2 of 4
2
Charter School in Novato California shut down by School District
Posted: 26 June 2007 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

Am I seeing a little “best defense is good offense” here? I’m not launching a campaign against any individuals. My point is to question the loud, orchestrated campaign blaming NUSD. “Reprehensible” is an overly strong term for my opinion of Envision’s conduct, but I do think it’s dishonest and unfair.

“You have routinely ignored my points regarding the differences in their style of teaching.”

That’s not the issue I’m addressing. The teaching style is entirely irrelevant to my concern. My issue is the unjust subsidy that Novato’s students were providing to MSAT. That would be unjust even if MSAT’s entire student body had been taught to walk on water.

“You have consistently painted Envision as an evil presence on the landscape.  One that has no redeeming value and from the sounds of it, should be banished from any school district. “

I think they’re a damaging and divisive force to school districts. “Evil,” “no redeeming value” and “should be banished” are overly strong interpretations of my viewpoint.

“It is a shame that when well meaning people try to do the right thing that people like you come along and try to tear it down.”

I didn’t “come along” and try to tear anything down. I’m responding to the loud outcry blaming NUSD. I didn’t “come along” until the Envision/MSAT community had been screaming to the heavens about NSUD, at which point I responded with some facts that shed a different light on the situation.

“Why aren’t you working with Envision schools to increase access for Low Income students within their schools?  If that is really your bone of contention, then I would think that would be the course of action to take.”

You think I should take responsibility for doing that?? I’m an unpaid volunteer civilian mommy, Envision is rolling in millions and millions of dollars of Gates money. Surely if they wanted to enroll some low-income students they could manage it with all that funding, without the help of unpaid volunteers. 

“I think it is charter schools in general that are your target, not who they serve.”

You’re right. I think charter schools are a harmful force to public education. I have no beef with their students.

“MSAT failed due to not having a new facility.”

I know that’s what they say. My speculation is that the loss of the extra subsidy from Novato’s other students is at least a partial cause, though.

“Parents at MSAT supported the school, unlike most public schools.”

Parents at most public schools support them—that’s certainly true in the case of my kids’ schools and my friends’ kids’ schools.  This is just a wildly untrue notion. This notion certainly bears out my observation that charter schools are hostile and harmful to traditional public schools, though.

“I for one am fed up with the low income whining. I lived through decades of Affirmative action. People enter this country from Asia have babies here then go home and later send them back here to get higher education. … I do not think all students should lower education standards to help the poor.”

Do I perceive a little intolerance and xenophobia there? You may have some trouble in a diverse SFUSD school, which the merged MSAT/Metro will certainly be. Does the rest of the MSAT community share that attitude? We in SFUSD are proud of our schools’ diversity, so I don’t know how well you’re going to make it here. In any case, the point about the “low-income whining” is that Envision committed (and snagged megagazillions in private funding for it) to serve disadvantaged low-income students of color. Given that, the fact that its school has shut out low-income students is a bit eye-catching.

“As far as the $800.00 per student deal, so what? Most of us did not even know this if its even true..”

Is that also the pervasive attitude at MSAT – take from other kids to benefit yours, and then sneer “so what?” And anything is OK as long as you don’t know about it? And it’s OK to deprive other kids to benefit yours because NUSD spends too much on administration? Yow.  Comments like these confirm skeptics’ very worst image of charter-school communities—take from others because it’s all about me and my kids.

“I never felt more connected to a community of people who felt so strongly about good education for ALL.”

Sounds like you mean “all” as long as they’re not low-income or Asian, or was “Asian” code for all foreigners? Good luck adjusting to SFUSD!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2007-06-18

Carolinee

Never said because I did not know about the 800.00 that that was ok? You will never change my mind about this! My opinions are mine alone, you on the other hand group every thing and every one together. This is not the case. All was every race at the school, we had a very small population at the school, How many minorities do you have to have to make you happy? All of them? This is all I have to say about it. All board members have to go if Novato is to advance our education system and have a choice. Lets make this into a race issue whats going on with you? I will not be one of the unfortunate parents who drive into SF as my son graduated and is moving on to UCSC.

You can be proud NUSD uprooted hundreds of kids from school. Good luck.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

I have no particular connection with the specific schools discussed above, but my daughter does go to a CA charter school (which is, by the way a “public” school, so the distinction between “chart” and “public” people have been using is a bit specious). I’ve only been involved in the school one year, and I’m hardly an activist on the issue. But of course we had a choice among the schools in our, relatively affluent district, and whill all are generally performing well (insofar as public assessment tools can really judge), we felt the “culture” of the charter was the most consistent with our approach. Our experience has, so far, been great. There is a lot of parent ivolvement, and while sometimes this leads the school to suffer a bit from amateurism in some of its programs, it also allows parents to be intimately invbolved in their child’s education and fosters a great sense of commuity.

