Archive for the ‘Charter schools’ Category

Challenge is not only opening good charter schools, but closing bad ones. A new national discussion begins.

Mike Ritter/AJC

Mike Ritter/AJC

While Georgia seeks ways to open more high-performing charter schools, other parts of the country are engaging in a different challenge: How to close under-performing ones.

The House passed a parent trigger bill that would have allowed parents in even top-rated schools to petition their school boards to convert their school to a charter school. (The bill stalled late last week in the state Senate but could be attached to another bill and come up again.) The recently resurrected Charter Schools Commission is beginning to consider applications for new charters.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under individualized contracts that award them more freedom and flexibility in exchange for a pledge of higher student achievement. To expand parental choice, many states, including Georgia, have been eager to open charters, but less diligent in closing them when the promised achievement doesn’t materialize.

In his study, “Improving Charter School …

Continue reading Challenge is not only opening good charter schools, but closing bad ones. A new national discussion begins. »

Parent trigger bill stalls in Senate: The trigger wasn’t pulled but the bill was.

Earlier this session, folks in the Georgia Senate told me that the parent trigger bill was unlikely to win passage. I thought they were wrong when the bill flew through the House but today’s events suggest my sources were right.

House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, withdrew his parent-trigger charter school legislation amid doubts by his GOP Senate colleagues.

Seven states have enacted parent trigger laws; Georgia was among three state considering them. House Bill 123 would have allowed a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff  to petition for a complete overhaul of the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model.

The Georgia bill had three unique aspects. It gave the final say-so to local boards of education. It permitted teachers in failing schools to also petition for a management overhaul. And it allowed parents in high achieving schools to petition to turn their schools into charter …

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From Canada to Georgia, teachers complain of pressure to change grades to mask high failure rates

testing (Medium)Interesting AJC story on an Atlanta high school principal who resigned after accusations he bullied and intimidated teachers into raising failing grades.

Grade inflation has been in the national news as schools face increased pressure to improve student achievement, an issue Georgia knows well after the CRCT cheating scandals in Atlanta and Dougherty County schools.

Even Canada, held up as a model of effective education reform, has seen complaints from teachers of mounting pressure to alter grades so fewer students fail under a stricter accountability system.

Closer to home, teachers in a Tennessee for-profit virtual school complained of an email that directed them to drop failing grades. In a recent investigation, Nashville’s WTVF/NewsChannel 5 found that a Tennessee Virtual Academy administrator instructed middle school teachers to delete failing grades.

The case has had reverberations nationwide as the parent company of Tennessee Virtual, K12, the nation’s largest …

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Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed?

A Senate committee takes up the parent trigger bill today.

Originally, House Bill 123 allowed a majority of the parents or teachers in a failing school to petition the school board for a complete overhaul of a the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model. The bill specifies that the parents can remove school personnel, including the principal, or mandate the complete reconstitution of the school. In a feature unique to the Georgia bill, even parents of high performing schools can apply for their schools to convert to a charter school.

But House Bill 123 underwent dramatic change in its move from House passage to Senate consideration. The Senate eliminated any mention of teachers in failing schools being able to petition for a management overhaul. The Senate version limits that power to parents.

I asked the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, for a comment.

“We’ll see what the Senate committee does with my bill.  …

Continue reading Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed? »

State names executive director of revived Charter Schools Commission — Bonnie Holliday

Bonnie Holliday is the new executive director of the state Charter Schools Commission, the agency resurrected by the November charter school amendment vote.

Bonnie Holliday

Bonnie Holliday

She had been with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Here is her bio from the GOSA site:

Bonnie Holliday was appointed Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in October 2011. Prior to joining the GOSA team, she worked for the Office of Planning and Budget as the Accountability Manager for the Race to the Top Innovation Fund and for the Georgia Charter Schools Commission as the Program Manager for Accountability. She also worked previously for GOSA as the Planning and Policy Development Specialist where she coordinated the implementation and evaluation of the agency’s education policy initiatives.

