John Oliver’s rant –
Not only are Charter Schools educationally lagging the Public School Districts which they supposedly serve, new evidence is emerging that their sometimes strict, and in some cases severe discipline is resulting in up to 8 times the violent incident level than hat experienced in Public Schools.
Meanwhile, charter advocates continue to criticize the safety of traditional public schools.
A few weeks after The New York Times released a controversial video of a Success Academy Charter School teacher lashing out at a student, New York City’s deep-pocketed charter school advocates are looking to shift the public narrative on who is committing violence in city schools.
Over the last few weeks, Families for Excellent Schools, a charter school lobbying and advocacy group with close ties to Success Academy, has placed TV ads, held a press conference, and taken to social media, claiming New York City public schools are in a violent “state of emergency.” The charter school campaign appears to be a response to the public backlash that Success Academy has received for its controversial disciplinary approach.
Taking state data, which includes “violent” incidents not involving the police, Families for Excellent Schools asserts that between 2014 and 2015 schools suffered a 23 percent uptick in violence. The public action was meant toundermine New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who recently claimed school violence has gone down, thanks to his administration’s softer disciplinary approach.
A Nation analysis of the charter school group’s data, however, suggests the move may backfire, since the numbers also show that charter schools themselves reported a far higher spike in incidents of school violence, 54 percent, more than double that of the public school average between the 2014 and 2015 school years.
Breaking the data down further, The Nation also found that while NYC public schools, perhaps responding to the district’s disciplinary reforms, actually dropped in nonviolent offenses like “criminal mischief” and “other disruptive incidents” at -6 percent and -23 percent, respectively, charter schools had a 65 percent surge in reported incidents of “criminal mischief” and a 33 percent surge in “other disruptive incidents.” Notably, charter schools also had far higher reported surges in drug and weapons possession incidents, at 53 percent and 27 percent respectively, whereas public schools only had 5 percent and 9 percent jumps for the same categories.
New York City charter school students represent a relatively small amount of the city’s overall population, and therefore make up only 4 percent of total violent incidents in New York City schools, but these drastic disparities raise questions about how charter schools’ controversial disciplinary cultures relate to the dramatic increase in reported school violence.
Brenda Shufelt, a recently retired librarian who served public school and Success Academy Charter School students at a colocated school library in Harlem, said that as charter schools rapidly expand, they may be taking in more high-needs kids, many of whom cannot conform to one-size-fits-all disciplinary approaches.
“In my experience, what would often happen is that charter school students would be so rigidly controlled that the kids would periodically blow up,” says Shufelt. “At PS 30, some of our kids would have meltdowns, usually because of problems at home, but I never saw kids melt down in the way they did in charter schools. They were just so despairing, feeling like they could not do this. I was told by two custodians, they had never had so much vomit to clean up from kindergarten and elementary classes.”
Examining the 10 charter schools with the highest reported incidents of violence in 2014 and 2015, The Nation also found that reported incidents escalated 485 percent last year over the previous year, more than four times faster than the growth of violent incidents for public schools of the same category.
Of the top six charter school sites with the most reported growth in incidents of violence from 2014 to 2015, four were KIPP charter schools, part of a nationally heralded charter chain that has 11 locations in New York. In recent years, KIPP has drawn headlines for its disciplinary regimen, which often includes precise control of students’ physical movements, intricate behavioral systems of reward and punishment, and enforced silence throughout school hallways. In 2013, a KIPP school in Manhattan made news, after a kindergartner and first grader had anxiety attacks, triggered by the school’s practice of repeatedly locking students in custom-designed time-out closets. KIPP refused to end the practice after the controversy and did not respond to Nation inquiries about the spike in reported incidents.*
Charter Schools were initially set up throughout the South as a methodology to try and defeat integration and Civil Rights. The function of todays’ hyper-segregated Charter Schools really isn’t any different.
Missouri law forbids black students in certain districts from attending, echoing charter schools’ racist history
The legacy of Jim Crow laws lives on, five decades after they officially ended.
Edmund Lee is a third-grader at Gateway Science Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, a charter school he has attended since he was in kindergarten. Yet his family recently learned that he will no longer be able to attend the charter school because he is black.
Lee’s family is moving to a new school district, where decades-old state laws do not allow black students to attend charter schools.
