Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be?

This is an op-ed piece that I ran today on the print education page that I put together each week for the AJC. (Please send me your op-ed ideas or your written pieces for consideration, 500 words or 850. The page is formatted so those are the two working lengths. )

This piece is by the new principal of Tech High Charter, a city of Atlanta charter school that has had more ambitions than students. I have visited Tech High three times and always admired the dedication of the staff and volunteers, but felt that the school did not have the quality of life — the fun, the variety of students, the activities  — that would draw teens. I attended a 2009 honors program and found a senior class of 55. They were an enthusiastic but small crowd.

I went home from the event and looked at the school’s EOCT scores and ACT and SAT scores and was disappointed.  I had wished more for a school where the adults worked so hard and wanted so much for their students. But I asked myself the question that I ask after every school visit: Would I want my own kids to go there?

And I couldn’t say “yes.” I loved the energy, the teachers and the spirit of the place, but I could not find reason for celebration in Tech High’s scores in most areas. Here was an engineering and information technology focused high school with small classes, dedicated staff, extended academics and a tremendous volunteer force, yet  74 percent of test takers failed the EOCT in algebra and 78 percent in geometry in 2008-2009. (The failure rate was much lower in biology and physical science – both below 30 percent.)

New leadership hopes to improve the school’s outlook and numbers.  I wish them well.

By Graysen Walles

Recently our school – Tech High Charter in Atlanta – hosted a volunteer event to bring out men, women and children to help us tidy up our 88-year-old building.

Parents and students worked with us, but members from the surrounding community came out to support our efforts too.

All of these people came out to our event to help us meet the needs of our diverse population of 170 students consisting of African Americans, whites, Christians, Jews, Muslims, gifted, average and exceptional needs.

After sweating for eight hours in the hot Atlanta sun, a grandmother approached me saying, “Son, you are the new principal, right?” I replied, “Yes ma’am.”

One of her grandchildren has a slight disability, while the other needs to be challenged more academically. She enrolled both of them in Tech High this year.

She said: “You are doing a good thing here. I am raising my grandchildren, and I prayed for a school just like this. I can tell you are going to look out for these children. I am going through some things right now that might stop me from being here like I want to, but know if you need anything I’m here.

“Keep them in the right uniforms, because they need to know how to dress right, and stay on them to do the right thing, okay?”

I kneeled down closer to her in much awe and respect, as she was sweating, too, and said, “Yes, ma’am, I promise to do right by you and the students. That’s what I came here to do.”

If I had any questions about what I was doing in this charter movement, I knew for sure at that moment what it was all about.

Her nod of affirmation was all I needed that day to know I was on the right track, along with the thousands of other charter leaders, teachers, parents, boards and students around the country.

We all know that the public school system as it is now designed cannot be the answer for the growing needs of our diverse community.

We have seen time and time again by means of reliable statistics and research that most of our public school systems are failing to prepare students for the 21st century global community. These are facts, whether we want to face them or not.

The consistent message from families of all ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds in communities like Atlanta is that they want quality educational choice for their children.

In most cases, a traditional school system is not able to accommodate these choices as they are challenged with a myriad of complex issues, even much deeper that what can be seen with the naked eye.

For many families, such as the one led by the grandmother who stopped me that hot day, charter schools provide the choice and the answer that many parents are searching for.

Specifically, these families deeply desire a nurturing environment, a high quality education that will prepare their students to succeed in college, access to a concerned and proficient administration and teaching faculty and a safe and vibrant school community where bullying and violence are not tolerated.

The charter school movement is an answer for many families around the country, as they provide what most traditional public schools cannot.

Quite honestly, at the current time, many of the students benefitting most from the charter movement are minority students and exceptional needs students.

That is why it is so difficult to digest the negative commentary that some civil rights organizations, such as the NAACP, have purported about charter schools.

