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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 09:16 AM
Original message
Auditor: Closed charter school owes state $1.4 million
Mount Vernon News - Mount Vernon, Ohio
CLEVELAND (AP) -- A former charter school that once was the largest in the city owes the Ohio Department of Education $1.4 million for inflated enrollment figures, a state audit found.

The defunct International Preparatory School also misspent nearly $1.6 million in federal grant money, according to the audit that was sent to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and the Ohio attorney general.

"In my opinion, it seems like a pretty heinous case," Auditor Mary Taylor said Thursday. "This is pretty serious, and these people need to be held accountable."

The audit covers the 15 final months the school was open. It was closed in October 2005 by its sponsor, the Lucas County Educational Service Center, following state audits that identified nearly $30,000 in findings for recovery, which are public dollars that were illegally spent.
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AnneD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. This is why you don't mix
business with education (or health care for that matter). That is 1.4 million that has evaporated and lost to education. The kids are the real losers here.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
2. Accountable?
Silly auditor! "Accountability" doesn't apply to ideologues who are trying to demonstrate how much better the private sector does at everything and how wasteful the government is regardless of what it's doing. Just swallow the $3 million loss; the charter school scammers are off to Cincinnati or Louisville or Toledo to sell some more of their snake oil, and as busy men they don't have time for "accountability."
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. Lather, rinse repeat.
The same story (though not of that magnitude) is being repeated all over Colorado as well. Here's what happens:

People running charters often have no experience with finance. They may be able to run the instruction side (I'll leave that up to teachers to comment on), but when it comes to setting up a purchasing process, putting policies in place to govern expenditures, hiring and keeping track of payroll, estimating enrollments and revenue - they pretty much suck.

So what happens is, they set up the charter school, feeling really flush with cash. "Wow, those stupid public schools just don't know how to put money into the classroom! We can hire TWICE as many teachers as they said we could!" So they go about staffing their schools at very low ratios - because they can when the teachers are all starting out on the bottom of the salary schedule. In addition, they hire paras and secretaries and purchase school sites for ridiculously inflated prices, enter contracts with accellerator clauses - anything for the least up-front cash they can find.

Well, a few years pass, and they realize they don't have as much money as they thought. The salaries are increasing not only with COLA, but with experience steps and with teachers earning credits. Pay for teachers to work after school and on curriculum development committees is very high (after all, they have no curriculum yet, so it all has to be created). The rents increase each year. Health insurance skyrockets. Utilities mount. And then there's the unexpected things - the lawsuit filed by the kid who was injured on the inadequately supervised football field (did you remember to send in that insurance premium? No? SH*T!). All this adds up to less and less cash, and more and more trouble.

By about year 5, the school is in serious trouble. They've cut all expenditures to the bone, and then they start looking at their payroll. The paras are first to go. Then the secretaries. Then the lowest seniority teachers. Class sizes shoot up, causing parents to wonder, "What did we send our kids here for again?" And the next thing you know, an auditor is releasing a report citing your school as a "going concern." Oopsie. You're busted!

Before anyone accuses me of having a beef with charters, let me say that it's not the charters I have the beef about. It's the hubris they display in assuming that public schools have NOTHING of value to offer in getting started. Yes, some districts have certainly had their share of problems, but it's inexcusable for a charter administrator to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to all the good resources that are out there (GFOA, ASBO) to help in setting up a school's finances. Until that changes, we'll keep seeing more and more of this happening.

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PA Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Students in PA charter schools score lower on standardized tests
This article ran in a local paper recently. What a shock! Privatization is not always the answer.


<snip>
Ten years after passage of the state's charter school law, though, achievement at Propel East and most charter schools in Pennsylvania lags behind that of their home districts.


Charter school students in Pennsylvania on average aren't performing as well on standardized tests as students in regular public schools, a study by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shows.


In addition, average test scores of charter school students fell below the averages in the students' home school districts, the data show.

"Evidence around the country demonstrates that those who considered charter schools a magic bullet were wrong," said Ron Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center, a public policy group based in Harrisburg. "They are not."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/tod...
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. They found the same thing here.
And yet, still written in our NCLB laws are REQUIREMENTS that schools become charters if they fail to meet AYP performance targets.

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alstephenson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Charter schools certainly aren't a "magic bullet", BUT
they do represent an alternative to conventional public education. Charter schools often serve "at risk" children, who often are several years behind their peers in reading, math, etc. Many charter schools serve children of recent immigrants who are also behind others their age. I know many dedicated and committed charter school educators and administrators so it's not fair to paint them all with one broad brush stroke.
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jazzjunkysue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-03-07 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #8
79. Nope. They don't require state certifications for teachers.
Or administrators, for that matter.

That's why they're cheaper: They can hire cheap "teachers" on the cheap. And their instability is never good for students, faculties, or communities. The first thing a school needs to be is stable, dependable, familiar, reassuring. Popping up alot of overnight wonders that have low chances for success are not in anyone's interest, except of course evangelicals who want to prostletize directly to unsuspecting students.
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alstephenson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. Charter schools are not "privitized"...
they are public entities. They can not charge tuition - they are paid by the federal and state governments on a "per pupil" basis. They are subject to the same oversight as conventional public schools. Perhaps the isolated problems are due more to poor oversight. A few examples of failed charter schools doesn't make them all BAD anymore than it makes all conventional public schools GOOD.
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PA Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Privatize:
to make private ; especially : to change (as a business or industry) from public to private control or ownership.

Privatization: the transfer of property or responsibility from the public sector (government) to the private sector (business). The term can refer to partial or complete transfer of any property or responsibility held by government.

Charter schools are indeed privately owned, in fact many are owned by for-profit corporations. Personally, I have a problem with corporations looking for ways to make a profit on educating our kids. Charter schools in PA do not have to abide by many of the regulations that govern public schools.

The article I cited showed that there were some charter schools in PA that were indeed outperforming their public school counterparts on standardized testing. The majority, however were not.

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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
21. No they are NOT subject to the same oversight
State laws vary. In my state, there is very little oversight.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #9
24. They need to improve the oversight.
Here's the problem I see with some of our charter schools in Colorado (SOME, not all - please don't misunderstand me).

Generally, when a charter is formed in conjunction with a public school district, it gets off to a much better start. Conversely, those that start through animosity toward the district - well, they often seem to make decisions simply to be contrary. One school, for example, ignored the district's admonitions against entering into a lease with a certain community member (with whom the district had had previous dealings). The school went ahead with the lease, got screwed on the deal, and had to be bailed out by the district. That only further soured the relationship with the district, of course. Another charter decided they would purchase their own liability and workers' comp insurance instead of participating in the district pool. Of course, they ended up having a huge premium payment which they couldn't pay - so they just didn't. Now they're swinging in the breeze with an Errors and Omissions lawsuit hanging over their head through a wrongful firing.

Here in CO, though the charters are autonomomous in many things, ultimately the district in which they are located is still the "deep pockets" that people turn to when filing lawsuits. So - going back to the O&E situation - the district did request evidence of insurance coverage from the charter (fearing that they may have let their policy lapse). The charter refused the request. The policy WAS lapsed, and now the DISTRICT is named in the lawsuit as a codefendant. They'll end up having to pay from THEIR pool, even though the charter refused training on personnel law and practice, refused to adopt reasonable policies regarding hiring and firing, and did not adequately provide coverage for these situations.

I know charters are often formed to "cut through the bureaucracy", but sometimes bureaucracy exists to cover your risk. More oversight is needed to make sure charters are following at least a somewhat rational course of action.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:38 AM
Response to Reply #3
19. I'll comment on curriculum
We had a charter here in MO where they burned incense and taught the kids yoga and meditation.