I take issue with the general premise that charter schools are bad for the public system generally. I am a product of CA public schools from the late 1960s through my Master’s degree in the early 90s, and I’ve watched the decimation of our schools begun by Proposition 13 and continued bvy wave after wave of primarily Republican administrations. I think the schools are severly underfunded given the wealth of the state, and I think a voucher system would gut what remains. However, I don’t think the financial situation requires a cookie-cutter approach to education, and I do think there is value to local communities finding their own style of organizing primary and secondary eductaion. And I think creativity, experimentation, the implementation of the latest research in pedagogy should be available to public school students, not only those who can afford private school. So I don’t think the general argument that charter’s are a bad idea for the public system holds water.

Now, I understand that due to their small size, especially when first formed, charter’s have a higher relative pverhead than established schools and thus a higher per pupil administrative cost. The answer to this is not, however, abolishing variety and choice in the local schol system, but increasing the funding for schools generally and finding ways to equalize the funding. Our district, despite being upper middle class in general, does not even meet the national average for per pupil expenditures, and even after the parents organize substantial fundraising and grant writing efforts, we barely reach this. This is the real problem with public schools in CA.

And, Caroline, for what it’s worth we do have a subsidized lunch program and a number of low-income students commensurate with the district as a whole because we have a governing council and parent/teacher community commited to equity in education. So while I can’t speak to the specifics of the MSAT situation, I think you’re unfairly condeming a useful alternative approach.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

While my purpose in posting here was to respond to the high-profile MSAT accusations against NUSD by providing facts that hadn’t previously been in the open (mainly the extra subsidy that MSAT was getting courtesy of the children in Novato’s non-charter schools), my claim that charters harm public education is, of course, just my opinion.

But there are a number of ways I feel that’s the case. Charters drain students and funds from existing schools, harming those schools and the students in them. The charter movement as a whole does massive bashing of traditional public schools, attacking them and touting themselves as superior—which harms public education (at a time when it’s under fire as never before) and students in traditional public schools. The charter movement is based in and empowered by the Bush administration and the mighty right-wing think tanks such as the Hoover Instution, the Cato Instute, the Heritage Foundation and more, and in those powerful hands, it’s a weapon intended to attack, weaken and ultimately eliminate (privatize) public education.

I know that individual charter schools and of course the parents whose children attend them are unlikely to share those goals, but by being part of the charter movement they still empower and add momentum to the anti-public-education assault.

The terminology I use, by the way, is “traditional public schools” as opposed to charters.

I know that many charters participate in the National School Lunch Program and thus provide subsidized lunches to low-income students, but many others don’t. 

School and district administrators are increasingly likely to be wary of charter schools—something the charter movement seizes on to portray themselves as misunderstood, wronged martyrs. In my view, that’s because school and district administrators are increasingly aware of how harmful charter schools are to public education.

In my own district and many other California distrits, one material example is that by law charter schools have the right to demand a district site even if they displace existing programs. This situation is causing outraged protest around the state. My own child’s high school is likely to be forced to share its space with a charter, which would indeed displace existing programs. (Unlike many school communities, we are prepared to amicably accept and work with whichever charter—it could be one of MSAT’s Envision cousins—winds up on the site.) So that’s just one example of the problematic and very material impact charters have on school districts.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

Addendum: I have been following charter-school issues for many years, and have found that the most revealing information comes from the pro-charter organizations. The Center for Education Reform is generally considered the leading national pro-charter organization—its leader, Jeanne Allen, is the go-to source for the media on any charter-related story. The CER is closely linked with the Bush administration and takes a strongly anti-public-education, pro-privatization, anti-teachers’-union position. If I were a liberal charter parent (I am a liberal, but obviously not a charter parent), I would have to do a LOT of soul-searching before I allied myself with that organization and other pro-charter forces.

http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=section&pSectionID=5&CFID=7089297&CFTOKEN=89434524

