Wall Street and Charter Schools

Diane Ravitch has an illuminating, if somewhat overwrought piece up today on Bridging Differences that has an assertion and a question.

The assertion is that the charter school movement is dependent on, tied up with, and owes much of its success to the involvement of hedge-fund managers in New York City.   The question is what will happen when the money leaves?

Ravitch’s piece is implicitly hostile to the modern charter school movement, and sometimes explicitly critical:

Now the charter industry has become a means of privatizing public education. They tout the virtues of competition, not collaboration. The sector has many for-profit corporations, eagerly trolling for new business opportunities and larger enrollments. Some charters skim the top students in the poorest neighborhoods; some accept very small proportions of students who have disabilities or don’t speak English; some quietly push out those with low scores or behavior problems (the Indianapolis public schools recently complained about this practice by local charters).

Still, even putting side this sort of criticism (and one should always be careful with criticisms that rely too much on the word “some”), the question of finance for the charter school movement is an interesting one.  I wasn’t really aware of the close ties to Wall Street Finance that exist in the charter movement (and I’m still skeptical; Ravitch may be overstating the case).

And Ravitch is right to ask, will the cash go on forever?

It probably won’t if the goal is to create a better system of schools; charter schools don’t quite seem to be meeting that goal (for whatever reason).  Ravitch seems to think this is the case:

Wall Street understands success and failure. When companies fail, investors bail out. As studies continue to show that charters on average don’t get better test scores than public schools, will Wall Street continue to be bullish about charters? Will they support only the ones that skim and exclude? When will they cut their losses?

But the money might continue, though, if the goal is the destruction of certain aspects of public education, or the working of systemic sorts of changes.  The question is whether the charter schools are supposed to be the end (as Ravitch thinks) or the means to some other end.

In other words, in trying to guess at the behavior of hedge fund managers, it really matters what it is those hedge fund managers are trying to do in the first place.

N.B. - I know, I know.  I said the c-word.  I’ll say it again: “CHARTER SCHOOLS!”  Please be civil to each other in the comments.

Comments

  1. I’m responding at length to a peripheral point, but…..

    When charter schools were a new thing, I thought they were an interesting, promising idea. Leaving aside the “some” question – I think we can all agree that some charters were incompetently run, sometimes by well-meaning people, and that some are run by opportunists – even if we assume that most are run by well-meaning people the failure is that for the most part there isn’t actually competition with the public school model. The charters with the best performance seem to take a “more of the same” approach – additional hours of school and study – as opposed to offering any real competition in pedagogy.

    There are competitors to the standard public school pedagogy. Historically schools have experimented with other approaches to education, but there are practical and structural impediments to wide-scale reform. And, for that matter, a lot of the attempts at alternative models within the public school system have seemed to be build around “This sounds like it will work” rather than being the end-product of a serious analysis of what will – or even what might – improve the school environment and performance. There’s a lot of window dressing – such as school administrators taking junkets to other nations to see their schools – but from what I have seen, with any exceptions being all-but-undetectable – they come back to their schools or districts and change nothing.

    If you want something different, there are private schools that offer something different – and different in a way that attracts wealthier members of the community. The Montessori pedagogy was developed for the inner city, but it’s more difficult and costly to administer than the standard teaching methods so you don’t even see much of a transfer of ideas from MontessorI (although modern Montessori schools are happy to bring in effective pedagogical schools from other models of instruction). So who gets to go to Montessori schools? Middle class and wealthy children. I wouldn’t try the Waldorf method in a low-SES school district, but lots of wealthy parents utilize private schools that follow Waldorf methods and their kids go on to college.

    You want to seriously improve education? You need to approach it scientifically, you need to actually analyze what works, test the model (not just the teacher), recognize that one model is unlikely to be best for all students and some students will excel under models that won’t work for most others (and may flounder under approaches that produce good general results). Home life, the child’s personality, learning style, stage of development, as well as school and teacher quality all factor in. So… who’s actually doing that?

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    “Home life,”

    I suspect you can approach home life scientifically if you allow for all the caveats and arbitrary classifications and Pee Cee usually found in social science.
    But, then, what are you going to do about it?
    Said it before: Just before my wife retired, she went to a couple of PDs in which the term “intentional non-learner” was used and she said you could practically hear the capital letters.
    IMO, that will be a classification whose scores will be excised from the overall results.
    Seems reasonable.

  3. What I’ve wondered lately is why Ravitch has been trying SO hard to bring down charter schools. It seems like she has climbed aboard the Democratic party bus and is spouting the complete party line. I see no independent thought going on here. I thought I was liberal, but their bus came by and I didn’t want to sign their boarding contract. I don’t like being owned, and I’m sure many urban parents don’t like to be owned.

    Has she talked to the urban parents who are desparately hoping to win charter school lotteries? They are devastated when their kids don’t get in. Does she think these people are stupid; that they can’t pick out what’s best for their kids? I’ve called these parents the new urban elite. They are being “dissed” just like suburban parents who send their kids off to private schools.

    Why does the education community fight tooth and nail to prevent charter schools that give these kids some sort of opportunity … over what? Over the complaint that urban schools just need more money? What are traditional public schools offering these kids right now? No separation by ability or willingness to learn? Nobody gets out unless everybody gets out? Do they expect to eliminate the academic gap by playing by different rules than affluent parents who ensure learning at home or send their kids to private schools or tutors? They get to offer individual educational opportunity, but the urban poor get no choice … because that’s not fair?

    “Some charters skim the top students in the poorest neighborhoods; some accept very small proportions of students who have disabilities or don’t speak English; some quietly push out those with low scores or behavior problems (the Indianapolis public schools recently complained about this practice by local charters).”

    Now we’re getting to the heart of the problem. Are some kids allowed to get out? Is the problem an individual educational opportunity problem, or is the goal to fix poverty? Many claim that education can’t be fixed until poverty is fixed, but then they turn around and prevent individual kids from leaving. Which is it?

    The demand is not driven by hedge fund managers. They are just taking advantage of an opportunity. They aren’t creating demand with advertising. The benefits may be inflated, but urban parents can tell if school A is better than school B. They can always change their minds later. A charter school will fail if the demand goes away. Some won’t fail. Parents know what success looks like. They don’t need others to inform them. They can make individual decisions about individual charter schools. They don’t need meaningless averages being used to get rid of all choices. Why don’t we set up a government group that eliminates product choices if the average does not meet some sort of government provided standard. Why not just offer the government standard as one of the choices?

    “The results are in: Some charters get high test scores, some get low scores, most are no different in test scores from public schools. The wonder is that there are so many low-performing and mediocre charters when they have everything the reform movement demands: no unions, no tenure, no seniority, performance pay, and plenty of uncertified or alternatively certified teachers.”

