Charter Schools: Another Failed Bi-Partisan Policy Obama Is In Love With

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 18:40

A new report, ""Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States.""(pdf) (pdf executive summery / pdf press release), from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO, finds that charter schools significantly underperform overall compared to the traditional public schools they are supposed to improve on--a major embarrassment that will no doubt be ignored, just as all evidence of privatization and corporatization are ignored, especially since Obama's basketball buddy and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a huge charter school booster.

Here's the graphic representation of results:

And the accompanying text:

The Quality Curve results are sobering:
    • Of the 2403 charter schools reflected on the curve, 46 percent of charter schools have math gains that are statistically indistinguishable from the average growth among their TPS comparisons.
    • Charters whose math growth exceeded their TPS equivalent growth by a significant amount account for 17 percent of the total.
    • The remaining group, 37 percent of charter schools, posted math gains that were significantly below what their students would have seen if they enrolled in local traditional public schools instead.

Nore from Democracy Now!, Gerald Bracey and Rethinking Schools on the flip.

Paul Rosenberg :: Charter Schools: Another Failed Bi-Partisan Policy Obama Is In Love With
Democracy Now! had a segment this week, "Education Secretary Arne Duncan Pushes to Aggressively Expand Charter Schools While Admitting Problems".  They played some clips of Duncan addressing the annual gathering of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC, and they spoke with one of the lead authors of the CREDO report, Kenneth Surratt.  Both sort of half-heartedly tried to spin things, but didn't really seem that bothered with all the egg on their faces.  Bob Peterson, founding editor of Rethinking Schools was their other guest, and Gerald Bracey posted at Huffington Post, in his inimitable manner.  A few scattered jewels from these various venues:

Democracy Now tape:

ARNE DUNCAN: The CREDO report last week was absolutely a wake-up call, even if you dispute some of its conclusions or its language. The charter movement is putting itself at risk by allowing too many second-rate and even third-rate schools to continue to exist. Your goal should always be quality, not quantity.

Charter authorizers need to do a better job of holding schools accountable, and the charter schools need to support them loudly and sincerely. I absolutely applaud the work that the Alliance is doing with the National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers to strengthen academic and operational quality. We need that. We also need to be willing to hold low-performing charters accountable.

Well, problem solved.  Thank goodness for that!

An illuminating interchange from Democracy Now:

KENNETH SURRATT: The major finding is that, on average, charter school students in the sixteen states that we looked at are performing a little bit below their traditional public school peers.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Bob Peterson, could you expand on that? Because that is definitely going against the grain of what most charter school-the charter school movement is telling the public.

BOB PETERSON: Yeah. I think it's really important to see that, on page thirty-two of their report, they reported that black and Hispanic students scored significantly lower in charter schools, significantly lower than their counterparts in public schools. That's just in math and reading.


[BOB PETERSON: (cont)] I mean, there's good charter schools, and there's bad charter schools, just like there's good public schools and bad public schools. The question is whether or not charter schools can be an engine for reform of public education. Obama and Duncan seem to think so. I'd completely disagree.

AMY GOODMAN: Kenneth Surratt, this report that you came out with, it was more being framed by Arne Duncan that there are some problem schools. But the fact that your report found that, on average, kids in these schools across the country are doing worse, isn't this a major blow to the charter school movement?

KENNETH SURRATT: I don't think so. One of the findings-we looked at over 2,400 schools within our study, and on average-and we did what we call a quality curve, and 46 percent of the charter schools are doing statistically insignificant differently than their traditional public school peers. Seventeen percent are outperforming. But the sobering part is that 37 percent are underperforming compared to their peers.

But, you know, what we feel is that charters, once they get back to this focus of the trade-off that they had for flexibility, for accountability, you know, and closing those underperforming schools and finding ways to replicate the higher-performing ones, that the movement could continue to grow.

No one really doubts that the movement could continue to grow.  Deregulation continued to grow after the S&L debacle, abject failure never stops the growth of conservative policy agendas.  There just too much money at stake.  But there's just no reason even attempted to explain why it should be easier to improve charter schools as a whole than it is to improve public schools.

Seems like someone wasn't paying attention during his lessons on critical thinking.

Here's Bracey, commenting on one of the more fatuous things Duncan had to say:

    Duncan: "We also need to work together to help people better understand charters. Many people equate charters with privatization, and part of the problem is that some charters overtly separate themselves from the surrounding district. This is why opponents often say that charters take money away from public schools. And we all know that's absolutely misleading."