And when the school flopped, the founder was nominated for a seat on the state board of ed by the repuke governor. Thanks to a massive email campaign (initiated by DUers!!) her nomination was withdrawn.
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HockeyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
4. Yes, that happens
There was one here, among very few charters at all, that was shut down by the state. Parents started complaining about the conditions in the school; bugs, rats, filthy bathrooms, etc. They investigated and also found that majority of the teachers were not only uncertified, but some didn't even have a college degree. A few of the Teacher Assistants didn't even have a high school diploma.

Cannot get much worse than this.
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 05:36 PM
Response to Original message
7. It's the same in Arizona
What I can't figure out is what kind of logic explains a claim that private companies can operate schools not only cheaper than the government can operate them but so much cheaper that they can generate a PROFIT for the owners of the companies? Oh, and not only can they do it cheaper, but they can turn out a better "product," in the form of "better" educated students?

None of that computes in my feeble brain. It just doesn't.

One of the excuses some of the charters here in Arizona have made for the poor performance of their students, as measured by standardized test scores, is that often the students who come to the charters are poorly performing to begin with, for whatever reason. And some of the schools advertise that they cater to the poorly performing student and can/will improve their test scores. From what I've seen, it simply doesn't happen. IMHO, low test scores are the result of a complexity of causes, and switching schools -- especially to one that has few checks on its performance -- isn't going to solve the problem. But that's just me.

I have an acquaintance who teaches in a christian school (K-12) that may or may not be a "charter" school. She used to teach kindergarten, now teaches some combination of kindergarten and first grade, plus junior high English. She has a 2-year degree in Early Childhood Education, and I don't think I've ever heard her utter a single sentence that didn't have at least one grammatical error. Of course, most of the time I see her, she's had six or eight beers. . . . .


Tansy Gold
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. So many bad stories about charter schools.
There are some good ones out there. There is a chain, I am aware of, that seems to be pretty good. The school is bound by the the government's laws for all state public schools. They do have several safeguards in place. They are accountable to a all-volunteer board that oversees the school. At the end of each year they survey the parents and get the parents to rate the school, teachers and staff members. The teacher's pay is tied into the student's grades. If the students do not get good grades, the teacher's pay is directly tied into that.

These particular schools do the state mandated tests but they also felt that did not give them enough direction and so they ended up finding additional tests that they do three times a year. Those are national tests that give real time results so that as soon as the students finishes taking them, the school not only knows their score but also where the child's weaknesses lie. Say the child is weak in math, the test will show that as well as the particular area of math that needs work. (IE. fractions, etc....)

One of these schools showed an average grade school growth rate, last year, of 1.8 years. They expect growth from every sector whether you are in the bottom or top of your class. The school chain truly believes that you can educate every child and no child in unreachable.

I know this is just one charter school chain but I did want to point out that not all of them are like the one described above. I think we are often too quick to tar everyone with the same brush.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
11. wow, lots of negative comments about charter schools here!
a lot of ignorance, too.

charter schools are public and free. they are funded by the state like any other public school. they are thought of as outcasts, too, so other schools end up getting more money than charter schools. we get $4 per child, and the other schools get $8 per child. we do a lot of fundraising for basics.

i work in a charter school, my kids attend charter schools, and i have helped start another charter school in our community. i am all for them, esp in a place where the public schools are horrible, where the teachers tell the kids they are useless, where the curriculum does not satisfy bright kids and where teachers don't know how to teach bright kids. private school is financially out of reach for many people here, so charter schoos are a good alternative.

charter schools are frequently the last resort for many kids that are falling through the cracks in public school. they are troubled, have family problems and/or learning disabilities. they have usually been expelled from the public school, so they come to a charter school. they ultimately don't work out and end up in some other institution for children. i've seen it happen many times.

in a small school, kids with disabilities get special attention that a large school cannot give. it is a good environment for them, so small charter schools may have more kids with disabilities per capita.

the schools i am involved with have some of the highest test scores in the state. i think testing is a sham (they take a month out of our regular education to 'train' kids to take these tests, which take up two more weeks of school), but if people want to use testing as a barometer, our kids are on top. these kids move on to the regular public high school, where they are bored and graduate learning nothing, because they are not challenged.

i don't know how any school can fudge enrollment figures and expect to get away with it. there are only so many kids in a district.

every school needs a business manager. it is a tough job. i work closely with ours. her job is overwhelming to me. there is constant education around it, new laws, new financial info, knowing how to balance the books yet keep the teachers supplied. it is not easy.

maybe not all charter schools are not great, as this example here, but ours are free alternatives with lots of one-on-one and creative curriculums, which i don't see in our public schools.

ok. i am off my soapbox.
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Thank you for comments based on actual experience and facts
As too often happens, ideology supplies a pre-manufactured black-and-white opinion, while experience provides one more nuanced and practical.

Good luck with your school. :-) You and others like you are doing twice the work for half the pay, usually for kids few others will bother with.

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. you're welcome.
Edited on Fri Feb-23-07 10:37 PM by genevat
charter schools really get a bum rap. the hoops we've had to jump through for two are just ridiculous. the school board plays games, they stall, they need more time. they are afraid we are taking money from the district. well, if they had great schools IN the district, we would not need four charter schools and four or five private schools in a COUNTY of 30,000 people. i think the message is strong to improve the public schools, but they just don't see it. instead, charter schools are the villains. :eyes:
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. I agree that too many schools are too large
They should not be any bigger than about 1500. Period!

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 10:39 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. it's not that schools are too large
they just need to hire more teachers and staff to keep ratios low. but they don't pay enough to attract them, esp good ones. then they wonder why kids are acting out as young adults. well, they haven't tended to them as children, that's why.
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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 06:33 AM
Response to Reply #11
17. Many of your points underline why we need school vouchers!
EOM
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:45 AM
Response to Reply #17
22. Yes let's take money away from public education!
That's a great solution to our problems. :sarcasm:
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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 06:57 AM
Response to Reply #22
55. So a child who lives in a neighborhood with bad schools . . .
whose family is too poor to move to a good district is forced to go to a failing school. Even if you make the voucher just a public school opportunity, at least give people the opportunity to go to good schools if their current district is failing them!
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #55
57. Then let us fund and support that public school in order to make it better
Most inner city schools are poorly funded, poorly staffed, and poorly thought of. Yet if we would pay to upgrade those schools' infrastructure, pay the teachers the money required to get them to work in that school, you would find that these schools radically and dramatically improve.

Vouchers are simply one more way that the right wing in this country is trying to destroy the public education system. It is their fervent desire to privatize much of our education(greatly benefitting religious schools), creating a two tiered education system, control the curriculum, and ultimately dumbing down our children, all the while making obscene amounts of money.

You cannot have a one size fits all scheme for funding all of our public schools. Inner city schools generally need more funding, for they are dealing with children who have many, many more problems, ranging from student hunger, to learning disabilities, to violence, on and on. In addition, you need to entice teachers, good teachers, to come back and teach in the inner city. This requires money also.

Vouchers aren't the answer to the problem. They are a feel good band aid, designed to undercut our public schools and ultimately leave our children less educated, the better to fleece them, politically and economically.
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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 07:53 AM
Response to Reply #57
58. In my city, they already spend more per student.
We have been throwing money at this problem for years, yet the stats I have seen show that money is not what makes a school better. Let's try something new that will have an immediate affect for the poor people.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #58
61. What have they been spending that money on? How much more money per student are we talking about?
If they've been spending that money on metal detectors and security guards, that will not entice the best teachers to work there. And frankly, how much more money per student are they spending. Inner city and troubled schools need a lot of help. ESL classes, remidial classes, health care, high quality counseling, on and on the list goes. Yet if you do this, if you make these commitments, you will have a better school and better students as a result.

However with private schools, you quality of education is frequently worse than that of public schools. Since these schools are run as a for profit operation, corners are cut, teachers are even more grossly underpaid, many facilities are second rate, and in an overwhelming number of cases, religious dogma has a prominent place in the curriculum. Is this what you really want? This is what the drive towards vouchers, the first step towards privatizing all education, is all about.