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Well, as for the political associations of charter schools, I think that’s more recent than charters themselves. My daughter’s school was the first charter school in CA and far predated the Bush Administration. It is true that conservatives argue for charters as a way of opting out of what they see as the liberally biased traditional public schools and as a more palatable alternative to vouchers. But I think you’ll find plenty of us liberals involved in the charter idea and interested in implementing it in a very different way and without such an agenda. I think the issue is not whether one public school drains resources from another public school. The issue is how the state and districts spend the money they have, too little I think we agree, to best serve the needs of students in their community. Traditional public schools are not as amenable to change and experimentation as schools created under charters precisely in order to experiment with pedagogy. You cannot surely be opposed to experimentation in teaching methods, so you must believe it is possible to achieve this within the traditional administrative structure of the state school curriculum. I’m not convinced. But in any case, charter schools are public schools and they are not “competing” with the public system in this sense. Insofar as there are inequities in how different schools in the district are funded, that is something that must, and I think can, be addressed without scraping the idea of giving communities and parents more control over how their kids are educated. You’re going to have a very hard sell convincing a conscientious and informed parent that the best way to ensure a good pulic education for their child is to stick with the traditiuonal structure and pedagogy even if you fund it better.

As a parent, you understand the concern parents have as individuals for their children and how they are served by the system. And a big part of the idea behind charters is helping schools to better serve the local constituency. I am not involved in charter because I have a sympathy with a national movement but because the local charter school was the best of my districts schools. As a parent I am involved in raising funds for the district as a whole which are distributed proportionately to enrollment. I am also directly involved in influencing the agenda of my daughter’s school, and it has proven much more responsive to such parnt involvement that schools I attended in CA ever were. I am commited to excellent public education for all children, and I do not believe that being involved locally as I am to help my daughter to be best served by the local public schools is a threat to public schools in general.

I am in no way empowering anti-public education or aiming towards privitization of the schools. In fact, I think changing our public schools to better serve their communities and give parents more involvement and a greater stake in the local schools is vital to fighting against vouchers and public financing for religious schools and the real assaults on public education. So while we may disagree about the role of charters, I will thank you not to imply conservative political motives or goals I definitively do not share to me. It would be more productive to answer my questions and arguments themselves and to see if we can find mutually agreeable ways to turn back the conservative impoverishment of our public schools that began with Howard Jarvis and his ilk.

[ Edited: 26 June 2007 06:14 PM by mckenzievmd ]
 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 07:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

I agree that Prop. 13 was the truly devastating blow—though the notion that public schools should just be flat-out attacked and eliminated came after that.

“I think the issue is not whether one public school drains resources from another public school.”

My opinion is that that IS an issue, though.

“You cannot surely be opposed to experimentation in teaching methods, so you must believe it is possible to achieve this within the traditional administrative structure of the state school curriculum. I’m not convinced.”

I’m definitely not opposed to experimentation in teaching methods. But frankly, I don’t see any clear-cut innovations going on in charters (and I have asked top charter leaders, who can’t cite any either!)—nothing that isn’t happening in traditional public schools. I am definitely open to being told about some! But I read about charters all the time and haevn’t yet learned of any.

“harter schools are public schools and they are not “competing” with the public system”

Charter leaders constantly—CONSTANTLY—claim that they are competing with public schools. They say competition is beneficial, breaks the public-school monopoly and blah-blah-blah. This is an ongoing refrain in the charter world. So your view is contrarian in that area.

“You’re going to have a very hard sell convincing a conscientious and informed parent that the best way to ensure a good pulic education for their child is to stick with the traditiuonal structure and pedagogy even if you fund it better.”

Agreed. That’s why you don’t hear a lot of people saying what I’m saying, even though many others know it to be true.

” I am not involved in charter because I have a sympathy with a national movement but because the local charter school was the best of my districts schools.”

Yes, of course. But you ARE part of that national movement, whether or not you want to be.

“I am in no way empowering anti-public education or aiming towards privitization of the schools.”

We have to agree to disagree here. Every time the Center for Education Reform, the Hoover Institution et al. cite your school (I believe it’s about 30 miles from me) as a huge success, it adds impetus to their attacks on public education.
“I think changing our public schools to better serve their communities and give parents more involvement and a greater stake in the local schools is vital to fighting against vouchers and public financing for religious schools and the real assaults on public education.”

I agree, but not in this way.

“I will thank you not to imply conservative political motives or goals I definitively do not share to me.”

I can see that you don’t share them. But in my opinion, by supporting and strengthening the charter movement, you are unwittingly giving them strength, momentum, impetus. I’m sorry to say that, but I strongly believe it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  178
Joined  2007-06-01

Caroline,

It is very clear to me (and anyone else who spends the time to read this thread) where you stand on this issue.