    So, apparently, urban parents ARE stupid. Do they decide to apply to a particular charter school based on looking at some average of all schools? Do affluent parents pick out a private school based on some national average of private school results. Are educators going to make that argument to affluent parents? Do they just not care about affluent kids? Why do these people feel that they own urban kids and parents?

    Actually, the results are NOT in. Our state eductional hierarchy has to approve all charters, and they don’t like charters that set high standards; that will easily attract the students that regular schools won’t separate from the rest. This brought about Mayoral Academies that tried to put the decisions into other hands. Still, the educational community fought these new charter schools that parents are so desperate to get their kids into. What regular public schools want are charter schools that take away the low end and the tough kids to teach. What is happening now is that there are some charter schools that take away the easier students to teach – the ones that the regular schools take for granted – the ones that boost their scores with little effort on their part. So, regular public schools don’t mind if charters skim off the low end, but not the high end.

    It must be tough when you fight so hard against those you supposedly want to help.

  4. Diane has become a shill for the teacher’s union. She spends her time in the trenches with all sorts of nasty charter school detractors. She has lost all credibility. Her new train of thought goes something like this. Unions are great. All teachers are great. All teachers should get paid more. There shouldn’t be any public school choice. Parents should pay taxes and be quiet. Charters should only exist where they serve to remove the most difficult students from the Unionized Classrooms. Her new hypothesis seems to also encompass the idea that all of the problems in schools are caused by poverty. We can’t improve student performance until we eliminate poverty. So no need to even try. Also don’t hold teacher accountable for test scores, all test are bad.

    • Diana Senechal says:

      You are reducing her views to something they are not.

      • Stuart Buck says:

        LK’s description is actually more thoughtful and complex than Ravitch’s twittering.

  5. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Yeah, I think there are a lot of urban parents who don’t know that the charter schools are even more awful than the public schools. I think they love their kids and they WANT those charter schools to be better — but it isn’t so. In fact, I’ve seen them protest the closing of charters that are demonstrable disasters around here (math proficiency rates in the single digits!). I can undersand the wishful thinking — in the beginning I was fairly optimistic about the experiment.

  6. There are many affluent parents who don’t know how bad their private schools are. Let’s close them down. That experiment has failed. Apparently, urban parents are loving, but dumb, but affluent parents are smart and it serves them right if they waste their money. Let’s close down homeschools too, while we are at it.

    This appears to be the new approach. Grab whatever evidence you can to claim that the “experiment” has failed. There is no time to lose! Urban parents aren’t stupid, they are just loving, but dumb. They really don’t know that the charter school was bad for their individual kids. Other, smarter people know better because averages explain what’s best for individual kids, right?

    Ravitch, like many others, is trying too hard. Their goal seems to be the elimination of all charter schools by saying that the “experiment” has failed. There is a concerted effort in our area to not renew charter schools. If only these people would be as concerned about the regular public schools that fall below the average. Charter schools have failed, but regular public schools just need more money. Even with the mechanism of closing low performing charter schools, people still want to claim that the experiment has failed for all charter schools. It’s quite incredible.

    To make it worse, the educational establishment in our area really just wants what Ravitch thinks is the original idea of charter schools – to take problem students from the regular public schools. Our charter school approval process is designed for that. Then they make big pronouncements about how charter schools often don’t do as well as regular public schools.

    Ravitch is clearly not providing independent thought in this area. Even someone with little knowledge of the problem can see it in her arguments. It sounds like propaganda. Charter schools in our area have barely gotten started, and educators are fighting tooth and nail to keep out those that set higher expectations. Public schools don’t separate kids in K-8, but won’t let them leave. If you have money, you have freedom. If you don’t, you are owned by people who claim to have your best interest in mind.

    • The primary issue is that charter schools harm the public schools (the non-charter sector) and the children in them. They drain resources, public support and (in some locales) the more motivated, high-functioning, compliant students, leaving the public schools with the challenging and/or costly-to-educate students whom the charters don’t want and won’t allow. (And yes, they have total freedom to pick, choose and kick out as they wish — all claims otherwise are false propaganda from the mightily funded so-called education “reform” sector. Who would oversee their enrollment and retention?)

      That is indeed appealing to many parents, but it’s not a solution to the challenges of education. And conscientious educators have the best interests of all children, especially the most challenged children, at heart. So since they know that charters do harm overall to public education and to children, yes, they tend to oppose charters.

      Despite that, charter schools’ achievement is wan overall — given the picking and choosing that they do, they should be soaring if they were such a miracle solution. And they provide a whole new fertile ground for looters and abusers. Here in California, charter scamsters and opportunists have absconded with enormous amounts of our kids’ money, while the charter boosters inspect their fingernails and whistle.

      It’s inaccurate to claim that criticizing charters is the Democratic Party line, by the way. Support for the currently faddish so-called education “reforms” is, unfortunately, bipartisan. The large funders make support of so-called education “reform” fads a litmus test, so the Dems embrace them as much as the GOP.

      • Chartermom says:

        I am so tired of hearing that charters don’t take the challenging kids. I hear that same complaint in my town and I know from experience and by analyzing the data that it is not true. My kids spent eight years in charters and during that time the schools contained many challenging kids — autistic, kids with learning disabilities, behavioral problems, mental retardation, etc. And then there are what I call the school shoppers — these are the parents who are willing to invest the time to look for schools for their kids only to blame the schools when they don’t get their kids there on time, don’t make them do homework, etc. One of my son’s teachers once described her class as a reverse bell curve. She had high performers and low performers and not much in the middle. (Think for a minute about the impact that has on test scores when schools are measured by percent passing and your low performing tale is larger than normal. The larger high performing take doesn’t help you because the middle kids would still pass but that large low performing tale is hard to manage) Today I met with the principal of the charter school where my sons once went for middle school and he talked about having high schoolers show up his schools door from the local system that are reading on a second grade level. I have also seen kids suspended from public school show up in charters. Oh and the funding thing — charters take the cost of educating the kids along with the dollars associated with it. The dollars follow students except in NC the capital dollars don’t follow the kids — so the school system gets to save that money. About 3000 kids attend charters in my county — the school system would have to build 5 schools just to house them all. Instead their parents happily send them to schools in renovated churchs or warehouse or in some cases built cheaply without amenities like cafeterias. But still our education establishment whines about the charters draining the money.

        Charters aren’t a cure-all but they offer options. Sometimes its as simple as curriculum. Other times its teaching methods. Other times it’s just the option for a kid who “doesn’t quite fit in” to go to a smaller school. The fact is sometimes as a parent I don’t care that a charter — or any school for that matter — has better or worse test scores than the school system average or the national average. I care about whether it offers what my kids need. In that regard I think I’m like a whole lot of parents everywhere.