On the contrary, charter schools are an answer to the challenges of our special education communities and minority communities, as charters provide specificity, flexibility and a level of nurturing for our students that traditional public school have a difficult time mastering.

I was encouraged to read recently that the leader of the National Urban League has clarified its position on charter schools, noting that it “wholeheartedly supports high-quality charter schools and the outcomes they produce for our nation’s children.”

Indeed, if there were any organizations that would support the charter school movement, it is my belief that civil rights organizations would. I would encourage more leaders of these organizations to visit charter schools that have been successful in densely poor communities such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.

Undoubtedly, these school communities would definitely provide these leaders with a new perspective about charters and the need for charters as a viable educational reform tool.

Some of the best charters have clearly been documenting best practices and invaluable research that speaks to closing the achievement gap for at least a solid decade.

Charter schools have moved beyond test tube theories. They are now established, valued and successful. Why?

In my lowly opinion, it is because charters have proven that the student achievement gap can be closed among minority students.

Further, these amazing achievements have been accomplished with fewer resources, and many times in sub-standard conditions.

As an aside, I am convinced that far more could be accomplished if there was consistent and intentional collaboration between charters and traditional school systems.

Yet, rather than embrace and appreciate the innovation and creativity of successful charters, they are often ostracized by many public school systems and outright attacked by some supporters of the status quo, including, unfortunately, some civil rights groups. It doesn’t have to be this way.

After my brief conversation with that concerned, loving grandmother, I’m just glad to know that I am making a difference, even if many of our civil rights organizations don’t understand or support the charter movement as a viable educational reform option.

However, I do hope all of them will, sooner than later.

Graysen Walles is the principal of Tech Charter High in Atlanta.

65 comments Add your comment


August 30th, 2010
3:07 pm

I think the charter school movement gives an illusion of a solution, and this principal appears to have bought into that illusion. If he thinks most public schools are failing our students, how can he ignore them? His school might be doing something right, but unless the academic achievement improves, the fundamental issue remains.

HS Teacher, Too

August 30th, 2010
4:20 pm

Huh? You are certainly throwing around the term “civil right” here!

No – charter schools are not a civil right. Period. Nothing further needed. Stupid blog.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:27 pm

what a huge, stinking, idiotic load of manure.

“We all know that the public school system as it is now designed cannot be the answer for the growing needs of our diverse community”

horsepoop. to say “diversity”, whatever the hell that is, is an impediment to learning is asinine – unless the “diversity” includes the desire to be willfully ignorant. there is zero – repeat, zero – racial or cultural barriers that impeed the ability to learn.

except, as noted before, if the “diversity” includes willful ignorance.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

August 30th, 2010
4:27 pm

Public schools ARE failing our students, LLL, and I’m a parent who believes our community’s education leaders (on the whole an unimpressive group) have proved that they do not now have, nor are they ever likely to find, the political will or capital necessary to create high-performing public schools in Atlanta.

However, I CAN imagine a future where our worst public schools, forced by new competitors to either improve or perish, embrace changes they now say are impossible.

Those of you who come here to post your lockstep opposition to school choice show up with only half an argument. You don’t offer parents a single good reason to buy into your view that we should protect our abysmal Georgia public schools from competition–other than your opinion that it will only make bad schools worse. You imply that supporting publicly funded education is the morally superior position, which is both offensively smug and just plain wrong (the right moral choice for parents is the one that gives their kids the best start in life, whether that’s a public school, a charter school, homeschooling or a private school).

I support school choice because I believe it’s the fastest way to reform our bad schools–or eliminate them. Either way, we’re better off.

I have a good laugh every time someone here calls charter schools a “failed experiment.” Because nothing is a bigger failed experiment than publicly funded, government-run education in Georgia.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:29 pm

Graysen Walles has no business being in education. he/she/it is a raging exucse making moron.

kids need advocates, not apologists

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:31 pm

“African Americans, whites, Christians, Jews, Muslims, gifted, average and exceptional needs.”

somebody needs to point out to that moron whites, in the context he used it begins with a capital A.