All your retorts lead back to the same agenda.

I have a personal philosophy that has served me well over the years.  I would rather find like-minded people who share my point of view, and work with them, than attempt to convince someone who has already made up their mind to work against me.

You have chosen to paint this picture as black and white.  You have firmly seated yourself in the righteous position, beyond reproach. 

You have a right to do and think whatever you want.  I am not here to throw stones at you or anyone else in this debate.

My concern is for children who do not do well in a traditional school environment.  There are many, more than most people would care to admit.  And they have a wide variety of needs.  To assume that one kind of school can handle this array of needs is not a reasonable approach in my opinion.  Having that opinion does not place me in the ranks of some Right Wing conspiracy led by the Bush Administration to destroy the public school system as we know it.  Nor does it make me an unwitting accomplice in that conspiracy.

As an Atheist, I have come to that conclusion through reason, not emotion, not political agenda, not dogmatic response.

My response to the evidence I have seen, is to support those who understand this, accept the reality of our circumstances, and endeavor to find a solution.  Regardless of where that solution presents itself. The fact that there are conflicts, difficulties and roadblocks to making it a reality does not surprise or intimidate me.

When it comes to providing a quality education to kids who struggle in school, I have no political agenda.  It disturbs me greatly to see this effort bogged down in this kind of debate.  It represents the worst kind of behavior we as parents, and responsible adults can display as an example for our children.  It’s petty, and in the end fruitless.

Caroline, I wish you could see your way to understanding what is at the core of this struggle.  It ISN’T money.  But I will not dwell on it, I need to remain focused on the goals that many parents like me have recognized as key to the success of a great many kids.

 Signature 

“Life is a Blur of Republicans and Meat” - Zippy

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

I think the issue is not whether one public school drains resources from another public school.”

My opinion is that that IS an issue, though.

I guess I’d like some details about why you think this is true. Despite the issue of overhead I cited above, in general charter schools often receive less funding per pupil than traditional public schools due to the way special program funidng, such as CA’s Class Size Reduction program, is allocated. I can refer you to several studies that support this, though I suspect you will accuse them of being wrong as they are reported by groups that support charter schools generally. So while I agree that equity in resources among public schools is important, you have by no means convinced mean that in fact charter schools are the funds-leeches you suggest.

But frankly, I don’t see any clear-cut innovations going on in charters

My own daughter’s school is clearly organized very differently from the other schools in her district. The mixed-age classrooms, the level of parent involvement, the emphasis on individuality in how students approach material rather than strict adherence to teaching for standardized tests (though there is some of that too since the school must participate in the same assessment as the others) are all examples of things done differently at her school. Now, there may be some experimentation such as this in traditional public schools elsewhere, but in the looking I did both in our district and nearby, I see little evidence that these schools are significantly different in how they are run than when I went to school here, so I’m not sure you are correct in stating that charter schools make no innovations. Any support for this statement?

Charter leaders constantly—CONSTANTLY—claim that they are competing with public schools. They say competition is beneficial, breaks the public-school monopoly and blah-blah-blah. This is an ongoing refrain in the charter world. So your view is contrarian in that area.

There may be some of this rhetoric because, as you pointed out, the Right sees the possibility of turning the idea of charters into one that serves their anti-government, libertarian economics notions. But this is not what charter schools HAVE to be about, and it is certainly not what ours is about. I suspect you and I would agree on the danger and inadvisability of for-profit corporate run charter schools, but again you are playing “guilt-by-association” here. Charter schools have a great potential to meet the needs of students of all backgrounds, within the context of a free open-enrollment public school system, in a way traditional schools often do not. The answer to the right-wing attempt to hijack the concept is not to discard the concept but to fight to maintain it in line with this potential and these goals.

