The advantage of charter schools.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., May 16, 2012.

  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Critics of public schools often tout charters as able to produce superior results at a lower cost. Politicians on the right and left view charters as educational reform.

    KIPP Schools are often held up as the poster child for successful charters. However what they don't mention is that KIPP schools have very high attrition rates for low scoring students, skim off the best parents from low-performing schools and actually spend more money per pupil than regular public schools.

    Could you teach better with the best parents and more money? How would it affect your class if your weakest students left?

    Charters aren't better just because they are charters. Even with the uneven playing field between public and charters, only 20% of charters can beat the schools they are designed to replace.

    This is not educational reform.


    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/ed...-Charters-outspend-public-schools-3554405.php





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  3. greendream

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    But I think that's the whole point of charter schools. They are competition driven, and your place in the school is not guaranteed.
     
  4. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Re: "best parents"

    First, don't the children of these parents deserve a good education? They are way behind grade level at their neighborhood schools, and KIPP can bring them up to grade level and beyond. Second, how do you propose to get the children of the worst parents into a school like KIPP? The parents have to sign a contract saying that they will get their children to school on time and support them in providing time and space to do homework. The worst parents wouldn't hold up their end of the deal, and the apathetic parents would never seek out a school like KIPP in the first place. KIPP does amazing things for some students, giving them opportunities that they never would have had. It's not the answer for school reform, but it is the answer for some individual children.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That's not at all universally true. Many charter schools run on a lottery system where students are randomly selected. That's even true of some magnet schools.
     
  6. greendream

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    How many? What percentage?
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't have numbers. My comments are based on my experience with the charter schools and magnet schools in my state. I suppose you could google "charter school lottery enrollment" and find information about specific schools.
     
  8. Tyler B.

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    If "failing schools" could be cured by motivating lazy teachers with competition, then the staff from a top-performing school in a wealthy area could simply be transferred to a struggling low-income school and completely turn it around: same high scores as the high-income school.

    The low scores are not caused by the teachers, they are a result of the poverty in which the students dwell.




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  9. KateL

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    I think greendream meant competition among the students. If the students aren't performing, they know that their spot at the school will be taken by someone who will perform, which might motivate some of them to actually try.
     
  10. KateL

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    Sorry to double post...

    At least in California, charter schools can't just select the best students. "By law, charter schools can never have selective admissions; anyone can apply and, if more students want to attend than there are seats available, there is a lottery to determine who is admitted." Magnet schools, on the other hand, can select the top students.

    http://www.calcharters.org/understanding/faqs/
     
  11. greendream

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    No, it's not about motivating teachers with competition. It's about motivating students with competition. Specifically, the knowledge that they have to maintain certain standards to be part of the good school. You ever notice how fierce the competition is to get into good charter schools? This means that the kids who go there have parents who actually care about their education.
     
  12. EdEd

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    Another advantage of charter schools is that they can serve as educational labs to try out new concepts, and to offer a different kind of education to different kids. Definitely agree that selecting only motivated students defeats the point of trying new things, as most kids who aren't struggling, well, aren't struggling. Not saying those kids shouldn't be served or deserve a great education, but charter schools as a means of helping low-performing or disadvantaged kids doesn't work when you don't actually serve those kids.
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    One thing I have noticed in recent years is that saying "charter schools" as a whole does not mean the same thing to everyone. There are so many different types of charter schools that have different philosophies run by different people in different ways.
     
  14. Tyler B.

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    If charters are spending more money per pupil than public schools, and charters (like the KIPP schools) have a high attrition rate for low performing students, then they should not be held up as a model. Public schools can't just shrug when a low kid drops out. It's a failure. But when a low kid drops out of a KIPP school, their scores go up and they are said to outperform public schools. It's wrong to use taxpayer money on these enterprises.





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  15. KateL

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    I don't have any data on per pupil spending, but I would bet that charter schools have fewer administrators, so more money is available for use on instruction. If that's the case, I think that would be something to emulate, not scorn.