Walles is a dolt who needs to get as far away from education as possible

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:37 pm

“In my lowly opinion, it is because charters have proven that the student achievement gap can be closed among minority students”

at least he got the lowly opinion part right.

what the difference is is simple – committed families who want more for their children than they had. that these parents may happen to be minorities is secondary to the fact


bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:37 pm

I think my civil rights were violated by the stupidity in this letter

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:38 pm

next up: making an A is a civil right
so is getting to make out with the hot girl in class.


August 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

Springdale Park parent, I agree albeit reluctantly. There are manifold benefits to sending children to their neighborhood public school, not the least of which is the community it engenders for both parent and child. Spreading children hither and yon depending on which schools accept them/have room for them dilutes this community and takes the classroom farther away from the parent, who is best positioned to hold a school to account and to participate in making it better.

However, I agree that school systems respond to one thing and one thing only – money. Taking away the per-child stipend and handing it over to the parent to make the best choice for the student is terrifying to administrations and the one and only way to force districts to make real changes. Sad but true.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

this clown is the biggest reason I’ve seen yet for opposing charter.
this particular school is run by someone who should be a manager at QT


August 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

Since schools are not for-profit organizations, what might a “competition” look like? Would they pay the employees (teachers and administrators) more if they get more students?

Why would “charter” public schools would be any better than regular public schools?

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

@ shar

conceptually I agree with you.
but if the community is failing to provide a decent education
and environment, I can’t fault parents who say to hell with it


August 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

We should work to close the achievement gap. Charter schools are a tool that could work in closing that gap. However, the achievement gap should be the focus, not one of the tools. I would not call charter schools a civil rights issue.

I understand that you were not impressed by the scores. I think the real measure is how those kids perform at Tech High versus their performance previously. A 20 and a 60 both get you a failing grade, but there is a lot of progress in those 40 points.

You need to get data on the whole picture. Maybe the school can provide it.

Also need to consider the percentage of students that wanted to go there for the charter specialty versus getting away from their old schools. If the student doesn’t have an interest in the area of focus in the charter school, it may not be a better choice.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:43 pm


in APS and DCSS, they can’t possibly be worse than what the
kids are getting now.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

every time some barking moron comes along and starts up “civil rights” talk, it takes away from real, actual civil rights concerns.

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:47 pm

if charter schools are a “failed experiment” in Georgia, it has much to
do with the myraid of barriers the state and the education protection (theirs, not your kids) posse have put in front of them

bootney farnsworth

August 30th, 2010
4:50 pm

my local ice cream store charges more than I want to pay.
is this a civil rights issue as well?


August 30th, 2010
5:02 pm

@ Bootney Farnsworth,

You a really happy today! Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo many post!


August 30th, 2010
5:02 pm

oh “are”


August 30th, 2010
5:31 pm

I don’t understand the title of this blog. Gay, black, white, yellow or red, we are all behind. We are not competing against buckhead or bankhead, we are competing against asia, europe, etc, etc. Charter are not the answer, but they keep the monopolist on their toes.

Not sure why Tech High is featured, take a look at Urban Prep Chicago, North Star in Newark, and the many charter high schools in Boston, NY, and other areas of the country…

They would make a better story than Tech High

Is this an attack on Tech High maybe I read this one incorrectly.


August 30th, 2010
6:52 pm

Reading that LA Times article tells you that student performance is only partially under teachers’ control. When you are a classroom teacher, you play the hand you are dealt, and classes of students vary from year to year. It’s counter productive to view the performance of the 9th grade one year and the 9th grade the next year and compare the two if you truly want to raise student achievement.