I once had to defend a rash statement I made about not respecting the American flag because to me it had become a symbol of jingoistic conservative politics. It was gently pointed out to me that perhaps a better response than giving up on the symbol was to take it back as a symbol for the kind of values I think America should be about despite the tragic, in my view, course of our history since the election of Ronald Reagan. I am not, as I say, an activist for charter schools generally, but I think they have potential to be one way of improving the public school system and providing a better education to all of our children. Sure, they can be made into a form of privitization of education, but not if we don’t allow it. And sure, traditional public schools could, perhaps, if better funded and supported make changes in each district to serve the needs of the local community better. I remember both the traditional ruler-wielding teachers from myh CA public school and the idealistic youngsters who tried to find new ways to teach. But conservatives are occassionally (usually accidentally) correct, and in the case of a statewide system pulled in 400 different directions by different ideologies and constituencies they are right in suggesting that experimentation and innovation are hard to come by. Instead of the mania for standardized testing, back to basics, focusing on the future economic productivity of our children, etc, we need to find creative, yet empirically testable , ways of changing our pedagogy, and I think locally-controlled charter schools can be one tool for doing that. I’m sure, since you dislike the charter idea yet claim to support such innovation, that you must have other ideas, and I would be interested to hear them. But I don’t view charter schools as in fundamental competition with traditional schools, with one winner and one loser, so I don’t see why a variety of approaches could not coexist. In fact, since no one idea is ever perfect, it seems to me the only way to improve education is to try many approaches, with an eye to the varying needs of differewnt populations of students.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

“Despite the issue of overhead I cited above, in general charter schools often receive less funding per pupil than traditional public schools…”

If you’ve seen my previous comments, you already know that until SB319 took effect in fall ‘06, districts were required to fund charter schools at a certain amount, which in some (number unknown) cases meant they had to provide a per-pupil amount to charter schools significantly higher than they could provide to their traditional public schools. This would vary district by distrct. I know that in Novato USD and San Francisco USD it meant that charter high schools got $800 more per student per year than non-charter high schools.

The various funding streams from state and federal sources are impossibly byzantine for a layperson like me to figure out, so I can’t tell you the overall funding comparisons.

You are correct that the studies that purport to show charters getting less funding come from the charter lobby—which is bounteously supported by the right-wing think tanks—and is clearly not an impartial source nor one I would trust. It’s not just that I would accuse them of being WRONG—I would accuse them of being dishonest. At the district-funding level, charter schools were indeed “funds-leeches,” or why would SB319 have been needed to rectify the situation? Howling piteously about how underfunded they are is a core strategy of the right-wing charter lobby (even as private funders like Gates shower them with megabucks).

The California Department of Education, as I think I pointed out, will bestow $450,000 on anyone who walks in the door saying “I want to start a charter school”—practically no questions asked, no receipts needed. That’s just one example of how the money rains down upon them.

“The mixed-age classrooms, the level of parent involvement, the emphasis on individuality in how students approach material rather than strict adherence to teaching for standardized tests (though there is some of that too since the school must participate in the same assessment as the others) are all examples of things done differently at her school.”

All these things go on in non-charter traditional public schools. My children’s non-charter urban public school had numerous mixed-age classes, for example, dating back to the early ‘90s and possibly before. So I’m looking for an actual innovation pioneered by a charter school. When I asked this of Caprice Young, California’s top charter spokesperson, at an informational panel on charter schools, she stammered for a while and then came up with “language programs.” I think I’ve heard of a few of those in traditional public schools. I still haven’t heard of any innovations (and telling me I have to prove their absence is a bit off-kilter—if charters have pioneered any innovations, charter advocates should be able to proudly cite them).

I believe that the right HAS hijacked the concept of charters and turned them into one that serves their anti-government, libertarian economics notions. That’s the basis for my objections. The other big purpose is busting the teachers’ unions, which is not a progressive, liberal ideal either.

The faction that wants to use charter schools as a weapon to privatize public education is the one with the clout, money and power. So I think the notion that right-thinking people can just stop them is overly optimistic. And I strongly disagree that charter schools are the only place where experimentation can happen (as I say, I don’t see charter schools pioneering any innovations at all)—I see different approaches and innovations happening at non-charters all the time. Of course it’s essential to try a variety of approaches, but when we see one that’s directly harming public education, I think supporters of public education have a moral obligation not to turn a blind eye.

Obviously we need to agree to disagree here, and I have had this discussion with other charter-school parents with the same result, but I still feel the obligation to try to puncture the mightily funded myths if I can.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Clearly you feel strongly, and I respect that, but it’s not a substitute for rational, fact-based arguments. You reject out of hand the funding data from a source that supports charter schools, but then offer a no-longer existing discepancy as your only evidence that charter schools drain funding from other schools. I’ve said repeatedly that descrepancies in funding would be unfair, but you haven’t made any effort to support your contention they exist. As for the Dept of Ed handing out money willy nilly, I know enough about state education law to know that’s an exaggeration, doubtless intended to make a point but still inaccurate. The issue of how schools are funded IS complex, and maybe no data is perfect, but I can the distinct impression that your commitment to the idea that charter schools are bad for public education is so great that you would not be open to any evidence that they are, in fact, often not as expensive for the state as traditional schools.

