Charters are Lopsided in Whom They Serve

directory-281476_1280Hernando and Hillsborough charters have the lowest ratios of low income and minority students.  In Pasco county, 58.2% of students in traditional public schools qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch while only 36.2% of charter students qualify.  Charters in high income areas do well academically, charters with higher percentages of low income students receive lower school grades.  This is not a surprise.  Income and academic achievement are known to go together.  What is of concern John Romano columnist for the Tampa Bay Times article is:

 

 

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KIPP Keeps A Secret

top-secret-1076813_1280In this repost from Diane Ravitch, one of the most troubling aspects of privatizing our schools is underscored…we do not know what is going on.  The business practices on charter management companies have always been hidden in a cloak of secrecy.  Why this is so in many states raises alarms.  Incidences of charter fraud, waste and abuse have been documented across the country.

Now we learn that the federal government is complicit in hiding information that most public schools must disclose.  Ravitch cites a report from the Center for Media and Democracy about disclosure protection for KIPP schools.  Under an arrangement with the U.S. Department of Education, KIPP does not have to report its student attrition and graduation rates.  Why not?  Based on older reports, the data are too revealing.  KIPP lost 40% of its students between middle school and high school graduation.

You can read more on KIPP in this blog.  KIPP is one of the largest charter chains.  A member of the Florida State Board of Education has brought two KIPP charters to Duval County.

Are KIPP Charters the Answer?  Depends upon the question…

Toeing the Line at KIPP?

 

Enrollment Chaos Already in Hernando

school-295210_1280Open enrollment in Florida is here.  Your child can attend any public school anywhere, if there is space.  Hernando opened up all 5, 8, 11 and 12th grades so children could switch to a school outside their zoned school.  Once those grades were filled, they would open up 10th grades as well as others where demand exists.

It was a big shuffle even though parents had to arrange transportation for their children.  Not everyone was satisfied.  Five schools were overcrowded and could not accept over 500 students who applied.

Open enrollment may not impact some counties too much.  They already have allowed students to transfer.  Movement across county lines could increase especially where parents work in one county and live in another. Unfortunately, when students leave a school, they take their state funding with them.  As a result, schools with declining enrollments have even more problems providing a quality education.

There are cities that try to organize choice in order to balance the school population.  In Minneapolis, for example, all students are enrolled in an area lottery.  A child may apply to one of three schools that are relatively nearby.  The assignment of students and teachers as well as special programs is planned to allow high quality programs at each school. It is a way to balance socio-economic characteristics to ensure there are advanced classes as well as extra support in every school.

Rural schools do not have much choice.  Leon county schools does enroll children from neighboring counties, but those rural schools that remain have problems not only with funding, but also with teacher recruitment.  The long term answer may be technology, but that too is in scarce supply.

The Education Train HB 7029: Car by Car

 

locomotive-60539_1280The final version of SB 7029, the charter school bill, took awhile to locate.  Here it is!  There is along list of provisions, some minor and some major.  The highlights follow.  They are easy to scan.  Most do little damage.  Some good things happened.  Considering what could have been, we can put our energies toward making good things happen next year.

 

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The Legislature’s Education Train

by Paula Dockery

locomotive-60539_1280Paula is a syndicated columnist and member of the Florida LWV Board.  She wrote a column summarizing the Florida legislative session.  I extracted her description of the process in developing education policy this year.  I personally thought of it as a ping pong match.  She uses the analogy of a train.  This train kept criss crossing the tracks.  Enjoy her description.

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Fla. High Impact Charter Network Bill Advances

Legislation

Legislation

The devil is often in the details, and this bill HB 830 Stargel has many provisions.   In a nutshell, it requires better background checks and more transparency for charter providers.  This is good, right?  It also gives the State Board of Education the ability to authorize High Impact Charter Networks.  Maybe this is not so good.

Charter providers in approved networks apply to districts, but if they are already authorized, is this simply smoke and mirrors?  In a way, this is a mini version of the bill to amend the constitution to create a separate charter system.  It takes away local control.  The constitutional amendment will not make it to the ballot, but the High Impact Charter Networks are likely to become law.  If I were a betting person, I would think this is another effort to attract and expand KIPP schools.

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Parents File Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Success Academy Charters

justiceI just saw a post from Diane Ravitch citing a New York Daily News report.  Parents have organized against Success Academy Charter Schools in New York.  I wondered when this lawsuit would happen.  The charges include:

 

 

 

 

  • refusing to provide special education students with appropriate services.
  • multiple suspensions of students without keeping records or providing alternative instruction.
  • harassing parents to return their children to public schools and even calling 911 to pick up children whose parents do not immediately arrive–even a five year old.
Several advocacy groups have joined the complaint filed in federal court.  Perhaps Success Academy is one of the more extreme examples of this type of behavior, but similar charges have been published in Florida and elsewhere.  Clearly, these parents have had enough.  Read the full complaint.

 

Charter School Bubble to Burst?

hands-982121_1280Are charter schools an emotional response by inner city low income families to long standing state funding inequities?  A University of Virginia Law Review article  addresses concerns that school funding inequities in Black urban areas lead to a tolerance of unfettered growth in charter schools. 

The federal government support for charters also feeds the expansion without sufficient regulation.  The net result may be a bubble and crash much like the recent financial crisis.  What should be done to avoid a cataclysmic fall that could destroy communities?

Mother Jones summarizes the three practices that lead to serious mismanagement.  I add a summary of the status Florida’s legislation to address these concerns.

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