No, Arne, we don't all know that because it's not true. Some, and Arne appears to be one of them, contend that since charter schools are public schools, then Q.E.D., they don't take money away from the publics. The more usual argument is that the money going to charters is offset by reduced costs at the remaining public schools. But this is not the case. It might be true if all the kids going to the charter left from Mrs. Smith's class in P. S. 101. Then we could fire Mrs. Smith. Even so, the school operating costs, transportation costs, administrative costs, etc., would remain the same. But, in fact, maybe only 3 kids leave from Mrs. Smith's class. Because money is allocated on a per-pupil basis, that's three fewer allocations. Costs are not lowered but resources are reduced. And if the three kids return to the pubic school, as happens in many cases, the money does not come back with them.

See, the problem is that charter schools are all about marketing.  And marketing means short, zippy, memorable sentences.  The failure of charter schools is all about facts.  And facts take longer sentences, usually less zippy and less memorable.  It's almost like you might be tested afterwards to see if you actually were listeninig.  But all that boring droning on that Bracey did is basically telling you how charter schools are raiding the public till.

Gosh, if only Dillinger had been that boring, he could have robbed banks until he was rich enough to own one!

And from Rethinking Schools, "Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality?" here's a few choice passages:

When ex-President Bush was elected in 2000, he brought with him former Houston Superintendent of Education Rod Paige to be Secretary of Education. He also brought the "Texas miracle"-supposedly increased test scores attributed to Texas' strict accountability system. All eyes smiled on Texas as those measures quickly became part of No Child Left Behind, passed into law in 2001 by both political parties. Before the end of Bush's first term, Paige would leave in disgrace, thanks to revelations of cooked scores, forced-out students, and other barely legal means of inflating test results.

With the appointment by Barack Obama of Arne Duncan-a noneducator from the business sector who was Chicago's "chief executive officer"-as U.S. Secretary of Education, this phenomenon may repeat itself. For the past several years, Chicago's model of school closings and education privatization has received national attention as another beacon of urban education reform. This may have special relevance as the number of schools "identified for improvement" by NCLB criteria grows, numbering 11,547 nationally in the 2007-08 school year. Other school districts across the U.S. have already undertaken programs similar to Chicago's-New Orleans, in the wake of Katrina, has had a massive privatization of schools (see the special report on New Orleans in Rethinking Schools Vol. 21, No. 1), New York City has proposed closing and phasing out schools using criteria similar to Chicago's (e.g., test scores), and Philadelphia has followed suit as well, with a number of new charter schools. As Chicago Mayor Daley said in a 2006 press conference, "Together, in 12 years we have taken the Chicago Public School system from the worst in the nation to the national model for urban school reform."

Of course, as the CREDO report just shows, being a national model doesn't mean the thing you're pushing actually works.

It does work, of course.  Just not for educating children, especially blacks and Latinos.  But for furthering corporate profits as part of corporate-friendly economic development scams?  


it is important to describe the agenda in which Duncan is complicit. Two powerful, interconnected forces drive education policy in the city: 1) Mayor Daley, who was given official authority over CPS by the Illinois State Legislature in 1995 and who appoints the CEO and the Board of Education, and 2) powerful financial and corporate interests, particularly the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago whose reports and direct intervention shape current policy. As Pauline documented in her book, High Stakes Education, the mayor and Civic Committee are operating from a larger blueprint to make Chicago a "world-class city" of global finance and business services, real estate development, and tourism, and education is part of this plan.

Education for the corporate elite, and the children of its professional workforce.  For the working class communities that once lived in the newly liberated zones?  Not so much:

Although not the architect, Duncan has shown himself to be the central messenger, manager, and staunch defender of corporate involvement in, and privatization of, public schools, closing schools in low-income neighborhoods of color with little community input, limiting local democratic control, undermining the teachers union, and promoting competitive merit pay for teachers....

Chicago is well-known for having one of the most segregated school systems (and housing patterns) in the nation; literally hundreds of schools are 90 percent or more African American or Latino/a (e.g., 216 are 99 percent or more black!)....