As for experimentation, all I can say is that the charter school in my district is very different from the other schools I considered. So maybe experimentation is possible in the traditional model, but it doesn’t fit my personal experiences with the system to date. In any case, if you state “I don’t see any clear-cut innovations going on in charters, ” then yes you have to prove that statement is accurate if you want me to accept it. I do see innovations in my local charter school that are not happening in other schools in the district. I will say clearly that this does not necessarily mean such innovation cannot happen in traditional schools as well, and your experience seems to suggest it does. So maybe innovation is not limited to charter schools, but it certainly occurs there, and this still does not seem to support the idea that such schools are a danger to public education. You claim charter schools have nothing good to offer, and yet you complain about right wing charter advocates holding my daughter’s school up as a model of success because that furthers their cause.

As a lifetime (though no longer active) member of the Office Workers and Professional Employees Union, I certainly support unions in general, though I won’t go so far as to say the official union position on every issue is infalliable. Unions do generally oppose charter laws, but I don’t see any reason, apart from the kind of knee-jerk ideological opposition you’re expressing, that public charter schools need to be seen as a threat to teachers as employees (and again I reiterate my oppositon to for-profit corporations running charter schools, which I think is a case in which your contention would most likely prove true). The teachers I interact with at our local school are hardly interchangeable cogs in a corporate machine. While I can’t speak to how well they are compensated, they have have great autonomy and individual control over how they teach and have, in general, been with the school for a long time, so they do not seem to be unfairly treated or unhappy in general. Unions have traditionally been necessary to safeguard the rights of workers against the interests of large corporate or government employers, and our local charter school hardly counts as one of these.

I don’t have any particular ideological commitment to charter schools as an idea. I DO have a commitment to public schools, which is why I selected one, rather than a private school, for my child. I could afford a private school, with some difficulty, but I have no reason to believe my daughter would receive a better education, and I certainly would be contributing to the status of public schools as “second-class” if I sent her to a private school. I am obliged, as a parent, to send her to a school that will provide the best possible environment for her to learn, grow, and mature, and my goal is for the public schools to be this environement for her and all children. Reality is that this is not always the case. My own experience in the public schools was quite varied depending on where we could afford to live when I was a child. Underfunded schools, especially in districts largely serving the poor and working class, do not live up to the standards we both believe they should. While the major reason for this, I think we would agree, is that we as a state community aren’t willing to spend the money we need to on education for everyone, some of the blame also lies with how such schools are organized and run and with the administrative and pedagogical models used in them. I still don’t think you’ve demonstrated that giving local communities more leeway to experiment with how to organize and run schools and how to teach is a bad idea.

You seem to have an ideological opposition to charter schools based on your feelings that they are inextricably ties up with right wing politics. As much as I consider myself an old-fashioned liberal, I try not to let my ideology automatically prejudice me against unfamiliar ideas. I try to judge them on their merits. I’m interested in the basis for your opposition to charter schools since we seem to otherwise share a general political point of view. But you really don’t offer much more than guilt-by-association and unsubstantiated arguments about inequitable funding of charter and traditional schools. The specific agenda you see as intrinsic to the charter idea is certainly not what I see in the school my daughter attends, and the teachers there are not unhappy or poorly treated. So I suppose we can agree to disagree, but I’m not sure exactly why we disagree since we share an underlying political slant and neither of us seems to have anything like hard facts to support the idea of charters as a good or bad thing for public education. If you want to puncture myths, you need good sharp facts.

In any case, there’s plenty wrong with state education policy and funding we can agree on, so I suppose there’s no point in hammering away repeatedly at our differences. We can focus on kicking out all the republicans first and then bash away at each other after that’s achieved.  :grin:

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

“As for the Dept of Ed handing out money willy nilly, I know enough about state education law to know that’s an exaggeration, doubtless intended to make a point but still inaccurate.”

Actually, I was so struck by the number of would-be charter operators who were reported as winning $450,000 grants for startup costs that I called the CDE a few months ago to ask, and they told me the criteria and documentation requirements are very minimal.

I don’t claim that charter schools have nothing good to offer. But I do say they’re a harmful force. In my opinion they do far more damage than good.

You’re failing to notice the charter movement’s intent to bust teachers’ unions. That’s a PRIME goal throughout the movement. An Envision Schools supporter recently posted a blast at teachers’ unions on my blog, as one recent example.

