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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Charter School Myth is crumbling fast

Let me start by saying I think Charter Schools have a limited role to play in education. There is nothing wrong with parent/teacher driven laboratories of change where new techniques, programs and ideas can be carried out. Unfortunately with the rush to privatize public education, especially here in Florida most have become defacto private schools that siphon money and resources from public schools and as recent studies point out produce an inferior product.

First the DC student mobility project reveals that 6.6% of charter school students drop out over the course of a year.
All schools have some degree of mobility but the study reports essentially no overall attrition from the regular public schools. Expulsion undoubtedly counts for some of the charter school losses but low performing kids being counseled out also undoubtedly play a role as well. Public schools not charter schools take all the kids that show up at their doors and do their best to educate them.

Despite this fact an article in Education Week by Sarah Sparks,

says charter schools don’t do as well teaching math or English? How is this possible since they only keep the best kids? When you couple this with the facts that charter schools already as a group exclude disabled and ESOL students some of the more challenging students to teach, it should raise serious concerns about charter school effectiveness.

One of the reasons that charter schools are struggling probably has to do with their high turnover rate of teachers. Others probably include the fact many of their teachers either aren’t certified or are part of an ever rotating cadre of novices. Or at least that’s what a joint report from professors from the Universities of Kentucky and Colorado suggests,

The authors go on to say: "If bargaining contracts were restricting traditional public schools from dismissing the worst teachers—or perhaps from rewarding the best teachers in some way—we should expect to see that in schools without such agreements, teacher effectiveness played a particularly important role in determining which teachers remain. This simply does not appear to be the case here."

This debunks the claim that teacher unions are stifling learning.

Since all this is the case, why do we have charter schools again? Or at the very least why are we rushing to expand with such dubious quality?

I have no doubt there are quality charter schools but I likewise have no doubt that many charter schools see Florida as a place to grab easy money. Shouldn’t we slow down and get things right? Don’t our children deserve that much?

To learn more, check out this post in the GF Brandenburg blog,

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