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Charter schools rep disputes discrimination claim (Washington Examiner)

Six students returning to IPS “could not be served because the school did not provide the student with the needed special education services,” White said. Five students were homeless. Failing to serve homeless students violates federal law. Failing to serve special needs students violates state and federal laws.

Simnick said Department of Education data showed charter schools don’t discriminate. He said a high number of students move to and from urban public schools, including charters, because parents change jobs or move their families to different parts of town.

"I have yet to hear a single parent come forward and say a charter school is denying them access to the services they require," Simnick said.

And here’s someone who doesn’t fully understand. There are plenty of people who won’t complain about something like this, because they already feel disenfranchised, they don’t think anyone will listen, they don’t think it will do any good, or they don’t realize they have the right to do so. Just because no one complains doesn’t mean everyone’s happy.
White last week apologized for his comments in a radio interview that IPS, unlike charter and private schools, cannot turn away hard-to-educate students.

When charter schools get too picky (Washington Post)

Yet somehow its average SAT score has risen to the top tenth of one percent among all public schools nationally. Less than ten percent of its students are low-income, compared to 40 percent in its city. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the school is allowed to ask (not require, its principal emphasizes) that every family donate $3,000 and 40 hours of volunteer time a year.

Charters spend public money. They should do everything possible to convince parents their doors are open to all, as long as that doesn’t get in the way of the deep and imaginative teaching that they are there to provide.

Here’s the thing: public schools can’t “require” anything of parents. Sometimes they get slammed in the media for even “asking” things of parents. So you’re really not comparing apples to apples, no matter what charter schools say. (I’m not saying charter schools are bad. I’m just saying that it’s really hard to make comparisons on goals and academic success when there are so many variables that can’t be attributed directly to the education a child is receiving 8 hours a day.)

Charter School Champion Shifts Focus

But Mr. Barr organized Green Dot schools to operate with flexible contracts for unionized teachers that allow management to seek schedule and other instructional changes not permitted in traditional union agreements.

For more than a year, Mr. Barr has been in discussions with school and union officials in several cities, exploring ways of extending his vision of overhauling schools nationwide.


Trouble in the land of charter schools

New financial questions raised at charter school (Star Advertiser)

Oshiro’s sister, Kurumi Kaa­pana-Aki, is vice principal of the elementary school and also works as a full-time flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines. Kaa­pana-Aki’s son, Andrew Aki, has been the school’s athletic director although it has had no sports teams for two years. He and his brother, Zuri, the video teacher, were hired several years ago with just high school degrees, and Zuri earned his associate’s degree in digital media last year. A third brother works as a clerk. Documents submitted to the panel noted that no other applicants were considered when each family member was hired.

Although school officials pleaded with the panel to stop its investigation for fear it is harming the school’s reputation, new questions about financial management came up yesterday in connection with an independent financial audit of the school’s books for the year ending June 30.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing On Charter School Bill (Channel 3000)

Wisconsin has the seventh-most charter schools in the nation. The bill would create opportunities for more.

However, some question how funding will work and whether there’s a need for a new system.

"Putting in more bureaucracy and more laws is not going to solve a problem that exists in only some parts of the state," said Lake Mills teacher Sandy Whisler.

Newark Parents Protest Charter Schools in Public Buildings (NBC New York)

"It simply makes no sense for some Newark public school buildings to sit half-empty while public charter schools are forced to use their scarce operating dollars to seek and pay for private facilities," said Cerf.

"Space has never been a reason to fight,” she said. “Your child not getting a good education, that’s a reason to fight."

Same Kids, Same Building, Same Lies (TFU)

Pretty amazing and convincing that all we need is harder working teachers to overcome poverty and turn failing schools into wildly successful ones.  Unfortunately, it’s a lie.  This is what happens:  Charters exaggerate (lie) about their stats then the stats get used to convince politicians and billionaires to change public policy.

If he was going to give just one example of a school that worked, couldn’t he have come up with even one that was a genuine success in the whole country?

Transylvania County School Board balks at education bill (Blue Ridge Now)

Under Senate Bill 8, which seeks to remove limits on how many charter schools can exist in North Carolina, charter schools would be able to receive some of the state grant monies that public school systems are given for programs such as Head Start, More at Four, JROTC, Free and Reduced Lunch. Funding for these programs include fees paid by parents and governmental subsidies.

Also, charter schools would be allowed to tap into money that it did not have to write grants to get, but that a public school system employee applied for, said Transylvania County Schools Superintendent Jeff McDaris.