NCLB is also another front in the war on public schools. Insane, one size fits all standards, with no funding provided for it, NCLB is designed not to hold teachers or schools truly accountable, but rather to set impossible standards that an increasing number schools won't be able to meet. Thus, declaring our public school system a failure, the government will hand out more and more vouchers, funnelling our children into private, mostly religious schools.
NCLB is just another way of draining our schools dry in order to line the pockets of poor quality, mostly religious private schools.

One other thing for you to consider also. How do they measure progress at these inner city schools? Do they take into account the cultural, language, and socioeconomic differences, or are the still using the one size fits all, middle class WASP assessment tools? They way an assessment is done, whether or not is takes into account various cultural and SES differences makes a huge difference in how well a student does on such assessment tests.
This has been show time and again, yet sadly, with NCLB and other such one size fits all assessments are still quite common.

Are public schools free of problems, by no means. Will simply throwing money at the problems solve them? No, you have to be selective in your money use, and also be prepared to spend a lot of money on certain targeted schools. But doing such is well worth it, to provide a high quality, free education for all of our students. The alternative, lower quality, religiously dominated private schooling is unthinkable.
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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #61
63. I understand your points . . .
but in the current system if you are in one of the failing school systems you have no choice. Why do you want to take away a families choice about where to send their children to school? Even if the vouchers remain in the public school domain it would still provide a family with an opportunity they don't have. Regardless of how much money we throw at schools, there will good schools and bad schools. We should give all children the opportunity to go to good schools. I never understand why people want to limit others freedoms.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #63
72. Please, stop pulling out the limiting others freedom canard.
Edited on Sun Feb-25-07 11:12 AM by MadHound
If a family wants to send their child to a private school, fine with me. But frankly I don't think that it is right for my tax dollars, in the form of vouchers, to go to paying for it. In most public school systems, you don't have to have a voucher to transfer your child to a different public school, there are mechanisms already in place for such situations. No, vouchers are pretty much relagated to providing public funds for private schools. If this is what you are supporting, then quite frankly we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, for I will continue to support the seperation of all matters between church and state, including our childrens' schooling.

And the thing about the current system is that it is setting more and more of our schools up for failure. This is the entire point behind NCLB. Instead of setting our schools, educators and children up for this sort of failure, let us instead provide them with the financing, infrastructure and tools necessary to insure that all public school students receive a high quality education, no matter where they live. This is possible, but sadly it takes a long term commitment by the voting public, hard to get when most worry more about the taxes they pay than the education of their children.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #55
69. Quit believing the hype
It is advantageous to those who want vouchers for their own children to criticize and denigrate public schools. It is convenient to criticize those schools serving the neediest kids, as this prevents the voucher proponents from criticizing the schools in THEIR communities.

I have spent nearly 30 years teaching in the urban core in my community. My school, as well as many others in the district where I work, has not only met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) criteria under NCLB, it is one of the best kept secrets in this area. I can write a book full of success stories about schools serving our neediest kids. I have visited schools in Harlem that are outstanding. There is excellence in every low income neighborhood in America.

My school has a waiting list of student teachers from area universities who want to do their practicum in our school serving families too poor to move to a "good district" (your phrase, not mine). There is a team of researchers from Harvard in our building this year studying instruction and a school climate that works for low income kids.

And area suburban districts (you know, those "good schools" you mention) send their teachers to our school district for training. They recognize the excellence. We routinely receive awards from the state for the innovative and successful programs we provide for our kids.

But it is convenient and it fits the voucher agenda to call our urban schools "failing". It happens at the state capitol where they have passed charter school legislation (but charters are only allowed in the 2 largest urban districts in the state) and they are now working furiously to promote vouchers. There is even a republican state senator who is telling anyone who listens to her that 95% of the kids graduating from my district are functionally illiterate. Completely false, but who would ever deny the word of a state senator?? And who is brave enough to actually come visit these "failing" schools to see the failures for themselves?

But wealthy parents who can afford private schools and who donate to politicians want vouchers for THEIR children. They aren't concerned about low income kids who live in neighborhoods they are afraid to drive into! But they will sure paint a portrait of concern for the kids in these neighborhoods, a portrait that fits their VOUCHERS agenda.

Quit believing the hype.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-03-07 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #69
78. I never have believed the hype.
But then, you knew that, lol.

As an educator, you have seen how the public scapegoating of schools has become mainstream, and not just a republican political tool. These days, everybody blames "the schools" for everything. It's so much easier to focus on a ready-made scapegoat than to focus on the conditions that are really responsible for impeding learning.

You know; those conditions outside of the school building, that "the schools" have no power to address, but still severely impact student learning.

Yet, students are still learning. Teachers are still teaching, doing their best to overcome all those odds, and, miraculously, often succeeding.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #17
26. You've got to be kidding.
Over my dead body will my tax dollars go toward benefiting a church that believes being gay will send me to hell. A church so hypocritical that while they're making these moral judgments against me, they're hiding their own immorality by shifting serial child rapists from church to church and claiming they know nothing.

No fricking way.
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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 06:59 AM
Response to Reply #26
56. Individually, all of us support programs with disagree with . .
when we pay our taxes.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #56
65. And we all have the right to object to such use of taxes.
Particularly in this case, where my tax money would be used as a personal assault on my own personal liberties. That's just inherently wrong.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #11
20. We have a ton of charters in my state
and not a one is successful. Not one.
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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #20
49. Thankyou for the dose of REALITY.
Not some imagined fantasy that some misquided persons here have tried to spew...
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #11
25. Interesting. Now here's the flip side:
Here in Colorado, charters are required to receive the same per pupil funding that regular schools get. In fact, most are funded directly by the state - bypassing the school district altogether. They are also required to receive a per-pupil portion of all federal funds the district receives. On top of this, charters have access to millions of dollars of capital construction money set aside by the Colorado legislature to help them in constructing new schools (most of which are duplicating space already available at the district - but I guess that's their choice). So the old canard, "they get more money than us" doesn't apply here.

We have more charters per capita than any other state, so examples abound of good schools and bad schools. I'd say most do an adequate job, though data analysis recently released shows that they actually perform less well than regular public schools with the same student makeup. So they are not the "magic bullet" that so many seem to believe they are. We have charters for gifted kids, low performing kids, at-risk kids, and just run-of-the-mill kids. The ones I find particularly troubling are the "white flight" charters, which make up some of the largest in the state.

For example, in Brighton school district, developers are just now building out all the farmland that surrounds the community. Hundreds of houses are being built each year. Because the developer must either contribute an impact fee to the district or set aside land for school purposes, they've gotten wise. They set aside the land, then they create a charter school within the development. This essentially "walls off" the development from having to accept any of the brown kids in town. This - in my opinion - is despicable.

In addition, many of the other charters are allowed to turn away high needs special education kids (they'll take the lower cost speech-language kids), by saying "We can't meet your needs here." So, even though a charter may have the same percentage makeup of special ed kids, the district has a much higher proportion of multiply disabled, one-on-one nurse para, or high-need E.D. kids which cost MUCH more per pupil to educate than we receive. We're only reimbursed at about 38% of the sped costs as it is. And charters get to skim off the lower cost kids, but this allows them to claim their portion of Title VIB money from the district. They should not be allowed to do this, obviously.

On the other hand, the charters that ARE formed to address the needs of at-risk kids often come under the gun for the very reasons that caused them to be formed in the first place. For example, a school might be formed to serve the highest at-risk kids - the pregnant girls, kids with kids, homeless youth, etc. Then the school is condemned for not getting their attendance up, for low test scores, low graduation rates, etc. And yet, if you compared it to what the kids HAD been doing, they're actually doing much better. There needs to be more freedom for schools that are working with this population.

