The charter school battle shifts to suburbs and pits neighbor against neighbor

A question that we’ve been debating here on the AJC Get Schooled blog is whether charter schools have a place in high-performing districts, such as Cherokee. This debate is not limited to Georgia, but is erupting nationwide as a reform movement originally cast as a way to help students trapped in failing schools expands to communities with successful public schools.

In this broader application, the charter movement is no longer about an escape route for poor children but about greater choice for all students.

But some parents in wealthy suburbs maintain that these “boutique” charters divert vital funds from schools that are more than meeting the needs of the community. They contend that there’s no rationale for a charter school when the local education is high quality.

But the parents who want their children to learn Chinese in kindergarten counter that they deserve more public options, and that even excellent schools may not be serving every child well. Such differences of opinion are pitting neighbor against neighbor as charter school entrepreneurs recognize the potential of affluent suburbs.

Those are the dividing lines in the wealthy town of Millburn, N.J., where parents are fighting two Mandarin-immersion charter schools. Pointing out that he pays $15,000 a year in property taxes, Matthew Stewart, a founder of the Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools, told The New York Times, “Public education is basically a social contract — we all pool our money, so I don’t think I should be able to custom-design it to my needs. With these charter schools, people are trying to say, ‘I want a custom-tailored education for my children, and I want you, as my neighbor, to pay for it.’ ”

But a pro-charter parent told the Times, “This is not just about the education of my child. If we just sit back and let school districts decide what they want to do without taking into account global economic trends, as a nation, we all lose.”

According to the Times:

Suburbs like Millburn, renowned for educational excellence, have become hotbeds in the nation’s charter school battles, raising fundamental questions about the goals of a movement that began 20 years ago in Minnesota. Charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently operated, have mostly been promoted as a way to give poor children an alternative to underperforming urban schools — to provide options akin to what those who can afford them have in the suburbs or in private schools.

More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 1 in 5 of the 4,951 existing charter schools were located there in 2010, federal statistics show. Advocates say many proposed suburban charters have struggled because of a double standard that suggests charters are fine for poor urban areas, but are not needed in well-off neighborhoods.

“I think it has to do with comfort level and assumptions based on real estate and not reality,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, which studies and supports charter schools. “The houses are nice, people have money, and therefore the schools must be good.”

With high test scores and graduation rates to flash around, suburban school officials have had an easier time than their urban counterparts arguing that charters are an unnecessary drain on their budgets. Millburn’s superintendent, James Crisfield, said he was caught off guard by the plan for charters because “most of us thought of it as another idea to help students in districts where achievement is not what it should be.” He said the district could lose $270,000 — or $13,500 for each of 20 charter students — and that would most likely increase as the schools added a grade each year. “We don’t have enough money to run the schools as it is,” Mr. Crisfield said, adding that the district eliminated 18 positions and reduced bus services this year.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

118 comments Add your comment

Just Saying It Like It Is

July 18th, 2011
8:36 am

Every child in every public school should be entitled to the same quality education. If you want your kid in kindergarten to learn a foreign language, then enroll them in one of the many schools that that is their speciality and pay for it.

the guy on the couch

July 18th, 2011
9:03 am

I’ll take a step further- people that claim no kids on their tax return should be exempted from funding public schools.

Disillusioned

July 18th, 2011
9:03 am

As a parent of school-aged children in Cherokee and member of commmunity organizations where this topic has been debated, I have discovered that charter schools in Cherokee are really an attempt to create homogeneous environments for students of parents who object to our schools serving a diverse population. Cherokee schools are successful as evidenced by our superior test scores and inclusion on the US News and World Report list of top schools in America. Here, charter schools rise from prejudice – not academic motivation.

Dr NO

July 18th, 2011
9:09 am

Dis…geesh, isnt that always the way.

atlmom

July 18th, 2011
9:10 am

Of course charter schools have a place – everywhere! our public schools here in GA do one thing. They teach one way. If your child learns differently – or if you want your child to learn differently – you are out of luck unless you can afford private school, can move to another district (and maybe find a school that meets your child’s needs) or you can homeschool.
The idea of more than one type of school makes SO much sense. Just like there is not one type of child. Where I grew up there were several different types of ’schooling’ and most students went on the ‘typical’ track, but some thrived in other ways. Yes, a public school needs to do best by most. But we should do great by all. That’s never going to happen, I know, but we can try. And having different types of schools would accomplish that.

