Charter News

It is charter school week so I guess it wouldn’t kill me to do a post…

Credit Where It’s Due One: The Department of Education hosted something of a charter school summit on Monday around issues of quality, philanthropy, and policy. To their credit everyone came and left with their First Amendment rights intact and it was a useful exercise. There will be some follow-on documents coming soon, apparently.

Credit Where It’s Due Two: If you follow charters don’t miss the new RAND analysis on Chicago (pdf). Looks at skimming (prior achievement), demographics, and achievement. Interesting tidbit around grade configuration as well. This report seems to have mostly flown below the radar, that’s too bad, it’s important.

Charters and Competition: New report out of D.C. on the competitive response to charter schools there. Not surprisingly competition doesn’t play out in political or public marketplace the way it might in other sectors. But, the market share that charters have, 25 percent plus in Washington, has helped create the circumstances that are leading to real reform there.

Charters and License: Over at the deuce Kevin Carey makes the point that one of the benefits of chartering is the ending of the exclusive franchise.

2 Replies to “Charter News”

  1. The RAND study seemed to do a good job of acknowledging the “ambiguity about possible interpretations.” It seemed to factor out the big bias of “creaming” but its sample was too small, apparently, to attempt to address the second major difference not being hamstrung by policies imposed by the central office that cripple efforts to improve schooling. The biggest set of dysfunctional policies revolve around the inability to assess disciplinary consequences.

    Clearly, if charter high schools seem to be doing relatively better the prime suspect has to be related to the inability of neighborhood schools to create safe and orderly environments.

    Even though I teach at a school that has been damaged by the nonstop creaming of students who are easier to teach, I still support charter schools. Just because my school is not allowed to enforce its Code of Conduct, why should I have ill will towards students who have been able to attend schools that are allowed to create a learning culture. We need both, policies that allow us to hold students and teachers to higher standards. But systemically, we can’t do either without creating more high quality alternative school slots. And some of them are bound to be charters.

    The neighborhood elementary school that used to be our prime feeder was consistently the second-lowest performing school in Oklahoma. It is now a charter, adopted by a hospital, that provides an excellent and humane education. None of its grads would come to our school, now. They head off to much higher performing schools – usually magnets. Some are the brothers and sisters of my students, so why should I complain?

    In secondary schools the issue of discipline is much more critical and complex. But I don’t want to sound draconian. High poverty schools do both, persuade adults to take a nurturing outreach and teach kids to be students AND they also have credibility in assessing consequences. They head off a lot of problems in adavance, but they have the political leverage necessary to assess consequences. Charter schools, by definition, have an abundant supply of alternative schools. They are called neighborhood schools.

    All we ask is an equally sensible arrangement where neighborhood schools are allowed to establish their crediblitity. And hopefully we can follow the same dynamic. Once socie has invested enough in schools, we will create capacity that allows teachers to teach. THEN we can move more aggressively on teacher accountability.

  2. I meant to say that high performing, high poverty schools do both, nurture and assess consequences in a credible manner. (Most high poverty schools, in my experience, aren’t allowed to enforce their rules which then makes it impossible to provide a nurturing environment, much less retain teaching talent.)

    I blame my bifocals, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to edit myself on a computer screen.

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