        • Chartermom says:

          Gosh — just reread this and I really do know the difference between tail and tale………..should have been tail.

    • Lightly Seasoned says:

      Well, the bad private schools will close according to the amighty law of the free market. People make dumb purchases all the time. But yeah, there are some pretty unintelligent and gullible urban parents out there. That’s how I explain this (which, curiously, I’ve seen no coverage of on this blog, which is so concerned with charters):

      http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/state-calls-it-quits-on-imagine-schools/article_e721e842-1a93-5e15-a673-f9766d19ee37.html

  7. “The primary issue is that charter schools harm the public schools (the non-charter sector) and the children in them.”

    And regular public schools harm many kids.

    “They drain resources …”

    How much more do you want?

    “public support”

    Exactly what more support do you want? Money?

    “and (in some locales) the more motivated, high-functioning, compliant students, leaving the public schools”

    What are the public schools currently offering them now, even if they had more money?

    “with the challenging and/or costly-to-educate students whom the charters don’t want and won’t allow”

    Yes, separating kids by willingness and ability is just so unfair. They have to remain in regular public schools to mask real problems and real solutions.

    Letting students go off to private schools takes away many high level and compliant students. We better stop them. Why do they get choice?

    “And conscientious educators have the best interests of all children, especially the most challenged children, at heart.”

    No they don’t. Stopping more able kids from leaving does not do that. You are talking about averages, not individuals. How, exactly, do these more willing kids help the most challenged kids? You are sacrificing them. If the easy to educate leave, how much more money do you need per student?

    Absolutely nothing stops public schools from offering more opportunity and better curricula to the more able kids, so these kids must provide some sort of magic fairy dust to do things that teachers can’t do. Do they model good-studentness for the rest? They are being used.

    “…they should be soaring if they were such a miracle solution.”

    Strawman.

    “And they provide a whole new fertile ground for looters and abusers.”

    And regular public schools do not do the same thing in their own way? How much more money per child do you need? How much longer can you pretend that what’s good for the union is good for individual students?

    Skip the arguments about how how you were “fairly optimistic” and how you were waiting to see the results when your real arguments clearly claim that there is a fundamental flaw.

    Especially drop the argument about wanting to help ALL kids.

  8. Just pointing out to the many charter advocates who insist that charters don’t cream that SteveH is vocal about the fact that they DO cream, and more power to them.

    A public school that does that will suddenly have the same benefits charters can offer. But what happens to the kids nobody wants?

  9. What, exactly, is the problem of separating the willing and able from those who are not?

    “But what happens to the kids nobody wants?”

    If a public school separates the kids, then they don’t “want” the lower ability ones? They don’t separate the kids because of this reason?

    Then, when kids get to high school and they start separating kids, is this somehow different? Our high school has three tiers. The lowest one is for kids who are at at least a year behind academincally. The middle tier is called College Prep, and the top tier is for honors and AP classes. This allows them to focus on the special needs of the lowest tier. They do not allow them to fall through the cracks.

    Apparently, if you do this in the lower grades they can’t handle it. They can’t trust themselves. They will not “want” the lower ability kids.

    “And conscientious educators have the best interests of all children, especially the most challenged children, at heart. ”

    Try again.

  10. Charter schools don’t separate those students into tiers — they just exclude the unmotivated, non-compliant, dysfunctional and “intentional non-learners,” as well as high-need, costlier-to-educate students such as kids with more-severe disabilities and English-language learners. The way for public schools to replicate that environment is to exclude those kids too, not to separate them into tiers.

    Needless to say, I dispute the repeated sneering at my description of conscientious educators — what would YOUR description of a conscientious educator be?

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      So, instead of creating a two-tiered educational system based on money (private school) or ability (exam schools), they create one based on parental desire for a kid to excel in school?

      How is that immoral? We DO need to take care of the kids from chaotic homes as well, but in the current educational system we just let them drag down the kids whose parents are involved.

      In the past, kids from single parent homes were considered ‘orphans’ and eligible for major intervention such as “Boys Town” type programs. I don’t think those would fly today, and they’re outside the mission of public schools anyway…..

      • Well, for one thing, because charters don’t scale. Since the number of kids who are actively disruptive are probably fewer than the kids who can be saved, it would make more sense to remove the problem kids to small schools, rather than create a scarcity that increases the demand for teachers who can work with low ability kids. We’d do better to put low ability, motivated (or possible to motivate) kids in large groups with good teachers, and pull out the problems.

        At the very least, we should be able to discuss that possibility. Instead, we waste taxpayer dollars setting up tons of little schools that aren’t, in fact, any better.

        So I don’t know about immoral, but it’s certainly not the best use of public funds.

  11. “The way for public schools to replicate that environment is to exclude those kids too, not to separate them into tiers.”

    But they don’t try ANYTHNG! They don’t separate any which way. Then you are upset that charter schools that have a particular charter or philosophy don’t try to solve everyone’s problem. Are you going to say that about an arts-based charter school? What about math and science magnet schools? They are “creaming” the best students. Charter schools have charters, and those charters have special purposes. You wouldn’t be complaining if charter schools “sludged” off the low end. You wouldn’t complain that they are not trying to educate the most able kids.

    A conscientious educator would try something, not just complain and prevent some kids from getting out because it isn’t a complete solution. But I don’t think regular public schools are capable of separating kids by ability or willingness to learn in K-8. Tracking might be fine in high school, but it appears to be completely unacceptable in K-8. The only solution seems to be separate schools. With separate schools, kids at widely different levels can get help more directly related to their needs.

    I really don’t like the opportunity to send my son off on a long ride to the school of my choice. I want my local public school to do the job. Even in our affluent community, the problem of a wide range of abilities and motivation in our full inclusion schools is very noticeable. The more able kids are sacrificed and now require more help at home or with tutors. Conscientious educators don’t ignore these kids.

  12. For those people who say “What’s wrong with giving choices?”

    Charters are provided at taxpayer expense without being held to the same obligations as public schools.

    If you can’t see that it’s wrong to siphon off money to a lucky few who meet with the approval of charters, I don’t know what to tell you. And yes, Caroline is correct: Steve H and anyone else yammering about the fairness of letting the motivated off the plantation is not doing their cause any good. It is essential that charters pretend they are taking all comers.

    I’m not a Ravitch fan at all. She’s the Jane Fonda of education policy: flips views early and often and adopts the new opinions with the same blind zeal she had about the old ones.

    But charter schools are a problem precisely because Steve H’s rationalization is the reality, and that’s not what taxpayer dollars are intended to do in education.