Collateral Damage

The Mid-South Plan was designed to close 20 of its 22 schools, almost entirely African American, over a four-year period, replacing them with Renaissance 2010 schools. Parents received notice from the Board the final day of school in 2004 that their children's schools were closing. Children have been treated as cattle, shuffled around from school to school. One Mid-South school, Doolittle East, received over 500 students from June to September 2005 without additional resources to facilitate this change. This resulted in spiked violence. On the west side, the closing of Austin High School (another African American school) resulted in over 100 students who used to walk to school having to leave their community to go to Roberto Clemente High School, a primarily Latino school over five miles away. The results were spiked violence. When Englewood High School closed in 2006, hundreds of students were parceled out to Robeson, Dyett, Hyde Park, and Hirsch High Schools-all are African American. The community warned CPS that these moves would result in increased violence and put children's lives at risk due to crossing neighborhood and gang boundaries. As usual, Duncan and CPS ignored community wisdom, and the results at all of these schools were destabilizing spikes in student violence.

Arne Duncan has overseen the beginning destruction of neighborhood schools with neighborhood students. Schools are no longer community pillars because many students no longer live in the area. When CPS closes schools and reopens them as Renaissance 2010 charter or contract schools, there is no guarantee or requirement that students who attended the old schools will go to the new ones-and many don't. For example, not all new schools are the same grade level as the old schools. There are complicated applications and deadlines, limits on enrollment, requirements of families, and informal selection processes that may disadvantage some students.

Families with multiple children who used to attend one school have had to scramble as schools close and their children are split up. Young children who walked to their neighborhood school have had to leave their community and cross heavily trafficked streets. Schools that are "turned around" terminate all adults in the building, including security, custodial, clerical, paraprofessional, and kitchen staff (as if they contributed to students' poor performance), causing severe dislocation and job loss in the community. Tenured teachers who are released are reassigned for 10 months as negotiated in the union contract. During this time, they receive their salary and benefits, sub some days of the week, and look for a position on other days. At the end of the 10 months if they have not found a position, they can be "honorably terminated." As one parent of a child in a closing school said, "when you close a school, you kill the heart of the community."

It's pretty clear who counts and who doesn't.  This is Republican governance done right.  And since Republicans don't believe in governance anymore, they have to get the Democrats to do it for them.

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I knew it was bad, but.... (4.00 / 5)
Six weeks ago in Phoenix, a guy actually got up in a State Democratic Party Progressive Caucus meeting and began a speech with this gem:

I worked for IBM all my life, and believe me when I tell you that the Democratic Party needs to stop screwing around and start running itself like a business....

No one actually booed, but you could hear earflaps slamming closed all over the room. After about three sentences like this, the chair interrupted and told him that we had scheduled speakers, and needed to move on.

These bastards are literally everywhere.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! (4.00 / 1)
Because it worked so well for the GOP, right?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
And the universities, and the jails, and the military, and... (N/T) (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
if only someone had looked at the TPS reports. (4.00 / 1)
:)  sorry i had to get the reference in. :)

The two authors that spoke best about education were (0.00 / 1)
Ivan Illich and Paul Goodman (from whom I took my nom de plume).

Their thesis? School, whether public or private, sucks. Mass education, like holy war, is an oxymoron.

Most of what I learned was learned despite the best efforts of school to dumb me down, and I went to some of the better ones.

Education is the human animal's attempt to punch above it's weight class, to reach for something higher than Nature's passive endowment.

Thus education is a holy and sacred act; to think otherwise is to be anti-life. Yet I see so many kids thinking that mediocrity is OK, ignorance is OK, let's play sports, let's sit down in front of the X-Box 360, let's be promiscuous, let's rap and dance.


But don't cry when the bills come due.

A socialist society cannot allow people that kind of liberty. Your life is not your own. You are a member of a community that relies on your good faith effort. If the left is to be libertarian and allow people to squander their formative years; it cannot long bail them out later with welfare and make-work jobs. The injustice done to those who do the right thing will give them just cause to uproot the system and put something more sensible in.

The modern predicament in a nutshell. And the answer to this predicament is a moral fervor, not more money.

those kids and their dancing! (4.00 / 3)

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
<a href="">John Dewey</a> (0.00 / 0)
seems appropriate here, as he does in so many US policy discussions.  

[ Parent ]
oops (0.00 / 0)
it looked fine in the preview

Democracy and Education: check it out.

