Re: Fw: Charters Exclude the Most Challenging Students
- Regarding charter schools, and their use of public money for private purposes, here is a quote that was on the New Schools Venture Fund (www.newschools.org) a couple of years ago. I couldn't find the quote on the website recently; I think they removed it from their website after I posted it on another forum. This is the organization that runs Leaderhip, Inc. in WCCUSD.
"To be effective in a $500 billion industry, solutions must leverage public dollars, not just great ideas...In this way, our invested capital can pave the way for public funds to have a greater impact."
--- In email@example.com, Charles Rachlis <crachlis@...> wrote:
> --- On Sat, 3/21/09, moderator@... <moderator@...> wrote:
> From: moderator@... <moderator@...>
> Subject: Charters Exclude the Most Challenging Students
> To: PORTSIDE@...
> Date: Saturday, March 21, 2009, 12:15 AM
> [Change.org -- for which Higgins and Grannan are
> regular bloggers -- is the continuation of the Obama
> presidential campaign. -- moderator]
> Charters Exclude the Most Challenging Students
> By Sharon Higgins and Caroline Grannan, public school
> Published March 17, 2009
> President Obama admires charter schools and has called
> for opening more in the United States. Though we trust
> that he has students' best interests at heart, we also
> believe he is badly misinformed.
> Charter schools get overwhelmingly positive press and
> make a lot of claims about their success. But actually,
> numerous studies confirm that their achievement is
> indistinguishable from that of traditional public
> schools. Some are very successful, some are troubled
> and struggling, and the rest are somewhere in between -
> just like traditional public schools.
> One of the boasts by their proponents is that charter
> schools enroll "the poorest of the poor." But is that
> accurate? We're urban public school parents (Caroline
> is in San Francisco and Sharon is in Oakland, Calif.)
> who see the insides of schools in our day-to-day lives,
> and we recognize why that claim is misleading.
> The truth is that charter schools may enroll some very
> low-income students, but they do not enroll the very
> troubled, high-need, at-risk students who pose the
> greatest challenge to public education. (There are some
> specialty charter schools specifically for juvenile
> offenders or other defined groups; we are not referring
> to that type but to general education charter schools.)
> Enrollment at all charter schools is, by law, entirely
> by request. No student is assigned to a charter school
> by default. That means "self-selection" occurs at all
> of them, inherently, by definition.
> That is, parents who care about their kids' education
> enough to make the effort to learn about and request a
> school are the ones whose kids attend charter schools.
> Parents who don't have it together to pay attention,
> care, or take action to try to improve their kids'
> education do not choose charter schools. Thus their
> kids -- obviously likely to be the most challenged and
> challenging -- are left in the traditional public
> Parent #1: Even though she is low-income, she has a
> relatively stable income. She also has extended family
> and/or community support. She is lucky because she
> happens to not be prone to substance abuse or mental
> illness. Even though she has always been poor, she has
> had the good fortune to acquire enough information and
> inspiration in life to permit her to adopt parenting
> values more aligned with America's middle-class. This
> results in her regularly, and consciously, making her
> very best efforts at raising her children with an
> educationally-minded approach.
> Parent #2: She is also low-income, but her week-to-week
> existence is very unstable, some years worse than
> others. She is highly stressed and perhaps has a degree
> of untreated mental illness (likely mild to severe
> depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder). She
> also has substance abuse problems, ranging from either
> mild or severe. Her family and/or community support is
> weak, or abusive, and her parenting takes second place
> to moment-to-moment survival. Her life has been highly
> socioeconomically restricted, so she has never known
> anyone who could have modeled any different parenting
> style for her. In terms of her children, she is not
> very educationally-minded, because she has never
> learned what that approach is all about.
> Which parent is more likely to seek a charter school?
> Which parent will be more likely to "appropriately"
> respond to teachers and report card results? Which
> parent will be more likely to turn off the TV and
> remind her kids that homework needs to get done? Which
> parent will still be sleeping at 8 am, leaving it up to
> her children to get to school on time, if at all. Which
> parent will be moving from apartment to apartment with
> her children in tow, year after year?
> The husband of one of the authors of this post works
> with the indigent people living in Alameda County,
> California, who have been charged with crimes. Every
> day he deals with parents who have been charged with
> drug possession, prostitution, and other crimes. These
> are the types of parents who aren't likely to be
> researching the best charter schools for their
> children, and filling out all the forms. These types of
> parents are not the majority in Oakland, but they are
> quite numerous nonetheless. Their children are enrolled
> in Oakland's traditional public schools.
> This is what charter school self-selection is all
> Charter advocates' usual response to this explanation
> is to deny that there is such a thing as families that
> are less motivated and stable. They claim that "all
> parents care enough." All we can say is that those
> people need to get out more.
> And what about the question of whether charter schools
> actively pick and choose their students? Charter
> schools are supposed to admit everyone and choose by
> lottery if they have more applications than seats.
> However, does anyone believe that there are regulators
> somehow watching over the entire enrollment process,
> from receipt of the applications to the implementation
> of a lottery, if any?
> If a charter school chooses to conduct itself this way,
> it is free as a bird to "not have space" for applicants
> who appear undesirable for whatever reason. It's amply
> documented that charter schools all over the country,
> overall, dramatically underserve special education
> students, for example.
> Charter advocates will counter that traditional public
> schools can manage to not enroll or to "counsel out" a
> challenging student too. Sure, but that student is
> still the responsibility of the public school district,
> and will land in another school run by a colleague of
> the administrator who managed to deny/remove the
> student. If a charter school contrives to not enroll or
> get rid of a challenging student, it never has to set
> eyes on or give a thought to that student again.
> San Francisco's most successful charter school, a high
> school, requires a 9-page enrollment application --
> including transcripts; teacher recommendations; an
> essay; and signed commitments to behavior, academic
> effort, volunteering and so forth by the student and
> parent. Then the administrators claim to put all the
> applicants in a "blind lottery." It strikes us as
> exceptionally naive to believe those applicants aren't
> being screened.
> But even parents who give the school the benefit of the
> doubt in trusting that it runs a "blind lottery" agree
> that the application process serves to weed out those
> who are not highly motivated.
> An interesting book, "Hard Lessons" by Jonathan Schorr,
> a former journalist who has since gone to work in the
> charter-school world, follows the founding and first
> year of an Oakland, Calif., charter school, the
> Ernestine C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts. The
> book is pro-charter in tone, but it still portrays the
> school deliberately rejecting special-education
> And yet, despite the advantages of serving a student
> population that is predisposed to be higher-
> functioning, charter schools overall do not show higher
> achievement than traditional public schools. So why do
> they win such acclaim, including from the Oval Office?
> It's a mystery that we'll explore in later posts.
> Photo by Thomas Hawk
> Sharon Higgins has been an active public school parent
> in Oakland, California, since 1993, and blogs at The
> Perimeter Primate. Caroline Grannan was an editor at
> the San Jose Mercury News for 12 years, and is now the
> education writer for the SF Examiner. She is a San
> Francisco public school parent, advocate, and volunteer
> and has followed education politics locally and
> Portside aims to provide material of interest
> to people on the left that will help them to
> interpret the world and to change it.
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