William Casey

July 18th, 2011
9:16 am

@theguy: American citizens decided long ago that public education served a common good. A democracy requires an educated electorate. If you are willing to return to feudalism with a tiny ruling class and millions of ignorant serfs, I’ll support your withholding your property taxes. You’ll almost certainly be one of those serfs and won’t own any property to pay taxes on. I’m assuming that you were educated in private schools.

Charter supporter

July 18th, 2011
9:24 am

Disillusioned I must disagree with you. I have two children in Cherokee county schools. My youngest was told by a science teacher ” I am going to give you this test even though I know you are not going to pass it.” He made a B. Last year we went to the “meet and greet”, he met his teacher and was very excited even though she was unfriendly towards him. When school started he arrived there only to find out he had been into another class without notice to me or him. His teacher lied to him and told him I was told. I had no clue. When I called the administrator about this. I was told that the teacher felt the class was too advanced for him. Cherokee county plays favorites. If you are not in the “incrowd

A Conservative Voice

July 18th, 2011
9:33 am

@the guy on the couch

July 18th, 2011
9:03 am
I’ll take a step further- people that claim no kids on their tax return should be exempted from funding public schools.

To “the guy on the couch” – With this approach, you remind me of the old saying, “whoever’s the last to leave Michigan, turn off the lights”. You and your single friends and childless couples and empty nesters will be the only ones left and the school system would not be able to exist without funding, for property taxes for those with children would be unbearable and they would leave because of it. Go back to sleep :)

Charter supporter

July 18th, 2011
9:35 am

Oopps…”in crowd” your children pay the price for it…. My son is a B average student and loves a challenge, but he was not given the opportunity to try. My oldest son is very quiet and keeps to himself. He does have a problem turning in his assignments. I asked his teacher in a conference why am I hearing about this so late (at the end of the quarter). Her response to me was “he’s so quiet I forget he’s in the room”. This was said in front of an administrator. I was flabbergasted. The administrator said to me ” unfortunately your children have no behavioral issues. The kids who scream the loudest get the teacher’s attention”. I personally do not feel this is acceptable. I would like more accountability from teachers and administrators. Everyone is making this about money, but I pay taxes too! My children deserve a QUALITY education just like everyone else. They should not be pushed to the side because they have no behavioral issues or do not belong to cliques. My stories are endless.

atlmom

July 18th, 2011
9:38 am

um, we could go along and *not* educate students. that means paying even more than we do now for prisons later on.
Which society would you prefer to live in?

www.honeyfern.org

July 18th, 2011
9:42 am

While I understand concerns regarding prejudice and charter schools, I honestly see what all the fuss is about. Choice is a good thing. A public charter school cannot have entrance criteria, so all who apply should be accepted, regardless of color, $$, etc (unless it is written in the charter, live Ivy Prep). I also believe that public schools should tailor the education to the child, and they currently don’t. If a charter school opens up down the street and relieves some of the pressure on the existing school, then perhaps teachers will have more time to differentiate and be creative with instruction instead of simply practicing crowd control.

And for those who don’t have children and complain about paying school taxes, it goes both ways. I don’t drive down your street, so perhaps I should stop paying taxes for your streets and street lights and the portion of the pipe that brings the water to your house. Or funding for the police in your neighborhood, or fire, or….the list goes on. The kids in school today will be running the country in 20 years (or less), and it is in our best interest to fund their education and educate them well.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 18th, 2011
9:54 am

Many charter parents are seeking the favorable teaching and learning conditions which in many public schools do not exist at the frequency, intensity and duration required for effective learning.

For some parents, their pursuit of charter schooling may be about race; for others, about SES; for a few, control; but, for most, it’s about favorable school climate and the learning which is founded upon it.

Concerned Teacher

July 18th, 2011
10:04 am

Public school children deserve the same opportunity for a quality educaiton that charter school children deserve. There should not be separate schools. There should be quality education practices in all public schools. If the same attitude and attention were given to the public schools that the elitists wish to have in a charter school without the tuition of a private school, then this entire education fiasco could be improved. While all of the hullabaloo is going on, students are suffering in the classrooms. There should not be separate charter schools. There should be better programs implemented in the public schools. The liars, cheaters, haters, inept, apathetic should be removed. There are many quality teachers who could do well. This community bickering is not good for the children.

