Thursday, March 31, 2005

Charters: Much ado about nothing

Another review on charter schools around the nation.

Probably nothing wrong with a charter school, except they are more expensive in many cases, perform no better than public schools in most cases, and lead to more segregation of students.

Other than that, nothin' wrong with 'em.


At Friday, April 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charter schools -- doesn't it depend upon what states charter schools are in as to whether they are different than public schools or not? In Tennessee the law says the charter schools can only accept students from "failing" schools. That is a joke! If run properly, with good teachers willing to work hard for the students, charter schools in many cases are much better than the traditional public schools. They provide additional choice for parents and students.

How else can one explain the success of the KIPP schools?

Charters, if done well, can be a threat to the establishment, too. How else can you explain why in Philadelphia a charter school based upon the IB program, that has high scores, is being closed? One board member said "I don't just like charter schools". Seems to me this is a board member to blind to face the fact that the traditional public schools are in need of major changes.

Just my two cents worth as a parent and mother of a son in a public "academic magnet" (not) and a private school--


At Friday, April 01, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...


You have some good points.

It doesn't surprise me that "charter schools" show mixed results. And you are correct, many states define "charters" differently. There doesn't appear to be much commonality to what constitutes a charter school. In time, research will have to be done on high performing charters and compare them with high performing public schools with matching demographics and then see if they vary.

It would be interesting to see if the variables in underperforming charters match the variables in underperforming public schools.

My position is this:

The major supporters of charters say that relieving them of bureaucratic control will propel them to higher achievement.

If that is true, then we should first try relieving ALL public school districts of bureaucratic control.

At Friday, April 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the rule with Charter Schools? Are they held to the same standards as the public schools when it comes to accepting students.

I have a child with a disability. Would they be allowed to deny my child? Or would they have to provide my child with a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment - the same as the public school?

Are charter schools a choice for all students or are they just for certain children?

I'd like to know.

At Friday, April 01, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...


Under Indiana Code (20-5.5-8-5 if you want to look it up) it says under number (3) that Charter schools in Indiana are supposed to follow all statutues regarding special education IC 20-1-6.

Are they able? Do they want to? Only they can answer that. In Indiana they are supposed to.

There is at least one specific charter school incident where parents may believe the school did not have appropriate resources or support and parents seem to think their child was intimidated to leave the school.

Now the greater discussion involves whether or not private schools will have to accept any student. Currently private schools can discriminate on the basis of religion, handicapping conditions etc. without penalty.

The big debate is whether this is fair to the children when public tax money becomes involved under current legislative proposals.

Shouldn't ANY student be permitted if tax money is going to be involved? No problem with private funded academies if parents are paying the freight. But when MY tax money goes to it then I want ANY child to be able to participate without discrimination.

We are headed to segregated societies all over again if this barn door opens.

At Friday, April 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly! I have to admit I was playing naive... just to get a response. And is this the kind of community we want to live in? One that financially supports schools that can deny a child on the basic of their creed, intellectual ability, religion?

The thought that our Governor is for such a thing chills me to the bone.

a concerned parent of a child with special needs - one who is concerened for ALL kids. Not just the financially or intellectually elite.

At Sunday, April 03, 2005, Anonymous Private school parent said...

By design, private schools can discriminate based on academic ability, student motivation, behavioral standards, religious beliefs and parent involvement. Students or parents who don't meet the basic standards are asked not to return.

That is why private schools will always deliver an education superior to public schools -- they can control their inputs.

Public schools will never be able to do this, nor should they.

Nor should we hold public schools to very high academic standards.

They must take all comers, so the low performing students will certainly pull down the achievement of the good students.

I believe public schools do the best they can with the students they have to take.

Charters and vouchers are an effort for some parents who can't afford private schools to get their kids out of the "take-all" public schools.

But Governor Daniels is mistaken if be thinks a majority of the public will support a few highly motivated students and parents from escaping the system. They will follow them with regulations and drag them back into the pit of mediocrity.

At Sunday, April 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"they do the best they can with what they have to take"

Yes, I am the parent of the child with special needs. And I am also the parent of child who scores better than 99% of children in Indiana. And I send this second child to public school so that she can avoid the elitist attitude of the former poster.

My child with special needs may score poorly on standardized testing, but I would put her humanity above yours any day.

Your attitude is exactly what we are trying to avoid in the public school system. The public schools educate all kids because ALL kids are worth it.

Can you imagine a world full of people like this former poster. Mr. Daniels can and he will, unless we stand up for what is right.

At Sunday, April 03, 2005, Anonymous high school grad said...

The state of Indiana financially supports Purdue University and they discriminated against me because of my intellectual ability.

Just because I skipped a lot of school, averaged a 2.0, had SAT's totaling 750, was a little disruptive in most classes, got my girl friend pregnant and had a little trouble with the police (never actually convicted of school vandalism) -- they refused to admit me.

I think it is outrageous that public funds support such a discriminatory school as Purdue.

One of these days when I get a job I might be a taxpayer. And I don't think my taxes should go to support Purdue.

Just think what would have happened if my public high school had treated me that way.

At Monday, April 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And your point is...?

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous High school grad said...

I don't want my tax dollars going to Purdue or any other college that isn't required to take all applicants regardless of intellectual ability -- just like public K-12 schools.

There should never be any discrimination where public funding is involved. I thought that is what everybody else was saying...