In reality, a teacher takes students where they are and moves them as far as he/she can. If most of your students in a class are 4 years behind in math, you will not be moving them to grade level in one year. If most of your students are 1 year or 6 months behind in math, you may be able to move them to grade level during their stay in your classroom. Administrators, politicians, and media personnel like to look at the 9th grade scores from year to year because it’s simple, and even math challenged Americans can understand it. They make teachers plan around these scores. Indeed looking at a particular grade level is the bedrock of NCLB. But scores are never increased using this method. Any particular group score is an aggregate of numerous students’ individual achievement (even disaggregated scores are made up of groups of students). Only by looking at where each of my students are in the beginning of the year can I plan appropriately and move them forward. It’s more accurate for me to measure their achievement at the end of the year as contrasted to where they were at the beginning of the year.

Do you know at what math level these particular 9th grade students were when they entered this school? Were they 4 years behind in math? Were they 2 years behind in math? This is their first year in high school. Did you expect if they were 4 years behind, they would progress 4 years during the year? Statisticians know this is implausible. They looked at APS scores and knew that statistically many of the gains in student achievement in APS schools (DCSS and other counties as well) were statistically impossible. That’s exactly why the state started looking at widespread cheating. They wouldn’t have looked for erasure marks if the increases in scores had not been so dramatic. Harry Markopolos said Bernie Madoff’s returns were mathematically impossible. I guess a “Harry Markopolos” type caught Perdue’s ear.

If those 9th graders at Tech High School came in 4 years behind and left the 9th grade 2.5 years behind, would you say that is a success? After all, they may have failed the test, but they did move ahead 1.5 years in 1 year. Wouldn’t most of us be satisfied with a 50% ROI in an investment?

I think you really need more data to figure out if Tech High School is a success, but unfortunately the data you need (where this particular group of students were and how far they moved) is not what is captured, published or valued. Before counting this school a failure or success, a much more critical analysis is needed than what you’ll find on the Georgia DOE website.


August 30th, 2010
6:58 pm

Many of these charter schools are better all around than public schools in their area. Many of them are far worse. So no, charter schools aren’t some magic cure and they certainly have nothing to do with civil rights.

civil rights issue?

August 30th, 2010
7:10 pm

A quality public education is not a civil rights issue. It is a HUMAN RIGHTS issue. I do not care if you are black, white, brown, yellow, or purple. All should be able to enjoy a quality public education. Too many are unable. Many are to blame; leaders in D.C., leaders in school districts, colleges of education, parents and teachers, unions all need to take some blame. There is enough to go around. Charters ARE part of the answer and I think the author is attempting to change things for the better.


August 30th, 2010
7:10 pm

Wow… so this guy is a Principal? Pretty scary how easy it is for idiots to work their way up the ranks in the Public School System


August 30th, 2010
7:17 pm

After reading this article, I’m really, really happy my child is no longer in anyone’s high school.


August 30th, 2010
7:28 pm

Stop it already. DIVISION is one the biggest problem in the world. Trying to keep things separate but equal has caused such a reverse downfall in education as it is. Now, not just one sector of people have suffered because of this morbid reality but in 2010 everyone is now affected. Bet no one wants to accept the blame.

Joe Eagar

August 30th, 2010
7:30 pm

Why don’t the downers here ask those of us who didn’t get a traditional public education at all?

The little public education available to me were charter schools. I was unable to attend traditional schools for health reasons and, frankly, being too different from the norm. When I hear people criticize school choice I think “union fascists”. Try explaining your points to people like me. I dare ya.

I participate in a non-profit software foundation; I can personally attest that competition does work in a nonprofit setting. Just look at the 40% of health insurers who are nonprofit.

And one final point. My mother had to postpone her life two decades to self-teach her kids. Charter schools were very helpful at the end, but they were somewhat undeveloped and regularly discriminated against by the California Department of Education and the California Teachers Association (the state-wide teachers union).

So yes. Tell me how school choice is bad. I doubt you can.


August 30th, 2010
7:31 pm

@ SAVE DEKALB SCHOOLS…. Correctly stated. Now what can we do to make it better?