All I'm saying is that the world of charters is not particularly rosy, but I believe they have a place. I think districts would do better if they didn't have knee-jerk reactions AGAINST them, but that sword cuts both ways. Charters that are formed out of animosity to public schools have an even tougher row to hoe.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #25
31. I think that is despicable.....
I am not sure what state lets schools discriminate against blacks and lets schools only choose whites but if that is what is happening then they need to be sued. Charter schools are bound by all public school regulations in the state in which they reside and if the state allows this kind of prejudice then all officials need to be ousted and the schools need to be shut down - all of them.

If, on the other hand, it is simply that they are on the outskirts of town then people of all color are still able to attend. One nice thing about charters is they are not districted. One charter school, here, teaches kids from SIX counties! The longest commute is over an hour.

I can not speak to how they trick people into going away. The only thing I know is that if a state requires public schools to teach special education kids then the school is REQUIRED to have teachers on staff for those kids whether they attend or not. The charter school I am familiar with has something like 8 special needs teachers on staff. This includes everything from speech therapy, occupational therapy and children who are special education children. Some of these are 'children' who still need someone to even bring them to the bathroom.

But as I have stated in my other posts, I can only talk for schools I am familiar with and not each and every charter. As with any school system, there will be good and bad schools everywhere.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. And they differ from state to state.
That's the thing people don't always see. In some states, MOST charters are devoted to helping at-risk kids. This is 180 degrees from the situation here.

The reason the charters in Brighton get away with it, is that they can set their own attendance boundaries. Yes, they could take anyone from across the boundaries, but they choose not to. So they set the boundaries to be contiguous with the new development boundaries. And who do you suppose moves into new developments? Nice, shiny new McMansions? Well, I can tell you they don't speak anything but English . . .

The special ed thing is especially troubling. We've had numerous parents come back to us from charters. What happens is, the charter will tell them they can't meet the requirements of the IEP at their school (IEP requires psych services, day treatment, one-on-one para, trach tube clearing, diapering, whatever). Or if the kid only needs moderate services, the parent is sometimes convinced to voluntarily waive the IEP - essentially taking the kid off of Sped. They then don't get the services the kid really needs, the kid isn't successful, and soon they're back knocking on our door - upset at the charter. So we have to then scramble to find OT services or a nurse para or whatever at the last minute. In fact, just a month ago, we had an entire family come back - and all the kids are deaf. So we have to have sign language tutoring, language paras, etc. etc. It's one thing when we can do this at the beginning of school, but to find them NOW? Ugh.

I have to reiterate - there are many charters doing a fine job. But we definitely do NOT have all the kinks worked out here in Colorado. And a NUMBER of charters are just disasters waiting to happen.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. we're not allowed to do that here.
we have to hold a lottery, and anyone in the county can apply. it is open to anyone, and we have to take whoever wins the lottery. some years are more challenging than others, but usually, the most troubled kids leave. they are ones most needing the one-on-one, too!

our charter schools are thought of as being mostly anglo, though, because many of the local hispanic kids choose to stay in the public schools when they win the lottery. the school i work at, though, has a larger population of minorities than most schools. this year it's 25%, but the last two years it was a third to a half minorities - black, asian, native, hispanic.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #35
36. Our district schools are 60 to 65% Hispanic.
One comment in your post alarms me a little. When you say, "some years are more challenging than others, but usually, the most troubled kids leave." That contributes to the negative impression some people have about charters. See, in our public schools, that's not an option. There is no "default" school for the troubled kids to go back TO. There is no such thing as just "leaving" because for regular public schools, we're responsible to ensure that kids are in school until they're 16. This leads to truancy determination and chasing them down in court (unless they're 16 and can legally drop out. Then that contributes to the district dropout rate.)

Why should charters be let off the hook for dropouts?

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. they go to other schools.....
who said anything about dropouts?!
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. Well, you did, actually.
Edited on Sat Feb-24-07 12:19 PM by donco6
I know they go to other schools. Probably back to the "regular" public school, because that's the only other option for most of the "troubled" kids. As their district of residence, we are REQUIRED to admit them, no matter if the were expelled from the charter or what. And as a charter, *you* aren't under any obligation to work to get them back. When a kid disappears from the public school, in turn, we don't have the luxury of just letting them disappear. We have to spend time and resources to track them down, find out where they are (usually NOT in school). Then we have to set court dates for truancy hearings. And after all that, if the kid still doesn't show, WE get credited with the dropout - not the charter that was able to just watch them walk away. It's just another inequity.

In other words, when a "troubled" kid walks away from a charter, they're able to wave "bye." When a troubled kid walks away from a public school of residence, and the kid isn't yet 16, we have to go through a lot more steps, usually resulting in a bad mark against the district.

On edit - misspelled word.

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #38
43. not so.
we do an annual dropout report to the state. we have to know where our kids go, too.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #43
45. Yes I know.
But for you there's always that "safety net" - the default school. Where would the kid go if not for your charter? Almost certainly it's a regular district school. And so, when the "problem kid" leaves you, he almost certainly shows up back on the roll of the district school. You, as the charter, get to mark on the state report, "Moved to another school". Thus he's not a dropout for you.

When a problem kid disappears from the district roll, there is no safety net. He's never going to show up back on a charter's roll, because charters are never "default" schools. When he stops attending the district school, they have no alternative but to count the kid as a dropout. Hence, the inequity.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #45
73. Our school may be different but I think we are used as a "default".
We have people throughout the year calling our school because the kid just is not making it in the regular school system. I talked with one parent, last year, who started to home school her children because she felt we were taking 'too many problem cases'. In her own words she stated that she understood kids have problems at other schools and then they are kicked out or forced to leave and have nowhere to go. She said that was fine but she felt it might be a problem in the future and decided the school was not for her children.

One of our prime beliefs is that every child can be reached and that it is just trying to find that path to reach them. This is not to say we have not had children go from our school to public school. One of our staff members told me that it is common for a parent to bring their child to our school because of our academic record. After a couple of years the child is doing well and they want to be back at the other school with their friends. The school does their best to retain the student because it is the school's routine, curriculum, etc... that helps the student make the grades they do and parents have come back stating they wish they had never changed back. The school can only do so much.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #35
42. genvat....
I think, so misconceptions are not spread, you should explain exactly what a lottery is. Or I will explain.

Charter schools are not allowed to discriminate against anyone. They have open enrollment from the first day of school until a certain day and time of the year. For example, it could be open enrollment applications until February 24th at 5 PM. Anyone that applies, up until then, has an equal chance of getting in.

Then comes the tricky part. There is not always a lottery. If a classroom has more spaces than applications then all people who have applied for that grade level will automatically get in. The school does not get to peruse over applications and pick and choose. EVERYONE gets in.

If a school gets more grade level applications than they have openings, there will be a lottery. Only people that have applied up until February 24th at 5 PM will be able to participate in the lottery. All applications received after that are put on an automatic waiting list until after the lottery, even though the lottery is held about a month after open enrollment ends.

All open enrollment applicants are issued a letter of invitation to attend the lottery drawing but they are not required to attend in order to be accepted. About a week after the lottery the winners will receive a letter stating they got in or are now on a waiting list. But due to attrition, retention and erosion the parents are told not to loose all hope because things happen such as job transfers, people apply to multiple schools, they move, etc..... Waiting list do tend to move around a lot, especially during the first week of school.

The lottery process is totally random, even the process in which they choose grade levels for the lottery. The secretary conducts the lottery and she even has to take classes so she will be fully trained in how it is conducted. She first pulls a grade out of a hat and that is the first grade they will do the lottery for. Please note that if a grade has more openings than applicants, they will not be included in the lottery.

Now I will admit that some schools have sibling preference and so that is also a factor. Say the secretary chooses first grade and little Johnnie's name is pulled and Johnnie has a sibling wanted to get into kindergarten. The whole lottery stops and Johnnie's sister Lucy is put in the sibling pool for kindergarten. When the secretary finally pulls the kindergarten grade level for the lottery, all of the siblings will be put into the first drawing and if there are more spaces available then all of the other applicants are drawn for the lottery. That is the ONLY exception for 'picking and choosing'. Because the charter schools do not partake in public transportation, they try to get all siblings in to the same school so that transportation issues are easier on the parents.

