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Old 07-23-2012, 11:00 PM   #1
Clodfobble
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Charter Schools

Relocated discussion from the "What's Making You Happy Today" thread... if a mod wants to move the referenced posts over to this thread as well, that's cool.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BigV
This is exactly the fear I have of charter schools. That they can pick and choose what students they accept *and* accept public money for the education of those students will inevitably lead to the weakening of our public education system.
Charter schools can't pick and choose their students. They can have a mission statement that kind of makes it clear what type of student body they're trying to create, but the application for a charter school lottery is literally a name, date of birth, and address to verify you live within the county limits.

Edit: I do admit though, upon further reflection, that they have a much greater leeway in kicking students out who don't meet the stated rules of the charter. But the charter itself has to be approved by the state before granting it (and reapproved every few years based on performance,) so there is never going to be anything discriminatory or academically-limiting. Usually it is just stricter behavior requirements than your average public school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
There is a lot of debate over each of those statements, especially the $ and success rates.
I'm not sure how anyone can be debating such easily provable/disprovable facts. In Texas, it is a fact that charter schools receive less money per student than public schools. I know a woman who runs a charter school personally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Obviously, there are many different kinds of "charter schools".
But every charter school takes $ out of the public school system.
They also take a student out of the public school system. Payment to schools has always been per student (and more specifically, per student actually in attendance each day, which is why schools push attendance so hard and have to document it so carefully.) If I pull my kid out to homeschool him instead, I too am "taking" money out of the public school system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
When the charter school takes the $ from a finite and limited source,
or when the charter school appeals to more talented/motivated/capable students and parents,
the public system must manage with less funds and a more difficult population of students.
As I said, the charter school is not "taking" money from anyone. If a public elementary school gets too crowded, and they open another one a half-mile away, the new school will "take" half the old school's money. But they also take half their students, thus reducing their needed budget for books, teachers, etc. The only logical way to view a charter school, when you're talking about money, is as a public school that anyone can choose to go to.

Which brings us to why someone might choose to go to a charter school. It is true that, in some cases, charter schools are opened in rough areas of town, in order to allow kids to escape the ghetto and get an education sans violence. This does, on average, leave a more "difficult" population of students behind. But I don't believe those good kids were somehow being a positive influence on the gang-bangers, and I don't think it's fair to expect them to stay in a shitty environment and kill their own chances at college on the hopes that a few more bangers might graduate because of it. It should not surprise you to know that I also think No Child Left Behind is bullshit. People who aren't willing to make even the most minimal effort should be left behind, or at least addressed by some rehabilitation program outside of the public school system.

Reason number two people attend charter schools is religion. On this, I agree with you: if the only reason for the charter school's existence is to allow regular kids to get a regular education with religion included, I think they shouldn't get state funding.

But here's reason number three people attend charter schools, and it is, in fact, why I am at this moment trying very hard to get my own children into a charter school. It's because there are students whose legitimate needs are not being met by the school system, even when the public school they are assigned to is a perfectly good one. Most general education teachers are still not well-trained in how to deal with the massive number of spectrum kids they're being forced to mainstream, and even when they are, sometimes the environment just isn't suited to them, even though a full special education environment is not appropriate either.

When these kids leave the public school for a charter school, the end result is usually better for the public school. Many of them, for example, require a very quiet environment in order to stay focused and calm. A normal, boisterous classroom is likely to send a spectrum kid into meltdown mode, getting themselves labeled as one of the "difficult" children you referred to, and starting a cycle of punishment and removal which will only make things worse. As another example, it is normal to expect a certain amount of social savvy and drama among pre-teen students, but this can create an incredibly difficult situation for a spectrum child, and opens the way for vicious bullying. To put it bluntly, the school I am trying to get my kids into is full of mostly awkward nerds like themselves, and there is no such thing as bullying on that campus. Comparatively, my son has already experienced his first low-level bully in public school Kindergarten. Removing the handful of children that everyone picks on is not just better for the bullied victims, it allows the remaining population of kids to be less divided and more focused on their own education.

