Green Dot challenges LA Unified

Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot Public Schools, tells LA Weekly why billionaire Eli Broad just gave $10.5 million to open more Green Dot charter high schools in Los Angeles.

Barr answers without the slightest phony impulse toward humility: “On graduation rates, on test scores, on teacher pay — on just about anything you associate with school reform — we have kicked the district’s butt. There’s nobody in America who has taken the same kind of kids in the same kinds of areas and the same dollars and narrowed the achievement gap like we have.

Barr started six years ago with Animo Leadership Charter High School “with the aim of showing what he could do with $1,200 less per student than L.A. Unified and most big-city districts in California spend.”

So far, early returns from his 10 schools show a graduation rate double that of LAUSD’s sad results. While the data is too new to be earth-shatteringly conclusive, he is nevertheless giving the keepers of public education’s keys cause to question the city’s own, staggering, 40 percent dropout rate among freshmen and sophomores.

Read the whole thing for Barr’s vividly expressed response to the head of the LA teachers’ union.

Via Eduwonk.

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Comments

  1. vividly expressed response

    Yeah, “vivid”, that’s the word.

  2. wayne martin says:

    > “.. complains that Green Dot charter schools drain state money
    > from public schools.” (so sayeth the Labor Unions).

    Since most schools in California are funded based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA), the schools are funded based on headcount (with a few exceptions called Basic Aid). Since 85% of every dollar goes to staff salary and benefits, almost all school “funding” goes to hiring staff. Since funding is tied to headcount, there isn’t any likelihood that any increase in “quality” can be expected—just more staff and bigger Union influence. No matter how much funding the public school get, there is no promise of the delivery of a quality “product”. If Charters can deliver a better “product”, then they should get the public’s money.

  3. The Eduwonk link is missing a letter.

  4. Andy Freeman says:

    If smart public school advocates believe the “skimming” charge, they’d offer an existing school and its students to a charter. If skimming was actually a factor, the results with that school would show it.

    Since they don’t make that offer, either they don’t believe the accusation or they’re too dumb to see how to show that skimming is a factor.

    Either way, it’s another argument that those folks shouldn’t be allowed within 200 feet of students and/or public funding.

  5. Hunter McDaniel says:

    Behind every accusation of “skimming” is an unspoken assumption that those parents who actually give a s**t are a “resource” which should be distributed among various schools by the bureaucracy, rather than as independent citizens who MIGHT have some rights to look out for their childrens’ interest.

    And the notion that charter schools “drain” money flies in the face of the fact that the only real fixed cost for most public schools is the buildings themselves – where the regular schools have the advantage of pre-existing stock provided by the taxpayers, while it is the charters who have to squat in converted warehouses and church basements, diverting funds from their operating budget to cover real estate costs.

  6. The “skimming” charge is the type of criticism that can only be delivered loudly enough to drown out disagreement since it’s, on its face, ridiculous.

    The charge is based on the assumption that the charter are unfairly getting the “cream” – that’s what you skim, right? – leaving the district schools to deal with the dregs and the problems. But a moment’s reflection reveals the reveals the hollowness of the objection.

    If these kids are the “cream”, which is to say, doing pretty well where they are, why are their parents enrolling them in a different school? Either charter school parents have collectively hit their heads and are making choices which reflect their diminished capacity or there’s something else going on.

    That something is that their kid isn’t doing well in the district school and the parents are desperate enough to try this little known and poorly understood alternative. So common sense suggests that the charters are getting the problem kids, the kids who’ve fallen behind, the kids who aren’t going to make it, not the cream. If common sense is against you the best thing to do is raise your voice.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    It helps if we occasionally remember that the reason for schools is NOT to provide jobs and union dues.

  8. wayne martin says:

    Here in California, the API (Academic Performance Index which is a attempt to consolidate all testing data into a single number) for charter schools pretty much follows the API scores for the District schools. Only about 30% of each are posting “proficient” test scores.

    The Charters are no doubt getting some of the creame, but the score distributions are roughly similar (at the school level) for Charter schools and District schools.

  9. Andy Freeman says:

    > It helps if we occasionally remember that the reason for schools is NOT to provide jobs and union dues.

    Says you. Public education advocates behave as if the reason for public schools is to provide jobs and dues.

  10. Wayne Martin wrote:

    the score distributions are roughly similar (at the school level) for Charter schools and District schools.

    Which could mean anything or nothing.

    The charters may be getting the cream and doing a lousy job of educating the kids, they may be getting the problem kids and pulling them up so that the charter school scores are average or they may be getting a random sample of kids and doing nothing special with them. I’ll choose door number 2 but I’d be interested in some way to be certain.

  11. “That something is that their kid isn’t doing well in the district school and the parents are desperate enough to try this little known and poorly understood alternative. So common sense suggests that the charters are getting the problem kids, the kids who’ve fallen behind, the kids who aren’t going to make it, not the cream.”

    They get the problem kids with parents who care. I’d be surprised if charters aren’t skimming in terms of involved parents, although there are some charters with stats to show that they are indeed taking mostly kids who’ve fallen behind in regular schools.

    But that’s a terrible argument for the public-school cause. To claim that charter successes are due to involved parents is to say that the school doesn’t matter, just the parent. In that case, why have public schools at all? Parents who care got their kids an education before there were public schools, and they still could. Even with public schools, a good many far from prosperous parents somehow manage to find the money to pay school taxes and to also pay a Catholic or other private school to educate their kids. So the only reason for public funding of education is to educate the kids of parents who don’t care – and didn’t they just argue that this is impossible?