Home » Charter Schools (Page 16)

School choice options may suffer when profit becomes a motive for education

by Richard O Jones
Hamilton Journal News
September 18, 2012

One of the most prominent K-12 education reform movements in recent decades has been the idea of “educational choice,” allowing parents to use their child’s portion of state-allocated funds to send students to private and charter schools.

Much of the focus in this area of education reform has been on charter schools, K-12 schools that receive public money, usually supplemented by private endowments and grants, and do not charge additional tuition.

Some education experts expect charter schools and for-profit facilities will continue to grow and will transform education in the next decade. Others say if profits continue to drive these schools, the education aspect will suffer.

“Under the current system, if a school isn’t doing a good job, the only way to get a better school – purchase private schooling or move to a new neighborhood – are expensive and cumbersome,” said a 2011 report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The nation’s first charter schools laws were passed by Minnesota in 1991. Within four years, 18 additional states passed charter school laws. Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws in place, and the Center for Education Reform notes that nearly 2 million American children were enrolled in 5,196 charter schools for the 2011-12 school year.

The Richard Allen Academy in Hamilton, a satellite of the Dayton-based charter school, began operating in 2003 when Hamilton City Schools were ranked low. Although the public school has since improved, the Allen Academy has been able to keep its charter and now serves around 200 students with a staff of 18 teachers on Hamilton’s East Side, according to Principal Aleta Benson.

One of the primary reasons families choose the charter school, Benson said, is because of the low class size.

“My largest class size is

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Record Number Of Charter Applicants

“Charter requests skyrocket”
by Will Sentell
The Advocate
August 21, 2012

Applications for new charter schools shot up by five times this year, mostly because of a new state law aimed at helping Louisiana’s lowest-performing school districts, officials said.

A record 26 new requests have been filed with the state’s top school board, up from five last year.

In addition, 23 other applications were filed to run schools placed under state control or to replace former operators, according to the state Department of Education.

State education leaders said the increase is spurred largely by the fact that applicants from districts rated D or F can now apply directly to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Caroline Roemer Shirley, president of Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said Monday some charter operators filed because they feel chances are better for approval than when they had to win permission from often hostile local school boards.

“When you have to go to the district, in most places in the state, that is a pretty hostile environment,” Shirley said.

“The chances of being approved are pretty slim,” she said.

Some local school board members see charter schools as a threat to traditional public schools.

Charter schools are public schools run by nongovernmental boards.

They are touted as a way to offer novel classroom methods without much of the red tape common in traditional public schools.

The state has 104 such schools with about 45,000 students in 15 parishes, including East Baton Rouge.

Louisiana has about 1,300 traditional public schools and roughly 700,000 students.

Of 70 school districts, 27 are rated D and F.

Critics contend charters have often failed to deliver on promises and siphoned crucial state aid dollars from their traditional counterparts.

State officials are sifting through the applications — some are voluminous — before they are placed on the state education department’s website, said Barry Landry,

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Daily Headlines for August 14, 2012

Teachers Who Excel: A Lesson From Miss Smoot
Christian Science Monitor Blog, MA, August 13, 2012

Nothing is more important in K-12 education than the quality of a teacher. But how do we make great teachers? We could start with someone like Jane Smoot.

FROM THE STATES

ALASKA

Only 3 Juneau Schools Meet AYP Standards
Juneau Empire, AK, August 14, 2012

Auke Bay Elementary School , Juneau Community Charter School and Johnson Youth Center were the only three schools among 14 in Juneau to meet AYP in all categories during the 2011-12 school district, according to data released Monday by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

CALIFORNIA

Charter Schools Benefit Communities
Santa Maria Times, CA, August 14, 2012

It’s no surprise many charter schools are popping up across the nation. One is planned in San Miguel in SLO County , and Orcutt Academy opened a couple years ago. There are also several smaller, home-study based charter schools in the Santa Maria Valley .

COLORADO

Thompson School District Staff Trains On New Evaluation System
Loveland Reporter Herald, CO, August 13, 2012

Nearly 200 Thompson School District employees — teachers, administrators and support staff — came together Monday to prepare for the first full school year of the Colorado Integration Project.

Global Village Academy Charter Proposed For D-11
Colorado Springs Gazette, CO, August 13, 2012

A group of community leaders is seeking to open a charter school in Colorado Springs School District 11 that blends language immersion and military traditions.

Cañon City School District Online Academy To Host Open House To Promote
Cañon City Daily Record, CO, August 13, 2012

The beginning of the 2012-13 school year also marks the start of the second year of the Cañon Online Academy.

FLORIDA

36 Apply For Charter Schools In Palm Beach County, As Popularity Grows
Palm Beach Post,

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Charter schools: Can they send more kids to college?

by Hayat Norimine
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
July 19, 2012

Voters will again decide this year whether they think charter schools can improve high-school education in Washington state.

The issue comes before the voters at a critical time in Washington’s economic future. Washington’s demand for well-educated employees grows with the competing job market, but the state isn’t producing the number of college graduates it needs. The question is whether charter schools could help to close that gap.

