The Road Not Traveled: Tracking Charter Schools Movement

On the back page of Education Week this week is my essay about charter schools, including a trip down memory lane back to the meeting in Minnesota in 1988 where the dream took shape. I hope all of you will go over to Ed Week’s website to read it (subscription required), but, before you do, bear with me because the ground keeps shifting under this movement, even as many things remain the same.

I’d like to raise two issues: 1) quality control and 2) persistent opposition.

Charter Schools & The Roads Diverging

For one thing, the Obama Administration is embracing charter schools (or ‘chartered schools’) with great enthusiasm. Now, it’s true that Education Secretary Arne Duncan adds a qualification, saying that they support ‘good charter schools,’ but that strikes me as, for the moment anyway, an empty distinction, largely because of an absence of ways of measuring quality.

It’s true that egregiously bad charters get shut down, but mediocre ones keep plugging along, doing just as much damage to kids as mediocre public schools. But what the charter school proponents don’t seem to realize is that these mediocre institutions are also damaging ‘the movement.’ I’ve heard them (and you know who you are!) say that mediocre public schools aren’t punished, as if that justifies not closing mediocre charter schools! It doesn’t, precisely because the charter school advocates are claiming to be different.

I think that charter schools risk becoming like schools of education if they aren’t careful. How many of the 1400 or so schools and colleges of education are excellent? I’d say 50 but, if you want to argue for 100, I’ll go along with that. But are the 100 excellent ones doing anything to get rid of the 500-700 that are dreadful? If they are, it hasn’t made my radar screen.

I think that, for the charter movement to succeed, it must take the lead on setting high standards and then enforcing them.

Is that realistic? Is it happening somewhere?

A second issue I didn’t cover thoroughly in my Ed Week piece is the issue of opposition to charter schools. Everyone knows that unions have fought against charter schools because they’ve seen it in their self-interest (teachers in charter schools don’t have to belong to unions). But, guess what, local school boards have been as great a roadblock, and in some cases, even fiercer opponents. They go to court to keep charter schools from opening or expanding. Why? It’s about money and control, as far as I can tell. But if the demand exists for charter schools, why wouldn’t elected officials whose mandate is education be supportive?

Just yesterday in the neighboring town of Los Altos, California a county judge ruled against a charter school and in favor of the local school board. The charter school had sued because it wanted to expand to include 7th grade and needed space. Forget for a minute the particulars of that case and ask yourselves why it wanted a 7th grade? Could it be that parents of 6th graders wanted to keep their children in the charter school? And why is it that school boards are so hostile to success? Shouldn’t they be trying to figure out what that successful school was doing, so they could copy it? That was the hope of charter schools, that they’d be incubators.

If you and I both operate restaurants, and my restaurant is drawing a crowd and yours isn’t, wouldn’t you want to know why? Wouldn’t you think seriously about changing some aspect of what you are doing? Or would you sue me?

What can be done to change school board behavior? Is it all about money and power? What am I missing?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


When Roads Diverge: Tracking the Charter Movement [Education Week, 12/2009]

How New York City’s Charter Schools Affect Achievement [The NYC Charter Schools Evaluation Project, 09/2009]

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30 thoughts on “The Road Not Traveled: Tracking Charter Schools Movement

  1. John: You packed more naivete into 620 words than any college Freshman I ever encountered: 1) Bad charters go out of business; 2) Arne Duncan only supports “good charter schools”; 3) only 50 or maybe 100 colleges of education are “excellent”; 4) unions and school boards are threatened by charter schools. Poppycock! There are plenty of really bad charter schools continuing to operate and the “virtual charter schools”–the latest invention of Bill Bennett and corporate America–are a joke. Arne Duncan wouldn’t know a good charter school from a dreadful one; all he knows is that the Administration owes a debt to a couple of organizations that got out the vote for Obama and are making money off of the charter schools. And you don’t know 50 colleges of education, let alone know them well enough to judge whether they meet your personal standards of excellence. And maybe those school boards and unions are really shocked at the sham schools popping up in the charter movement and, yes, would like to see them stopped for the sake of the students.

