Archive for the ‘Charter schools’ Category

Center for Ed Reform: Georgia ranks 16th for strong charter laws

Passage of the charter school amendment helped Georgia's standing in charter school laws. (AJC photo)

Passage of the charter school amendment helped Georgia's standing in regard to strong charter school laws. (AJC photo)

Georgia ranks 16th in the nation for strong charter laws, according to the Center for Education Reform’s annual scoreboard.

Last year, the state ranked 20th, but earned a boost this year from the approval of the charter school constitutional amendment in November.  Still, its laws and regulations regarding charter school approval, funding and operation only earn Georgia a C grade.

The only A’s went to Washington, D.C., Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan.

From the center:

With fewer than half of the U.S.’s state charter school laws earning a satisfactory grade, policymakers this year are faced with enormous challenges. The success of these new public schools is unparalleled, with more than two million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools. Yet, with fewer than half of the states able to meet the demands of parents and educators …

Continue reading Center for Ed Reform: Georgia ranks 16th for strong charter laws »

Top 10 education issues facing Georgia

This is my live account from  the Georgia Partnership on Excellence in Education daylong media symposium Friday featuring education movers and shakers

First up is Dr. Dana Rickman, policy and research director for the partnership, on the Top Ten Education Issues to Watch in 2013.

Please note that all these comments are from the speakers today, not from me. (I did add a few comments, but I clearly designate them as mine.) I am writing as folks speak and may miss a typo but will go back during the breaks and clean this up.

Top 10 issues, says Rickman:

Race to the Top: Halfway through implementing grant. Where do we stand?

Elevating low performing schools. Will require high performing  teachers and leaders.

How do we pay for k-12 eduction? (”I don’t know,” says Rickman. “That really is the answer to that question.”)

Help wanted: Hiring 250,000 new graduates. Where are they? Only 42 percent has a college degree; State needs 250,000 more graduates.

Early learning: What this issue …

Continue reading Top 10 education issues facing Georgia »

Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices?

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

All the discussion about expanding school choice through private school tax credits, charter schools and vouchers glosses over a critical caveat: More choices don’t necessarily lead to better choices.

Earlier this week, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization released a report card on state education policy determined in large part by the extent of school choice afforded families and the effort to dismantle teacher unions.

By focusing on public policy, the StudentsFirst report card looked more on State Houses than schoolhouses. Georgia earned a D-plus because StudentsFirst felt the state doesn’t go far enough in providing information and choices to  parents.

While the StudentsFirst report card considerations are extensive, they don’t include student outcomes, which is why Louisiana dramatically outscores Massachusetts, the state that …

Continue reading Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices? »

Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education

Here is an essay by Matt Jones, president of EmpowerED Georgia, a statewide education advocacy organization of students, citizens, parents and educators. He has taught world geography, civics, and English literature. He now teaches Engineering Technology at Toombs County High School in Lyons and is the Toombs County Teacher of the Year.

By Matt Jones

In a recent speech to the Marietta Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said that due to a $300 million shortfall in Medicaid, this upcoming session of the General Assembly would be “another year where you’re going to see budget cuts as opposed to adds.”

This means, unfortunately, that it is likely to be another year — the tenth consecutive — in which funding for Georgia’s public schools is less in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in FY 2002.

While most members of the General Assembly claim to support public education — and may actually believe that they do …

Continue reading Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education »

Analysis: Charter schools kick out far more problem students, but what is the alternative?

Many educators on this blog complain that charter schools enjoy a critical edge over their non-charter counterparts: They have far more freedom to kick out problem students.

The Washington Post decided to test that claim and found that the District of Columbia’s public charter schools expel students at a far higher rate than the city’s traditional public schools. Those problem kids often return to the traditional public school down the street, which has far greater pressure to keep all students.

I am not sure what the answer is here — should charter schools face more hurdles before they expel students or should traditional public schools face fewer? Should we hold public schools to a higher bar for the expulsion of younger students?  And where should be put those students once they are expelled? Are alternative programs effective?

The Post investigation is lengthy, and I would recommend that you read the entire piece before commenting here.

According to the Post:

D.C. …

Continue reading Analysis: Charter schools kick out far more problem students, but what is the alternative? »

As Legislature gets ready to convene, education leaders offer their wish list. (Yes, money is on it.)