    At the KIPP school where I taught, it wasn't the poor students dropping out that raised the test scores. If you compared the incoming scores for each student to what they achieved after 1, 2, or more years at KIPP, they all made amazing gains. The local schools were clearly failing these students, but they were capable of learning when put in the right environment.

    Do you actually have any experience with charter schools, or do you just have an ax to grind?
     
  16. TeachOn

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    I favor a sweeping voucher program to encourage the formation of more schools, some "charters," free of at least some of the pernicious nonsense with which straight-up public schools are now burdened. In the words of Chairman Mao, "Let a thousand flowers bloom." With public schools in the state they are generally in, with many beyond fixing and the favored "fixes" only making matters worse, there really is very little at risk anyway.
     
  17. Rockguykev

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    How do you account for two teachers in the same school with students drawn from the same random pool having consistently different achievement levels for their students for 5+ years in a row?
     
  18. peachacid

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    "If charters are spending more money per pupil than public schools, and charters (like the KIPP schools) have a high attrition rate for low performing students, then they should not be help up as a model. Public schools can't just shrug when a low kid drops out. It's a failure. But when a low kid drops out of a KIPP school, their scores go up and they are said to outperform public schools. It's wrong to use taxpayer money on these enterprises."

    The point of a KIPP school is that the parents can choose to send their children there. The kids do not drop out because their scores are low -- they drop out because they are not meeting the requirements of the charter. Why is that such a bad thing to you?

    The concept of a charter school allows more freedom of movement in a teacher's life. They allow parents to choose. They are NOT a panacea, of course, but they do show some innovation in education. Public schools are failing in this country, partly because of the HUGE administrations in charge of them.
     
  19. peachacid

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    Another things that charters do is weed out the kids whose parents don't care at all. So the kids will do better, on average, than their peers whose parents don't care. That's not a bad thing! It means we need to continue to work to improve ALL education, but it doesn't make charters bad.
     
  20. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think charters are drastically different across parts of the country and that's why people have trouble discussing them here- one person sees them as something totally different than someone in another location might. In my home city, charters took the absolute lowest of the low students. They had horrible reputations and were mostly known for the schools were students who got kicked out of public school went. They would often open and close halfway through the year. Teachers would quit weeks or months in, even with a ridiculously tough job market where they knew they didn't have anything else to move on to. In my specific area, the public schools were highly rated, so "good" parents saw no need to move away from them.

    Here, charters are full of extremely wealthy students. The area doesn't offer any non-religious private schools, and it's just not a very religious area so parents look for another alternative. The public schools are anywhere from 30-90% hispanic (depending on the specific school) and I constantly hear from white families that they don't want to send their kids to public school because they think they won't get attention from the teacher because she'll be busy helping the hispanic kids learn English. Therefore these families flock to the charters, which do not reflect the population of the area at all- the one next to my school is literally 100% white and all of the students are wealthy. The school does have to offer enrollment to hispanic families, but these families are often not able to meet the requirements of the charter even if they wanted to. There is no busing, so they would have to drive the students, and many don't have their own transportation. They would also have to commit to volunteering a certain number of hours per week, and many of these parents work 2-3 jobs making that impossible even if they do have transportation to get there. So the high performing students leave the public schools, making their scores go down, and then charters with only high performing students obviously do very well. It's two completely different student populations though- so it's not really a fair comparison.
     
  21. Tyler B.

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    Public education has a mandate to educate all the students in a tax area. Charters take money away from the public school often leaving them with a concentrated mix of high-needs students. Many charters are businesses run by for-profit companies whose main goal is profit. If the charters are taking the best students out of public schools and spending more money per pupil than the public schools they are being compared to, then the children left behind are actually getting a worse education that if charters didn't exist.

    I object to using tax money for these enterprises. I have no objection to private schools, just don't want them to have pubic money.