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  2. Generally well-made points. Question: how do we begin to seriously evaluate what is quality education? Or, to be specific to this case, what is quality education in Charter Schools? Can we quantitavely, or even non-quantitavely, systematically and comparatively assess the quality of schools? The operational definitions used to asses quality should be the same with charter schools and non-public schools. Just having more students want to come to your school, or your store, does not mean the quality is there. I know of someone who was a very, very successful junk jewelry salesman. His by-words: “Junk easily outsells the quality stuff.” Sadly, even in the case of restaurants, McDonald’s will almost always get a lot more customers than that great quality restaurant up the street that does not saturate its patrons with junk food. Think about this, please, before saying that we know quality education when we see parents sending their children to X school or X and Y schools, etc., in ever-greater numbers.

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  3. John:
    Pleaase read the independent research on charter schools. Perhaps one of the reasons “the movement” is not taking off is that the peer-reviewed empirical evidence doesn’t support their efficacy. As for the NYC charter study, go to epicpolicy.org for an analysis of this study by a Stanford professor. The research design was fatally flawed. Bill Mathis

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    • very good, Bill. I’d be interested in looking at your sources. I am not sure what is ‘right’ for society and have an open mind.

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  4. It is largely about money and power – and real estate. A group of parents looked into creating a charter school in my Westchester (upper middle class) community and were quiety asked by the real estate agents why we wanted to ruin our home values. Also, school boards are famous for attracting people with political agendas. My guess is that the school board didn’t want to lose their power. Which is exactly what should happen.

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  5. The first thing that should not happen is to allow the definition of quality to be reduced to test scores – for charters or any other school.

    More immediately to your post, John: The example of a restaurant is terrible. Schools are (still, most of them) public spaces, part of our (endangered) social commons. Restaurants are private.

    Public schools serve the common good through common ownership and decision making. That is one of its great contributions to society and to democracy, the other being the education of citizens. Both are often not done well. Both, but paraticularly the latter, become arguments for charters. However, the evidence is that charters are on average worse, based on test scores.

    But the first issue pertains to democracy and the role of common spaces such as schools in maintaining a democracy, and in part to how to exercise that well in face of often problematic school boards, low voter participation, etc. But that discussion is rarely raised, drowned out by proposals to eliminate or greatly curtail the power of school boards, or to the effective replacment by corporations (charters).

    It seems that as schools are increasingly defined in only instrumentalist and economic terms (I just read a truly awful ‘vision statement’ for MA’s schools). The ideas of schooling for democracy heads toward disappearance. The marketization of control over education is the parallel phenomenon leading to the elimination of schooling as democracy. There are those (e.g., Fred Hess) who pretty much equate the market with society and thus marketization with democracy. I find him quite unpersuasive, in part because ‘free market election day’ is about dollars not one person one vote. (Yes, I know money greatly impacts elections.)

    In sum, we need to look at both the educational quality of charters and whether they produce real improvement (they don’t, as a whole). Even if they did, that would still not address the question of the privatization of effective control of public space. Even is one is willing to trade better outcomes for loss of democratic control, how much better (by what measures) should they be to give up what sort of democratic control? That is not a way to frame it I would support, since I am not supportive of further erosion to democracy, but framing it that way might lead to further questioning of the role of charters in a nominally democratic society.

    A final note – I agree there are excellent and truly innovative charters. A few pose no harm to democracy and could spur innovation, something that has not been built into the system.

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  6. A number of years ago, I had the pleasure to be part of a new charter preschool in Southwest Washington DC. AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter (“ATELPCS”) was the first preschool in the district. Success didn’t come easy; but, the board and our leadership were determined to make it happen. We all recognized that the revenue from the district on per student basis was adequate; it left very little room for error. As such, the board launched a masterful business plan and fundraising campaign, which continues today. The business plan combined with their continuing fundraising efforts has allowed the school the chance to grow as well as begin to acquire suitable space for those who attended. Yet, as ATELPCS pressed on to pursue the goal of 500 students by 2010), they have experienced one road block after another from the school board to local community representatives. The district and its school boards may talked the talk about charter schools, but I question if they are truly committed to providing an alternative to a public school system that is in distress or just paying lip service in hopes that we will fail.

    Even with all the stories of failure, there are continuing great stories of success. For example, the Seed Schools, Kip Schools and an emerging school in Harlem – the Village Academies of Harlem. The key is press on when all tell you to stop. To succeed against all odds, it takes passionate people (board, senior management, faculty and staff) to make a charter school to carry the cross. This however must be combined with a good business plan, including strong financial model, and a bit of luck (corps of arch-angel investors – i.e., donors) to make it happen.