Charter schools generally try to be as considerate to parents as possible. With this in mind, they usually start about a week before regular public schools. Parents are sheet, which they sign, stating that if they are not in school the first day or they do not call the school for an excused absence then they give up their seat. The waiting list folks are told to provide the school with three phone numbers where they can be contacted on the first day of school. The lottery and waiting list (after Feb. 24th) have provided the school with a chronological list in which to contact these parents if there is an opening. The school waits until 12 and the teachers report who has not attended for that day. The school then whips out the cards, with the three phone numbers, and they start calling the parents in order. If you are not at one of the three numbers then the school puts you at the end of the list and systematically calls the next parent. No screening or choosing is involved what-so-ever.

At no time is the school allowed to discriminate in any way or RANDOMLY move people to the top or bottom of the list. That may be more information than you ever really needed to know but there it is. And, again, I will make the disclaimer that this is for the school system I am familiar with and ONLY that one.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #42
44. Does the charter provide transportation? n/t
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #44
46. No, it does not provide transportation.
I am not sure if this is one of the ways it possibly saves money. They do have before and after school care as well as day care vans that pick up and drop off kids.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #46
64. And with all due respect, there's a huge discriminator.
I have no doubt but that your lottery is well thought-out and egalitarian. But right off the bat you have eliminated a large number of people from your pool of candidates - the majority of which are low income minorities.

By not providing transportation, you limit your school population to those students who a), have parents who care enough about their children's education to choose a school other than the school to which they are assigned (demonstrating a higher-than-average level of parental concern - a huge factor in student success) and b), have parents with the means to drive them to and from school each day. The lottery process is good, but you just never even get these kids into your "hat" in the first place.

Further, I believe in another portion of the thread there is also some kind of commitment on the part of parents to volunteer time at the school every month, which could be another discriminator - although I don't know how universal it is. This discriminator will weed out parents who can't make this kind of commitment - even if they can manage the transportation.

In a regular public school such as mine, I could make our test scores soar if I artificially limited my student population to students with the aforementioned characteristics. But I can't. I have to take every single kid who walks in the door, as long as he is a resident of my district. If his mom is a crackhead who doesn't give a jack shit about the kid, and who is only sending him to school to collect social security - I have to take him. If his dad works two jobs and cannot ever afford to take time to drive him to school, let alone get to a parent/teacher conference - I have to take him. I can't require a parent commitment - what if they don't fulfill it? I still have to take the kid. My only discriminator is my district boundary. And if I could expand my boundaries to six counties, I would actually INCREASE my test scores by pulling in higher income kids who speak English when they arrive at school (my district is the lowest SES in the area)!

Here's the bottom line: I truly don't begrudge the existence of charters. You guys are enthusiastic about what you do and have, and you have some good successful schools. You have helped to introduce exciting new instructional strategies and pedagogies into the American education system - many of which we have implemented here. But please don't fool yourselves into thinking that your school's success is due to some "extra mojo" in instruction, or that you have some magic formula that - if duplicated - could result in like performance everywhere else. A huge portion of your test scores and dropout rates, etc. arise simply because of the select group of students you have. There's just no way around it.

Now, I know that some here are very volatile when it comes to the topic of charters, and I won't be an apologist for them. I know where they are coming from, too. It's just very, very hard to always be compared unfavorably to schools such as yours by people who cannot comprehend the differences, as well as by people who have nefarious plans for your profession. Especially when you know that you, too, are enthusiastic about your kids and your craft. We all want to do good things for kids.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #64
66. the lottery is the law.
and we have to take in every child that wins the lottery. it is not a select group. it is a public group.

some districts provide transportation to kids within the district. some districts provide money to families that drive within that district. insurance and regs do not allow charter schools to provide transportation to kids outside the district. we do a lot of carpooling. some kids travel an hour each way.

the lottery does not exclude anyone. parents decide what they want to do once their child gets a chance to attend, and i'm sure they take into account things like travel and volunteer time. we would not need so much help from parents if we were treated financially fairly by the district. our money comes through the district, not directly from the state. it should not be a hassle to get funded, but it is, so we ask a lot of our parents and have fundraisers all year long.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #64
67. I think you truly have to know ....
the whole picture of the school in order to really know what is going on. First of all, the school has a carpool program that rocks. They put up signs at the beginning of the year and match people up so that they can help each other.

At our particular school there are a LOT of poor kids. This is to a point where I have given my kids speeches about not looking down on those who have less than others. I specifically do this because I am constantly sending in recess food for those whose families can not afford to send them in with recess. And, of course, the school participates in the discounted lunch program for those who can not afford the regular prices.

Talking about rich kids that speak English.....at our school the kids basically speak English but I know for a fact that some of the parents do not speak a lick of English since I have talked to some of them and their children have had to translate for them. I assume it must be hard to help your child with their homework when you do not speak any English.

We do ask that parents donate their time but we do not demand it. The philosophy at our school is that we are all partners and the parent can not teach the child alone as the teachers can not do it alone. Their philosophy is that the tandem approach works best. And as I stated before, we have different volunteer actions at different days and times throughout the year. If they do not donate then we do not throw the child out or have a conference demanding to know why but we do let parents know that volunteering is something we want to have happen.

Then again, our school has a much different approach than most. Our school is always looking ahead and trying to prepare the kids for college/university. (yes, this is with special education students and all) Our principal believes that although university may not be for everyone, everyone should always leave the door open for that possibility. Once that door is closed many never attend but she calls herself the door jam that keeps that door open, for the students, so that they do have that opportunity. Over every single door there is a sign stating 'Class of...." and a year. That is the year the students for that grade will graduate from university.

I truly think what is different about our school has nothing to do with it being a charter school. I was first introduced to the school when I read their literature and I was very skeptical. I thought there was no way a school really cared that much about students. I investigated and found that the teachers are the difference. The principal takes her own time to make sure that she hires just the right person for the job. The teacher are all enthusiastic and they care. They have workshops to come up with new ideas. They have their own university for the teachers to attend over the summer to make their techniques even better. None of them even mind this (I thought the first couple were being sarcastic when they said how much fun they had) and, in fact, they even like it. These teachers are better than the written material and THAT is what makes the school better than a regular one. I have seen the teachers take the time and work with families on different problems. I have seen them step up and help the families. They truly have heart and that is what makes the school better than the area ones, not that it is a charter school.

Now am I saying all charter schools are like ours? No, of course not. I'd like to think every one in our chain is that way. I have met parents from over ten different schools in our chain and all of them seem to agree with my assessment.

I would like to thank you for being so nice with your comments even when they may reflect badly upon charters. I know it is easy to get carried away when you are passionate about something. It is much easier to have a civilized conversation when both parties are being nice and listening to each other as well as responding to different points. I will admit I have learned a few things since I originally thought charters were under the same rules as public schools all across the country. When you just stop and listen you never know what you might learn.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #67
68. Yes, it's been a good productive discussion.
I've learned a lot as well. Thanks.
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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:41 PM
Response to Reply #11
48. BULLSHIT. Real world EXPERIENCE dictates otherwise.
WE were left to find room and pay for the students here in Las Vegas when an Edison School failed in the middle of the school year!

NO MORE PRIVATE SCHOOLS!

They are not "public" - they take public funds and are for the profit of their corporate masters!

