no choice.

Running a hurry-up education offense is the only way Rhee can maintain a viable-sized school district that has dwindled to a mere 44,000 students, while the city's charter school population is expected to grow to 28,000 this year. When Duncan was in Chicago, a restrictive state cap meant that less than 5 percent of students there could attend charter schools.

In the District, charters continue to attract more new students than Rhee's schools. If Rhee can't stanch or reverse that trend, her district slumps into irrelevancy, a fact of life that her union opponents seem incapable of grasping. If Rhee falters, the layoffs will continue.

The top-performing middle school in the District is the KIPP KEY Academy, which is staffed by highly motivated teachers, many of them Teach for America veterans. The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) operates seven schools in the District, educating 1,500 students.

The advantages enjoyed by charters, which can pick and choose their staff, are considerable. Among the 1,500 schools in New York City, the top-ranked one on the city's 2007 progress report was Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School. There's just one secret to its success, says Evan Rudall of the Uncommon Schools network, which runs Williamsburg: high-quality teachers. "The best way to find such teachers is by using the latitude granted to charter schools: interviewing hundreds of candidates, both certified and uncertified, to find out if they know their material, are enthusiastic about their subject matter, and can maintain classroom control."

Can Rhee compete with that? Not if she moves at the pace Duncan did in Chicago, where scores on the highly regarded federal test, known as the nation's report card, remained flat. The real question is whether Rhee's hurry-up offense, in which acting less aggressively isn't even an option, will work. The odds are not in her favor.

Earlier this year, as "project journalist" for the Broad Foundation's Prize for Urban Education to honor outstanding school districts, I accompanied an evaluation team to all five finalist districts. Those that have long appeared at the top of the Broad finalist list, such as Long Beach, Calif., and Aldine, Tex., face challenges similar to what Rhee faces in the District and yet turn out a high percentage of college-ready students, something the D.C. schools have never achieved.

These high-performing districts marry frequent testing with tracking systems that follow students in near-real time. The data are passed on to teachers trained to use them through finely honed professional development. In the end, students who don't completely absorb the material the first time around get that skill retaught, sometimes in a different way by a different teacher. And that's just one part of their educational arsenal. In these districts, leaving no child behind is no mere slogan.

Sound like D.C. schools? Perhaps not, but Rhee appears to be moving in all the right directions to get there. (Full disclosure: Rhee wrote the foreword for my upcoming book, "Why Boys Fail.")

There's a sobering note to add. Long Beach, to take one example, started its reforms back in the mid-1990s. Given the delicate politics in the District, the possibility of Rhee's being given that much time is nil. That probably explains her latest strategy: jump-starting reforms by bringing in charter schools -- within DCPS -- to run District high schools.

Her strategy has promise. In Philadelphia, Mastery Charter Schools took over Shoemaker Middle School, which was beset by violence and academic failure. In just two years, a fresh cadre of hand-picked teachers, working with the same neighborhood children who attended that school in previous years, produced startling test-score gains.

That's the irony here. Rhee is a huge fan of high-performing charters. She attended the ribbon-cutting at a new KIPP school this year. "Michelle Rhee embraces anything quality," said Susan Schaeffler, who oversees KIPP operations in the District.

That said, not everyone in city hall sees the charter threat so benignly. Those doubters have a point. Charters do in fact present an existential threat to District schools, which is why Rhee has to match the best charters. And that explains why she can't go slow and easy, why she can't be nice like Arne.

Richard Whitmire is immediate past president of the National Education Writers Association.

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This is great article, again it would be good under general discussion cause public school people don't like this topic header.

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I don't mind discussing charter schools. While they offer promise in some areas, my greatest concern is: How do we provide quality education for ALL students? And I mean the highest of high risk?

If the concept of No Child Left Behind means something, we, as a society, have to find a way to provide and support quality educational services for all students.

If a very high risk student cannot make it into a KIPP school, where is she to go?

THOSE are the kids that use the most resources and show the least results in public schools. And yet we cannot ignore them, can we?

If a district tries hard to provide these educational services at the expense of the majority of students, they risk the sort of backlash that I believe we are seeing in our district and other districts with similar student populations. When a school tries hard and the student comes up short it can result in lower school report cards which are then used to vote down levies, create poor quality perceptions, and divide communities.

Motivated students will succeed in nearly any environment. The struggle is to educate the unmotivated. To get that last kid where she needs to be is very, very expensive. I don't think most people understand this.

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what i find interesting is that what is consistently cited as the reason successful charter schools succeed is the freedom they have in hiring, firing and motivating teachers. sadly, that's what teacher's unions don't seem to see. if public schools had the freedoms that charter schools do, would we see substantive changes? i can't help but think that we would.

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I don't mind discussing charter schools. While they offer promise in some areas, my greatest concern is: How do we provide quality education for ALL students? And I mean the highest of high risk?

If the concept of No Child Left Behind means something, we, as a society, have to find a way to provide and support quality educational services for all students.

If a very high risk student cannot make it into a KIPP school, where is she to go?

THOSE are the kids that use the most resources and show the least results in public schools. And yet we cannot ignore them, can we?

If a district tries hard to provide these educational services at the expense of the majority of students, they risk the sort of backlash that I believe we are seeing in our district and other districts with similar student populations. When a school tries hard and the student comes up short it can result in lower school report cards which are then used to vote down levies, create poor quality perceptions, and divide communities.

Motivated students will succeed in nearly any environment. The struggle is to educate the unmotivated. To get that last kid where she needs to be is very, very expensive. I don't think most people understand this.