  13. “Charters are provided at taxpayer expense without being held to the same obligations as public schools. ”

    Baloney. They aren’t supposed to be equivalent to public schools, but they have to meet expectations or they are shut down. The word “charter” means that they have a specific, more narrow, job.

    “If you can’t see that it’s wrong to siphon off money to a lucky few who meet with the approval of charters, I don’t know what to tell you. ”

    So what are public schools offering instead? This is amazing coming from someone who believes in a clear calibration between IQ and material. How can you support both an IQ position and full inclusion? Do you really think that differentiated instruction (including all of the unwilling kids) works? What’s stopping public schools from separating kids in the lower grades just like in high schools?

    The higher IQ and more able kids are NOT allowed to get what they need because it’s not fair? If they are “lucky”, then you must think that they are getting a better education going to some charter schools. But many claim that the results are in; that the “experiment” has failed. Which is it?

    “But charter schools are a problem precisely because Steve H’s rationalization is the reality, and that’s not what taxpayer dollars are intended to do in education.”

    What, EXACTLY, are taxpayers dollars intended to do in education? Why do educators whine behind the excuse that they have to teach ALL kids. Why are they not separating kids by willingness and results in the lower grades? Our schools love the idea of full inclusion and mixed ability classrooms, but how can you increase the range of abilities in one classroom (to well beyond a year) and then talk about doing a better job? Parents are voting with their feet, and all educators can do is compain and continue to talk about the pedagogical wonders of differentiated instruction.

    So, we hear that the charter experiment has failed, the few are “lucky”, they are siphoning off money, the kids left behind won’t be wanted, that urban parents are loving, but dumb, and we are told about the wonders of differentiated instruction and “trust the spiral”. Public schools wanted charters to siphon off the low end so they can have the same money to teach the easier kids with a lower spread of abilities. That’s how our state regulations are set up. When rules were changes to allow the creation of charters that set higher standards (which, of course, separates kids by willingness and effort), the public schools squealed like pigs.

    Many of those kids ARE lucky. What’s stopping public schools from making the rest luckier than they currently are? Instead of having the lower end siphoned off, the upper end is siphoned off. You now have a smaller spread of abilities and should be able to provide a more focused solution. You just don’t want the high end siphoned off.

    If public schools don’t like charter schools, they can easily put them out of business. They have the home court advantage. Of course, they will have to lose a whole lot of pedagogy and silliness.

    • Ponderosa says:

      I tend to agree with SteveH in this debate. I agree with the principle of segregation by abilitiy/motiviation. Ideally this should be achieved within the regular public schools. But if that’s not possible, then I support charters that will do this.

      What I don’t like about charters is, a. they are dishonest about what they’re doing –their most efficacious innovation is usually not their unique “angle” but the fact that they’re skimming; b.) they often ban unions (it’s clear here that amalgamation of students, not teacher unions, is the problem, so this is a gratuitous dig at teachers’ well-being); and c.) they’re often run and supported by free market fundamentalists who want to dismantle the public sphere and make everything for-profit.

      • Ponderosa says:

        Diane Ravitch underlines my reservations about charters:

        “Now the charter industry has become a means of privatizing public education. They tout the virtues of competition, not collaboration. The sector has many for-profit corporations, eagerly trolling for new business opportunities and larger enrollments. Some charters skim the top students in the poorest neighborhoods; some accept very small proportions of students who have disabilities or don’t speak English; some quietly push out those with low scores or behavior problems (the Indianapolis public schools recently complained about this practice by local charters).

        Contrary to the vision of the founders, the charter sector is overwhelmingly non-union. It has come to depend on young college graduates, who start at the bottom of the salary scale and leave within a few years. This keeps costs low and enables the charters to pay their executives handsomely and to create rewards for the for-profit industry. Charters are known for high turnover of both teachers and principals.”

        This last point suggests that the teaching corps runs the risk of being jettisoned from the middle class into Walmart serf status. KIPP and other charters do have social benefits, but I fear these benefits may obscure the bigger picture wherein charters have a net malign effect on society.

        • Teachers don’t have to take the jobs. Parents don’t have to send their kids to the schools. Why shouldn’t these people have these choices? Are they not capable of making those decisions? Some parents send their kids to all sorts of private schools that have weird ideas of education and that also don’t have unions.

          “This last point suggests that the teaching corps runs the risk of being jettisoned from the middle class into Walmart serf status.”

          I buy a lot of things at Walmart. This brings up other issues of supply and demand that are independent of whether kids can get a good education or not. It also implies that you are more concerned about teachers than kids, or that you think there are no conflicts between what’s best for kids and what’s best for teachers.

          “…but I fear these benefits may obscure the bigger picture wherein charters have a net malign effect on society.”

          And you feel comfortable about forcing your view on others even though you can’t express it as anything more than a “fear”?

  14. How can you support both an IQ position and full inclusion?

    I don’t. And there’s nothing in my post that would imjply that.

    It’s really boring to watch zealots operate. They can’t understand actual posts. They just post from their Big Book of Talking Points.

    Of course, in your case, it’s worse: you don’t understand the talking points, go directly counter to them, while still not understanding any other position or how to respond.

    They aren’t supposed to be equivalent to public schools, but they have to meet expectations or they are shut down

    Yes, “expectations” of the parents. But they are funded by taxpayers.

    The rest of your post is blather–and repetitive blather at that. You aren’t capable of distinguishing the difference between “should” and “is”.

    Focus hard, and find a four year old to read this for you: Charter schools are practicing selection and discrimination with taxpayer dollars. In my opinion, they should not be able to.

    Charters also brag that they are superior to public schools and vehemently deny that they are practicing selection and discrimination. But then, you apparently didn’t understand that part of the Big Book.

    • Stuart Buck says:

      “: Charter schools are practicing selection and discrimination with taxpayer dollars”

      Maybe some of them do this (certainly not all), but whatever you’re talking about happens a thousand times more with regular public schools, which effectively select and “discriminate” through the housing market.

    • Cal is bailing out of the discussion by calling names.

      “They aren’t supposed to be equivalent to public schools, but they have to meet expectations or they are shut down”

      “Yes, “expectations” of the parents. But they are funded by taxpayers.”

      You are wrong. They also have to meet state requirements or their charters are not renewed.

      “The rest of your post is blather–and repetitive blather at that. You aren’t capable of distinguishing the difference between “should” and “is”.”

      Now you are resorting to vague personal attacks and not dealing with specific questions.

      “Focus hard, and find a four year old to read this for you: Charter schools are practicing selection and discrimination with taxpayer dollars. In my opinion, they should not be able to. ”

      Your “opinion”.

      That says it all. Who gets to decide?

      “Charters also brag that they are superior to public schools and vehemently deny that they are practicing selection and discrimination. But then, you apparently didn’t understand that part of the Big Book.”