Whenever the General Assembly makes decisions affecting schools, educators complain their views are overlooked.

So, I asked education leaders to tell me what the Legislature should tackle in 2013 and what it should avoid:

Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendents Association:

The issue that I wish our returning lawmakers would address is the continued underfunding of our state’s public schools. As you know, we are now about to enter our 12th consecutive year of the infamous “austerity cuts,” and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. While five other states are mulling the idea of actually adding days to their students’ school years, two-thirds of our school systems are unable to offer even the 180-day school year that used to be considered normal. At some point, we simply must ask if we are doing the right thing by our children.

During this continuing saga, there will be much conversation this session about changes to our “flexibility and accountability” …

Continue reading As Legislature gets ready to convene, education leaders offer their wish list. (Yes, money is on it.) »

ACLU takes on single sex classrooms. Is this a worthwhile fight?

The ACLU is going after two school districts for single-sex classrooms.

Having gone to a single-sex Catholic high school, I see a few benefits to all girl or all boy classes, although most research shows no compelling academic rationale.

As the National Association for Single Sex Public Education notes, the United States Department of Education published regulations governing single-sex education in public schools in 2006. The association has a good primer on legal issues, including updates from two court decisions.

According to the association:

The new regulations allow coeducational public schools (elementary and secondary schools) to offer single-sex classrooms, provided that the schools:

1) provide a rationale for offering a single-gender class in that subject. A variety of rationales are acceptable, e.g. if very few girls have taken computer science in the past, the school could offer a girls-only computer science class;
2) provide a coeducational class in the same …

Continue reading ACLU takes on single sex classrooms. Is this a worthwhile fight? »

APS watchdog delves into charter school chain with history of problems. Yet, APS board considers renewal.

You’ve probably heard the expression that there are two things you don’t want to see being made: Sausages and laws.

As a longtime reporter, I’ve been surprised at how elected officials approve legislation or make critical decisions with very little information or with a complete disregard for the facts. I once attended a three-hour meeting of the House Judiciary Committee where 18 witnesses — including a national expert flown in by the committee — testified in opposition to the bill under discussion. The witnesses provided convincing and overwhelming evidence that the law would be a nightmare to enforce and would only worsen the problem it was supposed to solve. Not a single person spoke in favor it the law except the sponsors.

But the committee passed the bill anyway. And the state has been at the losing end of legal challenges ever since.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Atlanta school board’s debate over renewing the charter for Atlanta Preparatory Academy. Several of you …

Continue reading APS watchdog delves into charter school chain with history of problems. Yet, APS board considers renewal. »

A charter school renewal discussion today by Atlanta school board shows that breaking up is hard to do

In the charter schools discussion of late, I’ve mentioned that charter schools don’t necessarily close when they fail to meet their contractual academic goals.

And we had an example of that today when the Atlanta school board took up the renewal of Atlanta Preparatory Academy, which has fallen far short of its academic goals and is among the city’s lowest performing schools.

On top of that, the charter school owes its management company $800,000, according to the board discussion.

Despite the school’s financial challenges and poor performance — it ranks in the bottom 20 percent in academic performance statewide — the Atlanta school board didn’t act on a staff recommendation to deny Atlanta Prep’s charter renewal and even discussed extending the school a five-year contract.

Last month, Atlanta released new data showing how many months of learning students averaged at each of its school in a year’s time. In a year of school, Atlanta Prep only added 6.9 months of learning, one of …

Continue reading A charter school renewal discussion today by Atlanta school board shows that breaking up is hard to do »

Charter school proponents today: Do a better job shutting down bad charter schools and opening good ones

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers wants states to do a better job of both closing bad charter schools and opening better ones. The pro charter association says its own analysis revealed that between 900 and 1,300 charter schools across the country are performing in the lowest 15 percent of schools within their state.

The association, which held a press conference today in Washington, announced a new campaign to urge more diligence in shuttering underperforming charters and more focus on replacing them with stronger options.

Here is the official release from the association:

While a great many public charter schools are among their states’ best performers and are paving the way for educational innovation across the U.S., too many are failing to provide a quality education. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), which represents government and other entities that approve and oversee charter schools, today called on charter …

Continue reading Charter school proponents today: Do a better job shutting down bad charter schools and opening good ones »