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Re: Fw: Charters Exclude the Most Challenging Students

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  • reducingandreusing
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 23, 2009
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      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 wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.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
      > parents
      > Published March 17, 2009
      > <http://education.change.org/blog/view/charters_exclude_the_most_challenging_students_part_1>
      >
      > 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
      > schools.
      >
      > 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
      > about.
      >
      > 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
      > students.
      >
      > 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
      > nationwide.
      >
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