      And in the opinion of many parents, regular public schools cannot, in any way, shape, or form provide their kids with a proper education. This is not just a matter of separating kids by ability. It has to do with expectations, curricula, and pedagogy.

      And it is “my opinion” that you are practicing discrimination with all of your talk of IQ.

      High schools “discriminate”, but they do so on the basis of results. They don’t test IQ to see which classes you can enter. Charter schools discriminate by setting higher standards or by content, as with an arts magnet. Nothing is stopping regular public schools from offering choice. Interesting double meaning of discrimination. Choice requires discrimination.

      I would argue that full inclusion is discrimination by non discrimination. Our public school discriminated against my son because he was more willing and able. The public school discriminated against my views of a proper education.

  15. Ponderosa defines the issue with charters perfectly.

    When Stuart Buck enters the conversation, that brings in the usual confused and dishonest double message we get from charter advocates. They simultaneously deny angrily that charters cream, and also proudly acknowledge that charters cream and contemptuously deride public schools for not doing the same thing. Sometimes the same person does both these things in the same breath. I’ve had charter advocates accuse me of slander for pointing out that charters cream while other charter advocates were proudly proclaiming yes, they do indeed cream.

    Cal, I’m defending Ravitch. She has changed her position once, based on a thorough examination of the evidence that the free-market so-called “reforms” she had previously supported were failing children. You don’t have to like her style or anything else about her, but she has not changed her positions often. Also, it’s inherently not *blind* zeal, as her change of heart was based on a thorough examination of the actual data. I won’t dispute her “zeal,” and feel free to dislike her style and tone — we all have our opinions. But I hope you’ve read her book, or will read it.

    • “They”

      Please stick with specific questions and not confuse things with “they”. The last time I checked, my name wasn’t Stuart Buck, and we’re not wearing the same team shirt.

      “…we all have our opinions.”

      Exactly. There’s that word again. Who gets to decide?

  16. Stuart Buck says:

    The problem, Caroline, is that you seem incapable of thinking about an issue in anything but the most simplistic black-and-white terms. It’s not contradictory at all to point out that 1) a few charters “cream” in the sense of getting students who are better from the outset (and whether this is a bad thing is something that you have to prove, not just assert); 2) many other charters do NOT cream in that sense (i.e., many KIPP students start out below their peers in public schools, not ahead); 3) some charters even affirmatively seek out the most disadvantaged students (there are over 70 charter schools nationwide targeted at disabled students, and many charter schools in Texas are aimed at “at risk” students, which means former dropouts, pregnant teens, drug users, etc.).

    Because the charter sector is so diverse, it’s silly to make blanket statements like you did in the first paragraph your May 25 7:43 a.m. comment. It’s even more silly to act as if “charter advocates” have contradicted themselves, when the only reason you see a contradiction is because you think the answer has to be either “charter schools all good!” or “charter schools all bad!”

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      I see the assertion constantly that charters skim funding from public schools. In New Jersey, this is beyond stupid. Until 18 months ago charters were funded at 2/3 with the remaining 1/3 funneled to the “sending” sending. Also, many charters are located in urban, poor districts which are Abbott districts. Abbott districts receive additional state funding over and above their local funding. Districts in Camden, Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken, and others receive in excess of $18,000 per pupil.

      Charters are regulated at the state level. Any generalized statement of what charters are and are not is a gross oversimplification.

      • In our state, the legislature ensured that public schools that lose students to charter schools continue to get the money for each of those students for many years.

  17. Actually, my view is not simplistic at all. It’s also accurate: charter advocates contradict themselves constantly on the creaming issue, and often in the same statement.

    1. All charters inherently cream in the sense that all their students had to specifically apply — they get no students assigned by default. Every student in every charter in the nation was “creamed” in that sense.
    2. “Creaming” goes beyond academic achievement — this is one area in which the charter apologists are constantly simplistic, misleading and/or dishonest. KIPP very aggressively creams for compliant, motivated and high-functioning students with supportive, compliant, motivated and high-functioning families, and aggressively pushes out those who are not sufficiently compliant, motivated and high-functioning. That is the case even for students who are struggling academically.
    3. A very few charters do seek out particular categories of challenged students, and I exempt them from this criticism. However, those are outliers — exceptions — and it’s misleading to cite them as a defense against the creaming accusations. The fact that charter apologists have to resort to that dishonest, misleading, inapplicable defense also reveals that they have no valid defense.

    • Peace Corps says:

      To your point one, the charter that I previously worked at had referrals from one district school. The district school recommended the charter school to students that had been expelled and were looking for somewhere to go.

      Unfortunately the charter school took 2 formally expelled students that I know of (probably a few more that I don’t know about). Neither worked out. They still weren’t interested in school even though the school tried to work with them in so many ways.

      It is hard for me to read your comments about charters, because they are so off the mark for the charter that I taught at.

      You may be correct about some or even many charters. But the blanket comments you make about charters are definitely not true for all charters.

      • Charter teachers and former charter teachers give me information all the time, Peace Corps. Yours is apparently an outlier. (It sounds like you no longer work there, though of course I have no other information.)

        • Peace Corps says:

          I’ve written about my experience at a charter school before, if you are really interested I could repeat it. But I have a feeling that you don’t really care about my experience since it doesn’t match your narrative. I am now at a district school, but I don’t have the animosity toward charters that you have. I strongly believe in choice.

    • “All charters inherently cream in the sense that all their students had to specifically apply ..”

      Those darn elitist urban parents. They are discriminating against those they leave behind. Let’s stop affluent parents from sending their kids to private schools because public schools are hurt when they leave. They get less money. Let’s stop parents from teaching at home or tutoring. Public schools have sent home notes telling me to practice math facts with my son. They are telling me to discriminate against less able or willing parents. I could have saved myself 12 years of blogging on this issue, helped my son at home, and laughed all the way to the SAT bank, while public schools wonder where on earth the achievement gap comes from. They want to close the achievement gap but won’t let the more willing and able go. They don’t have any solution, but complain mightily when charter schools simulate what many affluent parents do at home.

      Why did things evolve to the point where charter schools became necessary in the first place? What are public schools doing so they don’t discriminate against these more willing and able students? What’s their solution other than to try and make charter schools go away so that they can remain in their own dreamworld of pedagogy and low expectations, and then hide behind the issue of having to teach ALL students.

  18. Ponderosa says:

    Caroline’s Point #2 is so important to understand. Stuart, I don’t think you grasp the importance of docility because you’re not a teacher. A classroom with 1 or more bonkers students quickly becomes a romper room. I can’t tell you what a drag this is on our schools’ effectiveness. If Oakland Public Schools swapped their kids with KIPP’s kids, OPS would far outshine KIPP.

