NY Times vs. charters

CharterBlog blasts the NY Times’ edit calling for more regulation of charter schools.

The state legislature is considering lifting the cap on charters, and it just might happen. A strong contingent of Black and Latino Democratic members from the city wants more charters for their kids. This confounds and scandalizes the NYT. But rather than attacking charters in New York, they go after charters in other places. They know they’d be quickly embarrassed if they argued that chartering hasn’t worked in NYC.

The edit mentions charter problems in Michigan and Ohio, suggesting the states aren’t monitoring their many charter schools. CharterBlog writes:

But the inconvenient truth is that charter schools are not only revitalizing public education in Detroit for the first time in 40 years, they are also outperforming comparable public schools statewide.

Here are some more doozies from the Times: “Promising charter systems are few.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. It also claims that charters as a whole aren’t performing as well as traditional public schools. Again, not true. Then there’s this one, “some states have opened so many charter programs so quickly that they can barely count them, let alone monitor student performance.” Really? What about the recognition that CMU (that’s right, Central Michigan University) has gotten for charter oversight?

Of course, the Time’s solution has been tried time and time and time again: “better” teacher and principal training, more teacher pay, metal detectors, school uniforms, etc. And the achievement gap remains. The brilliance of chartering is it allows new systems of instruction, governance, curricula, and culture to be tested and held accountable for results. And the results are great and getting better.

Center for Education Reform says the Times is using dubious data and ignoring more recent research.

Chalkboard also observes the Times’ reluctance to write about charters in New York, which are doing well.

Once again, the NY Times is weighing in on an important topic impacting New York charter schools without ever comparing/contrasting the reality of New York’s rich local experience with chartering. Rigorous oversight? Closing bad schools? Been there, doing that.

School of Blog asks two questions that occurred to me: Why does the NY Times hate charter schools so much? And why does the Times characterize charters as “private” schools?

Cory Booker was elected mayor of Newark this week, a city where the schools are so bad that the state took control 10 years ago — and the schools remain awful. Booker is a strong supporter of school choice,, including charter schools. What’s the New York Times’ plan for improving Newark schools? More metal detectors? More regulation?

Update: Eduwonk says it’s impossible to generalize from one state to others on charter regulation: Some states, such as Ohio, have problems; others, such as New York, are closing charter schools that don’t boost academic achievement, which is better than the Times thinks it is.

In most states charters are posting faster gains than other public schools which means that in a few years the charter picture is going to look a lot different. In addition, though I’ve only seen this data in a handful of places, if you throw out the lowest performing charters and a comparable number of the lowest performing public schools, the charter to traditional public school comparison looks a lot more favorable to charters. Why? Well in no small part because of what The Times gets at, in some places a lack of oversight has resulted in some really shoddy schools opening up. Why is this important? Because politically the time horizon issue is the driving force behind the “kill them in the cradle” strategy we’re now seeing from the AFT, NEA, and others (and yes, I know, I know…they support charters with all the right conditions….spare me, more on that BS later).

Eduwonk thinks the Times is trying to influence the National Governors Association to adopt an anti-charter policy.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Joanne wrote: “And why does the Times characterize charters as “private” schools?”

    I cannot speak for the paper of record, but charters are private schools, not because of their admission policies, but because of their expulsion policies. Call it counseling out, non-reenrollment, opting out, or out-and-out discrimination — as this report alleges http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes/ci_3783854 — charter schools have unchecked, unreported, unparalleled powers of expulsion. No doubt this benefits their individual school community and the learning that occurs there. No doubt it is a critical aspect of being a school of “choice.”

    There is also no doubt that it substantively separates them from the public schools that are mandated to educate everyone, regardless of extenuating factors. Charter schools are free private institutions that also receive public money, in the same vein as many so-called private colleges and universities that are allocated funds from local governments. Of course they are private; let’s all stop pretending otherwise.

  2. ragnarok says:

    Interesting abuse of the English language as usual, TMAO, a charter school is a “private school” because you want it to be so.