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
10:26 am

I believe a certain degree of school choice is needed, especially considering the high performing nature of many of the suburbs, Cherokee included. However, I don’t know if ‘charter’ schools are the answer. I believe Cherokee would benefit more from a strong magnet type system in which students could apply to schools that would best fit their needs. Just speaking Cherokee, a Vocational focused institution, a Math/Science Academy, and ‘International’ school (think IB program) and an Arts Academy would be wonderful additions (or slight modifications of the current schools). The elementary & middle school feeders of the high school academies could have a focus that supported the same goal curricular goals. The charter applications in Cherokee were denied because of multiple reasons, most of which had some validity. “Choice” has to fit the educational needs in order to be successful and I don’t know if the Charter school format in this case fit the needs.

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
10:32 am

I wrote an extended piece on this issue. It is definitely an issue with many aspects and potential consequences. Here are my thoughts:

http://trulyuseful.blogspot.com/2011/07/dangerous-rise-of-public-charter.html

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
10:37 am

@Disillusioned – I was concerned about the same thing. I was more concerned after the ‘accepted’ student list came out with very little diversity, children of certain affluent people accepted, and the corporation not releasing the method of the ‘lottery’. Seemed fishy and sad……I actually heard people say they were glad to be getting a public school were they could get their kids ‘away’ from certain ‘problems’ including Special Education and English Language Learners (I read in other things they wan’t to get away from without them being said). I don’t think this should be the point of any publically funded school, if that’s such a big desire to you then put your child in a private school and claim exemptions on your taxes.

lovelyliz

July 18th, 2011
10:41 am

The Stanford study, based on standardized test results from 2,400 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia, is the most in-depth look at charters to date. To compare, the researchers matched every charter student in the study with another student in surrounding public schools with the same race, income and test scores. The result: Forty-six percent of charter schools offered a comparable education to similar public schools, 17 percent offered a superior education and 37 percent offered an inferior one.

lovelyliz

July 18th, 2011
10:44 am

Once hailed as a kind of free-market solution offering parents an escape from moribund public schools, elements of the charter school movement have prompted growing concern in recent years. Around the country, more than 80 charter schools were forced to close, largely because of questionable financial dealings and poor performance, said Luis Huerta, a professor at Columbia University Teachers College. In California, the state’s largest charter school operator has just announced the closing of at least 60 campuses, The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, stranding 10,000 children just weeks before the start of the school year.

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
10:44 am

@Concerned Teacher – This is absolutely correct – “If the same attitude and attention were given to the public schools that the elitists wish to have in a charter school without the tuition of a private school, then this entire education fiasco could be improved”

I agree, this whole fiasco has caused a huge line in the sand in the county and while the adults continue to bicker, the children come out as the big losers. CCSD is not a broken school system, don’t treat it as one. Sure there will be some bad experiences here and there with teachers and/or administrators but that happens in any school (or business). Report them, log complaints, and then put your time towards positive volunteer work.

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
10:46 am

@lovelyliz – would love to see a link to that study

lovelyliz

July 18th, 2011
10:48 am

1. We’re no better than public schools.

Not that public schools are perfect, as many parents know. See our earlier story, 10 Things Your School District Won t Tell You

A host of other studies on charter school outcomes have come up with sometimes contradictory results. As with traditional public schools, there are great charters and some that aren t so great. There s a lot of variation within charter schools, points out Katrina Bulkley, an associate professor of education at Montclair State University who studies issues related to school governance. In fairness to organizations that are running high-performing schools, many of them are very frustrated with the range of quality, because they feel that it taints charter schools as a whole, Bulkley says.

2. Our teachers aren t certified.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, charter-school teachers are, on average, younger and less likely to hold state certification than teachers in traditional public schools. In a 2000 survey, 92% of public school teachers held state certification, compared to 79% of charter school teachers. A 2008 survey found that 32% of charter school teachers were under 30, compared to 17% of traditional public school teachers. Charter schools often recruit from organizations like Teach for America that provide non-traditional paths into the profession, and more-experienced teachers who already have jobs in traditional public schools may have little incentive to give up the protection of tenure.

Relying on relatively untrained, inexperienced staff may have a real impact in the classroom. A lot of them don t have classroom management skills, says May Taliaferrow, a charter-school parent.