August 30th, 2010
7:32 pm

Work together for the better for all.

[...] Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be? | Get Schooled Filed under: education — coopmike48 @ 4:37 pm Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be? | Get Schooled. [...]

Maureen Downey

August 30th, 2010
7:38 pm

@Change, Tech is featured because that’s what the piece is about and it’s a local high school.


August 30th, 2010
7:45 pm

The factors that make a difference are mostly those that students bring with them. Kids of parents who care and make an effort to instill the belief that education is important, that the kid can and will do well, and will do well, no matter the race, SES or much else, will do well given an educational opportunity that is at least moderately supportive. It helps tremendously if the peers at the school are also being raised in homes like that, no matter the race, the SES, or other factors.

I really cannot figure out where the civil rights angle comes in. I think kids who have to suffer through a school where the kids and their parents don’t show they care, where behavioral standards are like the Wild West, should sue for THEIR civil rights being violated.

Public Teacher

August 30th, 2010
8:01 pm

@Springdale Park Elementary Parent –

When will you get it? Regardless of what teachers tell you, regardless of what the statistics show, regardless of what the research shows, you just don’t get it. Rather than claim that the “others” are in “lockstep,” maybe you should try to understand the Truth rather than bash it.

The “problem” with public schools has little to do with teacher quality. While of course there is a fraction of poor teachers, the overall contribution of those teachers to overall teacher quality is minimal. The quality of teaching has changed little over the years. In fact, I would claim that there are more great teachers today than ever. The economy has made it such that individuals with degrees in business areas with business experience (computer science, engineering, etc.) have earned their teaching certification and bring real world experience for the students.

The “problem” with public schools has little to do with the school building, facility, technology, media center or any other such.

The “problem” with public schools is one that private schools do not have to deal with. It isn’t a “problem” that some charter or magnet schools have to deal with. It is unique to public schools. Why? Because there is this little law that REQUIRES all children to attend school up to a certain age.

What this means is that children are forced to go somewhere. The children that are forced to attend public schools may come from families that don’t care (private schools don’t have this problem). They can come from families that may not have the funds to feed their own children (not a problem for private schools). They can come from families that might even frown upon an education – because no one in their family ever graduated, why should we? And, so on.

You simply cannot compare these vastly different institutions when there are different rules applied. Private schools can simply kick out a bad student (behavior or academic wise). Public schools cannot do that.

The “problem” my dear is the family life. THAT has changed over the years. In my day, it was very very rare to have a single parent household. These days it is very common. In my day, people were willing to reach out and help the under-priviledged. These days people snub those and let them starve. In my day, parents taught their children manners and to respect adults. Today, most children ignore adults and if they must respond, they are rude and often with foul language.

To solve the “problem” with public schools, you must first solve the problem with the nuclear family in Georgia. That is the truth.

Look at the location of any “failing” school and you will find a community in trouble. Look at the location of any “successful” school and you will find a community with wonderful subdiviions filled with tight families.

So, you can stop your bashing of public schools and YOUR lockstep march to school choice. It isn’t the answer. Florida found out quickly. Can’t you at least learn from Florida’s mistake?????

Joe Eagar

August 30th, 2010
8:22 pm

Why learn from Florida’s mistake, if other states have had more successful experiences?

I really hate this liberal dogma of “it’s too hard to solve without central, micromanaging control.” That’s nothing more then intellectually lazy, childish tantrums.

