John Oliver Charter Schools

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Mr.history, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2016

    John Oliver put out a video about charter schools:


    Warning about language. He does drop a few F Bombs. However it is a well done piece that will make people question the legitimacy of the charter school movement. My state (GA) has been starting to move in this direction and it really bothers me that people don't understand what these schools really are. What are your thoughts on the above video or just charter schools in general?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Aug 22, 2016

    Sent you a PM. Thanks for sharing the video!
     
  4. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I work at an amazing charter that I love. It's been around for almost 25 years (CA has had charters for a LONG time so this is possible here) and is successful and respected in the area. I don't measure the success of a school by test scores, but ours are good enough that we rarely even talk about testing at all.

    The advantages I've found to working at a charter? My school matches my philosophy. That's why I chose to work there. We get to use the workshop model in an area that's all about sticking to boxed programs. We have a lot of freedom - room to try new things and innovate. For example, I get to teach robotics because my principal decided Project Lead the Way (engineering curriculum) was a great idea for our school. Every single thing doesn't have to go through a million bureaucratic channels to get to us. I love where I am.

    I don't think all charters are created equal. I think some are awful. I've heard stories (though none quite as bad as the ones in this video). I also think some states are better than others in terms of regulations and accountability. I don't think charters are the great white hope for education. I do think that good charters innovate, and I think true innovation is largely missing from many public school systems in this country, especially the huge districts.
     
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  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My new school is a charter. The founding agency deliberately set up shop in the poorest section of the region. The principal found our first students by going to homeless shelters and offering the teens there a safe place to finish high school. The student population is small and gets tons of individual support. I'm so happy this institution exists where there is such a need.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  7. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Aug 23, 2016

    Thanks for re-directing. The worrying thing is we are following you down this road (our previous Government had Arne Duncan as an advisor) and we are already seeing the system being milked of millions of pounds, some administrators going to prison and schools just closing down without warning.
     
  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2016

    I work at a charter school. My views of schools is that the nature of the organization of the school (public, charter, private, whatever) is far from the end-all-be-all of the school's quality. I knew a teacher who had worked in a private school and said the education quality was awful. I know some stellar schools.

    Now, I'm a bit of a rogue wolf this way, but I'm a teacher who highly, highly supports school choice. I'm not opposed to the charter school movement or the creation of private schools.

    BUT I do think people need to look a lot closer at the nature of the school before assuming it's awesome.

    I've told people my charter school seems just like a regular public school in quality.
     
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  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I can also add that I left another charter school that I loved, that had the potential for so much good, but is now in a lot of trouble because they allegedly chose quantity of enrolled students over quality of student education. I wasn't in on any of the decision making, but there were a lot of times that I was very frustrated with the school's policies.
     
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  10. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    While I like my charter school just fine and agree it has some great things going for it, I and quite a few parents and teachers are frustrated with the board. In the beginning, one of the perks was a very controlled class size. Over a few years the class limit has gone up by a third. The board says it's to please all the people who want to get their kids in. Instead it pisses off the families who find their students in over-crowded classrooms.
     
  11. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    I think there are great charters doing some great things where there is a need. I also think some are total scams and take money away from public schools and hurt them even more. Philadelphia was mentioned quite a bit in the piece and one school was claiming hundreds more students than they had. At about $7000 per student, that's a whole lot of money lost from the public schools given to a greedy charter. So, I think more oversight needs to happen so that the good ones stay and the bad ones don't make the already challenged public schools have an even larger financial hardship. You can't be claiming money for 1,000 students at an online school if only 200 of those students actually log in and do work. I'm just making those numbers up as I don't recall what the actual info is, but the point was made that students were enrolled in the online school (and paid for by the public schools) and there was no attendance accountability. That's definitely not okay.

    I know people who work or have worked at charters and some are very happy and some are/were not. I think the same can be said for teachers at public schools. There are good and bad ones for both. I will also add that both as a parent and teacher, if I lived where the public schools were not good, I'd certainly want the choice to attend a better charter school versus being stuck at a terrible public school.