    Both Bush and Obama have policies that require failing schools to become charters, close or reorganize. This is bad pubic policy. Conservatives should demand better stewardship of tax money. Liberals should decry the lost opportunities for poor kids.





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  22. Tyler B.

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    The case you cite seems pretty clear that one teacher is better than the other. In that situation, it's the teacher. However, I was looking globally at the situation. High test scores indicate a school serving a high income area.

    Do you think the existence of a charter school would make that weak teacher more effective?





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  23. TeacherGroupie

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    Waterfall is quite correct that what "charter school" means varies from one part of the US to another.

    In my area, some of the charters (two high schools and at least one elementary school that I know of) are overseen by the local school district, from which they draw their share of money more or less as any of the non-charter schools does. The high schools take all comers within their enrollment areas and can accept transfers from out of district if they have room (though that's standard within the district); the elementary school is a bilingual dual-immersion program in Spanish and English, so I don't think it's siphoning off the category of students to which Tyler B. objects.

    There are also charters that operate outside the aegis of a school district, of course, and that's another matter.
     
  24. peachacid

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    Charter schools receive about 80% of the money that public schools do; the remaining 20% or more is made up by fundraising efforts. Why are you against giving parents a choice for their children? If the local school district is failing, and NO ONE is fixing it, why shouldn't parents be given a second option? Further, while it is true that there are charter schools run by for-profit companies, why does that mean their educational standards are lacking?
     
  25. cult

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    My personal experience with one KIPP school in the Midwest is that they illegally deny special education students their accommodations. General education students' scores were not any higher than those of students from neighborhood schools. KIPP is a bunch of hype and nothing more.
     
  26. Tyler B.

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    This reminds me of a Warren Buffet quote: No schools would be failing if private schools were illegal.

    As a father, I understand your longing for a good school for your children, but tax payers shouldn't subsidize it. You and other good parents should demand a strong public school system; not a two-tiered system for concerned parents on one level and what's left on the other.

    For-profit means they make decisions based on what will make money for their stockholders, not what's best for kids. For-profit schools have a powerful conflict of interest.





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  27. EdEd

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    Tyler, I don't disagree with public funding for charter schools because it's essentially just subcontracting out to a private organization that can do it for cheaper - it ends up costing taxpayers less because charter schools have to fund their own infrastructure, whereas a public school has to build the building, etc.

    Where I do see your point is when you say that, if charter schools only accept "better" students, then public schools are left with a higher concentration of higher-needs students.

    Curious as to what others think about this last comment?
     
  28. peachacid

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    Charter schools don't only accept "better" students...they have enrollment, and if too many people apply there is a lottery. The thing is that the parents who choose to enroll their children are more involved in their kids' education, and so the kids at the charter schools -- IN GENERAL -- have parents who care more. However, this does not mean that charter schools have some awesome concentration of the best of the best. Look at Philadelphia schools, for example. About half of the public schools did not make AYP last year...and about half of the charter schools did not either. However, when a charter school does not make AYP, there is more incentive and FREEDOM to make decisions that will help the students pass the stupid tests. If we want to improve public education, we have to do it -- but no one wants to. TylerB, what urban school district do you work in?
     
  29. sizzla_222

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    I work at a private christian school that is also a charter school. not sure how other charter schools compare but we do not only accept motivated students etc. We have a lot of students that havent flourished at other schools but they get the chance to do so here because of small classses etc.

    I guess we don't have to keep any students but i dont know of any students that have been turned away because they were not performing etc.
     
  30. Tyler B.

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    EdEd, I never said charters only take the best students. Some charters do not accept any students on IEPS, but otherwise they take all students, but the weakest drop out at an amazing rate. These dropouts end up at the public schools with all the IEP kids. When the test scores are posted, it can look as if the charters are outperforming the public. Even with this advantage, charters only outperform public schools 20% of the time.

    I object to public money going to charters because it's bad policy. They weaken public schools.





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  31. TeacherGroupie

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    Tyler B., what if the charters ARE public schools?
     