“When I read the guidelines I was in shock,” Lee’s mother LaShieka White told a local Fox affilliate. “I was crying.”
School officials say they are unable to override the state law. But the school’s principal and staff have come out in support of the young boy and his family.
“To not see his face in the halls next year would be extremely sad,” Lee’s third grade teacher told local media. “The family is saying they want to stay. I don’t understand why they can’t.”
The young boy’s mother created a Change.org petition, imploring Missouri state officials: “Don’t let race determine my son’s enrollment.”
“My son Edmund is an awesome young man. He currently has a 3.83 GPA, and has above average testing scores in language arts, math, and science. Edmund is very loving and the first to extend a helping hand if a fellow student needs help,” White writes in the petition.
“So imagine our shock when we found out Edmund would no longer be allowed to attend Gateway Science Academy because he is African-American,” she continues.
“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should not deny my son admission based on his race,” White adds. “We are going to show Edmund that his parents, community, and people across the country will fight for what is right.”
As of Thursday morning, more than 20,000 people had signed the petition. Some staff members at the charter school have signed it as well.
This incident echoes the racist history of charter schools, which were used at the time of desegregation in order to continue running de facto white-only schools.
Critics say charter schools — which are strongly backed by large corporations and hedge funds — not only undermine public education and leave poor students with access to less resources and opportunities; they also reinforce racism and segregation.
The Civil Rights Project, a project at the University of California, Los Angeles, found in a 2010 report titled “Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards” that, while “segregation for blacks among all public schools has been increasing for nearly two decades, black students in charter schools are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in intensely segregated settings.”
“At the national level, 70 percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority charter schools (which enroll 90-100 percent of students from under-represented minority backgrounds), or twice as many as the share of intensely segregated black students in traditional public schools,” the report noted.
The Civil Rights Project points out, “Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools.”
About time someone figured this one out. Charter Schools should be answerable to the same rules and measuring stick as Public Schools. People my age have little belief that the purpose of the Charters is in any way to improve the education of black children.
After nearly a year of deliberation, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional, creating chaos for hundreds of families whose children have already started classes.
The ruling — believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country — overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.
Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall, in addition to one that opened in Seattle last year…
In the ruling, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards.Therefore, “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” Madsen wrote.
Justice Mary E. Fairhurst agreed with the majority that charter schools aren’t common schools, but argued in a partial dissenting opinion that the state “can constitutionally support charter schools through the general fund.”
She was joined by Justices Steven C. González and Sheryl Gordon McCloud.
The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.”
The Washington Education Association was joined by the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.
“The Supreme Court has affirmed what we’ve said all along — charter schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these charter schools spend taxpayer funding,” said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association.
“To tell you the truth, I cried. It’s been a long hard fight,” said Melissa Westbrook, an education blogger who chaired the campaign opposing the charter-school law in 2012.
Joshua Halsey, executive director of the state charter-school commission, criticized the court’s timing.
“The court had this case in front of them since last October and waiting until students were attending public charter schools to issue their ruling is unconscionable,” Halsey said. “We are most concerned about the almost 1,000 students and families attending charter schools and making sure they understand what this ruling means regarding their public-school educational options.”
The state Attorney General’s Office said attorneys are reviewing the decision, but had no comment Friday.
David Postman, communications director for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the governor’s office is reviewing the court’s decision and will consult with the Attorney General’s Office.
“But until we have a thorough analysis, we can’t say what that means for schools operating today,” Postman said.
Under the 2012 law, up to 40 new charter schools could have opened in Washington over a five-year period.
In December 2013, King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel struck down the part of the law that would have made charter schools eligible for state construction money, but essentially cleared the way for the state commission and the Spokane school district to authorize new schools. Spokane is the only school district with such authority.
All sides expected the case to reach the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last October.
Washington State Charter School Commission Chair Steve Sundquist said that commissioners anticipated a range of possible outcomes affecting funding, but didn’t draw up a plan to deal with a complete reversal.
“We were not expecting a ruling as deeply disappointing as this one,” Sundquist said.
He said the commission’s lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office will be meeting Saturday morning with other attorneys to discuss options.
The attorney for the plaintiffs, Paul Lawrence, doesn’t think there’s much more legal work to do on the issue. But he acknowledged that much has to be sorted out regarding the nine charter schools that are already up and running.