The reason there are so many negative comments here is that they have ALREADY PROVED THEMSELVES FAILURES IN TOO MANY PLACES AT THE COST OF PUBLIC MONEYS THAT COULD HAVE GONE TO FUND PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 11:05 PM
Response to Reply #48
51. that money follows the child.
wherever that child goes, so goes his/her $8 or whatever. it just gets shifted. nothing is taken away from other students. i'm sorry charter schools are a bad experience where you are. they are very successful where i live, and i support them heartily. and please don't shout.
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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-03-07 08:47 PM
Response to Reply #51
81. Nope - sorry - the money is "LOST" and does NOT "follow the child.
Edited on Sat Mar-03-07 08:51 PM by TankLV
WE were left holding the bag and SCRAMBLING to find ways to come up with additional funds for the studends that the CHARTER SCHOOLS abandoned.

IT DESERVES TO BE SHOUTED - I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE TRUTH BEING SHOUTED OUT!

I will NOT let you peddle bullshit unchallenged.

Charter schools are parasites to the public school system and should NOT be allowed - unless they receive NO taxpayer support or public funds. Period.
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LiberalHeart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #11
52. Charter schools have too many freedoms in how the money's handled.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #52
59. the school in your link is what the OP was about.
and like i said in a previous post, charters have to report to the state just like any other public school. how they think they can fudge things like enrollement and disbursements and get away with it is beyond me.
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LiberalHeart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #59
70. That's just not true. I've read an audit of a charter school....
...and I saw how much was swept up in the management fee that went to a private business that wasn't required to say how the money they recieved was spent. Funds go to the charter school, then there's an accounting entry showing the funds then went to the management firm, then nothing.

That's not the kind of reporting the public schools provide because they are required to, you know, actually account for the money in specific ways -- telling how much is spent in each area that the management firms, for reasons that are remarkably unclear and certainly suspect, get to treat like it's somehow private corporate info they needn't disclose. It's nuts.

In Ohio, if you look at the players, the relationships, the political motivations and the big money that's involved with no real way to trace (in public view) what happens to it -- well, you'd see that there's a very big problem in the way this whole charter school scheme has been set up. But at least William Bennett got richer via K12. Just look at K12's sweet deals all across the country, the size of the public dollars pot they're grabbing, and the achievement results at the schools they "manage" and you've just got to have questions and reservations about what's going on, even if you have a soft spot for charter schools.

Whatever is good about charter schools should be preserved by cracking down on the serious lack of control of the money they're getting.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #70
74. i was talking about the state i live in.
that's where my experience is.
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callous taoboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 06:23 AM
Response to Reply #11
54. Does your charter school teach the appropriate use of capital letters?
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 08:05 AM
Response to Reply #54
60. yes, why?
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rcdean Donating Member (229 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:28 AM
Response to Original message
18. Good stuff in this thread.
Thanks all. The differing views help us get a sense of the issues here.

One thing I don't understand is this. What is the magic wand that Charter Schools supposedly have to offer that public schools don't?

Seems to me the only inherent advantage they have over public schools is that they can hire and fire teachers at will. Is that pretty much it?

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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 07:46 AM
Response to Reply #18
23. They can literally do whatever they want
They are not bound by state education regs. They are allowed to write their own rules. So they can hire whoever they want and teach whatever they want.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #23
29. that's not true. see post #28.
Edited on Sat Feb-24-07 10:47 AM by genevat
i see there is a lot of educating to be done around charter schools. we really get an unfair rap by people who don't know what we're all about.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
41. Yes it is true
Every state sets their own regs. In my state, they get to do pretty much whatever they want. And they can be selective about which kids they accept and they can kick them out anytime they want to also.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
27. I hope I can help answer your question.
First, I would like to address some ideas people have about charter schools. A charter school is a public run school. A CHARTER SCHOOL IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL. They are bound by all of the regulations set forth by the state. In some way charter schools actually get the short end of the stick. There is actually a small loophole in the law and now the government is using that so in cases, like the lottery, the money gets split between regular schools and charters do not even get any money to help with costs. Again, charter schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS and so they count on the state for funding and some kids are being shorted because of this. But government officials are in the dark as much as some of us are. When one official was approached about this loophole where charters are loosing millions of dollars, he replied why should they get any more money than they already get from tuition!!!!!! You at least expect government officials to know what is going on.

Being under state regulations means that all the teachers must have the minimum requirements set forth by the state. Their teaching assistants also require certain things under the aforementioned regulations. I know this because at one point I wanted to become a teaching assistant but the school could not hire me because I did not have the correct certifications to work there.

Charter schools must follow state regulations for the educational curriculum as well. That does not mean they can not exceed what is required, but all of them must at least meet what is required.

Charter schools were brought about under the thought that big government means big spending and that the private sector could streamline the costs (not the education) and do it under a much smaller management for much less with a better education in place.

recdean.....I can only speak for one chain I am familiar with but I will try to answer your question about the magic wand. I have heard both sides - the parent as well as staff side of the magic wand. Parents tend to think of the charter schools as getting a private school education for public school tuition. The way a charter school works is you get your money from the state. If you do not have x number of students in your class then you may fall short on funds and you may not have the money to run the school. Keeping this in mind, schools still have to follow state regulations regarding the most number of students per teacher you may have. They can NOT overload a class or they will be shut down.

The reason I tell you the above information is so you could fully understand the situation when I continue you on to tell you that because the school is dependent on this funding, by having a full class, they must do their best to make the school as attractive as possible. They must do this by being honest because if the parent gets in the school and finds out the school lied, they will walk and so will part of the funding the school gets. If the school is to survive they would then have to work very hard to replace that one student or the many others who found out they had been lied to. It is important that the school is honest and offer a lot of things that will attract and keep the students at the school.

Charter schools appear to at least be different in the the courses they offer. Around here, they offer the basics plus so much more. K-8 they teach Spanish as well as computers. Middle school electives can include things such as pottery.

Charter schools, around here, are K-8. Regular public schools are broken up into different grade levels. There have been studies done (and USA Today reported) that kids tend to do better when in an all inclusive school that goes from K-8 rather than changing schools every few years.

I mentioned, above, that the charters here are accountable to many people on many levels. Regular public schools do not have you call in and grade the school as well as the staff. They usually do not have volunteer boards they have to answer to. The teachers at the charter do not get tenure and their salaries are tied into the student's performance.

If a student falls behind in a regular public school they usually do not have the staff or resources to do much of anything. At the charter school they are constantly testing to address any issues such as this and they have staff such as teaching assistants who will sit out in the hall and work one on one with these kids. They have very involved parents, in fact, the charter school insists on parent involvement. You are asked to volunteer x-amount of time whether it is in the day or sometimes there are things that can be done on weekends. So sometimes the parents also lend a hand in helping out with children that need extra one on one.

They have the regular things that the state requires (speech and occupational therapy) but they also offer things like drama, honors choir, band, a debate team, etc......

There are many things a charter school can offer that regular public schools do not. I could go on and on but right now I am suffering from a headache. If you want to know more I will be glad to write an additional passage a little later.
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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 10:04 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. excellent post. thank you!
i hope your headache goes away soon. :)
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #27
33. Not necessarily so.
Just as there may be some misconceptions about charters, this post has many misconceptions about public schools. Some are based on the idea that charter laws are uniform throughout the country, which they most certainly are not. And some are based on the idea that public schools are not allowed to do the same things that charters do, which is decidedly not so.

As I mentioned earlier, charter schools here in Colorado do not face this funding "loophole" you speak of. They are funded directly by the state with the same per pupil funding that the kids in the district get. They are also required to receive a per pupil portion of all the federal money received by the district. On top of that, they have access to millions of dollars of capital construction money that's not available to regular public schools.

Here in Colorado, charter school teachers do not have to be certified. They can enter the profession through an "alternative licensure" process - basically if you have a degree of any kind, you can teach.

We've already talked about the differences in management. Actually, many charters end up duplicating much of the administrative costs districts already have in place for multiple schools. Unless they're working with the district to provide these noninstructional costs, charters have to pay their own payroll clerk, finance director, maintenance, custodial, transportation, etc. etc. Obviously, this reduces efficiency - but some seem to manage OK.

We don't have any "class size cap" laws here, so that's not universally applicable.

