Did you know that New Orleans was once the most integrated city in the U.S.? Now it is one of the most racially and economically segregated cities and a school reform target. After all, how can you not help struggling students whose homes were ravaged by floods? The Broad and Walton foundations are pouring in money. They also are funding elections to make the reforms stick. Is this the future of American education?
I just finished reading Dale Russakoff’s book The Prize on the collapse of the Newark school reform effort. Newark was supposed to be the poster child for school reform. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook donated $100 million dollars. Cory Booker, Newark’s mayor became a television celebrity. Governor Christie was a staunch supporter until he wasn’t. Cami Anderson was hired to lead the charge. She left.
The book reads like an adventure story beginning with Booker and Christie trolling the streets of Newark in the dead of night.
I thought The Prize would be about charter schools. It really was not. It is about…
AlterNet published another story on the origins of school choice in Florida. The story begins with Jeb Bush’s term as governor. What may have been intended to dramatically improve schools only turned out to be dramatic in the number of reports of corruption and chaos. The article ties together the power brokers and the growth of for-profit charter schools.
It is a money and politics tale. You can read it here: How Jeb Bush’s Florida Plan School ‘Choice’ Created Industry Corruption and Chaos. You will find reports about the League of Women Vote’s study including data from Sue Legg and Pat Hall (LWV Hillsborough).
The latest feature on the Pinellas County Schools neglect of low-income minority schools lets the children tell their stories. Anyone who thinks that these children do not know better and can not do better should listen carefully to what these children say. Promises for help from the district were not kept. Teachers gave up.
What will be done to fix a problem the district helped create. Charters are not to blame; they are nowhere near.
You may have noticed a shift in focus on the blog recently. Every once in awhile this happens. I will tell you why. Call it critical thinking and problem solving? Continue reading
Who is at fault when schools fail? School reformers say “Teachers” or “Rule Bound School Districts”. The Tampa Bay Times is running a series on something much more basic. Using examples of five of the worst failing schools in Florida, the authors cite the decline of these schools since the 2007 decision to abolish the school integration plan in Pinellas County. At the time, promises were made but not kept.Continue reading
Parents care not only about the quality of education offered but also the mix of children in a school. How does the premise that “More choice should produce a better educational fit between what parents want for their children and ultimately lead to better educational outcomes” work out over time?
This study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at data from North Carolina. We all need to understand the consequences of choice.
Miami-Dade did a series of presentations on Florida’s school choice study. Their approach was to consider the unmet needs of children from low income areas. The ability of charter and private, mostly religious schools to meet those needs are considered.They discussed problems with the conflicting priorities for-profit charter management companies must face when serving ‘low-cost’ children rather than children whose needs are expensive to meet: e.g. ESE, ELL and students who struggle academically. The accountability system rewards schools whose students score well on state assessment tests. This makes charter admissions and dismissal policies subject to scrutiny.
The interrelationship between political and financial support has made conflict of interest concerns a public issue. The need to justify the inability of the private sector to overcome the achievement gap between students from low-income and higher income families has made the public more aware of the need for more efficient and equitable use of tax payer money.
This league’s approach to a discussion of school choice issues may be helpful for others who are planning similar presentations.
by Lucia Baez
The Miami-Dade League of Women Voters charter school study provides an in-depth examination of the population of students in below median income neighborhoods.
Are charters representing their own communities?
Do charters show significant academic improvement?
Are charters equitably admitting their students and increasing participation of needy students?
THE ANSWER TO EACH OF THESE QUESTIONS IS: NO!