    • “A classroom with 1 or more bonkers students quickly becomes a romper room. I can’t tell you what a drag this is on our schools’ effectiveness.”

      SEPARATE THEM!

      If you can’t, then don’t stop parents from making the choice to do it. Affluent parents get that choice.

      If this happened in one of my son’s high school classes, parents would be storming the school to make it happen. In our lower schools with full inclusion, social goals outweigh academic ones, and it becomes a much touchier issue. My son has been in classes with chair throwers. My son has been in student groups where kids have cut up their work (with group grades, of course). Affluent parents just keep quiet and move their kids to private schools. Other parents keep quiet, discuss the problems in whispers at the grocery store, and make up the difference at home. I can tell which students get specific academic help at home. When I was young, I got to calculus in high school with absolutely no help at home. This is virtually impossible to do now.

      You can’t increase the ability spread in the lower grades and expect some sort of magic pedagogy dust to move kids along at their ZPD. Enrichment is not acceleration. You can’t hide behind the issue of having to teach ALL kids. They don’t have to be in the same room.

      • Ponderosa says:

        SteveH, I wish the parents of the “good” kids made more of a stink at our school. It would pressure administrators to take discipline more seriously. As it stands, the costs of doing serious discipline outweigh the benefits. The school board (made up of parents) seems to think referrals, suspensions and expulsions are evil; our principals operate with the understanding that their performance will be judged, in part, by how much they reduce these.

        • Do you think we parents haven’t made a stink (in a very nice way)? In K-8, social and academic goals collide. There is the dislike of the idea of tracking in the lower grades. Tracking (or whatever name you call it) can be good or bad, but I can make an argument that not separating kids is a form of tracking. It assumes that kids will naturally separate into their own level. It doesn’t work that way. Many kids get direct help and higher expectations at home. They are being pushed while others will get tracked naturally into the lower high school academic tiers. K-8 educators see kids who do well in high school, but never collect data on their specific home support.

          Our K-8 schools are known for full inclusion. People move to our town for that reason. The school committee has looked into ways to “tuition-in” kids from other towns. This means that they have to deal very carefully with the idea of when kids become too disruptive to stay. In a very nice way, and with a lot of input from the parents, they make that decision. (However, some parents of low functioning kids do not like full inclusion.) As I’ve mentioned before, I have seen some very nice benefits of this policy, but the schools don’t get this for free. They use differentiated instruction, but don’t look at the details too carefully. They don’t ask parents what goes on at home. A teacher once told me that it’s the kids in the middle, with no support at home, who are the ones most hurt.

          This is a basic assumption or belief of what K-8 education should be. The results of differentiated instruction research did not drive full inclusion. Full inclusion came in a basic driving assumption. Our state provides NO funds for TAG/Gate programs. (I don’t like TAG/Gate programs, but that’s another issue.) They say that all of the effort should be put into differentiation in the same classroom. Parents can’t fight this. They just move their kids to private K-8 schools if they can afford it. We were one of them. (I could give a big long story about what their differentiated instruction was for our son, but it mostly involved homework and our effort.) We ended up bringing our son back to the public schools in 6th grade because we really didn’t want to pay big bucks for some of the same ed school silliness (e.g. Everyday Math) that we could get for free in the public schools. Besides, our state now requires subject certification to teach 7th and 8th grades. Education became a lot more specific and less fuzzy. They started separating kids in math and using real textbooks. Now that he is in our public high school, we are much happier (because of the different tiers of academics) and feel that it provides as good an education as almost any private academy.

          As for issues of discipline, many schools will take the path of least resistance. It may affect academics, but they will always point to the kids who manage to do well. Discipline problems could be because of low functioning issues, or it could be because the kids are mean and just don’t care.

          In our high school, discipline problems are isolated. You can’t do that with full inclusion in the lower grades. The high school has three tiers; the lowest is for kids who are more than one year behind grade level. They have clearly-defined learning issues. The next level is College Prep (don’t get me started on how this assumes that everyone should go to college), and then there is the honors and AP level. Students can be in different levels for different classes, but most kids in the lowest level are completely in the lowest level. They get direct help to pass the state NCLB tests. They might have disruption issues, but the techniques to handle them are not confused with other types of discipline issues.

          The kids who might have bad grades because of attitude or whatever, are pushed into the college prep level. They are not allowed in the lowest level. They have different issues. So now kids (and their parents) who have a clue do everything they can to take only honors classes. This doesn’t seem as difficult as it sounds because the old college prep is now the new honors level, and AP is really not very “advanced”, but that’s another issue.

          This means that many discipline issues are isolated in the middle college prep level. You have bright kids who have trouble graduating. I’m sure that this is level where high schools have the most problems, academically and discipline-wise.

          I just don’t know how K-8 schools can possibly think that full inclusion classrooms are workable without sacrificing academics. Maybe they think that in the early grades the spread can’t be that large, but in one previous thread, an article talked about a second grade classroom where some kids were practicing their multiplication while others were still struggling with writing the numbers and adding with their fingers. They keep students they used to send out of town. They talk about “best practices”, discovery, critical thinking, and understanding all while they increase the spread of abilities and increase the number and types of discipline problems.

  19. Roger Sweeny says:

    At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy …

    Sweeping statements about groups of people, especially people you disagree with, are usually wrong. SOME charter opponents make some arguments. SOME charter supporters make some arguments. Not all.

    Pointing out hypocrisy and inconsistency is a wonderful thing.

    Pretending that everyone who “supports” or “opposes” charters says the exact same things is factually wrong. It divides the world into the righteous “us” and the evil “them.”

    It feels good but is morally wrong.

  20. Stuart Buck says:

    Your first point: All charters inherently cream in the sense that all their students had to specifically apply — they get no students assigned by default. Every student in every charter in the nation was “creamed” in that sense.

    Even if this is true, so what? This sort of “creaming” obviously makes no difference, or else the nationwide average for charter schools would be a lot better than it is. Moreover, I doubt that it’s true in any meaningful sense — at my local public school, I have to fill out *paper* applications *every year*, even for a child who is already attending that school. If I don’t do it in time, my children could end up reassigned across town or wherever the school district happens to want them.

    What’s your evidence on a national basis that the application process is any more demanding at charter schools than at public schools? Don’t pull the usual trick of citing one SF area KIPP school — I want data on 5,000+ charter schools and 100,000 traditional public schools. If you don’t have that data, then it is reckless to speak of what “charter schools” do. You just don’t know.

    2. Even assuming that your one-sided description of KIPP is completely true, KIPP has at most 2% of the nation’s charter schools. Once again, try not to make reckless generalizations about what all “charter schools” do when you have no knowledge or evidence about more than a handful of them.