3. Plus, they keep quitting.

As many as one in four charter school teachers leave every year, according to a 2007 study by Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University, and other researchers at the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. That s about double the typical teacher turnover rate in traditional public schools. Charter schools typically pay teachers less than traditional public schools do, and require longer hours, Miron says. Meanwhile, charter school administrators earn more than their school-district counterparts, which can also make teachers feel underpaid, he says. The odds of a teacher leaving the profession altogether are 130% higher at charter schools than traditional public schools, according to a 2010 study by the National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University. That study also found that much of this teacher attrition was related to dissatisfaction with working conditions.

Higher turnover is inevitable with a younger staff and the ability to get rid of ineffective teachers, says Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the New York Charter Schools Association. There needs to be more turnover in district schools, Murphy says. Instead, what you have is this rigid tenure system where teachers are not held accountable, and children suffer.

4. Students with disabilities need not apply.
Six-year-old Makala was throwing regular tantrums in school, so her mother, Latrina Miley, took her for a psychiatric evaluation, eventually ending up with a district-mandated plan that stated the girl should be taught in a smaller class where half the students have special needs. The charter school s response, Miley says, was to tell her she could either change her daughter s educational plan, or change schools. She moved Makala to a nearby public school where, she says, teachers have been more effective at managing her daughter s behavior issues. The school says it can t talk about specific cases.
Critics say charter schools commonly counsel out children with disabilities. While a few charter schools are specifically designed to serve students with special needs, the rest tend to have lower proportions of students with special needs than nearby public schools, according to a review of multiple studies conducted by the University of Colorado s Education and the Public Interest Center. Charter schools also appear to end up with students whose disabilities are less expensive to manage than those of public school students. A Boston study, conducted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, found that 91% of students with disabilities in the city s charter schools were able to be fully included in standard classrooms, compared to only 33% of students with disabilities in the traditional public schools.
5. Separation of church and state? We found a loophole.
Charter schools are public schools, supported by public tax dollars. But among the thousands of charters nationwide are schools run by Christian organizations as well as Hebrew and Arabic language academies that blur the line between church and state. What would not be tolerated in a regular public school seems to be tolerated when it s a charter school, says Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University and the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Even if these schools aren t explicitly teaching religion, it s potentially segregation by religious preference, Bulkley says.
6. We don t need to tell you where your tax dollars are going.
An investigation by Philadelphia s City Controller earlier this year uncovered widespread financial mismanagement among the city s charter schools, including undisclosed related party transactions where friends and family of school management were paid for various services, people listed as working full time at more than one school, individuals writing checks to themselves, and even a $30,000 bill from a beach resort charged to a school.
Financial scandals have come to light in schools around the country, but what s more troubling, says advocate Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters in New York City, is that charter schools have opposed state audits of their finances. The New York Charter School Association won a lawsuit against the state comptroller last year, with the court ruling that the legislature had violated the state constitution when it directed the comptroller to audit charter schools. Charter schools in the state are already overseen and audited by at least two other agencies, Murphy says. We have never objected to being audited, being overseen, and being held accountable. In fact, this organization has come out in favor of closing low-performing charter schools, he says.
7. We ll do anything to recruit more kids
Walking around New York City, it s impossible to miss the ads on buses and subways for the Harlem Success academies, Haimson says. The school is legally required to reach out to at-risk students, and it has been opening new schools over the past couple of years. However, some schools elsewhere have gone beyond marketing. A charter school in Colorado gave out gift cards to families that recruited new students, and another school in Louisiana gave out cash.

8. but we ll push them out if they don t perform.
The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools have been criticized for high rates of student attrition, in part because it s the struggling students who are more likely to leave schools mid-year so if more students leave charters, that churn could boost a school s scores. A KIPP study released in June found students leaving at rates comparable to the rate at which students leave traditional public schools but, according to Miron, that study ignored the fact that KIPP schools don t then fill empty slots with other weak, transient students the way traditional public schools do. Traditional public schools have to take everybody, Miron explains. Charter schools can determine the number they want to take and when they want to take them, and then they can close the door.
Miron found there was a 19% drop in enrollment in KIPP schools from grades 6 to 7, and a 24% drop from grades 7 to 8. Some charter schools lose 50% of a cohort each year, Miron says. And in some cases, students can be explicitly pushed out of a charter school for failing to meet the school s academic or behavioral standards an option that s not available to a traditional public school.
9. Success can be bought.
Some of the most successful charter schools are also some of the wealthiest. Harlem Children s Zone, for example, had over $193 million in net assets at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, according to its most recent IRS filing. The organization s charter schools spend $12,443 per student in public money and an additional $3,482 that comes from private fundraising. That additional funding helps pay for 30% more time in class, according to Marty Lipp, spokesman for the organization.
It s great to see schools that have the resources to spend lavishly to help children succeed, Bulkley says, but it s difficult to see how those schools can then be models for traditional public schools largely constrained by traditional public budgets. All schools should get what they need, Lipp says, but adds, You give two people $10 and they spend it different ways, so it s not simply about money.
10. Even great teachers can only do so much.
Much of the public debate over charter schools focuses on teacher performance and the ability to fire ineffective teachers something that s more difficult at a traditional public school where teachers are typically union members. While it s true that teachers represent the most important in-school factor affecting student performance, out-of-school factors matter more, Ravitch says. The single biggest predictor of student performance is family income, she says. I certainly wish it were not so, but it is. Children from higher-income families get a huge head start thanks to better nutrition, a larger vocabulary spoken at home and other factors, she says. The narrative that blames teachers for problems that are rooted in poverty is demoralizing teachers by the thousands, Ravitch says. And you don t improve education by demoralizing the people who have to do the work every day.