I understand this is making you uncomfortable, but progressive/liberal, pro-public-education and pro-union ideals are in direct conflict with support of charter schools. At the core of the charter movement, it is a right-wing, anti-public-education, anti-union movement. There is very little distance between the for-profits such as Edison and the rest of the charter movement.

“Unions have traditionally been necessary to safeguard the rights of workers against the interests of large corporate or government employers, and our local charter school hardly counts as one of these.”

The claim that “our workers don’t need unions” is a standard anti-union line.

“You seem to have an ideological opposition to charter schools based on your feelings that they are inextricably ties up with right wing politics.”

Yes, and it’s a well-informed one. I’ve been researching charter schools for years. I started out thinking they were OK, and the more I learned the more disturbing I found them. You have a personal stake in being unwilling to hear any of this. On the other hand, I have no basis for having a bias. I came to my viewpoint based on information and research.

“As much as I consider myself an old-fashioned liberal, I try not to let my ideology automatically prejudice me against unfamiliar ideas. I try to judge them on their merits.”

I do too, which is why I arrived at this viewpoint after extensive research.

We do apparently share a political viewpoint othersie, but I see liberal ideals and support for charter schools as in direct conflict with each other. Obviously, I understand why a satisfied charter school parent would not want to hear any of this.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

You have a personal stake in being unwilling to hear any of this.

Paronizing and untrue. I am discussing this with you precisely because I am interested. The fact that my personal experience contradicts the assertions you make about charter schools in general doesn’t mean you are wrong, but it is a piece of evidence against your position that has to be dealt with. You keep seeing every charter school as part of a national cabal with sinister intent, but our school is run locally (which is part of the point of charter schools), so I don’t see why you don’t think it is possible for different schools to have different agendas. If you start assuming that people cannot be convinced because they have a pre-existing bias or inflexible ideology, you’re not going to make any hjeadway against the ideas you’re opposed to. And if you present your position as ideological and inflexible, as you do, you undercut your own argument by coming off as a smug zealot who’s not interested in talking to anyone who doesn’t see things your way. (not that I’m saying you are such, only that your style of argument creates that impression)

You keep talking about how well-informed and well-researched your position is. I can understand you don’t have the time to repeat that process in this forum, but yhou haven’t presented much in the way opf research or data, only assertions and reasonable, but unproven arguments. You may have started with an open mind, but you clearly have an inflexible position at this point. If you don’t have the time or energy to offer more than repeated assertions that you’re right, which unfortunately I can’t simply take as fact on their own, perhaps you could suggest some specific reading or sources of information I could go to on the subject?

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

I already gave you the Center for Education Reform’s website link. Reading that will give you a very clear view of the right-wing, anti-public-education, Bush-administration-linked viewpoint of the nation’s top pro-charter-school advocacy voice.

http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=section&pSectionID=5&CFID=7089297&CFTOKEN=89434524

One excellent book on the subject is:

The Charter School Dust-Up
Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement

Martin Carnoy, Rebecca Jacobsen, Lawrence Mishel, and Richard Rothstein

You can read about the book here:

http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/book_charter_school

I have a Google News alert set up for “charter school,” so I skim charter news from around the country almost daily.

Of course, just taking note that every time President Bush, Margaret Spellings, Gov. Schwarzenegger and other prominent Republicans and administration voices make a publicized school visit it’s to a charter school SHOULD bear out my point. Now that I’ve pointed this out, keep an eye and you’ll see that that is always the case.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  21
Joined  2007-06-24

Back to the topic of this thread, the rental of a San Francisco Unified School District site to the merged Marin School of Arts & Technology/Metro Arts & Technology campus is sparking some controversy. Below is an account I wrote of that portion of last night’s SFUSD Board of Ed meeting for the sfschools listserve:

Some surprise sparks flew at this evening’s (Tuesday, June 26) SFUSD Board of Ed meeting
over renting the former Newcomer High School site in Pacific Heights
for one year to a charter school comprising SFUSD’s Metro Arts & Tech
merged with now-defunct Marin School Arts & Technology (MSAT) of
Novato. Both are charter schools run by Envision Schools.

By a 4-3 vote, the board approved a resolution supporting the one-year
tenancy. An aide to San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and several Pacific
Heights residents, concerned about traffic from an influx of Marin
students, spoke heatedly against the arrangement. They said the plan
for Metro to merge with MSAT had been sprung on them with no
discussion, despite promises by SFUSD to communicate plans for the
site. Several BOE commissioners said the reason they had not
communicated with neighbors is that Envision had not mentioned the
merger plan to them. Others said Envision spokespeople may have left
them a message.