And in case you'd like to argue that these kids are not as common as I make them out to be, you should know that the charter school I am discussing had 900 students in its opening year (the lucky few among thousands who applied for the lottery,) and is already planning on opening satellite campuses within the next couple of years.

Last edited by Clodfobble; 07-23-2012 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:54 PM   #2
Lamplighter
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Each state has different laws regarding charter schools, both with respect to funding and academic criteria.
Speaking in generalities about charter schools is just like speaking about traditional schools.
There are wide differences in goals and student populations.

Some are sponsored by Universities, with a goal of teaching research.
Some are "magnet schools" that deal only with the "talented and gifted" students.
Some are "high risk" schools that deal with "difficult" [my word] student populations.
Some are "religious" schools that are sponsored by churches and such organizations,
which qualify for state funding via 3rd-party non-profit entities, some with heavy overlap
And some are of the nature being desired by Clodfobble, dealing with children with (medically) special needs.


The following are a few bits of information from the
2010 Comprehensive Annual Report on Texas Public Schools,
a Report to the 82nd Legislature from the Texas Education Agency
.

Historically in Texas...essential 1/3 of all charters awarded have subsequently been removed

Quote:
Total [Charters] Awarded 297
Removed (Converted, Revoked, Rescinded, Renewal Denied, Returned, Expired, Merged, Abandoned) -94 (31.7%)
Active Status 203
Awarded but not Operational -10
Operational Status 193 (64%)

TEA = Texas Education Agency
AEA = The state accountability system is an integrated system of standard and alternative education accountability procedures.
TAKS = Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

From the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Quote:
<snip>
Between 2009 and 2010, overall passing rates for standard and AEA charter school students taking
the English-version TAKS increased in every subject area.
Nevertheless, passing rates for AEA charters were lower
than those for standard charters and traditional school districts in all subject areas.


In 2010, the average passing rate for all tests taken was 44 percent for AEA charters,
78 percent for standard charters, and 77 percent for traditional school districts.

Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students in standard charters
had passing rates in all subjects that were higher than the rates for Hispanic
and economically disadvantaged students in traditional school districts.
The same was true of passing rates for African American students.

In 2010, a total of 139 charter districts were rated under the standard accountability procedures,
and 68 were rated under AEA procedures (Table 7.1 on page 99).
Fifty charter districts were Exemplary,
40 were Recognized,
84 were Academically Acceptable, and
23 were Academically Unacceptable
.
Ten charter districts were Not Rated: Other because they had insufficient TAKS results
in the accountability subset to assign one of the other rating labels.
From the above, I don't feel it is realistic to say that charter schools do not select their students.
Likewise, the is very little support for the idea that charter schools are academically better than tradition schools.
Maturity of a school does not change the above data

Charter and Public schools receive state funds based on daily student attendance,
but public also receive funding for buildings/maintenance,student transportation and student health requirements
Charter schools (on average) pay $8,000 staff more than public schools,
yet there is a much higher turnover of teachers among the charters.

BUT, charter schools do better fit the desires of some parents and students,
and the charter school movement is definitely growing in the US.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:47 PM   #3
Clodfobble
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Historically in Texas...essential 1/3 of all charters awarded have subsequently been removed
Note that this number includes schools which merged with another charter school, moved, or closed for any reason. It does not mean one out of three charter schools was forced to shut down by the government.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Nevertheless, passing rates for AEA charters were lower
than those for standard charters and traditional school districts in all subject areas.
As you note above, AEA is primarily in charge of "alternative" education. These are the high risk/difficult/borderline-penitentiary schools. They are deliberately put into their own category so their stats can be viewed in the appropriate light. Traditional charter schools, as you see from your source, do about as well as public schools from a testing standpoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Likewise, the is very little support for the idea that charter schools are academically better than tradition schools.
Correct, because as I noted earlier, they're not taking the "cream of the crop," they're taking students who can clearly do just fine when they're in the right environment, and yet for some reason are willing to fight a low-odds lottery to get out of their assigned public environment, and drive across town to get to school every day once they are in. There must be some draw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
From the above, I don't feel it is realistic to say that charter schools do not select their students.
I'm not sure where you get that deduction at all, since all your information seems to indicate that the students at traditional charter schools are perfectly average, not of a select breed. But regardless, your feeling is wrong according to the law:

Quote:
Must an open-enrollment charter school be open to all students?

