Christie Defunding Proposal, Jersey JazzMan & Inaccurate Data on Charter Success

I think charter cheerleading keeps us from having a real conversation about the structural problems related to race and economic inequality in America.

Woah, JerseyJazzman. This and other amazing gems in his scathing post about Chris Christie‘s plan to defund already underfunded public schools and the inaccurate Christie supporter who spews inaccurate data about schools to make charters look like they simply outshine public schools fair and square. 

“The Walmartization of Public Eductaion”

Here’s a fantastic article about the Walmart Family Foundation’s expanion of their hellbent support of charter schools. If you don’t want to read the whole article, skip to the last few paragraphs. The author, Valerie Strauss, makes a key point. She essentially says it doesn’t matter if you’re pro or anti charter schools. It doesn’t matter if you’re in between. What does matter is where each community stands on the matter and due to the Walmart Family Foundation’s heavy funding, with no regard to what communities want, this is just another example of the Man forcing his own, self-centered beliefs on (in this case) a mass group of people. As Strauss questions, how is this democarcy when a hanful of people are deciding our country’s educational future?

S.A.’s Got-to-Go List’s Lawsuits

Success Academy refused to provide a five year old with adequate services to address his learning disabilities. Instead, they sent him home for early dismissal and called his parents nearly every day because he ciolated the Academy’s Code of Coduct. What’s more is that even after he the school formalized a plan that could remedy his disabilities (at least to a certain extent), they refused to actually put those simple remedies, such as deep breathing tactics and taking short walks, in place. They did not want to bend their strict Code of Conduct, which entails sitting upright at all times. Eventually, I.L.’s (he’s called I.L. for privacy) parents were told that I.L. was “not a good fit” for the school. I.L.’s parents removed him from the school.

I.L. was one of the students on the Sucess Academy-Fort Greene’s-should-be-infamous “Got to Go” list, which targeted students with learning and behavioral disabilities for permanant removal. His parents are suing the school, which is fantastic because now we can get a closer look at the gross injustices that students with learning disabilities face at militaristic charter schools. But it’s sad that Success Academy, with all its resources, doesn’t truly take the time  to help them. The initial idea behind charter schools was for them to work more closely with kids who have learning and behavioral problems. It’s clear by this list that Success Academy only cares about the students who are “willing to learn.” It also adds to the idea that charters push out the “bad” kids and use the public school system as a “dumpsite. Read more here.

Video: “Shake Off Those Charter Chains!”

I’m not entirely against charter schools. In part, I simply wish that they acknowledged they are doing harm to the public school system and that the public school system should remain relevant.

We are giving up our tax dollars to not elect those who run our schools. How can that be right? I agree with advocates for charter schools when they say the bureaucracy in the public school system needs to change. But I don’t think we should give the public school system to a system that, say for example, doesn’t give teachers any kind of union protection. What’s more is that there are politicians, like governor John Kaisch of Ohio, who ignore the fact that students are failing in some charter schools but continues to give those schools more tax dollars AND not require that these schools be subject to public audits…there’s obviously a motive that does NOT favor the children of Ohio.

Schools are schools and one system should NOT actively hurt the other…there’s something morally wrong about that. Instead, they should be working as a community.

With that said, take a look at this  exaggerated-not-so-exaggerated-video on how charter schools have a negative impact on public schools:

Diane Ravitch on TFA’s Anti-TFA Campaign

In a reaction post to a Washington Post article, Diane Ravitch questions Teach For America’s anti-TFA campaign:

“Does TFA believe that a recent college graduate with five weeks of training should be responsible for children with disabilities? Do they think no special training is necessary? Are they saying that people who earn an M.A. or a doctorate in special education have wasted their time?

Does TFA ever reflect on its constant boasting? Does TFA ever feel a little bit ashamed of claiming that any TFA recruit is superior to an experienced teacher? Do their recruits have nothing to learn?”

You don’t realize how self-involved a organization can be until they spend at least a half a million dollars to ignore some of their most hurtful and obvious flaws. Diane’s questions highlight TFA’s undeniable damage by weaving their ill-prepared, yet well known, way of “training” their mostly temporary teachers into her poignant questions.

Wendy Kopp is aware of what her organization is doing. She’s just selfish and doesn’t want to accept the fact that  her organization does more harm than good. TFA seemed like a great idea and it was started based on what I believe to be good intentions, but those intentions are no longer good. TFA’s leadership is holding onto pride, control, power, money and a disgusting ego.

Penn Charter Network Systematically Cheated

After years of accusations and multiple investigations, Chester Community Charter Schools officially received confirmation that it systematically cheated on state exams. The sad part about the following expert is that the cheating coincided with the year the charter network was endanger of facing penalties for three consistent years of not meeting Race to the Top’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirement on state exams. The other sad issue is that Chester received more funding than its traditional counterparts, but Chester students performed just as poorly.

The Notebook, a Philadelphia newspaper, reports:

“PDE [Pennsylvania Department of Education] then spelled out strict testing protocols that the school said it would follow, including 24-hour security cameras where the tests are stored and in all classrooms in which students take them. In addition, PDE sent outside monitors to supervise all test administrations.

Through its history, CCCS [Chester Community Charter Schools] struggled to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the test score and performance targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school made AYP in 2004 but then fell short for four years in a row from 2005 through 2008.

A fifth year of failing to meet targets would have triggered sanctions under NCLB, including a potential change in management.

The scores climbed in 2009, and for three years in a row, through 2011, they were high enough for the school to earn Adequate Yearly Progress status, an indicator that enhanced the school’s credibility in the Chester community. The school’s enrollment saw continued growth.

After the strict test protocols were put in place in 2012, proficiency rates at CCCS plummeted by an average of 30 percentage points in every grade and subject. In letters to parents and the media, the school blamed the drop on budget cuts.

Since then, scores have remained low – similar to scores of some Chester-Upland district schools.

That district has been in dire financial straits for decades, most recently exacerbated by its huge payments to CCCS and two other charters.”

LA Charter Teachers Try to Unionize

In an article featured in the Wall Street Journal, Alliance Teachers’ continue their fight to become unionized.

Summary

Alliance College-Ready Public schools are trying to start a campaign that will lead the charter network’s teachers to be apart of the Los Angeles’ largest teachers unions. The network says the lack of a union is prominent reason why 95% of the network’s students go off to college. While Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, says that Alliance (and all charter school teachers) should be offered, among other thing, the right to more transparency (charters operate like private institutions).

My Initial Thoughts

The network misses the point. While it’s great that 95% of students go off to college, their teachers, a huge creditor to to this success, are saying that there thoughts, ideas and voices are NOT being heard and the culture is NOT one where they can comfortably express grievances without fearing their job is on the line.

My Biggest Issue with Alliance Teachers Joining the United Teachers Los Angeles

Unions acknowledge the fact that teachers have needs but a 369 page contract is too much and would defeat the purpose of Al Shankners’ vision of charter schools. At the same time, a teacher’s desire to try new content, make insightful curriculum or internal policy suggestions should not be muffled by non-educators who are on the school’s board of directors.

My Opinion

The charter network should work with teachers, UTLA and other independent charter specialists to create a new, independent charter that would find a solution that tries to meet the teachers’ needs and maintain the school’s success rate. It won’t be easy, but, at the very least, it takes the teachers seriously without having to compromise the network’s most effective policies.