Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell About Charter School Skimming, Plus An Edujob

Miller-McCune usually produces smart and often offbeat looks at education issues so people, including this reader, were surprised by a remarkably slanted piece a few weeks ago looking at the integration issue and charter schools.   Nelson Smith responds in M2 here. Smith points out the rampant misuse of comparison points in this debate.  One issue Smith alludes to, but doesn’t get into, is the changing demographics of public schools in many communities.  That also impacts the numbers in a way that the segregation mythmakers generally ignore.   That said, I’m less sanguine on the special education question than Nelson is – although he’s exactly right that one must look below the overall numbers to see what’s happening there.   Lost in all this, however, is the question of how much charter school special education problems are or are not distinct from larger capacity and fiscal challenges facing special education overall.  Of course, you can ask the same thing about the “segregation” issue, too…

Also, in Minneapolis tongues have been wagging and a few tempers flaring about the appropriateness of four incoming school board members who sent a letter to the current board on Minneapolis Federation of Teachers letterhead.  Although it’s arguably an efficiency reform – cut out the middleman in these lean times – it certainly is eyebrow raising.  For a look at the issues you can’t do much better than this letter from an incoming member, Hussein Samatar, who declined to sign.

If you’re following the spending debate in the final days of Congress here’s the latest, including the Pell fix, via Politico.

And some great internship opportunities through the Southern Education Foundation at a host of non-profits.

4 Replies to “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell About Charter School Skimming, Plus An Edujob”

  1. Long on conjecture, but short on facts. This passage in particular seemed odd.

    “One of the really concerning things we found was that 25 percent of charter schools nationwide may not offer subsidized lunch. If you’re from a very low-income family, a charter might not be a choice that you’re able to make.”

    How hard would it be to actually calculate the % FRL in charters vs. national % FRL? I mean these guys just finished studying the enrollment in charters but they can’t make a factual statement about how many FRL students are enrolled or have access to charters?

  2. OK a quick search of common core data reveal… suprise, charters serve MORE free and reduced price lunch students:

    In 2008-09 44.5% of students in charters were FRL. In the same year 43.6% of students were FRL nationwide, 43.4% if you only look at the states with charter laws.

  3. Thanks for that back of the envelope calculation Tom. Great work. Of course, comparing charters to national or state averages is completely meaningless. Charter schools are concentrated in urban areas. They need to be compared to schools in their vicinity, market by market. And this was established a long time ago, if you had the first clue about the research. But you’ve got an internet connection and can get NCES data. Who needs a Ph.D. and training in research methodology?

  4. You make a good point. My comparison is not as useful as a more complex analysis. On the other hand, the authors in the article had access to better data, Ph.D.’s, and training in research methodology and weren’t able to provide anything more useful.

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