    I also think public school funding should be handled differently and have it be a more even distribution throughout the state. It's totally unfair that in Pennsylvania, depending on where you live the district spends anywhere from $11,000 to $36,000 per student. This is an article from 2015 that discusses the disparity
    http://www.goerie.com/article/20151123/NEWS02/311239953

    Sorry for the tangent to this topic, but I think it relates to charter schools as more students in the lower per student spending areas will go to charter schools than the higher ones.
     
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  12. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    My experience with charter schools has not been positive. During my student teaching I got placed in a charter in a very upscale part of my state(were talking million dollar homes in a state where the average price of a home is maybe 100k). The school was a private school that got shut down for funding and most of the teachers and students were from that private school. I just took it as a way for the community to get the state to pay for their kids private school.

    Funny thing was that that charter got worse test scores than the local public school and the facilities were no where near as nice. It seemed to be purely about separating these rich people in this one area from the local public school. I also didn't like that this charter didn't take on all students from the local schools, they didn't have a special education program to serve the most at risk students, instead those students still had to go to the public school(where they were probably better off anyway but they should still be allowed if its a public charte)

    The video mostly just confirmed what I had been seeing in the news. That many of these charters were scams by businesses to take over the local schools and that they were mostly unsuccessful.
     
  13. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    Aug 26, 2016

    I'm in a charter that is constantly under legal threat from sending schools. However, we manage to educate the same populations (based on comparison demographics), higher percentages of special needs students than sending schools, and have a system that is truly lottery based and STILL manage to provide smaller classes and more individual attention with a smaller budget.
     
  14. Missy

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    Aug 27, 2016

    My state has had an overall horrible experience with charters. They are counting students who don't exist, taking state and local funds from public schools, and performing worse than any of our inner city schools. There are a few exceptions, but not many.
     
  15. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Apropos of nothing John Oliver is from Birmingham UK! I thought his accent was familiar.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I love John Oliver! My home state is mentioned a lot in the video, and what he's saying is what I've always heard about charters there. Here, charters are more like the private schools in my home state. They tend to perform significantly better than the public schools in the same area, but they don't accept everyone. Many have academic requirements/entrance exams, they don't provide sped services except for very mild disabilities, they keep the lowest income families out by requiring parent volunteer hours and/or not providing free transportation to the school, and they can expel students whose behavior is severe enough to disrupt the learning of others.

    In my last district (inner city) there was a local charter that loved to brag about "serving the same neighborhood" but getting test scores in the 80% proficient range while the public schools were more around the 50% range. However, every year after October count day (the day attendance is counted by the government to determine per pupil funding levels), my district would get 60+ students back from this school. They took the funding for them and then kicked them out for academic and behavior issues. One of the most difficult children in my class literally had 4-5 charter polo shirts he would wear on a rotating basis (places he'd been kicked out of).

    My previous teammate came from a charter and was very happy to be back in public school, but she always talked about how she couldn't believe the behavior we were asked to deal with. At the beginning of the year she told me that her charter school always said they wouldn't keep any student that "significantly changed the mission of their program." Meanwhile we are dealing with kids who are violent, destroy classrooms on a daily basis, force the other students to evacuate the room daily, etc. and having these charters that say "look how successful we are with the same population" furthers the political narrative that poor performance is due to poor teachers or unions. Even having a lottery doesn't put charters on the same playing field. Deadbeat parents aren't going to go sign their kids up for a charter lottery. I understand why teachers would want to teach in schools without issues like this and I understand why parents would want their children to attend charters. It just bothers me when people act like charters and traditional public schools are the same thing.

    In addition to the charters, my state has "school choice" meaning parents can open enroll their children in other districts. However, children with IEPs are exempt, meaning they have to attend their home district. For whatever reason, many involved parents in my district will send the kids to our elementary schools but then opt into nearby higher performing (wealthier) middle and high schools. Our secondary campus is almost 40% sped, not because kids are over-identified but because so much of the general population has left and the students with IEPs are stuck. It scares me to think about how we are moving to a privatized education system where the only students left in true "public" schools will be those with disabilities and other academic or social/emotional issues.
     

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