Links on Charter School, Closing Public Schools & More

Parent Trigger

Strengthen and straighten out state’s parent empowerment process (Silicon Valley Education Foundation)

We know from research and experience that the most meaningful parent-engagement strategies are those that are thoughtfully implemented and that focus on building the knowledge and capacity of parents to be full partners in education. This includes helping parents and community members build stronger working relationships with their schools and district staff and leaders through a collaborative process.

If It Quacks Like A Duck — Thoughts On The “Parent Trigger” (Engaging Parents in School)

One exception to this perspective is what community organizers call a “slash and burn” strategy, which is being used by Parent Revolution in support of the parent trigger.  Using this methodology, a group (generally one that has recently received a large amount of grant money to work in low-income neighborhoods) hires plenty of staff and throws “time” at a community. Often, the group  has few connections, if any, to the community that is chosen.   By going door-to-door, talking  to and visiting with people often enough, the staff can provide the glue to bring individuals together for a short time to get something accomplished on a single issue (and get headlines for the organization).  After that initial success is completed, however, the group will generally dissipate and the staff will move on to another neighborhood.   The  neighborhood social capital, largely built up with outside staff, seldom sustains itself.  It is different from the kind of social capital built by people themselves in organizations that they themselves have built — congregations, block clubs, ethnic associations, etc.

Parent trigger misfires by disrupting and dismantling local schools (Silicon Valley Education Foundation)

As urban public school parents and advocates, we support true parent empowerment and involvement, and effective, research-based reforms such as smaller classes and increased parent participation. But the parent trigger doesn’t promote sound practices for school improvement. It benefits corporate charter school operators – not children.

Closing Schools

Detroit district proposes offering 41 schools to charter operators (CNN)

"Rather than simply closing schools, this plan seeks to transform DPS … by recruiting some of the best, proven school operators," Robert C. Bobb, Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager, said in the statement.

Bobb said the plan would keep students at their current schools while possibly generating $21.85 million in lease revenue.

In the event a school does not receive a qualified proposal, the school will close, and its students will be transferred to nearby DPS schools.

Panel Votes to Close 10 City High Schools (NYTimes)

Since the mayor took control of the system in 2002, more than 90 schools have been closed, many of them large, persistently struggling high schools that the city deemed unable to quickly turn around. The old buildings eventually became home to small schools and charters that, in many cases, do better than their predecessors. But studies have shown that the most difficult students have tended to gravitate to other large high schools, which then were marked for closing themselves…

Compton parents sue school district over charter (Mercury News)

The lawsuit called the process “burdensome and intrusive” with no precedent. It is also designed to intimidate parents who may be illegal immigrants, the suit added.

Teachers union officials said the action in Compton was misplaced because reform was already under way at McKinley. Test scores have risen 77 points during the past two years through a teacher-led program to improve reading and math, according to the California Teachers Association.

Parents allege in the lawsuit that the district has dragged its heels on responding to the petition and that teachers have mounted a misinformation and harassment campaign leading some parents to rescind their signatures.


Closing Public Schools: A Truly Bad Idea (Diane Ravitch)

A study of the closing schools by the city’s independent budget office found that these schools have disproportionate numbers of the city’s neediest students. One begins to get the sense that students who are homeless, who don’t speak English, who receive special education, or who have other high needs, are bounced around from school to school.

I oppose the closing of public schools (except for under-enrollment) for a simple reason. Public schools are not chain stores. They are not shoe stores that can be closed when they don’t turn a profit and be relocated elsewhere. They are a public service, a public good. It is the obligation of public officials to provide good public schools in every neighborhood, not to privatize them or to act as an umpire whose role is to judge them defective and shut them down. If those who are in charge can’t help struggling schools, shame on them. (Charter schools are a different matter, as they sign a contract and agree to meet certain goals or close.)

Every time a public school is closed, it should be considered a failure of the central administration. The leaders who close the most public schools are the biggest failures. They should be held accountable for their incompetence. Good leadership in education means taking responsibility for making things better, rather than sitting back and monitoring how schools perform. Good leaders should be recognized for the schools they improve. Bad leaders close schools because they are incapable of helping them.

Love Never Fails: Why We Shouldn’t Give Up on Public Schools (Teach Moore)

Some are calling for our society to divorce itself from our moral obligation to provide quality, public education to all our children. While I highly respect those parents who choose to educate their children at home or pay for private education, I believe public education is essential for our nation. I humbly add myself to the long list of Americans who share that view.