    John-keep up the good work. We need more like you to carry the word forward.

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    • Once again, the charter schools that are experiencing success have staff that must work 70+ hour weeks in order to be marginally successful. I’d like to see if the original members of the staff and board are there 15 years later or if they have moved on to more lucrative positions where a 40 hour work week is normal (thanks to Unions). 15 years from now, are those schools enjoying continued success?

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  7. John, I think the bigger question is how to replicate the truly good charters. A new Education Sector report on Charter Management Organizations–especially in its original incarnation as written by Tom Toch–examines the many barriers even the best CMOs face in replicating their best charter schools without diluting those schools’ quality. These barriers go far, far beyond school boards. They include the very high cost of running the best charter schools, the need for costly central offices that begin to look more and more like school districts, and acute problems in finding limitless supplies of eager young superstar teachers who are willing to work for less than their more experienced peers while sacrificing any semblance of family life. These are big structural problems that receive far too little attention in current discussions of reform.

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  8. I’m curious why we are so hostile to the idea that one good and moral purpose for unions is to join together to create rights and conditions that we cannot get if we are in competition with each other. The 40-hour week, for example. Or minimum wages as well as set trade wages. Unions protect us from a race to the bottom. They offer security–which is one of the human needs that I honor deeply. So, of course, it is harder to organize 500 separate schools than develop a contract for a school system. In many northern European countries unions help set industry-wide wages and working conditions. That might be useful. Because if half the teachers in a city are working 50 hour weeks and 11 (instead of 10) month years for the same or less wages it makes it harder for the other fifty-percent to maintain their standard of living. It’s not just a hunger for dues, its a hunger to do the job that unions are created to do. To protect their members.

    They also present principals from hiring people because they “like” them, or because they are recommended by friends, or seem docile, and/or fire them for similar reasons. Unions are a help–but based on personal experience even they usually lose if a principal and superintendent are determined enough to get rid of a person–for whatever reason. As often as not for personal reasons, or because the teachers is a “trouble-maker”.

    But my concern over charters goes beyond the risks discussed above, risks of further destroying the only part of the labor movement that has survived 30 years of assault.

    The question is who is accountable for the whole–every last child. That’s the purpose of public schools. Alas, the way charters have evolved it no longer seems to me that they accept that commitment, that definition of public’ness. They more and more resemble the “system” they were organized to disrupt–but without the same responsibility. We are not talking about innovative mom&pop stores, but large national companies, licensed by the state to operate with public money and very little public oversight or responsibility.

    Charters could have become more like the “pilots” in Boston had we moved carefully together without using them for other purposes–such as busting a large public union, lowering the wages of teachers, ending “governmental” monopolies, dividing the public into competing “publics” etc. The immediate constituents of the school make fewer and fewer on-site decisions, and are less and less accountable to each other than under the mindless system that I assumed charters were intended to change.

    What next? Fire departments Police? We’ve already begun to privatize prisons–maybe we’ll call them charter prisons?

    Schools can be the centers of a revived public life,or another symptom of a disintegrating common purpose.

    But it needn’t be. There’s a good idea in charters, one that is well-implemented in many cases; but unless we are all willing to rethink this together they will lead us where few want to go.

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  9. John: Provocative piece. On the quality issue, there’s been a considerable shift toward “tough love” among the leadership of the charter movement in the past few years, and it’s just beginning to show up in numbers. NACSA (the authorizers’ group) points to a dramatic drop in the percentage of new approvals between 2003 and 2008 — it’s getting a lot tougher to get a charter in the first place — as well as a striking increase in closures (either revocation or non-renewal) as well as a shift toward non-renewals for purely academic reasons. In Ohio this year, about 16 charters will shut down as a direct result of legislation that Ohio and national charter leaders asked for in 2006 (and yes, it takes time to compile the record on which to take action). The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has committed to increase overall quality both by encouraging replication of high-performing models and by working with states and authorizers to get more aggressive in closing low-performers.

    But you can’t just wave a magic wand. One of the reasons the National Alliance created a new model state charter law is that in many states, the rules for intervention are opaque — and some authorizers don’t take action because they fear they’ll get sued. So states have got to hold these authorizers harmless if they do their job right.