Holliday received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia. She is currently a doctoral candidate in UGA’s Educational …

Continue reading State names executive director of revived Charter Schools Commission — Bonnie Holliday »

Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind?

grabarart0920Shanna Miles is an educator and a parent working in the metro Atlanta area. An avid literacy advocate, she lobbies to ensure that every child has access to a free and public library in a community.

She wrote this piece for the Monday print AJC education op-ed page.

By Shanna Miles

In the 1840s, Irish Catholic parents lobbied for local control of schools so that their children wouldn’t be indoctrinated by a Protestant curriculum.

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower had to call in the National Guard to lead nine African-American children past a picket line of angry white parents who were outraged that their school was to be integrated.

Fast-forward a half-century or so, and the war between government and parents still rages with the passage of Amendment 1 and the introduction of the “Parent Trigger” charter bill. Now winding its way through the Legislature, House Bill 123 would allow parents and teachers to force a local school board to consider their petition to change their …

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New charter school report: Success or failure set by year three

Interesting study on charter school successes and failures:

A new report by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that charter schools, as they age or replicate into networks, are very likely to continue the patterns and performance set by their early years of operation, and that for most charter schools their ultimate success or failure can be predicted by year three of a school’s life.

“This report’s findings challenge the conventional wisdom that a young underperforming school will improve if given time. Our research shows that if you start wobbly, chances are you’ll stay wobbly,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond, CREDO’s director and the study’s lead author. “Similarly, if a school is successful in producing strong academic progress from the start, our analysis shows it will remain a strong and successful school.”

“We have solid evidence that high quality is possible from the outset,” Dr. Raymond said. “Since the study …

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Parent trigger: Can parent takeovers improve schools?

Are parents the solution to failing schools?

That’s the theory behind parent trigger laws, which allow a majority of parents in a failing school to petition and win control of the school and impose their own reform blueprint. Originating in California in 2010, the laws allow parents to take over a systematically failing school if they collect signatures from the majority of families.

But do the trigger laws really fire blanks?

A increasing criticism of parent trigger laws is that, while they involve parents at the start in organizing the petition drives to pull the trigger, the most realistic outcome is the hiring of an outside management firm to run the reconstituted school.

In fact, the possible ascendancy of for-profit education management companies contributed to the defeat of a parent trigger bill in Florida last year because parent groups argued that the law would lead to corporate interests exploiting the schools.

The Georgia General Assembly is now considering the …

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Do parent trigger laws fire blanks? Is it parents who really take over schools or management companies?

In explaining the impetus for his parent trigger bill,  House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, cited the need to get parents and school boards talking.

“It creates an additional avenue of communication directly from the parents to the school board, which I think is critically important.” Lindsey told a media assemblage earlier this month.

Wouldn’t coffee chats be an easier way to get parents and school boards talking?

House Bill 123 allows a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff  to petition for a complete overhaul of the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model.

The bill specifies that the parents can:

1) Remove school personnel, including the principal and personnel whose performance has continued not to produce student achievement gains;

(2) Mandate the complete reconstitution of the school.

(3) Mandate that the parents have the option to relocate their student to other public schools in …

Continue reading Do parent trigger laws fire blanks? Is it parents who really take over schools or management companies? »

Charter schools commission rises from the ashes with familiar faces

The State Board of Education approved seven state Charter Schools Commission members, several of whom were members prior to the state Supreme Court disbanding the commission in 2011 and the voters resurrecting it with their endorsement of a constitutional amendment in November.

The commission members are appointed by the state Board of Education based on two recommendations for each open seat from the governor, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker.

“I am pleased to see that the members of the Charter Schools Commission represent a broad cross section of backgrounds and expertise in business, education, non-profits, and government,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I know they will take their duty of reviewing charter school petitions and approving high quality charter schools seriously, and I look forward to working with them to improve student learning and achievement across Georgia.”

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle said, “Strengthening and reforming the way we educate our …

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