Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA!? Charter schools?! Part 2

This post is a continuation of:

Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA!? Charter schools?!  Part 1

Shall I continue? Oh why not. There is so much to respond to in this proposal.

How it works: The school’s “charter” spells out the mission and goals of that specific school. A local nonprofit or similar entity functions as the board of directors for the charter. 

This is not the case unless you’re reading it off of Wikipedia as one of the quoted sources for this document. As stated before, these boards are hand selected by the CEO of the charter school.

This provides parents and community members with a meaningful forum to provide input, and enables the school to make quick and effective changes to meet the needs of the student body.

If it’s not like this in our schools, PTA members, then you should make it so. Also, many of these charter schools do not include parents in the decision-making process of their school. Alternative schools do encourage parent and/or student involvement.

Charter schools must also comply with policies set forth by its authorizer, which is typically a local school board or the state board of education.

As long as it’s not a city with mayoral control, something that Eli Broad pushes for, and the school board members are chosen by the mayor who probably has made great relationships with the moneyed charter school operators. One very clear example of this is Eli Broad and his close ties to the mayors of LA, past and present.

Speaking of Eli Broad and Bill Gates, for an excellent read on the Broad Foundation and their venture philanthropy as well as the language used even in this charter school proposal,  I would recommend reviewing The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Liberal Assault of on Public Education: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

So far it doesn’t look like this committee did much homework on charter schools or actively avoided doing any research. Two of the resources that they provide besides Wikipedia are KIPP, Inc. charter schools and Green Dot charter schools. Pretty pathetic trying to hang your hat on this one folks but it reads well and might even fool some of the good people in the south end where these charter schools are targeted to go or with some of our state representatives. First was the resegregation of our schools in Seattle last year by creating “neighborhood schools” and then making it difficult for students to be transported from the south end to the option/alternative schools farther north. By doing this there was a loss of opportunity in terms of school choice in the south end where many minority populations reside. Now we have the introduction of charter schools which would be targeted for the south end of Seattle. Hmmm.

And from what I have read so far, this committee that put together this recommendation did it without reading any papers or studies that have been done regarding charter schools starting with the CREDO report. Other reports include:

The Great Lakes Center on the Brookings Report

UCLA Report Says That Charters Are Causing Resegregation of American Schools

Instructional Conditions in Charter Schools and Student Mathematics’ Achievement Gains

National Education Policy Center: School Without Diversity

Anyway, let’s get back to the 2011 Proposed Statement on Charter Schools as set forth by our Washington State PTA..

Funding for charters is the same for any public school: The money follows the student. Charters would not require new funding, but they would divert funding to new programs.

And if the student leaves, and many of them do, the money stays with the charter school for that year. Also, transportation costs are paid by the district, not the charter school. CEO’s of these franchises are making bundles of cash off of the use of these public funds.

For more examples of cashing in on charter schools, see:

Charter Schools Outsource Education to Management Firms With Mixed Results

Charter schools windfall is public kids’ loss as state has city on the hook for $32 Million

Comptroller Di Napoli and Harry Wilson: Where do they stand on fiscal oversight of charter schools and DOE?

Inexperienced Companies Chase US School Funds

Big Banks Making a Bundle on New Construction as Schools Bear the Cost

So this proposal continues with…

Why Now?

Washington’s Report Card, compiled annually by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shows entrenched racial and income disparities for all subjects tested, at all grades.

And while academic achievement overall has increased, the gap persists. In fact, according to analysis of 2008-09 National Assessment of Educational Progress data, Washington is one of only nine states where the achievement gap is growing. Even though all subgroups are doing better, white students are improving more. To close the gap, lower-achieving groups must do dramatically better.

According to OSPI analysis, the gaps in 10th-grade math between black vs. white and Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic white won’t close for another 54 and 46 years, respectively. (really?) And while our white and Asian students are internationally competitive in math and science, our black and Latino eighth-graders perform at the level of students from developing nations.

Here comes that magic bullet, charter schools. According to study after study, charter schools have not significantly raised test scores or closed this “achievement gap” that the reformers are constantly referring to and in fact are resegregating our schools turning back the clock to the 1950’s. See:

The McEducation of the Negro

Charter Schools and Civil Rights

KIPPsters versus Hipsters

University of Minnesota: Failed Promises

Florida Charters Less Diverse Than Other Public Schools

How Education Reform Traps Poor Children

For more articles on the resegregation of our schools, you can check out the right hand column of this website under Charter Schools and the Resegregation of Our Public Schools.