    I’m no fan of “mediocre” charters either — but we need to distinguish between malingerers and schools that are struggling through startup, or that are pinched for classroom resources because they’re paying 20% of income for facilities in a state that provides nothing. The preponderance of charters are in the mid-range of performance, and they need equitable funding and technical suppport to keep on an upward trajectory. It’s a serious mistake to think that only a small group of charters are succeeding.

    Finally, a word about whether and how charter are “public:, an issue raised in several posts. Charters are public schools, open to all, and accountable not only to the state and to their authorizers but also, and directly, to parents. 90% of charter authorizers are, in fact, school boards and the rest are entities given this responsibility through state law. Public charter schools are very much part of the “public space” and in many ways are more open and accountable than traditional public schools.

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  10. As usual Debbie Meier asks important questions about charter schools — and makes the most important suggestion: that we “rethink this together.” Like you, John, I was in on discussions with Joe Nathan and others about the charter idea in the 1980s, having just published a book urging public education to build “choice” more into its thinking, but warning that this must be accompanied by an increased attention to “voice” to restore the public and democratic aspects of public education that have been weakened by its over-bureaucratization.

    I remain a strong supporter of charter schools if properly conceived and implemented as a means for improving public education, but I am dismayed that states (which control this issue) have too often let charters develop in ways that work against public education. And this has happened at least in part because public school advocates have too often just tried to fight the charter idea instead of helping to shape it.

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  11. I would like to second Gene Glass’ question above: What is the evidence for the claim that only 50 or 100 schools of education are excellent and that more than 500 are abysmal? If that is more than simply one journalist’s impression, there is a responsibility to be clear about the criteria and specific about where readers can go to evaluate the evidence for themselves. I’m not part of a school of education, so that’s not my issue. I am part of a university, and we hear these sweeping claims from media pundits on the right all the time. I’d like to see Learning Matters set a high standard for providing publicly accessible evidence when making such broad claims.

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  12. The continued assertion that charter schools are run by boards that answer to the public is simply not true.
    I know who the local school committee members are; I know how they were elected; I know what they stand for; I know how we might vote them out.
    I know nothing, beyond names, of the board members of local charter schools. I have no idea how they are elected/appointed/co-opted on a annual basis. How are they replaced? Is there a system in place for removing someone? To whom do they answer and how?
    Much in the way that unions are too often represented as “only wanting to preserve their power” rather than working to protect their members from harm, this representation of these mysterious boards as somehow being a better or more representative body rather than the publicly elected school committee is deceptive, to say the least.

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  13. Our group, Parents United for Responsible Education, did a study in 2008 of accountability in Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 schools, which are predominantly charter schools.
    (http://pureparents.org/data/files/FOIAreport11-16-08.pdf)

    Fifty-seven schools or charter networks were sent Freedom of Information Act requests for board minutes, membership lists, and by-laws. Even after follow-up letters from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, more than two-thirds failed to respond to our FOIA requests. We concluded that these schools have no governing bodies, which violates the law and Chicago Public Schools policy.

    Within the smaller set of 18 responding schools/networks, we found, among other things, that only 7 of the 152 board members of the responding charter schools are parents, or less than 5%. The by-laws of most of the schools were in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

    Our research certainly does not support the claim that charter schools are “more accountable” to the public.

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  14. First, the ed school issue: Arthur Levine has done some solid work on the issue of quality, and there’s plenty of evidence about the academic performance of those applying to schools of education. I have also interviewed too many teachers to keep track of over 35 years who were dismissive or even contemptuous of their training. I think we ought to make it harder to become a teacher, which would mean raising standards. I share a view expressed by Debbie Meier years ago: don’t trust teacher educators who don’t spend a lot of time in real schools.

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  15. Now, chartered schools: First, it’s nice to be attacked by both left and right.
    But did Kevin, Gene and other critics read my piece in Education Week? If so, how can you assert that I ‘swallowed’ Hoxby’s research?
    Gene, I think that your resorting to Ad Hominem attacks says a great deal about the strength or weakness of your arguments.
    In Ed Week, I tried to lay down a challenge to charter supporters, because I fear that the promise of charters will be lost

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  16. Thanks, John, for the Arthur Levine allusion. Can you cite a book or some articles that would allow readers to see whether Arthur Levine used appropriate crtieria and had publicly accessible evidence? On interviews with teachers, I recently spent some time reading reader reviews (on Amazon) of Willingham’s recent book, “Why don’t students like school.” A couple dozen readers said they liked his book better than what they were taught in education school. That’s interesting to know, but it is not credible evidence. I bet lots of current defenders of public schooling could say they have interviewed many people who felt well prepared for their work as teachers. If we want evidence-based teaching practices, then let’s have evidence-based criticism of educators.

