NAACP Drafts Resolution for Moratorium on Charter Schools

clause-1462955_640If this resolution passed at the NAACP convention last week in Cincinnati is approved by the National Board in the fall of 2016, it will be a major event.  In this repost of the Cloaking Inequity blog, you can read the resolution.  It deals with racial resegregation, funding inequity, charter school mismanagement, lack of charter oversight, and the resolution calls for greater transparency in charter school management.

The NAACP views charter school policies and practices as a civil rights issue.  It is.

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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Teacher Bonuses Challenge Under Review

justiceFlorida’s Best and Brightest teacher bonus program is under review by a federal agency.  The Florida Education Association filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last December.  In the complaint, the FEA argued that the program discriminated against teachers whose ACT or SAT tests, on which the bonuses are based, are unfairly excluded.  Teachers who sat the SAT or ACT before 1973 have no qualified scores.  These teachers are referred to DOE guidelines which seem to be strangely absent on the FDOE website.  According to the Naples News article today, a decision by the EEOC has not been reached, but the complaint is still under review.  If the EEOC finds reason to proceed with the complaint, the FEA will file a lawsuit.

 

Today the Value of Diversity Was Affirmed

justiceAll the money pouring into school choice helps hire professionals to give a positive spin to a poor idea.  What can be wrong with giving parents choice and take state dollars with them to charter and private schools, spin masters say.

Some parents cannot resist the allure of a selective quasi ‘private education’ even if it is not high quality.  Today the Supreme Court provided a compelling ruling that can change the conversation.

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Louisiana Charters Returned to District Control

mardi-gras-1176483_1280Following Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public schools were in disarray.  Thousands of people who had the resources to do so had left New Orleans.  No one was watching the store, and the State took over 52 poverty stricken schools.  Ten years later, the Louisiana legislature is finalizing a bill to return the Recovery District charters to local control by district school boards.  Did the great experiment work?

 

 

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Lawsuit Testimony Can Break Your Heart

justiceFlorida’s educational system is on trial in Tallahassee.  The charge?  One million Florida students cannot read at grade level.  Testimony about the plight of these children can break your heart.  Thousands are homeless.  Most are from poor families.  In some rural counties children are too hungry to learn, and schools provide three meals a day.  These children, the plaintiffs argue need much more than school districts can provide with current funding.  

The Florida League of Women Voters recognizes that the solutions to these problems are complex, but applauds the attention the suit brings to the weaknesses in our educational system.  What are the arguments and what is the defense?  What do the witnesses say? 

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Race and Testing Wars

skills-835747_1280The pushback against testing is spreading.  The New York Times reports that some minority groups have joined the anti testing movement.  This is a significant change from what began as a white middle class movement.  Testing is the stick that education reformers like current U.S. DOE Secretary John King and others use to spotlight struggling schools.  Without testing, many argue, the plight of these students is ignored.

Now, some black parents and children are joining the Opt Out groups in Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Educators cite examples of students who feel labeled as failures and curriculum that is little more than test prep.  Warren Simmons, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, sums up the problem.  Testing identifies there is a problem but does not tell you what is wrong and how to fix it.

I take heart when I consider the evolving discussion about educational policy.  Since the 1990s, we have moved from a focus on basic skills to one on critical thinking and problem solving.  We then moved into high gear on testing in order to motivate educators to identify the needs of all students.  Even now the conversation is moving toward the appropriate roles of teaching and technology to improve learning.  There are also hints about the role of neuroscience in defining appropriate learning strategies.

Eventually we will get to the heart of the matter:  time and money.  This will become the biggest test of our political will to adapt our educational system to meet the needs of the nation.  These discussion too are emerging in the courts.

 

 

 

 

Will Pinellas Failure Factories Turn Around?

FAILED1Pinellas is taking on its failing schools.  This blog reported on the Tampa Bay Times series on south Pinellas schools that had essentially been abandoned when federal desegregation regulations were lifted in 2007.  I remember Judge Reynolds’ statement a week ago in the Citizens for Strong Schools case.  He said he could not believe that the Florida DOE had not intervened when schools received an ‘F’ grade four years in a row.

 

 

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Proving the Point: Two are not better than one

face-25508_1280The Washington Post, posted a letter that tells it like it is in Washington D.C.  I could feel the heart break.  I will tell you about the data, but this is not about numbers.  You can read the real story below.
In 1965, there were 147,000 students in D.C. There were 46 schools with an average of 750 students per school.  in 2014, the school population dropped to 85,000 in 213 schools with 329 students per school.  You know what happened.  Suburbs happened.
Choice in D.C. is not a cost effective system.  Yet, it is the poster child for charter schools that work with poor and minority students.  The test score gains are touted even if the scores themselves are still low.  The description provided by a D.C. mother and published writer about culture indicates that there is a human cost that is neglected in the story about school reform in D.C.