    Never mind these definitions:

    “a school established and controlled privately and supported by endowment and tuition” (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn);

    or “Private schools are schools not administered by local or national government, which retain the right to select their student body and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students tuition rather than with public funds. In the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth countries the use of the term is generally restricted to primary and secondary educational levels. It is almost never used of universities or other tertiary institutions”, Wikipedia,

    or “A school hat is controlled by an individual or agency other than a governmental entity, which is usually supported primarily by other than public funds, and the operation of whose program rests with someone other than publicly elected or appointed officials.”, http://www.schools.utah.gov/finance/

    Right? Are you telling me that public schols cannot expel students? Never? Or you don’t do it because you don’t want to lose the money that comes with them?

    And a look at the article you quoted says this:

    “…says that a disproportionate number of Latino students, many of whom are learning English, were asked to leave the school because they were not passing their classes and did not want to attend summer school or repeat a grade.”

    What cruelty! To ask a kid to leave because he couldn’t do the work and wasn’t willing to repeat the year or take classes in the summer! What’s next?

  3. “Are you telling me that public schols cannot expel students? Never? Or you don’t do it because you don’t want to lose the money that comes with them?”

    No, that is not what I wrote. What I actually wrote is that charters have, “unchecked, unreported, unparalleled powers of expulsion,” especially when compared to public schools. The example you quoted from the link I provided bears this out. While those individuals are hardly model students and, their choices do not warrant expulsion anywhere EXCEPT in the charter school reality. The point is not whether those kids are making the choice to be successful, or whether the school is acting in a “cruel” manner, as I’m sure you are aware. The issue at hand is the freedom to expel failing students from your school community. No public school can do this.

    Let’s look at your defintions: “a school established and controlled privately”… “Private schools are schools not administered by local or national government”… “A school hat is controlled by an individual or agency other than a governmental entity.” I believe many, if not most, charters fit those definitions, especially those that function in the vein of Edison schools. The rest of the definitions concern funding, wherein charters, like many private universities are run on a combination of public and private funds. Downtown College Prep receives only 60% of its per student funding from public sources. http://www.downtowncollegeprep.org/faqs.php
    What’s the cut-off? Your definitions do not provide this answer.

    “Interesting abuse of the English language as usual, TMAO, a charter school is a “private school” because you want it to be so.”

    I offered an argument on why we should rethink or reapply our usage of the term. This is not an abuse.

  4. I checked out the story you cited, TMAO. It says High Tech High Bayshore tells students who’ve failed classes they have to make up the work in summer school or repeat the grade. Students who refuse to do this transfer out. What do you think happens to students at any public school who refuse to repeat a grade or a class they’ve failed? They are transferred to an alternative program. Most non-charter California public high schools have such programs for at-risk students, most of whom are Latino. They’re often called “opportunity” schools. Few of these students earn a high school diploma.

    The difference is that High Tech High Bayshore has high standards for students. They must take and pass college-prep courses with a C or better, so they can qualify for college. It’s not surprising that it’s more difficult for Latino students to meet this standard; they enter high school with much weaker reading and math skills than white or Asian-American students. I assure you the failure and drop-out rate is much higher for Latino students in all San Mateo County non-charter high schools.

    Downtown College Prep, the subject of my book, also requires students to pass college-prep courses with a C or better. Ninety percent of DCP students are Mexican-American, and about 40 percent are English Learners. Many do have to take summer school classes or repeat ninth grade because they’re so far behind academically when they start high school. Passing them along with a D- would do them no favors.

    I might add the school doesn’t have a separate curriculum for English Learners, other than English as a Second Language for ninth graders. Students are taught the same curriculum and held to the same expectations as other students. If they have to repeat a grade, it’s not considered a sign of failure. They just need more time to catch up.

    Private schools can pick and choose their students. Charter schools must take every student who applies, with a lottery to decide if there are more applicants than the school can handle.

  5. TMAO wrote:

    I offered an argument on why we should rethink or reapply our usage of the term. This is not an abuse.

    Sure it is.

    It’s the source of the operational budget that determines whether a school comes under the heading of private or public.

