'Not different' enough

A Pennsylvania school board rejected renewal of a high-scoring charter school on grounds it wasn’t different enough from district schools. Lehigh Valley Academy offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum. One school board member said she voted against renewal because she had a ”philosophical” problem with charter schools.

About Joanne


  1. Very sad. Once more, choice is taken away from parents and students.

  2. In many towns in our state, schools are complaining that the kids should not be allowed to go to ANY charter schools because the public schools are rated as “High Performing” on the state’s standardized tests. This is in spite of the fact that you have to have some “angle” or different concept to start a charter school and get it past the state’s educational hierarchy. A school that sets higher standards has not and will not be allowed.

    However, if you look at the actual tests and scoring needed to achieve their “High Performing” status, you will find that it is pathetically simple. Look online at the NAEP sample questions and results to get an idea. In addition, our schools admit that there is a problem with an “academic ceiling” – they are working on it. They live in a dream world of full-inclusion, developmentally appropriate, mixed-ability grouping, thematic, top-down learning with no pull-out or gifted/talented offerings. This is educational tracking by age that uses fuzzy expectations, spiraling and social promotion. No wonder 25 percent of our K-8 students go to other schools at great cost. It’s OK that these kids of affluent parents go to other schools to get a better education. They just don’t want the poor to do the same thing. Our schools know that there is an “academic ceiling” problem, but they are getting great public mileage from their “High Performing” status.

    There are major differences of opinion over what constitutes a good basic education and everyone (the non-affluent, that is) is forced to accept the public school’s version. The state educational hierarchy, who mandates public schools’ no pull-out, full-inclusion, standards-based education; defines the standardized tests and sets the “High Performing” criteria, controls the acceptance and review of charter schools. There is more than a little bit of conflict of interest here. They put great restrictions on charter schools and then are quite happy to see them fail. Most of the charter schools in our state have quite peculiar charters, which is the only way they could get them approved. Some of them have what are called “un-schooling” approaches. Some of them are designed for students that the public schools don’t want anyway.

    I don’t know the details about the charter school described in the article, but the comment that

    “… she had a ”philosophical” problem with charter schools. ”We reviewed the school and said we didn’t think it was a proper charter school for our area,” Koch said. ”There is absolutely no way I can vote for this.”

    is quite telling. The battle is not just about standardized tests and expectations, it’s about the philosophy of what constitutes a good, basic education, AND, who gets to decide. It surely isn’t the parents.