[ Parent ]
Anacostia High School (4.00 / 1)
DC Parents Outraged Over Friendship Takeover of Anacostia High
Anacostia Senior High is being reconstituted this year with the assistance of Friendship Edison charter schools. The high school is located at 1601 16th Street, SE. where Rodney McBride was the former principal. I featured concerns on my blog on June 25th from an Anacostia teacher which revealed that half of their teachers have been excessed. I have received other emails that allege that there have been discriminatory practices in excessing 50% of Anacostia's teachers. This outraged parent's e-mail to Chancellor Rhee suggests that like DC teachers, Anacostia parents feel disenfranchised by the Rhee administration, complain of the lack of transparency and have concerns about the way this school takeover is being conducted.

Public education in the nation's captitol is in the process of being destroyed.

Pathetic Union Messaging & F'ked Policies. (0.00 / 0)
The Seattle Education Association is bargaining a new contract this year ... I just finished the year and I'm tooooooo burnt to link to all the stuff happening - in brief, the district is publishing its proposals online, our sup is an arne acolyte, and our state / local union is completely worthless with effective message, nevermind their worthless tactics.

The district will probably get a lot of their b.s. demands, in large part because the union has done such a completely shitty job presenting an alternative case.  The teachers are burnt BUT not too united, and the public is listening to borderline right wing lies, over and over.

And, oh, by the way ... about THE TRUTH being complex and long ... f'ing tough. Figure out a way to make your points KISS, or lose. (see 1980, 84, 88...). Our side spends hundreds of millions every year on elections fighting the fascists - so, hire people who can do message, which equals by the way, FIRE the f'kers who can only manage excuses for losign.

Ooops! Did I mention all the idiotic policies which are part of the education world? We get logical idiotic policies from the fascists - the policies are logical in that they are unfunded clusterfucks designed to hasten a society of serfs, doormats, asswipes, cannon fodder and ass kissers. Fascist policies = ... nevermind if you need MORE explanation, I quit.

From the other end, we get a higher volume of even MORE idiotic policies from the relatively affluent highly credentialed power point & tome creating liberal nitwits who can't run a f'ing hot dog stand, never mind figure out what their ideas cost in time in the class, per student per day, AND, figure out how to pay for the ideas.

Here are some dirty little secrets about life and education. There are 6++ billion people in the world. Daily, that is a LOT of piss and shit going out 1 end and a LOT of clean water and safe food needed for the other end. That is 12 billion++ shoes for all the feet, that is a lot of roofs and doors and door hinges and screws for the hinges and light fixtures, and transportation, and education, and health care, and retirement ... AND we got billions of people living in squalor.

Unless we're going to allow epsilons to live live's of comfort, and the other 80% of us working stiffs will take care of the comfortable, (see Brave New World) NO ONE has a right to NOT contribute to keeping the community going.

The challenges is to make Factory Earth work, and to make it work so that ALL of us can spend the least amount of time on the drudgery, and the msot amount of time singing creative poetry to your actualized organic garlic pets, or getting drunk and gambling, or whatever the hell you want to fritter your free time away on.  

A lot of education and lot of work is 'factory' work - the likelihood of minimizing the basic grunt work without mastery of the grunt work is zilch, so grow the fuck up, or, go sit in your car with the windows up, start the car engine and run the garden hose outta the exghaust into the passenger cabin.


It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way

CREDO = Hoover Institute (0.00 / 0)
What is Arne duncan doing relying on a Hoover Institute report?  Here in Missouri, where CREDO on average claims charters out perform public schools you have to read the fine print to see the fallibility of the report.

CREDO compares charter school scores on state tests in Kansas City and St. Louis (the only urban districts in the state and the only places state law allows charters) to only the public schools closest to the homes of the charter school pupils.  From this CREDO declares that those public schools represent the scores the charter school students would have gotten had they attended public schools.  That slight of hand conveniently leaves out the fact that a high proportion of public school kids in Kansas City and St. Louis attend magnet or other speciality schools, schools that regularly outperform other schools in the district.  All those higher scoring schools are left out of the charter comparisons.  One school left out in Kansas City is Lincoln College Prep, just ranked 127th in the nation by Newsweek.

Proof of the Hoover connection to CREDO, here is the top return on Google:

For recent proof, get the name of the president of CREDO and Google her name.  She often and recently IDs herself as associated with Hoover.

Woo friggin' hoo. (4.00 / 1)
The rest of the Barack and Arne ed platform sucks too.

Too bad so many so-called progressives didn't pay attention to this in the primary.

Yes, charter schools are a scam. Here in CA, the state found the largest charter school corporate operation to be fraudulent and closed it down.

To any liberal paying due diligence to the issue, this is completely unsurprising.

