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Charter schools no better, often worse than public schools

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by apple strudel, May 5, 2010.

  1. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    I've long been opposed to the idea of charter schools from the perspective that their prevalence represents another stage in the movement to privatize and attack public institutions and unions. (I'm also adamantly opposed to the appointment of Arne Duncan to Secretary of Education for this very reason.) Rather than working to improve public schools, we throw the baby out with the bathwater and open up untested schools fed by taxpayer dollars. But if public schools were truly that bad, then it should be a cinch that charter schools would be better, right? Wrong.
    Challenges in Replicating Charter School Success - NYTimes.com
  2. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You have to correlate this to the NCLB legislation, that for chronically underperforming schools the final step is that they can replace all the staff and come up with an alternative..

    Charter Schools often are found in cities, and thus there chance of success is not much different than their predecessor...

    The answer is that education needs to be reinvented, all kids should not be prepared for college, and there is a greater need for vocational training, at least that way there is a choice.. the added dimension is standardized testing which is the bane of many children who do not have intact families, families who work hard or did not do well in school themselves i.e. education is not a familial transmitted value.. it is a complex issues..
  3. khayos

    khayos Rookie

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    Charter schools have been praised for two reasons:

    1) Better education -- which is being refuted by your link. Though, as mentioned, they often arise in areas with no other alternative e.g. southeast DC

    2) Lower cost per student. I see the aggregate numbers in your article but no other metrics. I still believe there's a lower cost per student with all factors accounted for.
  4. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    May be initially lower as they take over existing facilities, but in time buildings may have to be upgraded.. in our area there is relationship with the Laborers Council.. but they have really crappy programs, that may prepare some for the labor market, but do not teach "real skills"..

    Unfortunately, many Charter Schools become dumping grounds for kids who do not fit regular school, and with reductions in educational funding it will only become more pronounced...

    Personally there should be two tracks, college and preparation for the world of work.. the latter teaches basic educational skills, and then introduces the student to a variety of options that are necessary in our economy..
  5. khayos

    khayos Rookie

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    Agreed on both fronts.

    On #1... it's the best world for teacher's unions. Offload the most troublesome and always have a measuring stick that you know you can look good against.

    On #2... this kind of goes into the realm of the US as a service/virtual industry nation as opposed to manufacturing. All these economic bubbles have really messed up the valuation of tradeskills in my opinion.
  6. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Blaming teacher's unions is an easy answer to a very complex problem, they do not negotiate in a vacuum.. anything they have has been agreed to by the other side.. know a lot of very dedicated educational professionals, they earn their keep. There are in any profession dregs of course, there should be an effort to weed them out..

    The barometer on how we measure their success is flawed, and a severe shortcoming of the "bi-partisan" legislation, many kids do not do well in standardized testing and if they do not test well the school fails.
  7. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    Blaming teachers' unions is part of a broad pattern. It's no coincidence that these schools hire non-unionized teachers.
  8. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    A good find Apple, after reading it there are a few things that struck me:

    First, it seems like the message is that charter schools can be great but only if they are structured right.

    It seems like the best use of the charter school system is in places like New York, where there is stricter oversight of the schools and thus they are held more accountable than in other places cited in the article, like Texas and Ohio.

    For teachers it seems like there is a tradeoff between the higher pay and more freedom in designing curriculum at a charter school with the longer hours and longer school years. Not being unionized does not seem to be a huge disadvantage in this case, maybe because there will always be competition between public schools and the charters for the teachers.

    The fact that some charters underperform is unsurprising considering that many of these schools are taking the failing students out of the public school system. The study cited in the article also did not consider the NY charter system, strange since the same article points out it is one of the most successful in the country.

    Bottom line for me is that like anything else there's a balance to be struck. The ability to open and fund charter schools is a good thing, but there needs to be quality controls set up by the gov't as was done in NY. I believe this is the exact plan of the Obama admin, so I say good for them.
  9. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    Here's another data point in the discussion. Diane Ravitch, an early and influential proponent of charter schools has changed her mind.

    Diane Ravitch: Why I Changed My Mind About School Reform - WSJ.com
  10. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    Another good link Apple, but it raises a few questions for me. Ms. Ravitch is clear that the charter system and NCLB is not a cure-all, and that's fine, but what is her alternate vision for how we should run our public schools? These programs began in response to a public school system that was losing ground internationally. Should we go back to the old system that wasn't really working too well?

    Maybe in her book she provides some ideas, but here she does not.

    Second, it looks like more studies show that charters as a whole do not outperform public schools, and I can accept that idea. Why then don't we focus on what makes the schools that DO outperform work? How about the good school in your original article? Do you think there are ideas in that school we could implement within the current public school system? I don't think so, because of a variety of reasons, and yes, the teachers unions are a part of the problem. Parents and kids share an equal part of the blame though.