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous private school parent said...

Well, Anonymous, you don't have a monopoly on special needs children.

I have 3 children with special needs -- all of whom go to private school -- but not all the same school.

My child with dyslexia goes to a private school specifically designed to help studnets with learning disabilities.

My child with diabetes goes to a private school where the school nurse has received special training for diabetes treatment -- training I paid for.

My third child, who was born with multiple orthopaedic deformities, goes to a different school, where the teachers are helpful when he has to be out for extended periods for surgery.

When I refer to public schools doing the best they can with "what they have to take" I was refering to students who are disruptive, violent, unmotivated, with very low IQ's and with parents who could care less.

You may see it as elitist, but I do not believe the rest of the students are well-served by keeping these kids in the same school -- despite what you might view as their "humanity".

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private School Parent -

I am not suprised at all that private schools would take your kids. I was refering to a kid like mine who would bring down their precious standardized test scores. My kid would not be so "lucky". Unless of course it would be our local parochial school which took a child with developmental delays because the parents give beaucoup endowments to their church. Hmmmm? Won't even go there.

And no I don't believe I have a monopoly on anything. Whether it's the number of special needs in my family or the status of my private school. I simply believe that diversity is a strength, not a weakness and that ALL kids deserve a good education - even if they have disruptive attitudes, uninvolved parents or heaven forbid - the most feared disability in our schools... diabetes. It must be hell during your IEP meetings. Adn oh, yes, I even belive kids with low IQ's deserve to go to school. I know, earth shattering.

A Parent

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Private school parent said...

We do disagree.

In my life experience -- certainly not as deep, spiritual, important or meaningful as yours - putting kids of enormously dissimilar capabilities, motivation, or levels of intelligence does not work to all the students' advantage.

The child who struggles because of low IQ does not miraculously become smart simply because they sit next to a brilliant child who is bored senseless by the slow pace of the class.

And no, I do not belive that disruptive, unmotivated kids deserve the right to ruin the education of the rest of the class.

Finally, since I don't know what an "IEP meeting" is, I'll just assume your comment was intended as an insult.

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seperate is not equal. Grouping kids according to weakness is as archaic and outdated as institutions for the disabled. And so is the idea of making kids smart by sticking them next to "smart" kids. The idea is revolutionary I know.... teach each child, so that particular child can reach his/her potential.

IEP - so sorry you didn't know. Every child who is deemed to be "special needs" in the public school system has an Individualized Education Plan. This happens during an IEP meeting where a team designs ways that a child can reach their potential. That can happen in a regular ed room, a resource room, with aides, with modifications etc.

Good teaching is good teaching. A teacher who can teach a middle of the road child well, a gifted child well, can do that with any child, as long as they have an IEP to help them in the process. There are no magical formulas to teaching "those" kids. It just takes education, an open mind, and an understanding that all children are of value.

As far as insulting.... I don't intend to be any more insulting than you are to the kids who don't measure up to your private school standards.

A Parent

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the American spirit -- like Thomas Jefferson said, "from each according to their ability; to each according to their need"

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Private School parent said...


I think you are absolutely wrong if you believe putting a minority of disruptive, lazy, stupid kids in the same class as a majority of attentive, motivated, smart kids is the best education for both groups. (setting special needs kids aside for the moment -- just for the moment)

My standards don't matter. The standards that count are those of the college market and ultimately the job market. Those are the ones that both sets of kids will have to meet.

I believe your approach drags down the majority of students in the service of the minority, but who knows maybe your approach to "disruptive diversity" will serve kids better than setting high standards and putting the disruptive minority where they will do the least damage.

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous moved from Detroit said...

I only wish the kids had been disruptive and lazy in my daughter's seventh grade.

Instead, they were violent, verbally abusive bullies and often involved with drugs and alcohol.

The schools can't do anything about it. Seems the good kids just suffer in silence.

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

I have noticed that sometimes when parents talk about "the school" they are often referring as much to the student body as they are to the staff, and curriculum.

School people take it personally when parents criticize "the school." Yet, sometimes the parents are referring to students as mentioned by "moved from detroit" above.

I noticed this one day when a parent mentioned how unhappy she was with her child's school. I immediately thought she was referring to teachers and administrators. She then proceeded to talk about the students she met at the lunchroom table and how disappointed she was in the topics of conversation at the table. She said she was going to excercise her option to switch schools under the Title I rules. I then asked her how she felt about the staff and curriculum. She said she was impressed with the teachers and other staff and was not unhappy with the curiculum or standards at the school.

I thought Hmmm..... parents talk about the "school" and they are thinking about who their children hangout with and rub shoulders with. We hear the word "school" and think they always mean us (administrators and staff.)

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous while we trade insults said...

In 2001, India graduated 1,000,000 MORE students from college than did the United States.

China graduates TWICE as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have SIX TIMES as many graduates majoring in engineering.

"A 14-year-old in Romania or Bangalore or the Soviet Union or Vietnam has all the information, all the tools, all the software easily available to apply knowledge however they want,'' said Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of Netscape.

"As bioscience becomes more computational and less about wet labs and as all the genomic data becomes easily available on the Internet, at some point you will be able to design pharmaceuticals on your laptop.''

At Wednesday, April 06, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

And what do they have in common? They are all emerging countries with motivated students who want to improve their lot in life.

Or they must have great charter schools I guess.

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