Posts Tagged ‘Charters’

Ain’t That a Shame; Charters Get No Love

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

A study just came out that debunks Arne Duncan’s Close the Failing School and Everything will be Hunky-Dory Theory.  According to Education Week:

A majority of Chicago students affected by school closings were sent to schools that were low-performing, just like those they left behind—moves that had no significant impact on performance for most students, a study released todayRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader finds…

“Certainly, when schools were closed for academic reasons, the idea was to try to change their educational prospects and what they might obtain. Unfortunately, we didn’t find that,” said Julia Gwynne, a senior research analyst with the consortium and the report’s co-author. “The main reason why that seems not to have occurred was because most students did not attend schools that were substantially better than the ones that were closed.”

Charter proponents will say that that will change once students are herded into fabulous “no excuse” learning factories.  But what to do about those pesky regulations?  Again from EdWeek:

(LAUSD Superintendent) Mr. Cortines’ (public school giveaway) rules have also sparked concerns from charter operators who say that their autonomy—a hallmark of the publicly financed schools—is threatened, so much so that many may decline to participate.

One of the biggest sticking points is the district’s requirement that outside operators provide slots to children in the neighborhood where the schools are located, essentially enforcing an attendance boundary for charters.

That could imperil eligibility for private and federal charter school grants because rules for securing those monies often require charters to do admissions by lottery, said Jed Wallace, the president of the California Charter Schools Association. Charter operators are also balking at the requirement that they use district-provided custodial and maintenance services, rather than having their usual flexibility to buy those services on the open market.

Damn! You mean our charter heroes will be hamstrung right off the bat? Just imagine: making poor charter operators educate kids from the hood! And forcing them use those low-class district custodial and maintenance services. Does that mean charters would be forced to contend with the likes of Jullisa, the cafeteria supervisor at our school?  Lady stands outside the cafeteria everyday making sure all the kids eat: “Come get your breakfast.” What if they don’t want to get their breakfast.  Did she ever think of that?

And what about these stick-in-the-mud San Fernando Middle School parents?

However, some parents likeAna de Jesus and Laura Baz, who are part of the Parent Community Advisory Committee for District 2, which SFMS is part of, are weary of charter and pilot schools.

“They want to bring a plan they’ve implemented somewhere else, but they’re not paying attention to our specific needs,” said de Jesus, who attended this week’s meeting at SFMS. “We want the schools to continue with the LAUSD and that they give us the opportunity to modify some things.”

“My kids all went to public schools and are now in college.

Public schools do work, you just have to find a way to make them work,” she said.

Sheesh! What sore heads. As said Jed Wallace, the president of the California Charter Schools Association, warns:

“If things stay the way they are now, we will lose the interest of most of the charter applicants, and what a shame that would be…”

You said it, Jed (he agreed with a note of glee in his voice.)  What a shame.

Another Reason to Love (and Save) Our Public Schools

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

A school in New York is taken over a by a charter that gets rid of a school library with a legacy of volunteerism and community TLC. Could your public school be next?

Figueroa Street Elementary School

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

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Today a map came out in the LA Times of the 250 schools in LA Unified that are being opened up to charter takeover. One of the schools is Figueroa Street Elementary School where, in 1996, Alfredo Perez, a 30-year-old fifth-grade teacher, was hit in the head by a stray gang bullet. Here’s how the LA Daily News reported it:

A stray bullet fired in a gang dispute crashed through a school library window early Thursday and critically injured a teacher as his fifth-grade students watched in horror.

The 23 terrified and crying children in the Figueroa Street Elementary School library dove for cover or made their way outside as their teacher, Alfredo Perez, 30, fell to the floor.

“Everybody was screaming and running, and there was blood,” said a somber 10-year-old Maria Ochoa as her baby sitter picked her up from the South Los Angeles school. “I was crying, and thinking he was dead.”

And the LA Times:

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Maria Ochoa, 10, one of Perez’s 23 students, said her teacher was sitting in a chair when she “heard a very loud noise like someone was hitting something very hard.

“I was very scared and I couldn’t move from my desk,” recounted Ochoa, who had been reading a book about rocks. “Everybody was running around and shouting.”

She looked up to see Perez still in the chair, a bullet hole in his forehead and blood trickling from the wound.

He was much loved, worked in one of the worst neighborhoods in LA, and two years later, after making a partial recovery, he returned to the scene of “the accident,” as he called it, to participate in a safety event.  Again from the LA Times:

Deeply religious, Perez, who can walk slowly without a cane, credits his faith for his recovery.

“If I speak to someone that does not know about God, I just tell them to hang in there because it can be a cruel world,” he said as he sat on a love seat next to his wife, Virginia. “Sometimes you’re dealt a good hand. Sometimes you’re dealt a bad hand. I was dealt a bad hand that day. But thanks to God and my wife and the support, I’ve come a long way.”

I’m not sure where he is now; I don’t think he ever made it back to teaching.  But if he were still teaching at Figueroa there would be a good possibility that he would be losing his job very soon.  Figueroa is a failing school, according to the Board of Ed, and therefore a candidate for charter takeover.  Since many charter corporations insist on firing entire faculties before taking over a school, it is quiet likely that all of the teachers at Figueroa will lose their jobs.  How many other Alfredo Perezes are among them, dedicated educators who put their lives on the line to teach in LA’s worst schools?  And not just at Figueroa but at all of the schools on the takeover list?

But I almost forgot.  The problem with schools isn’t poverty, gangs or violence.  The problem is crappy teachers.

I wonder what Alfredo Perez would think about that.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Discrimination

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

This rigorous and nuanced Denver Post article is a balanced look at how charters exclude children with disabilities in Colorado:

For example:

• “Excellent”-rated Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy in Colorado Springs lists 2.19 percent of its 778 students as having individualized education plans, or IEPs, which address a student’s special needs.

The school’s enrollment form asked whether a student had ever received special-education services and said “failure to disclose an IEP will result in the nullification of enrollment. Enrollment with an IEP is subject to district review and approval.”

School officials changed the wording after an inquiry by The Denver Post.

• “Excellent”-rated Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, recently noted in Newsweek as one of the nation’s top high schools, lists 3.84 percent of its 1,405 students as having an IEP.

• “Excellent”-rated Classical Academy middle school in Colorado Springs lists 3.73 percent of its 429 students as having IEPs.

Enlightening to me was this section on incentives to district schools, systemic problems which may prevent charters from serving children.

Most Colorado charters pay upfront for a share of the district’s special-education programming, which may be incentive to keep those special-ed students, programming and dollars in district schools.

Most large Colorado school districts also have centralized special-ed programs to serve students with more intense disabilities.

Charters do not have these center programs, so students who may need more help are directed toward the district’s center schools. This means most charters rarely serve students with anything higher than a moderate disability.

In Colorado, at least two charter schools have been developed to focus on students with disabilities — the Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden and Vanguard Classical School in Aurora.

Vanguard was founded in 2007 by Cerebral Palsy of Colorado. The school’s model is focused on full integration of students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers.

Students are not pulled out of class for services. Special-education teachers help out at every grade level.

“The rap generally out there is that (charters) cream the kids, but that’s not true,” said Rob Miller, director of operations at Vanguard.

“Charters do not have these center programs.” Does this mean special day and RSP classes? If it does charters need to start providing them. FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) is not an option. It is guaranteed by federal law.