On July 6, education groups presented their petition to have Initiative 1240 added to the November ballot.

The petition had about 350,000 signatures, well above the required 241,153 signatures to put Initiative 1240 on the ballot. Charter schools are currently banned from nine states, including Washington, and the initiative would create 40 charter schools in Washington state over the course of five years.

Washington voters have rejected charter schools three times before — in 1996, 2000 and a third time in 2004.

The state would fund charter schools, which would be independent public schools. But local school districts wouldn’t oversee them.

That provides flexibility for the schools’ choice in curriculum and teaching, but opponents of charter schools say the district regulations keep public schools accountable.

Kara Kerwin, vice president of external affairs for the Center of Education reform, believes charter schools can give an education other public schools can’t offer with the regulations that school districts have in place.

What’s important to both opponents and proponents of the initiative is whether charter schools can offer higher success rates for high-school students, and a large part of that means the schools’ ability to send high-school students to college.

University of Pennsylvania’s State Review Project, published last January by education professors, revealed that while Washington state attracts well-educated leaders, the state itself is not producing as many bachelor’s degrees as the state needs, calling Washington a “leadership vacuum.” And the review projects that 67

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Big Apple Charter Schools Big Winners

“Charter Schools Celebrate Test Score Gains”
by Yasmeen Khan
New York Times
July 17, 2012

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, while congratulating traditional district schools for making improvements on state test scores, on Tuesday reiterated his support for more charter schools.

“I think they demonstrate again and again and again that that model gives superior results,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference at the Tweed Courthouse, where he discussed the state test results.

For the third year, the city’s charter schools outperformed traditional public schools in math and English, and the spread in results between the two groups has increased.

In math, 72 percent of charter school students passed the state tests this year, compared with 60 percent of traditional public school students. In English, 51.5 percent of charter school students passed this year’s tests compared with 46.9 percent of traditional public school students. (About 30,000 charter school students took the tests; 400,000 students took the tests in traditional public schools.)

“What we’re seeing, and what we’ve seen all along,” said James Merriman, chief executive officer of the New York City Charter School Center, “is that the longer school day and longer school year that characterizes charter schools, as well as simply a focus on instruction and the sense of having a schoolwide culture that everyone buys into, results in these kinds of achievement scores.”

Critics of charter schools argue that charters attract some of the best students from the community, while enrolling far fewer students with special needs and English language learners than do traditional public schools.

Mr. Merriman said that he understood these concerns, and that demographics do matter when discussing data.

But with that in mind, he said, the fact that charter school students have improved by about nine percentage points on both the English language arts and math tests since 2010 “is cause for optimism in

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Newswire: July 17, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 29

PARENTS WANT CHOICE. In times gone by, parents understood that the school their children attended was determined by their zip code and, in most cases, the quality of that school would be driven by family income. The 1960s civil rights movement brought to the nation’s conscious the inequity in educational opportunities for children of color, with their parents demanding better schools. Parents today, from all walks of life, are taking up that dream and pushing for choice in schooling. CER’s Jeanne Allen, at the National Coalition for Public School Options Family Reunion, points out that “everyday evidence grows that demand for school choice is high and that it extends across the racial, socioeconomic, and political spectrum.” Most critical to the success of choice, in all of its forms, is that it is “embraced by the largest and most diverse coalition in recent history” and, today, that coalition is represented by “parents who want – and deserve – the power to choose the best school for their own child,” adds Allen. Parent power at work!

NC AND FL ON BOARD FOR CHOICE. The choice landscape certainly is welcoming in North Carolina and Florida. CER just released survey results that show broad support for school options and new charter schools. Seventy percent of those surveyed in North Carolina support the creation of new charter schools and the opportunity to choose among a wide variety of schools, while 60 percent of those surveyed in Florida do. In North Carolina, the strongest support for charters came from African Americans (85 percent), women (82 percent), and those with school-aged children (81 percent). The Florida poll found that 61 percent of those surveyed agree that charter schools should be funded at least the same as all other public schools. Florida has one

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Virtual Charter Decision Looms

“Debate Swells as Decision Nears on Virtual Charters”
by John Mooney
NJ Spotlight
July 12, 2012

The prospect of New Jersey’s first online charter schools continues to stir up debate, even as the Christie administration moves closer to announcing its decision on the virtual schools.

A group of a half-dozen of the state’s most prominent education organizations delivered a letter to acting education commissioner Chris Cerf this week, asking him not to approve final charters for two all-online schools until a number of legal and policy issues could be resolved.

The letter was signed by the New Jersey Education Association, the Education Law Center, and the New Jersey School Boards Association, as well as state associations representing principals, superintendents, and other administrators. Also signing were the state NAACP and the Latino Institute.

The main arguments were legal ones, with the letter making numerous citations of specific statute and regulation. It took up the now-familiar argument that the state’s 15-year-old charter school law does not accommodate for online schools, nor grant the state the power to approve them.