“The bottom line is that the initiative is unconstitutional so the charter schools that were authorized under the charter-school initiative can’t be publicly funded,” Lawrence said. “If there’s any avenue, it’s going to be through some act of the Legislature.”
This may seem like ancient history to some folks, but I lived through some of this in an adjoining county – and I’m not retirement age yet.
Desegregation in Virginia, as I as it was in other southern states was a battle. In Prince Edwards County, only about 25 miles from Washington, DC. it extended into the longest battle in the country.
Desegregation of schools didn’t happen overnight, and some counties actively resisted until the bitter end. There was the requisite violence by the usual suspects, as well as threats and intimidation. One of my cousins lost 4 years of High School because the county just shut all the schools down, instead of desegregating. He would get a GED through a program sponsored by the local churches for black kids caught up in this, because why go back to high school at the age of 18, to graduate at 22? The white folks didn’t suffer, they opened segregated Charter Schools.
The Prince Edward Foundation created a series of private schools to educate the county’s white children in 1959 after shutting down the Public School System in the County. These schools were supported by tuition grants from the state and tax credits from the county. Prince Edward Academy became the prototype for all-white private schools formed to protest school integration.No provision was made for educating the county’s black children. Some got schooling with relatives in nearby communities or at makeshift schools in church basements. Others were educated out of state by groups such as the Society of Friends. In 1963–64, the Prince Edward Free School picked up some of the slack. But some pupils missed part or all of their education for five years.
Not until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed Virginia’s tuition grants to private education, did Prince Edward County reopen its schools, on an integrated basis. This event marked the real end of Massive Resistance.
And you have to wonder why folks my age despise Charter Schools…
I was sitting in the dark den of the last living founder of the white private school I had attended, an academy established after public schools in my Virginia hometown were closed in 1959 to avoid desegregation. Having worked as a reporter for years, I was used to uncomfortable conversations. But this one felt different. This conversation was personal.
I wanted to interview Robert E. Taylor about desegregation in Prince Edward County and to find out how he felt about it in 2006, decades later. Weeks before his death, he told me he was still a “segregationist” and expressed no remorse for the school closings. Breathing with the help of an oxygen machine, he used tired stereotypes to describe black teenagers in my hometown as dating white teens, impregnating them, and leaving the teenage girls’ families with “pinto” babies that nobody would want.
Taylor was talking about me. I grew up in this damaged town, but left for the West Coast and married a multiracial man of American-Indian descent. We were thinking about having kids—mixed-race children that Taylor pitied and reviled. I had, on some level, defied him and other white county leaders including my own grandfather by embracing what they most feared. White leaders wanted to protect the integrity of the white race and they had believed that integrating the schools would lead to blacks and whites dating, marrying, and having mixed-race children.
White county leaders in Prince Edward took one of the most dramatic steps in the country to prevent that from happening. Facing a court order to desegregate the public schools, white officials instead voted not to fund them—an option Prince Edward officials had considered for years. A 1951 walkout by black students to protest the conditions at the county’s black high school had resulted in a lawsuit that was later folded into the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.White leaders worried that their little community, in the heart of Virginia, would be held up as an example to the rest of the nation and required to integrate its schools early. Bolstered by Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr., the powerful Virginia politician who suggested rejecting Brown and the town newspaper, The Farmville Herald, Prince Edward altered the way it funded its schools. By switching to a month-by-month budgeting process, county leaders would be able to cut off funding and shut down the schools quickly if required by the courts to desegregate. Meanwhile, white businessmen made quiet plans to establish a private school for their children. When the public schools were locked and chained in the summer of 1959, white leaders sprang into action. By the time Labor Day rolled around, the county’s church basements and social clubs had been outfitted with desks that white volunteers made from scrap materials. These schools, funded with a combination of donations and public monies, were far from perfect—tiny classrooms were scattered around the region without cafeterias or playgrounds. Yet these schools showed the lengths white families were willing to go to avoid having their children attend classes with black students.Black families, meanwhile, debated what to do with their children. No one knew how long the schools would be closed; black leaders didn’t think it would be more than a year or two. Opening another private school would have contradicted what they were trying to accomplish. Some parents who had resources sent their older kids across the state line to a North Carolina college that had agreed to educate some of Prince Edward County’s high-school students. Others asked relatives to take in their children; some even allowed their kids to live with strangers so they could attend school. Some snuck their children over county lines to be educated in adjacent communities. But the vast majority of children stayed home and their only formal education would come in the form of church training centers. There, for a few hours a day, volunteers taught the kids basic skills. Many children simply played or, if they were old enough, went to work in the fields with their parents and pick tobacco. Some would never return to school. State leaders did not come to the defense of the black children and their families. The Farmville Herald and other newspapers across the state supported the county’s decision. A lawsuit to reopen the schools slowly made its way through the courts, as black children—and some whites—went year after year without educations. It would take another Supreme Court decision to force county leaders to reopen the schools in 1964.