  32. Tyler B.

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    Some charters are given their "charter" by a public school district. The purpose is to encourage innovation in order to find a better way to teach kids. However, in a study, the U.S. Department of Education found that "charter schools were out-performed by traditional public schools in meeting state performance standards."

    What kids need is a strong public school system staffed by well-trained and supervised teachers and administrators. This whole charter movement is a distraction from what we should be doing.





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  33. TeacherGroupie

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    Tyler B., what do you intend by placing scare quotes around "'charter'" here?
     
  34. Tyler B.

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    The word charter is used so much in this thread, that I wanted to readers to get a hint that it had a different meaning here. Perhaps I should have use a different word like authority or permission.

    Why did you call it scare quotes? They were just quotation marks.




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  35. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    This is exactly what happens in my district. The area is actually 60/40 between white/hispanic and high ses/low ses. However, the public schools represent a large ESL and low ses population (most schools in my district are around 70-90%) while the charters are 100% white. Not to sound like the white students are "better"- but they aren't as high-needs simply based on the fact that they already know English and the overwhelming majority of them come from high SES families. The charters also have rigorous standards for how involved families must be, so you know you're getting parents who care about education/are very involved with their child's education.

    I would argue though, that in areas where charters aren't popular, private schools have the same effect. Charters aren't popular at all in my home city, but private catholic schools are extremely popular, especially for wealthier families that live in urban areas. I worked at a gym in HS closer to the city, and almost all of the kids I worked with went to catholic school rather than the inner city schools. It was just kind of an understanding in that area that if you could afford it, you went to catholic school. It wasn't really about religion at all- just about avoiding the public schools. Out in the suburbs where I lived, the public schools were much more highly rated so not as many people saw a need to look for school alternatives. My point is, even when charters aren't around or aren't good alternatives, I think people still find ways to work around putting "good" kids in "bad" schools.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

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    A definition of "scare quotes" is at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scare+quote. In the sentence

    the reader is entitled to infer that the mayor may well be married, but not to the person with whom she left the hotel.

    Quotation marks in a definition wouldn't be scare quotes - that is, in this sentence they simply indicate that the word is being cited:

    If you weren't intending to suggest that schools that obtain their charters from their school districts aren't true charters in your meaning, that's fine, but then it's up to you to make that clear.
     
  37. Tyler B.

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    May 18, 2012

    TeacherGroupie, you are so right.
    1. The charters I'm talking about are true charters.

    2. I muddied the waters with improper quotation marks. Sorry for any confusion.

    Thanks for the lesson on scare quotes, I'll be more careful in future posts.




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  38. TeacherGroupie

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    You're welcome. This does highlight the other issue, though: if other people's experience of charters doesn't exactly mirror yours, it makes sense to clarify what they and you each mean by the term.
     
  39. EdEd

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    I hear you, and this is what I meant - sorry for the poor wording. True, they can't be more selective in enrollment, but they can be more selective in keeping kids, from what I understand.
     
  40. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I agree~ I am glad this country has education for all students, but honestly some students do not want to be in school or value the fact that they can get ahead by getting a good education. So I completely support charter schools and private schools for students who truly want to get an excellent education and have parents who are supportive of their educational goals.

    I don't see anything wrong with dumping out the ones who are low performing (for whatever reason) so that a student who has the want and capabilities to do well and excel and won't be able to get it through a regular public school.
     
  41. EdEd

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    The inherent problem with this is assuming that motivation and desire are static traits internal to a child that can't or shouldn't be addressed/fixed. Assuming that, at any given point in children's educational careers, they can be divided into two groups - those who want to be in school and get ahead, and those who don't, oversimplifies motivation.

    As an example, let's take a child going through divorce. Let's assume that they are showing less interest in school, are more distractible, and achieving poor grades. What group should that student be placed in? If that child were in a charter school, didn't meet requirements, and was asked to leave, would that be fair to that student - as adults in their world - to label them as "low performing (for whatever reason)?"
     

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