Toby

July 18th, 2011
10:49 am

I trust the claim that charter schools are part of capitalist exploitation; Naomi Klein has articulated this and her bias is in favor of ethics, so I’m trusting that claim. Charter schools are apparently a way for private industry to pry into & take advantage of socialist funding/infrastructure… they aren’t better schools, but they give an opportunity for some profit & generally are not just.

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
10:49 am

@Active in Cherokee — this is exactly the issue I point to in my post. These public charter schools are self-governed, so they can run their “lottery” any way they want to. You’re right: it is sad, because these machinations are actually very nefarious. Individuals and institutions are creating a system and tying all sorts of democratic terms to it — “choice” “self-governed” “local” “lottery” — when this system, in my opinion, is really set up to facilitate a further segmentation of our society.

Henry Teacher

July 18th, 2011
10:56 am

I have overheard my administrator go off on a parent for going to the county because of a child being bullied. She goes around threatening students and parents. “You are lying on me. Quit lying on me. You are a liar. Those people at the county don’t need to know…you lying on me.” This admin is out of control and works at a Title I school. The admins wonder why so many teachers have left shortly after they took over and the parents are not helping.

Koz

July 18th, 2011
11:02 am

“Quality Education” and “Public School” don’t belong in any sentence together (except mine).

California Educator

July 18th, 2011
11:03 am

@lovelyliz – Your quote about charter schools closing in California is inaccurate and/or out-of-date. The state’s largest charter school operator, Aspire Public Schools, is thriving with dozens of campuses and thousands of students.

Paulo977

July 18th, 2011
11:10 am

Disillusioned

“Here, charter schools rise from prejudice – not academic motivation”

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out!

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
11:11 am

@Henry Teacher – she either won’t last long…………..or get ‘promoted’ to the county level soon. Is there a process in place for teachers reporting concerns to the county level?

@lovelyliz – Not disagreeing with your reports, but would love to see links to confirm information and see how recent the report is – especially the Stanford report

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
11:13 am

@Koz….you hereby have an invitation to join me in my 7th grade language arts classroom for a week…….not an hour, but a week — just so you really see what goes on…….you will engage in the same activities as the students, and on the last day, I feel you should step up and teach a mini-lesson on some of the content……..and I trust most any other teacher in Georgia (yes….most, not all) would be willing to offer you the same invitation.

ChristieS.

July 18th, 2011
11:17 am

@lovelyLiz – do you have a link for that article or was it in the physical paper? I can’t find it on the LA Times online. Thanks.

atlmom

July 18th, 2011
11:19 am

um, but if a charter school is awful, it will get no students. why big postings on how awful they are? People put their kids in public schools and sometimes the one way their district does things isn’t the best for the child.
If the charter school sucks – the parents have the option of taking the kids out of them…what is the problem in that case?
And I have no problem with charter schools being possibly ‘religious.’ If the parents are not FORCED to put their kids there, what is the problem with public funding?
We do it on the college level – we have plenty of federal funding mechanisms, and if a college meet certain criteria, the feds pay the grant/loan. it doesn’t matter if it is religious or not. the issue WOULD BE if the parents were FORCED by the government to have a certain religion taught to their child(ren).

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
11:20 am

@Henry Teacher — My wonder is why are the teachers and the parents being so passive about this issue and letting the questionable administrator win? Public schools have a governance in place that is set up to address these potential situations. Your school has a school council, as well as a teacher rep for the county advisory council, as well as an area superintendent. Seek redress; don’t cower….don’t quit….don’t just sit back and complain……do something!