    3. Charter schools that focus on special ed or “at risk” kids outnumber KIPP. The point isn’t to claim that they represent all charter schools but to answer (in part) your dishonest attempt to describe all charter schools in the same terms.

  21. Stuart Buck says:

    It’s also accurate: charter advocates contradict themselves constantly on the creaming issue, and often in the same statement.

    It simply is not a contradiction to say: “Charter schools can’t be summed up as one-sidedly as you would like; maybe a few charter schools cream, but others don’t, and why does it matter so much anyway?”

  22. Stuart Buck says:

    Ponderosa:

    If Oakland Public Schools swapped their kids with KIPP’s kids, OPS would far outshine KIPP.

    I know lots of guys on the basketball court who love to trash-talk the other guy, but that doesn’t mean they really have better skills than the other guy.

    Anyway, if removing the occasional bad apple is such an important key to classroom success — which I have no reason to doubt — then what charter opponents should be doing is lobbying for traditional public schools to have more disciplinary power, including easier expulsion or use of alternative schools.

    To argue against KIPP on this basis is criminally immoral — it amounts to saying, “Because we can’t do a certain thing that would help us educate kids, KIPP’s kids shouldn’t be able to get a good education.” To make such an argument shows that someone cares more about point-scoring against KIPP than about educating anybody.

  23. Stuart Buck says:

    I should clarify that that last paragraph there may not apply to Ponderosa in particular, although it does apply to certain anti-KIPP folks.

  24. Roger Sweeny says:

    Is there any decent research to help answer the following questions?

    1. All charters “cream” in the sense that a student’s family has to make a choice to try to send the student to the charter rather than the default public school. How much practical significance does this have? Stuart Buck (May 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm) says that he has to affirmatively file paperwork where he lives in order to get his kids into their local school even though they went there the previous year.

    2. As far as I know, all charters are prohibited from having any sort of selective admissions. If there are more applications than places, admissions have to be made by some sort of lottery. Is this true? What proportion of charters is this true of: 10%, 50% 90%, 99%?

    3. Even when charters are legally required to admit randomly, how often do they “work around” that? CarolineSF tells of a San Francisco KIPP requiring its applicants to take a test. I don’t know the details but I gather that they gave applicants the impression that only high scorers would get in, thus scaring off some students who didn’t think they would do well. Again, I don’t know the details but I gather that the school officially said that the test had nothing to do with admissions, only placement once the student was admitted. In any case, I am curious how common it is for charters to affirmatively try to avoid admitting students they think will be a problem.

    4. Much of the success of schools like KIPP seems to be because they actually require students to “get with the program.” If you don’t do the work, you are made very uncomfortable and the school lets you know that you would probably be happier elsewhere. What are the actual attrition rates at successful charters?

    5. Some charters actively seek out “at risk” kids. Some get them whether they like it or not. Unsurprisingly, these schools often aren’t successful (e.g. Peace Corps at May 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm). How common is this, as compared to KIPP and KIPP-like schools?

    • 1. Oh please, filling in paperwork on the one hand and the future of your child on the other. Yeah, there’s an insurmountable barrier.

      2. Yes and, to the best of my knowledge, 100%. If you want to investigate public schools that are overtly and unapologetically selective, that would be “magnet” schools.

      3. Caroline’s long on implications and scary bogeymen but somewhat short on specifics and proof.

      4. About the same as surrounding schools with similar demographic makeup.

      5. Huh? A link please. Is “Peace Corp” a charter school?

      The question you didn’t ask is “who cares more about the child’s welfare, the parent(s) or the teacher(s)?”

      • “Overtly” selective is the point about public magnet schools. And no magnet school should ever be compared to non-selective public schools in a way that implies that they are on a level playing field.

        Charters, on the other hand, are COVERTLY selective, and steadily deny being selective at all. Then they tout themselves as superior to the public schools that accept all students.

        Your sneer in item one is at dysfunctional parents. Sure, sneer at them, but their children pose a challenge to public schools, and charter schools do not enroll the children of those parents.

        And no, it’s entirely false to claim that charters with 60% pushout rates have the same attrition rates as surrounding public schools. I’ve repeatedly done those comparisons and found that comparable public schools don’t show attrition rates AT ALL. They have turnover, as low-income families tend to have unstable lives and move a lot, but they have kids coming in to replace the kids who leave. Again, that response from the charter defenders is completely false.

        • Stuart Buck says:

          Caroline, Mathematica did a solid study of this issue, whereas you did not do so.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        “Peace Corps” is a commenter here. I was referencing his (her?) comment above on May 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm.

  25. Responding to @Roger: 1. All charters “cream” in the sense that a student’s family has to make a choice to try to send the student to the charter rather than the default public school. How much practical significance does this have? Stuart Buck (May 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm) says that he has to affirmatively file paperwork where he lives in order to get his kids into their local school even though they went there the previous year.

    Me: But what Stuart says is irrelevant, because first, many parents will fill out the paperwork but not ask anything about the school, or ask “Is there a better school?” etc. Also, children whose parents do not follow the process at all will still be assigned to a public school; he indicates it may be a school across town, but that’s irrelevant to my point. Public school classes still enroll kids whose parents complied with the process but didn’t know or care enough to seek out a school; and kids who didn’t have parents who even filled out the paperwork. Charter schools’ classes are completely made up of kids whose parents made an effort to seek out a school. That’s a huge difference. (Despite that enormous built-in advantage, charter schools overall perform less well than public schools.)

    2. As far as I know, all charters are prohibited from having any sort of selective admissions. If there are more applications than places, admissions have to be made by some sort of lottery. Is this true? What proportion of charters is this true of: 10%, 50% 90%, 99%?

    Me: charters can do anything they want. “Prohibited” my ***. Who is to oversee and stop them? Many charters CLAIM to have lotteries — who knows? Who is supposed to be keeping tabs on that? I know charters in SF that claim to be oversubscribed and claim to require lotteries when that is not true.

    3. Even when charters are legally required to admit randomly, how often do they “work around” that? CarolineSF tells of a San Francisco KIPP requiring its applicants to take a test. I don’t know the details but I gather that they gave applicants the impression that only high scorers would get in, thus scaring off some students who didn’t think they would do well. Again, I don’t know the details but I gather that the school officially said that the test had nothing to do with admissions, only placement once the student was admitted. In any case, I am curious how common it is for charters to affirmatively try to avoid admitting students they think will be a problem.
    Me: Nobody has any way of finding that out. I know firsthand that KIPP SF Bay Academy required its applicants to take a test in the year I applied for my child (to find out if that was the case). That also winnows out students who are not willing to comply with sitting for a test, or too traumatized by tests — these kids are grades 5 and up, so they’re big enough to resist.