“We have significant concerns that the Department of Education lacks legislative authority to authorize virtual or online charter schools under the Charter School Program Act of 1995,” read the letter.

“There is no mention of virtual charter schools in the Act or its legislative history, which makes it clear that this new form of charter school was never contemplated, and has never been authorized, by the Legislature,” it read.

The letter went on to maintain that there also remained “numerous broad public policy questions that the Legislature must address,” from how the schools would be funded to rudimentary questions as to how attendance would be monitored.

Among them was a key point for critics: the role of for-profit companies in operating the schools. It is particularly germane, since K12 Inc., the nation’s

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Newswire: July 10, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 28

NO OSCAR, YET. Finally, the state of Maine enacted a charter school law, with collective applause from around the country. But, it’s too soon to give the state star status in the charter school world. CER’s Alison Consoletti, vice president for research, told the Kennebec Journal, in a strong article on Maine’s foray into charters, that the state’s Charter School Commission, appointed by the State Board of Education with three members overlapping between both boards, does not pass muster. “If you have the strong, independent authorizers, they can hold the charters accountable,” explains Consoletti. “So the schools tend to be higher quality and better managed.” Consoletti also points out that the state’s law is so new, it is unclear precisely what the climate will be to instill flexibility and accountability in charters statewide. “All we really have to go on is what the law says,” according to Consoletti. “While some pieces, like the funding, seem to be better than average, it’s still difficult to see until a charter school is open how funding flows; how the law is going to work.” Calling on Maine charter fans to do what it takes to ensure a strong charter program is created and maintained with appropriate authorizers.

BOOOORING. Students nationwide are not challenged by school. Yes, there is a sliver of kids stressed out over mountains of homework, seeking the Holy Grail of an Ivy League education, but, in general, students say they are not expected to rise to higher standards in the classroom, according to a study just released by the Center for American Progress titled “Do Schools Challenge Our Students.” Pivotal in the survey of students is an “increasing be that student surveys can provide important insights into a teacher’s effectiveness.” The report’s authors, Ulrich

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Mixed grades for Maine's initial charter school efforts

by Susan McMillan
Kennebec Journal
July 9, 2012

When one to four charter schools open their doors this fall, they will be paving a new path for Maine, guided by a new law and accompanying regulations.

Outside Maine, however, the charter school movement is more than two decades old and has many lessons and examples to offer.

Based on that history, national pro-charter organizations say the policies Maine has on the books have strong points but also important drawbacks that could limit the development of high-quality charter schools.

Maine’s charter school law, passed last year, was rated best in the nation by the National Association for Public Charter Schools and is also well-regarded by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

The Center for Education Reform, on the other hand, gives Maine a C-minus and says it’s too soon to tell what kind of environment state policies will create for charter schools.

All three groups said it’s key for states to balance strong authorization and accountability practices with autonomy for charter schools. Concerns include a cap on the number of charter schools initially allowed in Maine and the funding available to them.

The Maine Charter School Commission is negotiating a charter for the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Fairfield and will meet July 17 to consider the proposed Baxter Academy of Technology and Science in Portland. It also may reconsider an application for an elementary school in Cornville that was rejected last week.

The commission has yet to take action on the latest application, for a primary school in Gray called the Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences.

Based on the model

Charter schools are public schools that are relieved of some of the regulations and restrictions on traditional public schools. Proponents say they offer much-needed alternatives to traditional public schools and foster educational innovation.

Out of the District

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Newswire: July 3, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 27

NEVER GIVE UP. Perseverance fuels Washington state’s latest ballot drive to approve charter schools. So far, charters have failed at the ballot box in 1996, 2000 and 2004. But the landscape nationwide has changed; 41 states now permit charter schools and the concept has won fans from both sides of the aisle. Washington’s Initiative 1240 calls for 40 charter schools to open over a five-year period. Students would be selected via a lottery and only non-profits approved by the state would manage the charters. The local union cries foul because high donors are financing the signature drive. As if the NEA has never before heavily funded a campaign promoting its interests. A call out to Washington voters. You have until Friday to sign the petitions!

NEA’S DRAMATIC DROP IN MEMBERS. Nationwide, union membership is plummeting – down 100,000 since 2010 reports NEA President Dennis Van, who optimistically says they may be smaller, but stronger. Unlikely. USA Today observes that the decline goes hand-in-hand with the rise of choice and charters. Intriguing, too, that President Obama is sending his V.P. to address the diminishing throngs. Schedule conflict…or snub.

THAT WAS EASY. Long, drawn out contract negotiations are a thing of the past in Detroit, it appears. Roy Roberts, state-appointed emergency financial manager recently slammed down a contract, described as an “act of tyranny,” by the Detroit union leader. The terms have not yet been revealed, but the goal is to provide stability for the workforce while paying heed to the enormous debt incurred by the school system, factoring in shrinking enrollment, by 100,000 students, in the past 10 years. Tyranny also could be used to define the abysmal state of affairs far too many students are forced to endure in a system that couldn’t pick itself

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