    Do you think we could improve public schools by running them more like the successful charter schools? If not, how then do we improve failing public schools? Just increasing funding does not seem to do the trick, places like DC have some of the highest per student costs in the US and their public schools are terrible. NCLB may not be perfect but the idea of introducing accountability into our school systems is I think a good one.
  11. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    It's such a complicated issue, but let's not forget that there are a number of public schools also outperform other schools in the country. The Concord public schools are excellent. I attended a public high school magnet program that is always nationally ranked and routinely sent students to the Ivies. What do these schools have in common? One part of this is that the kids who attended these schools all grew up in essentially stable middle class to upper middle class families (of many races) who valued school and hard work. Many of the students were the children of immigrants who held the same values but may not have been as well off economically. These schools also hire the best teachers and set stringent curricula and grade hard.

    So how do we extrapolate from these schools and apply the lessons to all schools? It's a difficult problem, and to answer the question we need to think about what the goal is. Is it to provide every student with some education, even if it is middling? Is it to provide the best students with the best education and flunk or redirect other students (personally I don't think this works due to the typical slow-starter problem)? Is it to provide the best education to all students with somewhat rigorous standards? If we don't answer this question, it's impossible to put an effective plan in place.

    I'm very, very loathe to blame unions. Do we blame the police unions for rampant shoddy police work?

    I'm not keen on the blame game. There does need to be a common understanding that everybody is in it together, though. I think this exists to a certain extent, except for the politicians.

    No. There are plenty of examples of very successful schools. I do think extra rigor is in order, across the board. In Russia, kids are doing algebra in like the third grade. My Russian friend takes his kid to math classes several times a week. His kid is 4.
  12. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    You are right that home situation (income, parent situations) are the biggest predictors of school system success. We see it all the time around here, the nice towns have good schools, the seedy towns have poor schools. What I was trying to get at is that some charter schools are having success in areas where school performance was traditionally low (like parts of Harlem). Can we use ideas from these good charter schools to help other school systems in economically disadvantaged areas?

    Also, YES we should absolutely place some blame on the police unions for poor police performance! It comes with the territory, if your union pushes for unreasonable demands for time off, pensions, and/or salary, then you need to be held to the higher standard. Totally OT though so I'll leave it there.

    I think we're somewhat on the same page here, my question is how do you enforce the extra rigor? We have a system in place where either the teacher is not motivated (and NCLB and the Obama plan try to get over that hump with accountability standards), the students don't care and are just passed through the system to keep failure rates down, or the parents are more concerned that Billy gets an "A" for college than understanding the material and makes life hell for the teachers/admin.

    To your question I would say it is the job of the public school system to provide every student with a basic package of learning/life skills, and that parents and students should decide the best educational options from there. I would definitely favor flunk/redirect for students who just aren't getting it done, it allows kids who can't do the work a productive use of their schoolday learning a trade or catching up on the basics, and it provides a disincentive to kids who don't want to do the work. Its not like you're going to have a bad life working in the trades, many plumbers and mechanics make more than I do and I've got 4 years of college and 5 years grad school. At the same time the kids who want it should still be encouraged to push themselves and stay on the college track.

    I dunno, like you say its such a tough problem and there clearly is no 1 size fits all solution.
  13. chicowalker

    chicowalker Rookie

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    This is only partially related, but I've got a question for anybody with more experience in or exposure to this field: is there any legitimate reason for teachers in public schools to have tenure? (leaving aside the question of whether it is appropriate to grant tenure to a teacher almost immediately)
  14. khayos

    khayos Rookie

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    Interesting question -- I always hear about tenure being necessary for "academic freedom" but that's primarily at the collegic level.
  15. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    I'd also like to see gets get started with secondary languages earlier. Latin should also be a staple. Kids should also have fun at recess and be active.
  16. chicowalker

    chicowalker Rookie

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    Agreed -- many people will dismiss Latin as useless, but they're ignoring that usefulness isn't limited to conversations in that language.

    While I believe that education is the single biggest issue -- and opportunity -- facing our nation, I think we need to get over the idea that a college education is something everybody needs. What we need, imo, are high school diplomas that mean something. Many people would then be better served learning a trade -- a decent living can still be made in any number of fields, throughout the country, if you're skilled.

    But from my exposure over the past year to less educated people in my new line of work, much of what I've come across frightens me, and it ranges from things like spelling to geography to complete inability to reason.
  17. chicowalker

    chicowalker Rookie

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    Yeah, and I buy it at the college level -- plus, many colleges are private, so they can do what they want, and tenure is usually a very difficult thing to achieve at the college level.
  18. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Took 4 years of latin while in high school (pre Vatican II and with the Christian Brothers), can honestly say that latin and typing were the two most valuable things learned... all the rest was crap.

    Amo, amas, amat,amamus, amatis, amant.. some things are etched forever.
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  19. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    I pretty much agree with this. I'd prefer it if we waited until after high school before routing people to the trades, though. I'd like to see trade colleges. There's just too much useful information to teach to reduce the number of years spent on general education.
  20. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #12 Jersey

    I agree, wholeheartedly. I only had three years of Latin but it's probably the only thing I haven't completely forgotten and it's an invaluable aid in all sorts of seemingly unrelated endeavors.


    Veni, vidi, vici

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