    4. Much of the success of schools like KIPP seems to be because they actually require students to “get with the program.” If you don’t do the work, you are made very uncomfortable and the school lets you know that you would probably be happier elsewhere. What are the actual attrition rates at successful charters?
    Me: This would require enormous research. Some of it has been done: SRI International studied the Bay Area KIPP schools in 2008 (a study paid for by KIPP) and found that they had 60% attrition — that is, the majority of the students left and were not replaced — and that those were consistently the least successful students.

    5. Some charters actively seek out “at risk” kids. Some get them whether they like it or not. Unsurprisingly, these schools often aren’t successful (e.g. Peace Corps at May 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm). How common is this, as compared to KIPP and KIPP-like schools?
    Me: I don’t know if that has been studied. Studying charters is difficult since they get no oversight and are not required to cooperate. I dispute that any charters get at-risk kids whether they like it or not. Charters can do anything they want and never, ever have to accept a student they don’t want.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Caroline,

      I don’t know if you kept notes on this at the time, but when you had your daughter apply to KIPP SF Bay Academy and they told her she had to take a test, what was the procedure? Did the two of you go to the school and they sprung the requirement on you? Did she have to take it then and there? Was it, on the other hand, noted on a website or on admission materials they mailed to you or provided through some third party? Did they say what the test was going to be used for? Did they say how long the test would be or give any indication what it would be like? Did your daughter actually take the test? If so, what was it like?

      Since then, has any member of your organization (or anyone else you know) done the same thing, attempted to register a child to find out if a test is still being required? If so, what was the result?

    • I’ve got to wonder, have you had any victories lately?

      There’s a steady drum beat of expansions of charter caps, easing of the politically-motivated disadvantages forced on charters, expansions and enactments of voucher and tax credit programs, legislation to reduce the impact of tenure, restrictions on collective bargaining by government – including teacher’s – unions and measures to push teacher accountability.

      Then there’s the tsunami of on-line resources that seem to have burst on the scene just within the last year. Khan Academy and the like as well as the announcement by one “name” university after another of free/low-cost on-line courses.

      I’m proud to say that Michigan’s put in a bid for leading the charge with legislation that first loosens and then, in 2015, completely removes the cap on charters. It could yet be that Michigan will see the first public school district brought to an end in favor of lots of independent charter schools. Imagine that!

      It’s an exciting future Caroline.

    • Stuart Buck says:

      Charter schools’ classes are completely made up of kids whose parents made an effort to seek out a school.

      But — note that this is a point that Caroline won’t and can’t answer — there are many times more public school students of whom this can be said. Millions upon millions of parents ponder over public school quality when they decide where to move. For any individual parent, selecting a public school is harder than selecting a charter school, for at least two reasons:

      1. To study public school quality takes a lot more work than looking into a charter school (simply because there are many more traditional public schools to consider).

      2. You have to have the money to get a home in the “right” school zone for your interests and needs, as well as the capacity to make everything else in your life, such as commute, be consistent with living in that zone.

      The end result is that the “selection” Caroline is whining about is, I don’t know, about a hundred times more prevalent within the rest of the public school system.

      The fact that she and the Ravitches of the world constantly complain about “selection” at a handful of charter schools while ignoring the much more challenging selection process in the rest of the public school system says something about the sincerity of their supposed concerns.

  26. Oh, and charter schools routinely tell the press that they have “long waiting lists” — and that is obligingly parroted by compliant and lazy reporters who should be slapped for not phoning the school and asking if there’s space for “my kindergartner” before printing the claim.

    The schools with sky-high attrition claim to have “long waiting lists.” Well, all the people on those supposed “long waiting lists” have to do is wait till the pushouts start streaming out the door, right?

    That’s true of some of the charters in “Waiting for Superman” whose applicants are shown sobbing because they didn’t “win” the lottery. The SEED school, shown in WFS, has an attrition rate of 70%, according to the New York Times. Don’t cry, applicant — just wait a couple of weeks! There’s plenty of space for you.

  27. Stuart Buck says:

    It’s rather distasteful that privileged middle-aged-to-elderly white women who themselves chose their own children’s schools based not just on motivation but on wealth, turn around and feign to be scandalized that a few inner-city black kids ever get to act upon the same motivation.

    • Not just Whites. I remember shortly after President Obama took office, charter schools in the DC area were eliminated. A Black woman appealed to him on TV, asking him to intervene for her child’s sake, but of course that’s not his style. He’ll take care of his own children in private schools; as for that poor Black woman, no doubt she’ll be voting for him again anyway, to the direct harm of her family.

  28. I suppose I should take it as a compliment that I’m now being ignored.

    So, either the “experiment” has failed, or charter school cream, those kids are “lucky”, and it’s just not fair because they don’t have to solve the same problems as the regular public schools; problems for which public schools have no solution. In fact, with all of the wonderful talk of full inclusion and differentiated instruction, they seem to claim that there is no problem. There is a huge demand by urban parents for charter schools, but it’s really hedge fund managers who are magically creating this demand? All of this is to take the focus off of why that demand exists in the first place. They say that parents are stupid or elitist or don’t care about the kids left behind.

    It’s amazing to see the extraordinary lengths to which people go to blame charter schools. Much of it has little to do with the experiment failing, but their creaming and successes. Which is it? Some charter schools may stink and offer a lot of false advertising, but they will soon go out of business. What is this mechanism for public schools? Who gets to decide, politicians and educators, or parents?

    If this is some sort of “greater good” issue, then what is the greater good justification of not separating kids academically in K-8? What are the tradeoffs? Why are affluent parents let out of this greater good justification? Why are affluent parents allowed to make this decision? Why are parents allowed to directly teach their kids at home?

    Allen, I’m glad to hear that Michigan is leading the way. They already allow students to go to the public school of their choice if there is an opening. This is really about turf and control. Who gets to decide? Whose “opinion” matters?

    Some public schools will compete. Our K-8 public schools already feel the heat. They are now hoisted with their own petard and find that to properly differentiate instruction, they have to separate students. They offered to let our son skip a grade. What does this imply in a full inclusion environment with ability levels that span multiple years? (enrichment versus acceleration) One charter school in our area has what it calls a full inclusion environment, but core academic classes are separated by ability and results. With choice, schools will no longer be allowed to live in their own pedagogical and supply and demand dreamworld. Students will be the winners.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Why are parents allowed to directly teach their kids at home?

      This is actually relatively new. Until about 20 years ago, it was illegal to homeschool in many places and difficult to get permission in others. It was definitely not considered a right. Interestingly, many of the same people who don’t like charter schools now, and want to limit or abolish them now, wanted to limit or prohibit homeschooling then.