(This one’s for you Mediawatch!)
First, Education Reform has very little to do with improving education. It does, however, have a lot to do with union busting and corporations tapping into all that delicious tax payer education money. It also thrives on propaganda.
When discussing education today there’s one theme that remains consistent: Public education is failing our kids! Our children aren’t learning! Just look at the test scores!
Okay, let’s look at the test scores:
- The chart below shows overall reading and math scores for 9-year-olds starting in the early ’70s. Since then, reading scores have gone up 12 points and math scores have gone up 24 points. Ten points on the NAEP roughly equals one grade level, which means that today’s 9-year-olds are performing more than a full grade level better in reading and two grade levels better in math compared to the ’70s.
- Scores for blacks and Latinos are up more than scores for whites. In reading, as the chart above shows, white kids’ scores are up 14 points, while Latinos’ have risen 24 points and blacks’ 34 points. In math, scores for white kids are up 25 points, while Latinos’ have jumped 32 points and blacks’ 34 points. There’s still a significant gap between whites and other groups, but we’ve been making steady—and largely unheralded—progress for the past 40 years.
- Private schools have done well, with reading scores up 10 points and math scores up 22 points, but public schools have also improved in reading (4 points) and math (25 points). Overall, the rise in test scores is due to improvements at both private and public schools.
Interesting, no? And yet you rarely, if ever, hear about these results. Don’t get me wrong. There are problems, especially when children reach high school, and that must be addressed, but the idea that public schools aren’t educating children is nothing more than the Ed Reformers’ Marketing Strategy.
One of my biggest problems with charter schools is the way they rig the deck by controlling their population, not offering free and reduced lunch, and take taxpayer dollars while not being accountable to the public. Basically, charter schools want to be public schools when there’s taxpayer money involved, and want to be private corporations whenever the public questions what they’re doing.
And the public should question charter schools, because they aren’t living up to their promises.
While the report recognized a robust national demand for more charter schools from parents and local communities, it found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.
But I’ve lost count of charter school promises.
First, they were supposed to be test sites for new educational techniques that would then be implemented into public schools.
Well, that didn’t happen. Mainly because the charter model relies on controlling its student population. Fine. I get it. But we need to stop pretending that a successful charter school is about an educational miracle, and start accepting that the success of a charter has far more to do with who they let into their classrooms rather than what goes on inside those classrooms.
Second, charters promised a better education for less money.
That one turned out not to be true either. Overall, the education offered at charter schools is not better, and now they are working on getting more tax dollars. And it looks like they’ll get it…
The bill’s supporters say it will help successful charters grow while holding them more responsible, but some critics worry it could sap resources from traditional public schools. They also say some of the oversight measures don’t go far enough.
House Bill 165, which is expected to be debated in committee on Wednesday, would create a “Charter School Fund,” which the Department of Education would use to dole out extra funds to charters it believes have “a proven track record of success.”
And where will this 2-5 million come from?
Now, I would like to quote people who have concerns with this idea, but the News Journal didn’t quote any “critics”… only “supporters”. (Have I mentioned how much I miss Nichole Dobo covering education?) Guess I’ll work with what I have.
Kendall Massett, director of the Delaware Charter School Network, said the performance fund would help schools that have proven they are effective reach more students. She challenged the assertion that charters are outside entities sapping money from the system.
Massett said charters sometimes face hurdles getting buildings set up because they don’t get capital funding.
Because they don’t get capital funding. There’s the money quote, and for those of you not up to speed on what’s going on with charters, getting capital funding is now priority #1. So, if you’re still holding onto the myth that charters offer a better education for less money, go ahead and toss it in the trash. Their “waste, fraud, and abuse” meme has bit the dust.
But how exactly would supplying charter schools with capital money work? Would charter schools be able to buy property/equipment with taxpayer money? Would taxpayers own the building/equipment if the charter closed? Would the taxpayer be at the front of payment line if a charter failed? Are charter schools public schools first, or are they corporations first? The answer seems to be… charter schools are public schools when it suits them, and when it doesn’t they’re corporations.
Look, the state just bailed out Pencader Charter. We gave that school 350,000.00 so it could finish the end of the year. Will we be paid back for that? Of course not.
Back to the News Journal article.
At the same time that it frees up more state money for charters, the bill would toughen state oversight, especially on the fiscal front.
Any new charter school application or modification that would increase enrollment would require an impact study analyzing the effects the school would have on local traditional schools and the community from which most of its students would be drawn.
Are they serious? If that’s the bar set then that’s the end of charter schools because charter schools negatively impact public schools. That’s not even debatable.
One last thing in this article… “If a student would be eligible for free school lunches at a traditional school, charter schools would be required to provide that student free lunch, too.” Seriously? This wasn’t already required? No wonder certain charter schools have such skewed demographics.
Back to the charter school PR. They’ve already ditched the “charter schools are educational incubators” and “charter schools offer a better education for less money” talking points, so what is their new spiel? Why, CHOICE, of course. It’s all about choice – and public schools buy into this nonsense, as well. Choice lets everyone off the hook for improving the education of all children. I’ve said this before, but it boils down to this… struggling/failing schools don’t need to improve because parents can simply choice out (except they can’t choice into any schools closed to choice due to capacity and if they can’t get their kid to and from the choice school, or to the nearest existing bus stop for that school, then… no choice for you!) – and if they don’t choice out then they must be happy with their struggling/failing school.
And about that choice transportation… Let’s review the transportation rule for choice students. If you choice your child out of their feeder school then you are responsible for getting your child to and from the choice school or to and from the closest existing bus stop for that school. Everybody got that? Good. Okay, charter schools are all choice schools – choice schools that receive transportation funds. Yep, charters get funding for buses.
Now, explain to me why a charter choice student receives transportation, but a public school choice student does not? Go on, I’m stumped.
The new Choice mantra comes down to the myth that parents are capable of making the best educational choices for their child’s education. Some are, some aren’t. And given the amount of propaganda surrounding education getting accurate information is daunting. Example… were you aware that some Pencader parents are considering Moyer Academy now that Pencader has closed? Needless to say… this is not an informed choice – but I guess that’s okay in a world where CHOICE trumps everything and can be used as an excuse not to fix problems.
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me!