    Private schools are paid for services rendered by the responsible party, i.e. parents. Public schools aren’t nearly as discriminating. Everybody pays and that’s the public and that’s what makes public schools public schools and private schools private schools.

    The reason the Times is miffed about charters is that, like all good progressives, the progressives who run the Times have no higher allegience then to their own conceits.

    Among those conceits is that progressives are nobly engaged in helping the poor. The poor, it appears, are running out of patience with their benefactors since they’re showing a distinct preference for their own choices to the exclusion of the choices made on their behalf by their betters.

    Maybe that whole “low SES, low IQ” thing needs to be re-examined because the poor seem to be acting rather insightfully in this case.

  6. ragnarok says:

    TMAO said:

    “I offered an argument on why we should rethink or reapply our usage of the term. This is not an abuse.”

    Right, it’s Newspeak.

    “Downtown College Prep receives only 60% of its per student funding from public sources.”

    And the public-school unionoids who go a-begging to fund-raisers, that would be different, correct?

  7. Allen wrote: “It’s the source of the operational budget that determines whether a school comes under the heading of private or public.”

    As I’ve already written, I think that is unnecessarily limiting, but fine, let’s limit this to funding sources. What is the cut-off? What percentage of your operating budget should be derived from public or private funds for your institution to be considered one or the other? A simple majority? Eighty percent? DCP is 60-40 public money. Are they a public school? If the equation is inverted, do they become private?

    Ragnarok wrote: “And the public-school unionoids who go a-begging to fund-raisers, that would be different, correct?”

    I know of no public school with the same funding structure as the school I mentioned, so yes, it would be different. It is also different in your mind, because public schools = begging, while charter/privates = innovative utilization of alternative funding mechanisms.

    Joanne wrote: “What do you think happens to students at any public school who refuse to repeat a grade or a class they’ve failed? They are transferred to an alternative program.”

    If you could point me to any source that shows this is what actually occurs, on anything approaching the broad scale, I’d love to read it. My experiences teaching in predominantly Latino communities in California do not bear this out.

    “Charter schools must take every student who applies…”

    Yes, but they do not have to KEEP them, which is my point. The standards for expulsion at a charter school are drastically different than public schools, which in turn rather significantly alters the nature of the academic institution itself.

  8. Don’t hurt yourself bending over backwards trying to hang the venomous sobriquet of “private” on charter schools.

    Chartered public schools, like district-based public schools get their authority to operate as a public school from the state of residence. All their operating funding comes from the state although many go begging for more funding as a result of the inevitably short funding leash the state keeps charters on but no one is required by receipt of services to participate in that funding.

    Yes, but they do not have to KEEP them, which is my point.

    Neither do district-based public schools.

    Get caught with an aspirin or a nail clipper and out you go. Make enough of a nuisance of yourself to get transferred a few times and one day no one goes after you if you fail to show up for school provided anyone ever did.

    So it isn’t mandatory attendance so much as it is conditional mandatory attendance. Conditioned on the vigorousness of the enforcement of the truency law. Conditioned on the threashold of inconvenience necessary to simply let a kid walk away from school. The one thing mandatory attendance isn’t conditioned on is the negative effects of mandatory attendance.

    Since it’s pretty widely acknowledged that one sufficiently motivated kid can prevent the conducting of a class, the question is “why mandatory attendance?”

    What’s the value to society in forcing attendance by someone who not only is incapable of absorbing an education but is bent on disrupting the education of all around him? Who are the beneficiaries of funding this undoable task?

  9. ragnarok says:

    TMAO,

    Do you really not understand that public schools are answerable to the government, while private schools are not? Therefore charters are public schools, no ifs, ands or buts.

    In general charters get less money from the state than non-charters. Non-charters get more money per pupil, plus they have the ability to place bonds and parcel taxes on the ballot, and on top of that they have you (plural) to beg for more money at fund-raisers and such.

    Of course you have other things to do as well, like going on strike and waving misspelled signs, leaving the students high and dry.

    BTW, you once claimed that you were only paid $7.50/hr, although you let slip that you made well over $40,000 for 9 mos. work. Still waiting for you to explain the difference between the 2 figures.