Our public schools all teach Spanish in elementary - both as Spanish for English speakers, and Spanish for Spanish speakers. We have no middle schools, but they all offer the full range of arts - choir, orchestra and band, as well as another cadre of arts classes for kids who don't want music. We have photography, pottery, music appreciation, guitar, and some others. This is fairly common in the neighboring school districts as well.

In my public school district, we have no middle schools. We have a preschool, several K-6 schools, several K-8 schools, 2 K-12 schools, one 7-12 school and 4 9-12 schools. Kids can choose any school they wish, based on their learning style. If they live further than one mile away, we provide transportation to the school of their choice.

Here in Colorado, all public schools receive a grade card each year, that is mailed directly to parents. Charters also receive a report card.

Here in Colorado, I know of no charter teachers whose pay is tied to performance. Denver on the other hand, has implemented a rather revolutionary program that does tie pay to performance.

Finally, my public schools actually have multiple levels of interventions for students who are not performing at grade level. These vary by school, based on that school's educational philosophy. At the Expeditionary Learning schools, they offer "intensives", which allow students who excell a chance to explore a new discipline - for example, we have a group of 20 going to the mountains to learn snowboarding, and to study mountain ecosystems at the Ecolab. We have other groups who are needing to make up credits in math or language arts or science - and they enroll in an intensive that provides all-day hands on instruction from a different perspective than what they received earlier. At the New Technology High School, they offer teacher "office hours" after school twice a week, as well as Saturday school for kids to make up credit. They also offer tech lab time for kids to create web pages and just be more creative. I could go on and on.

My point in all of this is that charters don't have a lock on creativity. Charters are a part of education reform, without question, but you don't HAVE to turn to charters to reinvent public schools.



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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:31 PM
Response to Reply #33
39. donoco6...
I can not speak for your state but I can speak for mine and I thoroughly know the ins and outs of that system. I have tried to stress again and again that I am only speaking for the charter school chain that I am familiar with. I would never dream about speaking for all of them since I do not know that information. Only an ignorant person would try to speak for that which they do not know. T

By the way, the report card I spoke of is not the state report card on grades and performance. It is a phone call the parents make and they grade everything on the recording. At the end of the call they get a chance to give their verbal feedback on what they like and what the school can do better. The charter schools do, of course, get graded by the state.

Our schools, here, do not teach Spanish from kindergarten on up. The regular public schools (i am familiar with) do not have drama, band and debate groups)

The first public school that my child attended had their own way to deal with children. None were found to be smart or exceptional. In fact the teacher and principal balked when I asked why my kindergarten student only received negative comments (such as 'bad writing') and never a smiley face or positive comments and why, on the report card, did the children never get an 'A'. I was told that no one is ever perfect. Then again, we went into see the first evaluation to see where our child was as far as education. The teacher said he did not know the days of the week. She explained when she asked for days of the week that he started to rattle off the months of the year. We asked if she repeated the question to him and she said she was not allowed to help with answers. My husband said that the way she was stating it it seemed more like a comprehension of questions test and that if they were truly looking for knowledge she would have asked him to listen to the question one more time. She sat there bewildered and I called my son over asking for the days of the week which he quickly stated. The teacher started to cry. Of course, this is the exact same teacher who put the exact same comment on every child's progress report - grammar mistakes and all. Yes, she copied and pasted the exact same one size fits all comments. Of course, all schools are not the same but that is the one we were districted to and the principal's nonresponse to all of it was not encouraging in any way. Oh, and did I tell you that any time any child caused any commotion that the teacher tried to convince the parents that the child needed to be medicated?

The school system you have talked about is in Colorado as the system I have talked about is in my state. We can only talk about that which we know. I have tried to stress, over and over, that I am only talking about the chain I am familiar with. There are many different schools out there but as far as I know, all charters are public schools (one of the biggest misconceptions) and do not charge tuition.

You do not have to turn to charters to reinvent public schools but around here no one is doing a good job of reinventing public schools and there were several times when I almost attacked teachers at the elementary public school because the teachers were full out SCREAMING at my child. I always told my husband that one day he was going to have to come get me from jail. Could I have changed that one school? I have no doubt that I could after working for ten to twelve years on it. But by that time my kids would be long gone and nothing would have changed for them.

At any rate, I am sure you know 100% more about your school district than I do. I am also sure that I know most of the ins and outs of my school district. I can speak with confidence for my state.

The one thing I do know is that if charters are run properly then we should all be for them. They can raise the bar for regular schools so that they must improve and they can offer alternatives for students. The charters themselves must put their best face forward in order to be run in the best manner possible. Remember, I said all of this by prefacing the fact that IF the charter is run properly.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. No disagreement here.
I realize things are different everywhere. I just think people need to be particularly careful to make sure everyone understands that education is a state responsibility, and as such, the rules and situations vary from state to state. I don't hate charters, as much as I do think there are numerous inequities that FAVOR charters here in my state. I just want the playing field to be level so that regular schools aren't blasted unfairly.
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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #27
50. CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE RUN BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS FOR A PROFIT. PERIOD.
The only thing "public" about it is that they take public funds from the PUBLIC non-profit schools!

And when they fail, not "if", the PUBLIC that ends up holding the bag.

They pubicize the risks and privatize all the benefits - including the money...
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LiberalHeart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 12:16 AM
Response to Reply #27
53. A charter school can act as a front for private businesses...
... it looks like money laundering to me. Say I want to run a school, but don't want to be accountable the way my local school system must be. I go the charter school route so I can then contract with a company like, say, K12, and have them run everything. The public never knows what I'm paying for anything, nor do they know what I'm paying teachers. It's a plan that stinks. Sunlight needs to be shed on the books and everything needs to be itemized.
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rcdean Donating Member (229 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #27
62. Thanks very much, demgurl. This helps a lot.
From what you say I gather the main strength is that it can incentivise teachers so as to get the kind of classroom results that make the school experience attractive to students and impressive--in terms of academic results--to parents.
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demgurl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-25-07 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #62
71. rcdean, you are very welcome.
Believe me when I say that if our particular charter were not at least up to regular standards, my children would not attend that school.

The salary being tied into the student's performance is a strength. I believe there are other strengths as well. I wrote earlier in this thread, that our principal takes her time hiring folks and does well in hand picking them. A lot of things come together to make our school a good one. At any rate, I think a lazy teacher would not last long (economically) in that environment.

I also love the open door policy the school has. I am welcome to come sit in on a class at any time and without any prior announcement of my intentions to do so. And there is a saying at our school that if you hang around long enough then they are going to hire you! Our school librarian has lost three volunteer parents because of this exact thing. Actually, one of them was because she encouraged one of them to go back to school and then when the parent got her degree she was hired as a teacher's assistant! I know a parent at one of our sister schools in Michigan and she has been working for the school for about 8 years now. Her oldest is graduating but she has one entering kindergarten and one that is 2 years old, so she said it looks like she will be working for the school for over 20 years when all is said and done. The parents really are in it for the long haul and these feelings are nurtured and encouraged by the school.

The school loves parent involvement and, in a sense, they put their money where their mouth is. They have a parent room set up with a microwave, vending machines, coffee maker, chairs, sofas, etc....Parents can do everything from taking a break in their volunteer day to having lunch with their child to working on homework after school. The PTE also throws an end of the year thank you breakfast for volunteers. Teacher send out invitations to each parent who has done volunteer work for them. Of course, that has not stopped one of my teachers from sending me thank you notes or mentioning me in her weekly newsletter to acknowledge the work I have done for her.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-04-07 02:38 AM
Response to Reply #27
82. I'm not yelling, just in caps to diferentiate my comments from yours
Edited on Sun Mar-04-07 02:39 AM by ProudDad
"Charter schools were brought about under the thought that big government means big spending and that the private sector could streamline the costs (not the education) and do it under a much smaller management for much less with a better education in place."