But I'm really more offended by their college aid platform. Making poor kids do public service for grants? Can they pay off the grant and a drunk driving conviction at the same time?

We do need to turn this into a drinking game. Obama, who has never stepped foot in a US public school, loves to lecture us on the subject. I say every time he slams teachers as a group we take a shot. Every time he lies about falling TIMSS or other national test scores, we drain the bottle.

Yeah, but... (4.00 / 1)

Looking through the charts in this report it appears the problem with charter schools is largely in the first year of high school (see page 29 combined with 39.), which is appalling bad for charter schools.  For every other year, charter schools out perform regular schools, though just barely, including all of grade school.  "Multi level" looks worse than high school.

Looks like when kids switch schools it doesn't turn out so well -- at first at least, but over time it works out ok, at least for those that stay.  Probably a combination of adapting and weeding.

Now I'm new to this debate and only recently realized that some promoted charter schools as some form of cure all, which is clearly stupid.  (So I think I'm on your side as far as the real debate goes.)  And I also realize that union bashing falls into the mix here, as well.  But I'm all in favor of charter schools as a matter of choice.  If someone wants to send there kid to a school that teaches everyone Japanese, and the population density exists to allow that, why the hell not?  I don't expect test scores to go up -- heck, they'll probably go down due to all that time spent on Japanese instead of something else, but that doesn't mean the time  was waisted.

But You Don't Need Charter Schools To Teach Japanese (4.00 / 1)
And, in fact, that's the sort of thing that magnet schools were created for--teaching a specialized curriculum. Destroying public education really is the reason for them, pure and simple.

By their own admission--if you read carefully and critically--the reason charters do worse in high school and better in grade school is that they really don't face that much of a challenge in grade school, compared to high school, which is where the greatest challenge lies:

Charter elementary schools are scrutinized for their ability to attract and retain students on grade level early in their education experience. Charter middle schools face a mix of expectations. Since students can enter with a wide range of preparations, these schools are pressed to recover existing deficits, maintain momentum for students who are already doing well, and prepare all students for the rigors of secondary education and beyond. The pressures for charter high schools may be the most severe of all, including a wider potential range of student academic histories and the need to foster awareness and access to post-secondary options for their students.

Finally, the mention of "their ability to attract and retain students on grade level" also hints at the real major problem here:  self-selection bias.  Since it takes parental effort to get kids enrolled in charter schools, kids in those schools are more likely to have parents who are more motivated and more focused on their kids attention, which ever school teacher knows is a major factor in how well kids do.  Until a comparative study controls for level of parental involvement, it almost certainly overstates charter school performance, probably by a significant amount.

Stepping back at bit, don't you find it rather astonishing that we'd have over a million kids nationwide in charter schools before even having such a study to see how well charter perform?  Doesn't that sort of scream "solution in search of a problem" to you?

The problem, of course, is that conservatives hate public schools.  Hated them when the idea of public education was first proposed.  Hated them when they were introduced in the South.  Hated them when they first started setting up their think tank infrastructure.  Hated them when privatization of schools became the template for promoting the Overton Window.  Hate them to this very day.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
"conservatives hate public schools" (4.00 / 1)
...except when the football team takes the field. Really, I think it's more complicated than this. In fact, according to some survey results I recall, most people who say that US public schools are failing tend to give their own school higher marks. And I've talked with plenty of conservatives who think US public schools are lousy while they remember quite fondly their favorite teachers from childhood. I think what bothers conservatives so much about public education is that it invariably brings to the surface societal problems of equity that would normally remain hidden. Problems of poverty, homelessness, discrimination, malnutrition, and lousy parenting have consequences in a shared, communal space -- the classroom. And we all know how much conservatives hate sharing someone else's problems.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
They Love The Football TEAM (0.00 / 0)
The public school?  Not so much.  Never underestimate their capacity for compartmentalization!

Besides, I am, as always where the context warrants it, speaking of conservatives as a political movement, not as individuals.  Individual conservatives can love their local schools, even while the organized movement that speaks in their name wants nothing more than to destroy all such schools.  The more contradictions, the merrier!

In fact, according to some survey results I recall, most people who say that US public schools are failing tend to give their own school higher marks.

This is something I've pointed out repeatedly myself, going back to my earliest days debating wingnuts online in the 1990s.  What it means, quite simply, is that folks always think better of schools the more direct contact they have, and therefore the less influence they've had from the so-called "liberal" media.