Yes. In general, an open-enrollment charter school may establish no admissions requirements except that students meet the age, grade level, and residency requirements specified in its charter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Charter and Public schools receive state funds based on daily student attendance,
but public also receive funding for buildings/maintenance,student transportation and student health requirements
Right, meaning public schools receive more money for offering the same educational service, as I said. It's actually kind of surprising to consider that charter schools do just as well as public schools, even though they have to pay for their own buildings and buses and nurses. I wonder what the testing scores would be like if charter schools did receive as much money as public schools?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Charter schools (on average) pay $8,000 staff more than public schools,
They choose to invest their money in higher-quality teachers and lower teacher/student ratios. I approve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
yet there is a much higher turnover of teachers among the charters.
Because they can and do fire any teacher who isn't maintaining their educational standards. There is no tenure, no godawful "last-in, first-out" policies when it comes to layoffs, and no 55-year-old math teacher who hates kids and is just riding out his miserable career until he gets his Teacher Retirement Fund fully vested. I also approve.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodfobble View Post
Edit: I do admit though, upon further reflection, that they have a much greater leeway in kicking students out who don't meet the stated rules of the charter. But the charter itself has to be approved by the state before granting it (and reapproved every few years based on performance,) so there is never going to be anything discriminatory or academically-limiting. Usually it is just stricter behavior requirements than your average public school.
That's all they need. Students who aren't especially gifted aren't what brings down the quality of a school; it's students who disrupt class. If one school can kick all of its disruptive students to another school, it's going to weaken the other school.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:08 PM   #5
Lamplighter
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With respect to funding, charter schools may, in a very narrow sense,
receive less State funding than the traditional public schools.

But charter schools have fewer legal requirements than public schools
with respect to buildings/maintenance, providing transportation
to all students (including charter school students),
providing health safety/resources in larger schools,
contracting with ESD's for special ed services,
and are usually not eligible for private funding.
And most importantly, public schools must provide for ALL students

Charter schools on the other hand are eligible for private donations,
may co-locate with other schools or churches or unique locations, etc.

Here is a recent study that attempts to get a real-world handle
on the differences in resources between charter and public schools.
The authors do not conclude that successful charter schools have less
resources than their nearby (local) public schools, and Texas is one of the states in their study.


National Education Policy Center
May 3, 2012

Charter Schools: How Many Bucks for the Desired Bang?
Quote:
Schools operated by major charter management organizations (CMOs)
generally spend more than surrounding public schools,
according to Spending by the Major Charter Management Organizations:
Comparing Charter School & Local Public District Financial Resources in New York, Ohio and Texas.<snip>

“Charter school finances are hard to measure,” says Baker.
“Charters generally receive both public and private funds.
Also, in-kind assistance and resources from districts and states to charters vary greatly.
Yet we can see that the most successful charters, such as KIPP and the Achievement First schools,
have substantially deeper pockets than nearby traditional schools<snip>

But according to Spending by the Major Charter Management Organizations,
a “marginal expense” may be larger than it sounds.
An additional $1,837 expense in Houston for a KIPP charter school,
where the average middle school operating expenditure per pupil is $7,911,
equals a 23 to 30 percent cost increase.<snip>