Incredulous

July 18th, 2011
11:27 am

@lovelyliz. I enjoyed your post. The one thing that stood out is the ability of charter programs to screen students on a number of qualifications. Charter schools have the ability to do away with the politically correct but grossly unfair practice of inclusion. What is seen as beneficial to special needs students is often to the detriment of the remaining students. The example of a child that threw tanturms in class is classic. The post argues that the charter school did her a disservice when in reality, the charter school did a great service to the remainder of the class.

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
11:33 am

@atlmom – one of the biggest issues is funding. I can’t speak for other systems, but in Cherokee most schools are not at their max (especially the new ones built in the last four years). CCSD has pretty good foresight, has built schools in growing areas and allowed them to reach capacity in a natural manner rather than transferring tons of students around. Since the system does not need the school based on population, some money would have to be taken from all of the current schools in order to locally fund the not needed charter. All of the other ‘issues’ just pile on top of that one.

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
11:35 am

@incredulous……..Wow…hadn’t thought of that great utility: shunt all the “different” kids into their own little, er…um….ghettos. They could screen out the boys who are class clowns… the football players that sleep in class..the girls who roll their eyes and sigh……the fat kid who picks his nose……..the girl who wears the same clothes to school every day and gets free lunch…….WOW!! Charter schools sound like a veritable Utopia — just for the kids who don’t have any issues and who come from nice families.

Random Thought

July 18th, 2011
11:36 am

The only fact that can be made about charter schools is that they do not allow everyone into the school and no I am not talking about SE, English Language Learners, etc. Charter schools have waiting list, while traditional public schools do not. If a school is full and 50 students come to register the first week of school, the charter school can deny the students because they are at their maximum available spaces “allowed” for the school. On the other hand, the traditional public school will have to find chairs to add a few rows in the back of the classrooms or rent a trailer because the traditional public school is not able to deny the students entry although they too are at the maximum available spaces “recommended” for the school.

dc

July 18th, 2011
11:37 am

After having a son go through public schools, I’d personally like to see an “outdoor” school for boys and “overly active” girls, rather than have the parents and school system medicate kids who weren’t made to be able to sit at a desk as a child. We have organizations across the country custom tailored to individual’s unique makeup, it could only help our kids learn if we did the same with schools.

atlmom

July 18th, 2011
11:38 am

active: but if people are unhappy, why shouldn’t they be able to get choices?

Go Panthers!

July 18th, 2011
11:38 am

I just feel that the whole Charter school movement is an attempt at re-segregation. The more affluent that I’ve watched steer its development in Georgia seemed to be well aware of how to manipulate the system to the gain of their peers and all of their children and to the detriment of everyone else’s child. Frankly, I have no problem paying education taxes, even though I’m an empty nester supporting a college student. I do have a problem paying for a “public” private school comprised of students whose parents could afford a private education if they were so adamant about school choice. How about choosing to just get gone and pay for a private education if you can afford it?

I think magnet schools were one of the most successful outgrowths of the school desegregation movement. And, as many posters have stated above, they exemplify school choice. Not all children learn the same way or have gifts in just “general studies.” I took my child out of a suburban system because they didn’t have these choices. Maybe, when we talk about choice, we need to focus on choice for all, not just those whose parents can volunteer x-amount of hours per year to get a charter school bumper sticker. If magnets existed that could accept all students who showed gifts in a variety of areas, the kids could be free to do the work that they are gifted to complete and that makes them feel empowered as learners. Then, parents’ impact might become less necessary and “bad parenting” wouldn’t be the crutch that its been allowed to become in modern public education.

Jennifer

July 18th, 2011
11:43 am

I am moving to NJ. Gwinnett is only contributing 1400 in local property taxes toward the girls education. And yes, there are poor performing schools in high performing districts (whatever that means). Keep in mind the ‘yardstick’ for high performing is a minimal standards proficiency test. All of it is laughable.

Jennifer

July 18th, 2011
11:46 am

one other note. now maybe parents of all children are getting to see what it feels like for parents when a student who should be considered for special education services, is told – no -they are not entitled to an education with support strategies – because they are already “passing” a state test and getting B’s on their report card.