THERE'S NO FREAKIN WAY THAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN TO IT BETTER THAN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL UNLESS IT'S ALLOWED SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGES. THE FIRST ADVANTAGE IS THAT THEY CAN CHERRY-PICK BOTH STUDENTS AND TEACHERS...


"The reason I tell you the above information is so you could fully understand the situation when I continue you on to tell you that because the school is dependent on this funding, by having a full class, they must do their best to make the school as attractive as possible. They must do this by being honest because if the parent gets in the school and finds out the school lied, they will walk and so will part of the funding the school gets. If the school is to survive they would then have to work very hard to replace that one student or the many others who found out they had been lied to. It is important that the school is honest and offer a lot of things that will attract and keep the students at the school."

SAME AS PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE PARENTS CAN WALK AWAY FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITH THEIR STATE FUNDING...

"Charter schools appear to at least be different in the the courses they offer. Around here, they offer the basics plus so much more. K-8 they teach Spanish as well as computers. Middle school electives can include things such as pottery."

"If a student falls behind in a regular public school they usually do not have the staff or resources to do much of anything. At the charter school they are constantly testing to address any issues such as this and they have staff such as teaching assistants who will sit out in the hall and work one on one with these kids. They have very involved parents, in fact, the charter school insists on parent involvement. You are asked to volunteer x-amount of time whether it is in the day or sometimes there are things that can be done on weekends. So sometimes the parents also lend a hand in helping out with children that need extra one on one."

"They have the regular things that the state requires (speech and occupational therapy) but they also offer things like drama, honors choir, band, a debate team, etc......"

YOU MAY BE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER BUT WHEN I WAS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ALL OF THESE THINGS WERE AVAILABLE. OF COURSE, I COME FROM THE DAYS OF JIM CROW. WHEN I WAS A KID THE SCHOOLS WERE SEGREGATED SO THE WHITE KIDS GOT ALL OF THESE THINGS AND THE BLACK KIDS GOT BUPKIS!

(back to normal caps)

With "integration" and white flight, the whites have left and now we've got segregation again. We've got a situation where the schools in the economically depressed areas have to do a hell of lot more with a hell of a lot less...

I drive by the rich white areas and see their thermometer -- "We've raised the extra $250,000 for our high school, thank you!"

I drive by the newly segregated inner city schools and see the misery those kids have to live with...

It's not a level playing field and stripping the public schools of what little they have doesn't help.

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
28. they are basically public schools
we have to go by public school state and local regs. we must report to the state like any other public school. but:

we have on-site management. we don't always have to go the district for every decision. we have our own board.

we can have our own curriculum, as long as state teaching standards are met. there are certain things that must be covered every year for every grade, but we have a choice of how to get there.

we choose our students through a lottery in the spring. we literally put the names of applicants in a hat and draw them out per grade. the remainder are put on a waiting list. this way, everyone has the same chance of getting in, there is no bias, as we are accused of having.

our teachers have contracts that are either renewed or not at the end of the year. i don't know about hiring and firing at will, but i have seen good teachers let go for unclear reasons. (in the public school, i see horrible teachers who stay on and on, teachers who insult children, have a racial bias towards them, and 'lose' their homework over and over. but their contracts are continually renewed.)

these are the main differences. charters are stilll free public schools, but many of them have the feel of a private school, because they have more freedom in their process.

we have one charter school that was supposed to be very alternative. well, after a few years and a new head, it has turned into a regular mainstream school.

one small private school did 'go charter,' when they realized that the cost was prohibitive to many people.

one middle school is an outward bound school with 40% of the time spent outside the classroom on field trips, four of them a week long (they are leaving on one today to go winter camping in the mountains). this is where i work and one of my daughters is a student.

there is an outward bound type high school opening up this fall. the format is the same as the middle school, since one man created them both.

charter schools were originally intended to give students an alternative education that was free. not everyone does well in the public school system. some kid do fine, nostly the average ones. others, the not-so-average from either having disabilities or being gifted, have different learning styles that may be better addressed in a different atmosphere. not everyone can afford private schools, so charter schools were supposed to fill that niche between public and private.





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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #18
32. At will employment is one thing.
Yes, they generally don't have Master Agreements, so teachers are on year to year contracts. They usually don't have salary schedules quite like regular public schools - often charter school schedules are truncated at around step 10 or so - topping out at $45 to $50,000. Here in Colorado a typical schedule starts at around $33,000 up to $76,000 for 20 years/DOC.

As far as a magic wand - it doesn't really exist. Here in my public school district, we have three Expeditionary Learning schools (the "Outward Bound" schools mentioned by the OP), we have a Montessori school, an International Baccalaureate school, several Academies, an Asia Society, two Big Picture schools. All the schools are less than 400 students, except for the K-12 schools. It's not mandatory that public schools go charter to pull this off.

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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 09:37 PM
Response to Original message
47. Same thing happened here in Vegas a couple years ago in the middle of the term.
The city and county was left holding the bag while they laughed all the way to the bank...

Edison Schools I believe - total SCUM!

Any locality that allows these criminals to operate is just asking for trouble.

They should make them post a bond EACH YEAR equal to the funding that would be required ) )to take their students WHEN (not if) they fail...

STOP PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC ASSETS LIKE SCHOOLS!
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Nevernose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #47
76. Edison, btw, is still in business in Las Vegas
West Prep (formerly West Edison) might not be Edison anymore, but some of the elementary schools still are. Lincoln Elementary, for instance, on Berg Street (off Cheyenne, between Civic Center and Pecos), is still an Edison School. I've spoken with a couple of teachers and a couple of administrators, and they just love it. Of course, because they have longer days and work a week more, they get paid more, too -- which probably explains a lot of the satisfaction.

A lot of the Title I elementary schools here, both public and charter, have very tightly scripted lessons, which is Edison's big selling point. "Just follow our scientifically developed, proven-to-work curriculum," they say, "and the kids will learn more."

I've seen these people teach, and as often as not their "lesson plans" say things like, "February 26: 8:47am, read fourth paragraph of page 257 in teacher's guide. Place emphasis on all words with the short e sound. Instruct children to open their reading resource books to page 78 and complete problems. 9:03am, instruct students to whisper read selection from page 106." Et cetera.

All. Day. Long. Every subject, every student.

There's talk of doing this at the high school level, too. How the hell do they expect me to teach Hamlet like that?
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rcdean Donating Member (229 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 06:44 AM
Response to Original message
75. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.
I wound up copying and saving a couple dozen posts to read later when I have the time.

The opposing views helped illuminate the issues in a way we rarelya get from news or feature stories.

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all.of.me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #75
77. last night i did some googling
i see now what everyone is so up in arms about. i googled 'charter school chain' or something like that and found more than one incidence of businesses starting up schools and ultimately ripping off the state. i was quite surprised by what i read, esp when they said that the independent charter school will be a thing of the past eventually.

but i'll stick to my support of charter schools, because i don't think those schools are the norm, esp where i live. they are a blessing here, a welcome alternative to a crappy school system. if i'd known about the schools here before i put my kids in them (our plan was to homeschool), i'd have moved. but the charter schools came along just as my younger daughter was going into school. she has been in two charter schools her entire school career (7 years). my other daughter was homeschooled, did a small private school, 6 months in public school in 4th grade (it was awful), four years in a charter school, and is now stuck in the public high school. one more year. thank god. i don't think i could have done 16 years in this school system! so here's to charters! :party:
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jazzjunkysue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-03-07 05:48 PM
Response to Original message
80. Halliburton Elementary School For The Exceptionally Greedy
8:00 a.m. Copying Homework: Save Time: Delegate
9:00 a.m. Getting Around Homework Rules: Leveraging Parental Influence
10:00 a.m. Redistribution of Lunch Money: (He doesn't need it as much as you do.)
11:00 a.m. Lunch With The Administration: Let Them Know You're Watching
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