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  17. John… I enjoyed this post and your Ed Week article. You are asking good questions and raising points that we all need to consider.

    Dan… The following website has materials about the Education Schools Project, led by Arthur Levine. The research is pretty compelling.

    http://www.edschools.org/reports.htm

    Julie… Your survey sounds interesting. Were you able to survey board members overseeing district schools? I think that would be the only way to see if charter network boards are more or less responsive than district boards.

    Tracy… I definitely respect your views. But why does school accountability need to take the form of voting or be legitimized with a “board”? When it comes to accountability for schools, board voting is an ineffective mechanism and boards themselves are often saddled with mission creep and tend to be nonresponsive to less-empowered families.

    Charter schools reallocate power, restructure governance, and give parents leverage. That’s the basic promise.

    If a charter school doesn’t meet the needs of a student, the family can move the child out of that school. In most cases, the same cannot be said of parents with children in district schools — unsatisfied or unhappy with a school situation, then they are frozen in the system and stuck.

    Charter schools increase parent power (with choice) among other competing interests. They also level the playing field by more equitably distributing power among parents (e.g. lottery if oversubscribed). Teachers and school leaders have fluid working arrangements. All of this is inherent to the charter school model.

    Within the governance of district schools, well-resourced parents and special interests capture power. We can’t ignore this if we want to talk about real reform in public schools. Parents have leverage in a charter school. Such leverage is more often siphoned way in a district school. All of this is observable.

    The reallocation and more equitable distribution of political power remains the best promise of the charter school movement. Good research and media anecdotes tell us the following are more likely (but not guaranteed) to happen after such a power shift:

    – better school governance
    – more flexibility to adapt and work with the surrounding community
    – more innovation within school
    – more co-production (ie. parent voluntarism at/around the school)
    – diffusion of successful innovations across schools
    – increased responsiveness and customization to student needs and parental preferences
    – academic performance gains

    Just my view, but when we talk about reform in education that can have impact and scale, we need to always consider the essential role of parents/families and subsequent power arrangements around schools, districts, boards, and the state system. Imperfect as they may be, charter schools currently reallocate power in a constructive way for parents, teachers, and principals. That’s the fundamental promise, and good outcomes are more likely to follow.

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  18. There is no black/white conclusion for this issue. Good teachers are found in public,private, and charter schools. Good teachers sometimes give up on their institution after too many years fighting for better resources,better administration,better school boards. We, as citizens, need to value education and become active in all aspects of our educational system. Do not waste time and effort on criticizing; get active.

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  19. Oh, the silos … Fundamental truth, I believe: Students in the USA are not doing well when compared with students from other companies. Fundamental truth I believe: With the emphasis on standardized tests, the lack of alighment of teaching pedagogy with effective learning research has only become worse due to the time utilized to teach to and practice for “the test.”
    Personal opinion: Until we use the standardized tests as measures of how individual students are learning AND as guides to how the efforts with those students are made; until we see that true assessment means lots of oral feedback and portfolios are the only real way to know how effective student learning is; and until schools of education begin to lobby local, state, and federal education officials to insist that change must happen AND align there curricula with the eduational research, nothing will improve – in spite of good ideas and some promising outcomes such as charter schools.

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  20. After teaching in public schools for over ten years and with verifiable progress for student gains, I accepted a position in an open-enrollment charter school – which means that it was supposed to adhere to the same rules and regulations as public schools. The next year was an eye-opener and I discovered that a charter school can be a rogue organization that: 1) hires non-certified, non-highly-qualified people to pose as teachers – and to falsify the reports to the state and feds; 2) falsify ARD documents and choose tests that students should not have taken (meaning that they were taking tests for severely MR students when they should not have); 3) Testing irregularities were routine, compromising the data; 4) Threats, retribution, and mistreatment – not to mention downright illegalities – were perpetrated against the few certified teachers that were on board; 5) high school graduates with no experience were hired to “run” the campuses; 6) No bid process was required for any types of services or in the purchase of anything; 7) board members of the “charter holder” were appointed by whom? the founder? the existing board members?; 8) nepotism was rampant, with entire overpaid families on the payroll – with no obvious job description; 9) No textbooks – there were copies provided by companies a decade ago for examination – no purchased materials were available; 10) Basically, they were thumbing their noses at the Texas Education Agency – because they know that reporting and following the law is an honor system – and they have none.