Problems With / At Charter Schools

Charter Schools Raise New Questions of Segregation (Sacramento Bee)

"We aren’t shying away from talking about the educational struggle that African American students are having," said Fortune, who runs the Fortune School of Education, a teacher and principal credentialing program. "To fix it, you have to name it. We want to be part of the solution."

A key question for critics of the model is whether a school aimed at one race or ethnicity feels accessible to students from other groups.

Reform: Another Questionable Urban Prep “Success” Story (This Week in Education)

But the school’s graduation rate isn’t really 100 percent.  Roughly 40 kids of the starting class of 2011 didn’t make it through at, an issue raised on my blog and in the WSJ last year.  Some transferred to other schools, perhaps even to good ones. But others likely didn’t.  There’s no mention in the latest Tribune story about the dropout rate…

L.A. Unified set to renew charter contract despite evidence of cheating (LA Times)

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Education is scheduled to act on a staff recommendation to reauthorize Crescendo’s charter, giving the organization another five years to operate. Senior L.A. Unified officials said they are satisfied that Crescendo’s governing board took appropriate steps after the cheating was uncovered.

In the end, no one was fired, not even John Allen, the founder and executive director who orchestrated the cheating, then denied it had taken place until confronted with overwhelming evidence, according to district documents and officials.

The case underscores a periodic dilemma: What kind of transgression is egregious enough to shut down a charter school?

Cheating scandal at charter schools leads California association to withdraw support (LA Times)

At Tuesday’s meeting, the association’s representative had supported a milder response advanced Monday by incoming L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. That plan would have given a one-year charter extension for the two Crescendo schools nearing the end of their current charter authorization. Four other Crescendo schools, which also participated in the cheating, would not have been immediately affected.

By Tuesday’s board meeting, Deasy had adopted a harder line, calling for an investigation before a charter renewal would be considered. The school board went further, voting for a shutdown, citing both the nature of the cheating and Crescendo’s response to it, noting that no one at Crescendo had been fired.

Staffing, special ed shake-ups at charter school (Gloucester Times)

At the same time, he said the school still does not have a director of education, and will not immediately replace a departed director of arts integration, a position that Knowles noted was “important, obviously, to an arts-integrated school.”

Two Troubled Charter Schools Are Quietly Put on Probation (NJ Spotlight)

One of the two put on probation is Trenton Community Charter School, a school that has long struggled with low achievement levels. Last year, just 42 percent of its eighth graders passed the state’s achievement test in reading, and that was the high-water mark. The low point was just 15 percent — one in seven students — passing in fourth grade.

But that was just the start. The school was cited for not having proper services for students with disabilities or even a full curriculum in place and available to teachers.

The other school placed on probation is University Academy Charter High School in Jersey City, located on the campus of New Jersey City University. Its list of concerns was even longer, although more in the depth of programs than outright deficiencies. They included concerns about the quality of professional development for teachers, the need for revisions of its curriculum and the lack of effective ways to track student achievement through data collection and other means.

Positive Charter School News

Sacramento County board approves 5 charter schools (Sacramento Bee)

Fortune’s charter proposal calls for a new K-8 to open each year, with each school opening as a K-3 and growing a grade level each year.

The charter school system would feature two K-8 schools feeding into a high school within the Sacramento City, Elk Grove, Twin Rivers and Natomas school districts.

Fortune said Tuesday night the heart of education reform is reaching students the system has failed. “We have to change the destiny of African American students,” she said. “The consequences are so dire.”

Some evidence shows students at charter schools make bigger gains (Indystar)

An Indianapolis Star analysis of the most recent state test scores shows charters do not achieve stellar marks, but there is some evidence their students are making stronger gains.

"No matter how you do it, the data doesn’t say charters are a smashing success," said Jonathan Plucker, an Indiana University researcher who studies charter schools. "They have not reached the potential that we were promised."

Overall, they argue, charters are doing the job they were designed to do — steadily raise student scores beyond where they would be if those students had stayed in traditional public schools.

Charter school recognized nationally (Berkshire Eagle)

On Wednesday, school officials announced to teachers that EPIC will award educators and administrators at the school with individual financial rewards in exchange for working with the program to document and share the practices and teaching methods that lead to students’ success.

"The entire school community — faculty, staff and students — works hard every day to achieve the kinds of student gains EPIC is recognizing," said Julia Bowen, executive director of the middle and high school.

Miscellaneous Links

Nothing extraordinary about charter schools’ formula for success (TribStar)

I wanted to see if I could sense the charters’ freedom from bureaucratic and regulatory restraint, the aspect of charters that is supposed to make them better than conventional schools.