All the Pacific Heights neighbors said they had supported the
occupancy of the site by Metro, but that they believed that 100-plus
commuter students driving from Marin would increase traffic and
parking congestion. An Envision spokesperson promised that a chartered
bus would transport students and would drop them off some distance
from the school. He also described Metro several times as
“underenrolled,” which was surprising as Envision schools have been
reported to have waiting lists.

With next year’s SFUSD budget taking up most of the agenda, the Metro
site was hardly the most important issue, but as I’m one of he few
people who has been following it, I’m giving some background (though
there are holes in my information too).

Metro has been located at a North Bernal church site for its one year
of existence. Its stated mission, like that of Envision Schools, is to
serve low-income students who are likely to be the first generation in
their family to attend college.

Metro reportedly turned down an offered site in the Bayview in favor
of the Newcomer site, although the Bayview represents the community
Metro committed to serve (while Pacific Heights is the wealthiest
neighorhood in the city).

Envision’s MSAT, in Novato, just graduated its first class. MSAT,
located in one of the nation’s richest counties, is mostly white and
reports zero low-income students. Novato’s two non-charter high
schools enroll more students of color and do serve low-income
students: Novato High lists 23.7% low-income and San Marin High lists
14% low-income.

On June 5, it was announced that MSAT was shutting down and merging
with Metro at the Newcomer site. A couple of days before that, MSAT
had announced that it was severing from Envision and would be run
autonomously. The revised announcement was accompanied by many
statements blaming the Novato Unified School District for the school’s
demise (Envision took out a full-page ad in the Marin
Independent-Journal to make that point). Currently, more than 100 MSAT
students are expected to commute to Metro.

http://www.marinij.com/marin/ci_6070892

SFUSD commissioners Kim, Mar, Maufas and Sanchez voted for the lease
proposal; Mendoza, Wynns and Yee opposed it. The three who voted no
voiced concerns supporting the neighbors and about the influx of
out-of-district students. Wynns noted that non-charter schools may
also enroll out-of-district students, but that they have to be
approved by SFUSD, while charters have full enrollment autonomy.
Mendoza wondered why Envision had turned down the Bayview site for
Metro in favor of one located far across the city from the community
it is supposed to serve, and voiced concern about whether the Marin
students will continue to attend after the school completes its year
at the Newcomer site and moves again. The commissioners who voted yes
said they shared those concerns.

Commissioner Wynns proposed adding language to the lease clearly
limiting it to one year, which was done with no objections. The
commissioners promised to meet with Alioto-Pier and the neighbors to
discuss the plans further.

{For those who want more information, here’s a bit more background on
the issue.)

One SFUSD commissioner this evening described MSAT has having been
shut down by the Novato (NUSD) school board and was corrected by
Wynns. News reports indicate that Wynns is correct: It was Envision’s
decision to shut MSAT down, not NUSD’s—for the stated reason that
NUSD was not being cooperative in helping MSAT find a site.

An Envision official at this evening’s meeting claimed that Envision
would have alerted the BOE and the neighbors if it had been clear that
so many MSAT students would enroll in Metro, indicating that the
number was a surprise. But actually, Envision told the Marin
Independent Journal for a June 5 story (link above) that as many as
170 MSAT students might commute to Metro, and has encouraged MSAT
students to do that.

There has been friction between MSAT and NUSD from the beginning. For
the first three years of MSAT’s existence, California charter school
law mandated that districts pay charter schools a set amount per
student. In NUSD, this amounted to $800 per year per student more than
Novato’s two non-charter high schools received. (This same discrepancy
existed in SFUSD.) This meant that all students at Novato’s
non-charter high schools were sacrificing to subsidize MSAT students
(including a reported 50 percent who lived outside NUSD).

NUSD approached state Sen. Carole Migden, who authored SB319, a bill
remedying the inequity. It took effect in fall `06, so now school
districts don’t have to pay charter schools more in district funds
than non-charter schools get. (Gov. Schwarzenegger, a fervent charter
supporter, signed the bill on the basis that the inequity was
discouraging school districts from approving charters.)

MSAT collapsed after one year of functioning without that extra
subsidy. It’s not known whether the loss of that extra subsidy was a
factor in the school’s demise.

Unlike MSAT, Metro does serve a student population that’s mostly
low-income students of color. Statistically, low-income students of
color post lower academic achievement than high-income white students.
It’s statistically likely that the influx of high-income students will
significantly raise Metro’s test scores.

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 4
2