Also, keep in mind that with the pushback and discrimination from traditional education people (including many state Secretaries of Education) all school choice programs face incredible obstacles.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

August 30th, 2010
8:23 pm

As usual, the most prolific posters here didn’t seem to read the piece, but then again, the title on the blog is misleading. Walles didn’t say that charters are a civil right, he wrote about civil rights organizations reactions to charters.
Maureen, you know the school better than I, but I am having the same conclusion about Tech HS, and that school is one of our only choices next year when our oldest starts HS. The scores are abysmal. Saying that, their average SAT score placed them third in APS- which is saying more about APS than I care to think about right now.
I will say that I found the students to be well-mannered and well-behaved, to the point that after school when they are off the grounds and travelling home, they comport themselves well. I’ve spent a bit of time in their building- our charter middle school girls used their gym for practice- and the place really does not serve them well, and I think it is a major issue for the growth of their student population (it’s an old APS elementary school, on Memorial). The lack of improvement in their scores is very disappointing.

Joe Eagar

August 30th, 2010
8:23 pm

As for the family issue, it is very real. It’s also not something we can solve anytime soon. Policies need to work around it as much as possible, not give up without trying. Children deserve better then that.

Joe Eagar

August 30th, 2010
8:27 pm

I think test scores are a terrible way to measure school productivity. They completely ignore relative improvements from a student’s past educational trend. Not to mention the adverse selection problems (ever wonder why health insurers–even nonprofit ones–are so sleazy?) and the complete lack of any sort of risk adjustment mechanism to compensate.

Test scores ignore the diverse cognitive development of human children. Someone who is dumb at math at age 15 may be a genius at age 20. These sort of one-size-fit-all policies are sheer evil if you are not close to the norm.


August 30th, 2010
8:37 pm

I understand why Maureen links civil rights with charter schools. Read the principal’s essay. He is saying civil rights groups are against charter schools even though “at the current time, many of the students benefitting most from the charter movement are minority students and exceptional needs students.”

Mr. Welles says, “Yet, rather than embrace and appreciate the innovation and creativity of successful charters, they are often ostracized by many public school systems and outright attacked by some supporters of the status quo, including, unfortunately, some civil rights groups. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

His subtext is that conservative groups are generally associated with charter schools as a way of perpetuating “separate but equal”. Mr. Walles sees these schools as an innovative way to address the lack of achievement that the traditional system has failed to address.

Looking at DeKalb County Schools, I can agree with him. Most of the charter schools are in the south end of the county (heavily African American). The few charter schools in the northern end of DeKalb are charter schools in name only – they are a part of the school system rather than independent charter schools. The numbers of students the charter schools in South DeKalb are drawing from the school system are having a substantial impact on the small school closings controversy.

Joe Eagar

August 30th, 2010
8:37 pm

I’m sick and tired of liberal oppression. Liberal oppression doesn’t stop being oppression, simply because it’s “progressive”.

Gah. When people tell me I’m better then them because I’m highly intellectual, I tell them that intellectuals have caused far more death and destruction then any other group, mostly from thinking they know everything.

“Normal” people do not have the same problems with “intellectual diseases” (like Marxism) we do, and tend to be blessed with a stronger common sense–which is often more accurate then what we intellectuals come up with anyway. Intellectuals have no reason to feel snobbish or superior–as the victims of Mao, Stalin, fundamentalist Islam and others would tell you–if they were still alive. All of those men had intellectually-consistent frameworks, and believed they were making society better.

It makes me sick.

Awful, Awful, Awful

August 30th, 2010
8:55 pm

Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be?

Maureen, you asked the question……do you have an opinion?

Honestly, that is about the dumbest question I’ve heard in awhile. Why would that even cross your mind? Oh, I forgot… journalists? like to create controversy. Why don’t you write about something relevant like……why is this charter school (Tech High) failing? And I hate to see the APS using that name for a school…..the real Tech High was a wonderful school in Atlanta from it’s beginning till the late forties…….makes me wanna throw up!!!!!!

Dunwoody Mom

August 30th, 2010
9:13 pm

Nice to see someone here at the AJC taking a look at Alvin Wilkbanks….


August 30th, 2010
9:21 pm

Urban public schools are failing. Many others are as well. We need to stop making excuses and start making commitments to get them fixed. Innovation is needed.