What I found is irony.

I think charter schools have hit on the recipe for a good education: keep class sizes small, hold students and parents accountable for their actions, and get rid of those students who are problems. What could be simpler?

Could “micro-charters” be a way to fuel charter-school growth? (HechingerEd)

In “micro-reach,” an existing charter management organization (CMO) starts a relationship with a teacher who works in a regular school district but who wants to use the CMO’s program in his or her classroom and partake in the CMO’s professional development. Bryan Hassel compared it to how Starbucks sells its products not just in its own stores but also in grocery stores, on airplanes and at the local Barnes & Noble. It’s a way to “reach customers without setting up a whole new school,” he said.

In the “micro-chartering” scenario, an individual teacher could get a charter for his or her classroom. Or a community organization with 40 kids in its part-time after-school program could get a micro-charter to work with them on a full-time basis.

The Arrogance Of Bill Gates — Part Two (Larry Ferlazzo)

Here are a few comments he made when he visited the Washington Post yesterday:

“There’s almost no profession that you could say that the 2011 practitioner may not be any better than the 1920 practitioner, and teaching I think is the only profession you can say that about. …

Republican school vouchers proposal may violate Minnesota Constitution (Minnesota Independent)

During testimony on the bill in the House Education Finance Committee Monday evening, it became clear that some advocates of school vouchers — supporters call it “school choice” — had issues with the program.

Let's Not "Reform" Public Education

Hess - and the corporate reformers, such as Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee  - present the public with a false choice: that there is, on the one hand, the “status quo,” one that doesn’t work, and, on the other, their “reform” movement, which is the only pathway out of our morass of mediocrity. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has unquestioningly bought into this limited conception of educational reform.

But most of all, “reform” is a gracefully ambiguous term - formless, even - one that implies an urgency, a need for discipline, for fixing, but it is a term that doesn’t suggest what, exactly, is wrong. The word “reform” is an empty shell, one that could suggest any number of problems, innumerable diagnoses - without identifying a single one. Thus, the listener can insert whatever idea she likes into “reform,” whatever she thinks is wrong with the schools, whether it is “bad teachers” or unhealthy school lunches.

Advertise on On Upper West Side, Hurdles for Charter School

The Upper West Side is home to some of the best public elementary schools in the city, some of which are now so crowded they can no longer absorb all of the children who live in the zones that they serve.

But beyond those few highly regarded schools, most of the district’s schools do not score well on tests and have been largely shunned by the middle- and upper-middle-class families in their zones, the demographic Ms. Moskowitz was playing to in the gathering on West 99th.

The Students’ Safety Net

In light of today’s strong national advocacy for charter schools over “failing” traditional schools, it is unfair that the traditional schools are the ones responsible for absorbing students when charters shut down.

While school choice is welcomed, we must understand that the traditional schools (particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul where many charter schools are located) often bear the burden of charters’ mistakes and shortfalls.

Traditional schools work to adapt placement changes. They will do what’s required to ensure every child who needs a seat in the classroom receives it. The public needs to realize that the traditional schools act as a safety net for charter schools. Students do not magically continue on with their studies. Instead, traditional schools are the schools stepping in when charter schools fall short.

Charter schools should not decry traditional schools and at the same time expect the traditional schools to be the public education’s support system. Education leaders must readily acknowledge that there may be a time when the charter school’s safety net is far too outstretched to provide for students, who are ultimately the ones to suffer academically.

NAPCS Releases Annual Ranking of State Charter Laws; Race to the Top Helped Some States Improve

Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country’s 41 state charter laws and scores how well each supports charter school quality and growth based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS’ model charter school law.

The 10 states with laws shown to best support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, Georgia, District of Columbia, Louisiana and Utah.

via MN Department of Ed

North Minneapolis charter school won't open until 2012

Despite pressure from the Minneapolis school district to open as soon as possible, the charter school’s directors need extra time to make connections and build partnerships on the North Side, board chairman Russell Mosley said.

Far too often charters try to open before they are ready and live to regret moving ahead prematurely. We are going to do this right,” Mosley said.

Minneapolis has lofty goals for the charter school, which they hope will provide solutions to dismal graduation rates and bring back students who have fled north Minneapolis for suburban districts or other city high schools. The school is based on the model of Noble Network, which has 10 charter school campuses spread across Chicago.

Most charter schools bank on two years of preparation before opening their doors, Mosley said. Before the decision, Minneapolis College Prep was on a 14-month timeline.