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
11:47 am

@active in Cherokee — And that “squeeze” is exactly what the power-that-be (and I think we know who I’m talking abbout ) are trying to make happen: charter schools get more popular > can’t fully fund the regular public schools > let’s just scrap the regular schools altogether and go all public/charter…..And voila, just like that, public schools are a thing of the past. And I can hear the PTB now: “we couldn’t help it….didn’t have another alternative…….time for tough choices……had to do what the people wanted”

atlmom

July 18th, 2011
11:48 am

go panthers: and when magnet schools had been working incredibly well in APS, APS decided – very quickly, it seemed – to change that, without much input from the parents. The reasons? I have no idea. They got rid of a system that from what I understood worked pretty well for the students, and that the parents were pretty happy about. Now parents are scrambling because they thought they had choice, and they no longer do.
What do you do then?

Incredulous

July 18th, 2011
11:48 am

@numacs. I understand your fluster. However, I think you are overreacting. The point is that none of the children’s needs are met with the inclusion model. It looks good on paper, and that’s about it. Charter schools, at least in theory, allow for greater access to education for ALL students. Not just the students with special designations There have been several writers that describe the charter school movement as an effort to segregate the schools anew. Your post only serves to galvanize the argument even further.

yuzeyurbrane

July 18th, 2011
11:52 am

It seems like we need a system for educating the gen. public in a cost-effective manner. The system we have chosen is public education. Perhaps there should be variations to meet special circumstances, like schools for disabled, but main path should be public educ. The charter school or so-called choice movement is usually backed by the same people who back vouchers for private schools but can’t afford private schools. Sorry, life is not perfect. Earn more money and send your kids to private schools if they are that imp. for you; otherwise we should all cooperate and work very hard to improve public educ. with public money.

Numacs4

July 18th, 2011
11:53 am

@Jennifer — define “should be considered for special services”…..was there a medical diagnosis, or just a gut feeling?

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
11:54 am

@AtlMom – I’m all for choices (read my first post from this morning) I just don’t think the current charter format is the best fit for Cherokee Co. I wish CCSD would see the benefits of Magnet schools or at least schools with the a special focus. It would be very cost efficient since the physical schools and staffing are already in place, all that would need to happen would be some adjustments in the focus of the curriculum. I choose to zero in my fight on that (which seems like a good comprimise) rather than a school that strips funding from many for a few, has a private corporation put money into its own pockets, and has no proof of providing a ‘better’ education.

www.honeyfern.org

July 18th, 2011
11:56 am

Again, I don’t understand the kerfuffle. Opening a charter school doesn’t mean that public schools should not be fixed – where does it say that? It doesn’t mean that reform efforts should be halted in public schools (for more on that, here’s a better way to go, IMHO: http://bit.ly/pv9uJC).

And again, if charter schools cannot have discriminatory entrance criteria, why are we saying they are immediately racially/economically segregated? Are we just not doing a good enough job getting the word out about additional opportunities, or are corrupt people selecting names from a hat?

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
12:07 pm

@honeyfern – “Are we just not doing a good enough job getting the word out about additional opportunities, or are corrupt people selecting names from a hat?”
Yes – both of those questions were asked in Cherokee Co. of CSUSA and answers never given (ie open access to the ‘lottery’ methods) Somehow all of the…….let’s call them ’supporters’…..of the school with children got in while many of the populations that would be best served by the change in learning enviorment were under-represented. Hence the sentiments by many in the area.

Active in Cherokee

July 18th, 2011
12:31 pm

@Numacs & @Incredulous – the Special Education argument does throw a wrench at both sides and I believe potentially opens up a school system to lawsuits by parents of SpeEd students. Incredulous, on the one hand depending on the severity of the involved students, I agree that ‘inclusion’ can negatively affect the greater percentage of students (ie general population). Here’s where I see potential for lawsuits – if we start making ‘public’ schools that can turn people down the old “Seperate but Equal” argument does come up. Needless to say, esepcially in the south, “seperate but Equal” opens up a whole can of worms and has numerous lawsuits on both sides. If we make a charter school for the ‘general’ population, would we need to make a special charter for SpeEd students also? If the charter school setting is so beneficial then I believe a good lawyer could make that argument. What about the ‘gifted’ students? Technically if they are in a ‘general’ classroom that is also inclusion since they receive SpeEd funding. Should they also be entitled to a “Separate” charter? I don’t know exactely where my thoughts lie in the argument, just saying it poses some interesting questions (and I didn’t even bring funding or the validity of ‘tracking’ into the argument).