    The illegalities are too numerous to list, but you get the gist. How do I know? Master’s in Education with seven certifications, including a Principal’s certification…lots of experience, knowledge, and outrage – now – to see my tax dollars being garnered by low-life crooks. The victims? Students, teachers…taxpayers.

    The system is flawed. I know of few charters that are working – and if the student scores are high – I highly suspect testing irregularities. My vote is NO.

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  21. Thanks to John Merrow for his continuing demand that schools – whether district or charter – be expected to improve student achievement and operate in a fiscally responsible manner. Having been a inner city public school teacher and administrator, as well as PTA president, I’ve seen wonderful and woeful things in district and charter public schools.

    I see the charter movement, at its best, as an expansion of the civil rights movement, in which some of us participated. It’s worth noting that Rosa Parks spent part of the last decade of her life trying to help create charters in Detroit. Some African American and white families have asked for help in creating a charter in Topeka, Kansas, in the school building Linda Brown was not allowed to attend, leading to the Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Case. Linda Brown’s younger sister has helped with this effort. Sadly, the local school board in Topeka turned down this request (and I’ve seen the proposal, which was terrific).
    The hostility of some professional educators towards charters of the hostility many educators in NYC and I faced 30 years ago when we began trying to offer options within public education.
    Merrow is absolutely right that there are some abuses – way too many – in the charter movement.
    But I think his defense of the idea and of some of the strongest charters is absolutely right.

    Joe Nathan, Director
    Center for School Change

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  22. Thank you Deb:

    The race to the bottom has begun across this nation. The number of teachers who are losing their jobs for, whatever reason the principals can come up with (which is not always a total truth; or worse, set ups for failure is already in the works. Because of the initiatives we have been handed with districts drooling over much needed funding, teahers in inner city schools all across America are being run into the ground. At the same time, their colleagues in more affluent neighborhoods are busy peacefully protesting for a long overdue cost of living wage. What they don’t realize is that the iner city schools are falling apart due to NCLB. Money has been taken away from them because their students don’t make the grade. This is not the teachers faults for the most part. It is a systemic problem plaguing inner cities. The economy is bad. Unemployment is high. Absenteeism is at an all time high. The audacity of hope, I’m sorry, I voted for him, but it’s the tenacity of apathy for the students, the tenacity of test scores for the administrators who don’t want to lose their jobs (or schools), which spreads to stress on teachers to “teach to tests”. The scores will come out and be abyssmal. The teachers will be blamed, fired, the charter school movement, nation-wide is already sweeping in and circling like vultures over these schools.

    I’m making it up perhaps? No. I’m living it. In this type of environment students are coming to school to be with their friends, they don’t care about classes, they’re fighting daily, and the administration looks the other way until the testing is over: now. All of a sudden, the teachers are letting the kids get out of control when all during the “test prep” months, you couldn’t find the principal. Now, he’s everywhere writing up teachers. Teachers don’t trust each other. It’s political. Old veteran teachers make too much money; find an excuse to dog them and make them retire or quit. New teachers are easy to fire in the first few years–get them. Hire subs to teach these kids for the next three months and then bring on the charter schools.

    Do I sound paranoid? Let’s wait and see. I think not.

    Just Want To Teach My Subject, Not a Test–Honestly, I don’t know the difference and perhaps there is merit to the charter schools movement. But, in the meantime, a lot of teachers are going to end up in the hospital with heart attacks, and chronic depression for doing something they have a passion to do–work with kids in the inner city. Unions matter. Thanks Deb!

    There’s a reason you’re tops in the field!

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  23. Let’s cull the crowd some more! If I can not afford your five star restaurant or do not have the appropriate attire, I’ll end up eating beans and rice at home or sitting at Wendy’s for a baked potato with broccoli. Charter schools can deny access to the least educable students who, often, are also the poorest in society. Charter schools are problematic for a society where DEMOCRACY and not corporatism is supposed to be a driving in how we manage our social and political lives.

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