Charters are the Cheap Choice, not the Best Choice

power-money-trap-5441169Today’s New York Times urges the NAACP to oppose a moratorium on charter schools.  The NAACP does not want to settle for second best.  The Times argues that while some charters are mismanaged, well run charters are a better option for struggling students.  This is a weak argument and one wonders if it is really a political one.  Who benefits?

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Judge Supports Third Grade Opt Out Parents

justiceJudge Gievers ruled in favor of parents who claimed that their districts unfairly retained third graders solely because they did not complete the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).  The ruling revealed gaping holes in district procedures and in law.  The arguments brought into question the reliance on the FSA to determine student competence.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

The Racial Divide in Charters

directory-281476_1280Today’s New York Times delves into the divide within communities over charter schools.  The NAACP is calling for a moratorium on charters because they are increasing not only the racial divide but also the economic divide.   Charters in some cities, particularly cities with fewer charter schools as in Newark, Boston or Washington tend to do better than in cities with many charters, but as the number of charters increases, achievement decreases.  The reasons become clear:

Charters are viewed by some parents as an ‘escape’ from schools that must serve children with discipline and other emotional problems.  Charter educational programs may be no better than in traditional schools, but ‘problem’ students are either screened out or suspended.  Suspension rates are higher in charters and disproportionately impact minority students.  Achievement for those who remain may rise giving the appearance of being better.

Continue reading

Opt Out Parents Lawsuit Going Federal?

justiceThere is a new and very interesting twist to the Florida opt out lawsuit.  Parents whose children were retained in third grade solely because they did not take the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) brought a lawsuit.  Some districts retained these children who would otherwise be promoted to fourth grade and others did not.  It sounds like a basic fairness issue, but it is more complicated.  Who is responsible for this policy, the State or the federal government?  If only 16 states require third grade retention, why would the federal law be involved?

Continue reading

Democratic Education Platform: Too Good to be True?

ballot-32201_1280It is an election year.  Which way is the wind blowing?  Judging by the rift over the Democratic Party Platform, testing, accountability, and charter school management could see significant changes….or not.

The draft platform opposed for-profit charter schools.  The amended platform added even many more changes:

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Detroit: Lots of choice, but no good choice

money-40603_1280The New York Times ran a story about Detroit.  The city is recovering from bankruptcy, but school choice has bankrupted its schools.  The story is told in human terms.  Your learn about a family trying to find a good fit for its four children.  They move from charter to charter, full of disappointment as hopes are dashed.  They are besieged by hype and gifts for recruiting, but the realities of too many schools from which to choose means that no school is very good.  This is a cautionary tale.  Detroit has the lowest achieving children in the nation.  Ten percent of its children graduate at ‘college ready’.

Michigan has less charter regulation than Florida.  Charters proliferate whether or not they succeed academically.  Eighty percent of its charters are run by for-profit companies. The fight with each other to get students.  By last winter, Detroit schools were bankrupt.  The legislature agreed to help, but it refused to support regulations to manage charter growth.

Testing Reform to Rise Again

IMG_0471Is there hope for a rational testing system?  Senator Don Gaetz has been a moderating voice on Florida’s overwrought testing and accountability system.  He called for the reduction of the weight from 50% to 30% of the student gain scores that are counted in teacher evaluations.  Then, in the 2015 session, he proposed substituting national tests like the SAT and ACT for the FSA.  Since college bound students must take these tests anyway, it is redundant to have them sit for state assessments as well.

 

Continue reading

Learning Your Way: A glimpse into the world to come

woman-1172721_1280In my last post, I commented that the conversation about education reform was beginning to shift from the evils of constant testing back to include new approaches to teaching and learning.  Who would believe I would find an example moments later.

We can call this topic the ‘learning my way’ approach.  A teacher at PK Yonge laboratory school in Gainesville has won an award for incorporating student directed learning strategies in his classroom.    How he does it is bound to engage students.  The idea came from a Harvard workshop years ago.  He now leads them.

 

Continue reading