Dekalbite@Awful, Awful, Awful

August 30th, 2010
9:25 pm

How do you know it’s failing? Do you know what grade level in math these students were when they entered 9th grade? If they were 3 or 4 years behind, then is the blame to be placed on Tech High?

Maureen Downey

August 30th, 2010
9:47 pm

@Awful, Aren’t folks reading the piece itself by the principal before they post? He raises the civil rights issue in his piece. His piece was a response to what he considers the wrong reaction to charters initially by civil rights groups.

another comment

August 30th, 2010
10:15 pm

The easiest thing to start solving the Public School woes would be to start seperating out the Students who do not want to be participants. The disrutpive students, the students who parents do not want to partipate in school, the special needs students would be better served at seperate schools. Operate the Public Schools more like private schools. Be honest, people pay to have thier special needs children at the Schenk School, Howard School and the Speech School to name a few, it is because they help their children. When American’s move to a foreign country they pay and send their children to an “International” or “American” School so they can either transition to the new language or be schooled in their native tongue, but the US citizen pays for the School in the foriegn country. Why are we paying for everyone else to have ESOL in this country. Parents should have to bring their kids up to speed before they are entitled to a free education. The discipline problems need to be sent to seperate schools. Class rooms need to be segregated by learning ability, they are in private school. We have to stop being afraid of being PC. Parents that help their children should be rewarded not penalized. Anyone can buy books at the Thrift store for 35 cents, instead of cigaretes, malt liquour, weaves, cell phones, tatoos.

Judge Smells

August 30th, 2010
10:36 pm

The world needs ditch diggers too…..

Ros Dalton

August 30th, 2010
10:37 pm


Charter schools are just the latest fad/stunt in education. If the model doesn’t work for everyone it doesn’t really alter the landscape for anyone. Widespread adoption of the charter model would eventually so dilute the pool of funds as to effectively recreate last century’s single room, single teacher school for two dozen mixed age students. Charters are a hedged bet; the somewhat affluent and exaggeratedly worried Yippies bet they can stand halfway between the cost of a public school and the selectivity of a private. Inevitably they will unbalance the economics of the system and fail.


August 30th, 2010
11:46 pm

@Public Teacher,
Whatever the cause of public school failure is, the challenge for parents is to get a good education for their children.

Children are taught by teachers, but NOT if their teachers spend too much of their time performing crowd control instead of teaching. The problem you describe need only affect the bad students you complain about. Why leave motivated, responsible students imprisoned as spectators to a failed solution of what you describe as an intractable problem?

Instead, set them free to pursue an education with like-minded kids; the kids who don’t want to learn can fail to learn together without taking good kids down with them.

Attentive Parent

August 31st, 2010
2:35 am

This is not a true charter in terms of independence. It is an APS approved charter and thus has agreed to adopt the APS approved “discovery” approach to math and science that works poorly for everyone, but especially kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Why? They cannot come home and have a college or professional mom or dad teach them around the dinner table on the side or pay for a tutor or Kumon or Sylvan to actually teach the academic content.

This is a problem especially at APS and it’s a model that is illustrated in the learning tasks of the state’s Instructional Frameworks. It should be a topic for this year’s Governor and Ed Super races.

I looked into Tech High at someone’s request. What made me sad is how much it illustrates a very expensive mistake too many well-intentioned contributors to education in Atlanta and Georgia have been making.

Look beyond the innocuous sounding rhetoric about excellence and look into the instructional model itself. Does it make sense? Has it worked elsewhere? Is there research explaining why this approach has not and will not work with the given population?

Finally. quit thinking that good intentions absolve bad results. In fact in Georgia it seems that good intentions prevent a willingness to even explore actual outcomes. If things are bad already, poor curricular and instructional decisions can still make things worse. Math 1, 2, 3 is an example of the fallacy but not the only one.

I wish Tech High much luck but this principal really should read John Hattie or this famous paper- to appreciate where they assumptions are flawed.