The Washington State proposal to bring charter schools into our state continues:

Why is this issue important?

While parents have the right of school choice in Washington, districts do not have to honor their choice if there is no space at the desired school. And districts do not have to provide transportation to a school that is out of a child’s assignment area.

Thanks to our Broad-trained ex-superintendent and compliant school board who put “neighborhood schools” into effect last year, many students have limited choice. This can be reversed by the interim superintendent and the school board if they so desire.

Moreover, communities wishing to increase school options can face great hurdles. Districts are under no obligation to create, expand or support innovative programs.

…but school options exist, are proposed every year and approved eg: STEM and Queen Anne Elementary School last year in Seattle.

Legislatively, Washington has been supportive of innovation in schools. Allowing public charters would be one way to encourage its practice.

Poor argument. Look at STEM, Queen Anne and Skyline. We are already dong this.

Next in their proposal for charter schools:

Why PTA/PTSA?

Besides the fact that they have received a few mil from Gates?

Part of Washington State PTA’s mission is to be a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child. Charters could promote school choice, flexibility and local autonomy, and give communities new options.

The sad part about this is that the PTA is actually pitching this to smaller districts where there is little to no interest for charter companies to come in. Seattle and Bellevue have excellent options in place and would not need any additional “options”.

Like school districts, non-profits that run public charters can vary in quality. The rules they adhere to can also vary dramatically. To ensure they benefit children, Washington State PTA should engage in any conversation about charters and, if the state opts to allow them, work to ensure that they partner with communities.

The PTA hasn’t done anything significant yet in terms of interceding on the part of public schools. What makes us think that it will happen after being paid to do the bidding of a wealthy few?

Unlike many states that have considered charters, we already have choice and innovation. For us the issue is availability of programs. Washington is also a local-control state. If public charters are responsive and inclusive, they could carry local control a step further and promote more site-based control. Families could potentially have even greater role in decision-making

Big “If”

Or, public charters could operate more like a private business – responsive in the sense that if they don’t succeed within the designated time frame

…as in meeting a goal in terms of test scores, which means teaching to the test, weeding out students who can’t “keep up” and then closing the school if things don’t work out. How’s that for stability in a community?

they will lose their charter

go out of business

but otherwise able to act independently of elected officials.

No Democratic process required.

If they do not make provisions to include families in school management, or set clear guidelines about how they respond to complaints and concerns, then the community could lose that aspect of local control.

Hasn’t happened yet but sounds good.

And this excerpt:

The National PTA has qualified support for charter schools:

o The National PTA acknowledges charter schools as one avenue to school reform and supports the concept of charter schools only if the schools reflect the positions and principles of the National PTA. The National PTA will support legislation or policy decisions relating to charter schools that adhere to and comply with applicable laws and guidelines set forth for other public elementary and secondary educational institutions.¨

So far I haven’t seen the PTA intercede on the behalf of parents or students anywhere in this country and my readings have been extensive.

The Resource list which is part of this proposal is woefully inadequate citing Wikipedia, KIPP and Greendot as the sole sources of information regarding charter schools.

For additional information on charter schools, you can check out the right column of this website. Some of the articles that I would like to highlight are:

The Myth of Charter Schools by Diane Ravitch

Catalyst: A revolving door for charter teachers

Southern Poverty Law Center: Access Denied

Charter School Scandals

Diane Ravitch: Obama and Arne Duncan Are Wrong About Charters

Also, one aspect of charter schools that was not mentioned is where would these charter schools go? We are, thanks to the lack of oversight of our present school board, bursting at the seams with students in our Seattle schools. Typically, charter schools will take part of an existing school space or all of it for their classes. Would our public schools have to compete for space with these charter schools as they have done elsewhere?

I’m going to let Diane Ravitch have the last word on this post and then you can decide for yourself.

Dora

You can take a survey that the Washington State PTA has put together with an opportunity to air you views. You can view it at:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JJK9WVD

Post Script: To read more on the issue of our state PTA and their push towards the privatization of our schools, see:

The Washington State PTA, the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children : The Unholy Trinity

and

Final Thoughts on the Washington State PTA.

2 comments

  1. Washington State PTA is a relatively conservative organization, just like the Washington State School Directors Association (the school board member group) because representation is dominated by the number of districts, rather than by size of district. That gives small rural districts a huge voice, and urban districts not much. And we know where the politics fall on the rural/urban divide. Very unfortunate, because those politics are largely cultural, rather than driven by careful assessment of the interests and how they align with the students in that territory.

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