The ultimate proof of this is that folks with kids in schools invariably rate the schools higher ("the school your oldest child attends" is a common formulation) than the general populace ("the schools in your community" is typical).

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Great diary Paul! (4.00 / 1)
Loved this quote:
"once they [charter schools] get back to this focus of the trade-off that they had for flexibility, for accountability, you know, and closing those underperforming schools and finding ways to replicate the higher-performing ones"

IOW, the silver bullet to control the so-called "problem" with public schools--their lack of "flexibility" and "accountability"--has a problem with those very same things. And the process that's always been available to apply to public schools--"finding ways to replicate the higher-performing ones"--becomes the holy grail for a whole new structure that was supposed to be about replicating "higher-performing" approaches to begin with. How much longer can this nonsense go on?

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

Yup! (0.00 / 0)
This is utterly typical of conservative logic.

Either the common-sense solution is denied for the liberal alternative, and only allowed for the conservative one, or the dogmatic denial of common sense is asserted for the conservative alternative (think "just say no" or "abstinence only") and the liberal alternative is not even considered, deemed "unthinkable".

How much longer can this nonsense go on?

As long as the punditalkcrazy insists we're "a center-right nation".
As long as reality-based voices like Dan Froomkin are deemed "no longer relevant."
As long as Obama insists on consensus.

It can go on forever.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Instead of pushing charter schools, (4.00 / 2)
why isn't Duncan talking about this:
"In a city [Camden] where dropout rates are consistently among New Jersey's highest and test scores are among the lowest... there were no dropouts at MetEast, and every member of its graduating class has been accepted into at least one college."

What worked?
* Smaller school size, "just over 100 students -- less than one-tenth the enrollment at each of the city's comprehensive high schools."
* Closer teacher-student relationships, "the educators are called ''advisers,'' not teachers, and they advise the same group of students all four years"
* Curriculum related to students' interests, "classes are built around the idea that students will learn by following their passions."
* Innovative instructional models, "students do internships. Graduation requirements include a senior project with the aim of doing some good for the community."
* Individualized instruction and assessment, "four times a year, every student makes a presentation to a panel that includes students and adults from outside the school."
Oh, here's why no one is talking about this:
"Unlike charter schools that have sprung up in Camden during the last decade, MetEast is run by the city's school district."
(h/t ASCD SmartBrief)


Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
I Was Very Fortunate (0.00 / 0)
while still in grade school, I was one of 4 students in my class who promoted to a special reading group where I was allowed to shape my own curriculum, and make written and oral reports once a semester.  (Interim written work was also required.)  I did one semester on whales and other aquatic mammals, and a second semester on Europe.  The other 3 students were all promoted from the top reading group.  I was promoted from the second lowest.  My teacher was sharp enough to realize that I just didn't like standing up and reading aloud in class, which for some strange reason was the major criteria for which reading group you were in.

I absolutely loved it.  It was the best educational experience I had in school, at least until I got to college.  The only thing I didn't understand is why my teacher didn't just have everyone--or at least nearly everyone--do the same.

Okay, maybe most of them didn't have the attention span for just one subject for that length of time.  But shorter versions of the same model could have been used.  In fact, the length of time allowed per subject (and possibly degree of discretion in selecting subject matter) could have been the basis for distinguishing reading groups.

This school sounds very much like it is simply a well-thought-out elaboration of what I experienced back around 1960 or so.  Two questions: (1) What took so long?  (2) And why is it only one school?  

Clearly, if we, as a nation, wanted to educate our children in public schools, we could do so to a very high level.

But, then we'd have millions of troublemakers like me asking embarrassing, meddlesome question like that.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Actually, it's not only one school (4.00 / 1)
"It's one of about 60 schools nationwide established with the help of Big Picture Learning" the nonprofit group that developed this approach. Another approach that has a good track record is Success for All, which works totally within the framework of public schools. I'm convinced that innovative educators and schools are doing great things all the time. What keeps it from getting replicated:
* Parents who think that either a) all that matters is getting trained for a job to make money or b) school should be just like what they experienced.
* Voters who don't want to pay taxes for educating "someone else's kid".
* Politicians who want a sound-bite, quick-fix approach to something that is inherently complicated.
* The media, which finds the topic of education to be utterly boring unless it is about school shootings or sex scandals.
* Our country's persistent drive toward standardization, which produced monstrosities like NCLB.
Just to name a few suspects. I'm sure you can add to the list.  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]

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