So because some kids are so very difficult to reach, we should not do something that is a benefit to so many others. No system is perfect, but when something works, we need to use it. Why can't these methods that work be copied for the majority. Can't charter schools have "special helps"also.

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Threehats is right to be concerned about the most challenging students, but I don't think that this concern is inconsistent with expanded use of charters. In places like D.C., I think what we're seeing is a new decentralized model of public education emerging that could fundamentally transform the way public education looks in the future, as well as provide new competition to private schools. It is true that public education must be made available to all students, but there is no reason we have to keep doing it the same way we've been doing it for the last several decades.

Suppose that, over time, the D.C. model takes hold around the country, and charter schools become the new 'norm', largely replacing the large centralized one-size-fits-all school districts we often see today. Clearly many charters are having great success with economically disadvantaged and previously "unmotivated" students. I see no reason why specialized charters won't emerge that can address non-English speaking student's needs, or the needs of the disabled. And if they don't, then the "traditional" school system can continue to meet these student's needs but in a much smaller, more focused setting where they don't have to be everything to everybody all at once.

I think there will always be some demand for big school systems with their expansive services and elaborate facilities. But I think people would be surprised by how many families would trade fancy facilities and extracurricular programs for simple academic excellence and the ability to find a niche program that best fits an individual student's needs. Change can be unpredictable, uneven, and downright frightening. But in public education, so is the status quo.

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No, I think you're selling short that those involved in the educational community do not see that point. To the contrary, I think they appauld it.

I know this isn't necessarily the point of your original post, but the definition of "Charter School" isn't not really transferable from state to state. What one may be in New York is not how they are in Ohio.

Charter schools in Ohio have been and will be for forseeable future a political football put in play by then Gov. Voinovich (who also was the author of HB920 but I digress). What was EXTREMELY disturbing was that political supporters of his were given the first few "franchises" handed out to White Hat Management (a large financial supporter of Gov. Voinovich). White Hat Mgmt. - Feel Free to Check the Ratings for any Life Skills Charters in Cincinnati or elsewhere

Unfortunately, the history of Charter Schools in Ohio has been one of extreme and documented financial mismanagement and a scholastic failure. What may surprise some of you is that some of the more successful exceptions have been charter schools established by public schools.

Currently the State of Ohio has been reevaluating existing charters and have not allowed additional ones until they can get a better handle of who is running them and making them accountable for success, not just a profit angle from taxpayers hard earned money.

Locally, about $1.4 Million from the Winton Woods District taxpayers (your money) goes to charter schools. Of these schools, none perform better than ours and in most cases far from it. Two years ago the District attempted (and was successful to the tune of $200,000) to verify that those students going to charter schools "saying" they were residents (thereby taking $5,000 with them) were in fact non-residents. The district got our hand slapped and was told by the State to cease that activity.

Success comes in many forms. But accountability with the taxpayers money must go both ways.

Just wanted to add my two cents worth.

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No, I think you're selling short that those involved in the educational community do not see that point.  To the contrary, I think they appauld it.

I know this isn't necessarily the point of your original post, but the definition of "Charter School" isn't not really transferable from state to state.  What one may be in New York is not how they are in Ohio.

Charter schools in Ohio have been and will be for forseeable future a political football put in play by then Gov. Voinovich (who also was the author of HB920 but I digress).  What was EXTREMELY disturbing was that political supporters of his were given the first few "franchises" handed out to White Hat Management (a large financial supporter of Gov. Voinovich). White Hat Mgmt. - Feel Free to Check the Ratings for any Life Skills Charters in Cincinnati or elsewhere

Unfortunately, the history of Charter Schools in Ohio has been one of extreme and documented financial mismanagement and a scholastic failure. What may surprise some of you is that some of the more successful exceptions have been charter schools established by public schools.

Currently the State of Ohio has be reevaluating existing charters and have not allowed additional ones until they can get a better handle of who is running them and making them accountable for success, not just a profit angle from taxpayers hard earned money.

Locally, about $1.4 Million from the Winton Woods District taxpayers (your money) goes to charter schools.  Of these schools, none perform better than ours and in most cases far from it.  Two years ago the District attempted (and was successful to the tune of $200,000) to verify that those students going to charter schools "saying" they were residents (thereby taking $5,000 with them) were in fact residents.  The district got our hand slapped were told by the State to cease that activity.

Success comes in many forms.  But accountability with the taxpayers money must

go both ways. 

Just wanted to add my two cents worth.

As a proponent of Winton Woods public education, you should take time to edit your posts.

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As a poponent of Winton Woods public education, you should take time to edit your posts.

He must edit because he is a "poponent" of WW Schools? wink.gif

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laugh.gif I have always said I needed a spell check on here. Especially when I can't find my reading glasses. I am just a lowly resident.

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Or maybe a "pop"onent of Coca Cola or Pepsi..?? blink.gif

What is it that I'm supposed to edit?

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Because you asked, compare the quote to your original and edited post. You missed only two mistakes, I think. I fixed mine too.

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.

Currently the State of Ohio has be reevaluating existing charters and have not allowed additional ones until they can get a better handle of who is running them and making them accountable for success, not just a profit angle from taxpayers hard earned money.

This is good. I just hope the state is looking at the the other states' schools that work to see what works and why.

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Because you asked, compare the quote to your original and edited post. You missed only two mistakes, I think. I fixed mine too.

What, are you my mother? Geez Hayden.....really. blink.gif

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