Similarly, some charter chains in Texas, such as KIPP, spend substantially more
per pupil than district schools in the same city and serving similar populations.
In some Texas cities (and at the middle school level), these charters spend
around 30 to 50 percent more based on state reported current expenditures.
If the data from IRS filings are used, these charters are found to spend 50 to 100 percent more.
.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:23 PM   #6
Clodfobble
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Monkey
That's all they need. Students who aren't especially gifted aren't what brings down the quality of a school; it's students who disrupt class. If one school can kick all of its disruptive students to another school, it's going to weaken the other school.
Except these charter schools are extra; the state is already running enough public schools to evenly cover the area. The disruptive students are by definition already expected to be at their area public school, and that doesn't change by their not being allowed to go to charter school. If the good students leave, it's true that the overall ratio of disruptive-to-good students goes up at the home public school, but as I said in the original posts back in the Happy thread, I'm okay with that. I don't believe good students should be forced to suffer from shitty classmates. (I also thought it was stupid when my junior high school briefly tried to blend Honors and regular classes together, thinking it would promote diversity. They abandoned that disastrous little experiment after one semester.) Students should be separated according to ability--both academic and behavioral--just like people are in real life.

Actually, the model I favor most has complete fluidity based on ability level and not age at all--if the six-year-old is doing "grade 5" math, then he's doing it alongside the ten-year-olds who are on par. And if there's a ten-year-old stuck back with a bunch of on par six-year-olds, well, good. That's the level he's at. Let's not pretend he's doing as well as his peers and drag everyone else down to his speed. Our desired charter school doesn't do this, but many of them do. Charter schools are about using widely different models of teaching where they are appropriate, without the state mandating a one-size-fits-all policy for tens of thousands of children across the board.

The irony with what you're referring to is that actually, if the disruptive students are disruptive enough, they will get kicked out to a charter school--it will just be one of the AEA charters instead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplighter
Charter schools on the other hand are eligible for private donations,
may co-locate with other schools or churches or unique locations, etc.
The original question was not how much charter schools spend, but whether charter schools "take" money away from public schools. We have shown they don't. In fact, since the district is no longer responsible for building/transporation/etc. costs for those students who step over into the charter side of things, the district actually has more overall money to spread among the schools. They may choose to up the amount given per student, benefitting both kinds of schools, or they may choose to up the amounts given for building/transportation/etc. costs, benefitting only public schools. But either way, for every student who switches to the charter system, the state can be assumed to have more money to distribute, not less.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:38 PM   #7
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Charter schools in Florida perform at or significantly below public school levels.

School Performance
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:29 PM   #8
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@Stormieweather: The "Results section" (p33) is restricted to differences in County-wide GPA's,
but even so the "Speculation section" (p34-38) is quite interesting.

Quote:
Perception appears to be the major proponent for charter schools.
“The act of choice alone (ability to choose whether to attend
a school or not) may be one of the major reasons for increased satisfaction in charter schools”
Unfortunately, the way charter schools have been sold to the state legislatures
is primarily on the hope/promise that they will achieve better results
than the public schools.

@ Clod: If your friend that running the charter school in Texas
is not receiving funding equal to that provided by law,
she should seek advise of an attorney. It is quite explicit what Texas law
provides to open enrollment charter schools:

Quote:
In addition to the full formula amount of state Foundation School Program (FSP)
funds per student, an open-enrollment charter school is also
entitled to receive an allotment for the transportation
of its eligible students in authorized motor vehicles (i.e., compliant school buses,
passenger cars, or public mass transit authority/MTA motor buses)
to and from their campus(es) of regular attendance based on the same allotment per mile
funding rate assigned to the conventional/traditional public school district(s) in which its students reside.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:26 PM   #9
Clodfobble
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I once read a scathing refutation of tonsillectomies. One of the key pieces of evidence they based their argument on was the fact that children who had had tonsillectomies "still" had 1 throat infection per year, exactly the same as children who had not had tonsillectomies.

What they neglected to include was how many throat infections the tonsillectomy children were having before their tonsils were removed. Answer? Twelve per year, on average. Recipients of the surgery were a self-selected group, not random, and the fact that they were now average was near miraculous, not mundane.

The same is true with charter school students. They are by definition either self-selected, because they are for some reason angry enough with their default public school to leave, or selected by the district, because they are disruptive enough to get kicked out of their default public school.

You simply cannot compare performance of charter schools to public schools. You must compare the performance of charter school students before and after they joined the charter school.
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