When I was growing up, I knew this story in only the most general of ways. I didn’t have black neighbors, black friends, or black teachers. I hadn’t a clue how the closures had affected the only black person I knew as a child—my family’s housekeeper, Elsie Lancaster. Elsie worked for my grandparents when my mother was a child then worked for my parents for decades, too. She had sent her own daughter Gwen to live with an aunt in Massachusetts when the schools closed. My grandparents never even asked about Gwen after Elsie had accompanied her to Cambridge.
I attended the white academy my grandparents had helped found. I was entering eighth grade when Prince Edward Academy first admitted black students in 1986 in order to have its nonprofit status restored by the federal government. After college, I worked as a journalist, moving to Oregon, California, and Massachusetts. I began to recognize the privileged circumstances in which I had been raised and took an interest in writing about marginalized communities—people of color, immigrants, and those living in poverty. After I met my husband, Jason, and we thought about having children, the story of my hometown took on more meaning. I knew that the history of my hometown would be our kids’ history, too.
When I delved into Farmville’s past, it became clear that I couldn’t just blame my hometown for the shameful school closures. My family was also at fault. During the course of my research, I discovered that my late grandfather, S.C. Patteson, had been a founding member of the Farmville chapter of the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties, which sought to prevent desegregation.
As I worked to describe what had happened in my hometown before I was born, affected students opened up and shared the stories of their childhoods, their wounds still raw. White members of the community—many of whom knew my grandfather—were more reticent to speak with me. By telling the story of my hometown, I was picking at a scab that was never allowed to heal. Even my high school history teacher shut down the conversation, suggesting the story had already been told.
And yet the history of the county is still relevant. Decades later, the impact of those years of missed education can still be felt through the county’s 16-percent illiteracy rate, four points higher than the state average, and 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. And the once-closed school district is now a failing system. Declining school enrollment has left it with a steadily falling budget and supervisors have declined to raise taxes to fix the problem. The private school—now renamed and open to students of all races—is still a symbol of segregation to some of those denied an education…(More)…
This one is strange – even for the conservative types deep in the Red Zone. Quite obviously it proves Darwin was wrong in that his theory was only half advanced. Not only is there evolution…There is de-evolution as in the case of these nutjobs.
Now Bobby Jindal has been listed in a number of periodicals as the latest, greatest nonwhite hope for the Republican Party. It has been a tradition in the Republican Party since Bush 1, that the VP slot was reserved for someone of no great intellectual wattage. Except in the Bush II Presidency where that was reversed. Bobbity is light years ahead of the Sno’ Ho, but the Swamp Heaux has his own set of problems – one being the historic meltdown when appointed by his party as their spokesman to give the counter-State of the Union Speech on behalf of the Reprobates. Now Bobbity has a second problem – convincing the rest of America that if by some stroke of ill wind he became President – the next move wouldn’t be converting your child’s school to a Religious Whakademia.
Now I’ve already discussed some of the oddities of these Charter Schools being set up in Louisiana , such as the disbelief in Boolean Math (If God had meant you to only count to 2, he would have given you only two fingers instead of two hands!), and Geometry and Trigonometry as the “Devil’s Workshop”….
But some of the cults have even reached for evidence that the fictitious Loch Ness Monster – is a “dinosaur” – disproving Evolution.
Since none of the stories about Nessy I’ve heard actually include her actually eating anyone – we have to assume that the tourism business in Scotland is about to take a leap, as the newly programmed children of Louisiana come to “swim with Nessy” in the Fjord during summer vacation. Of course Godzilla is also ample evidence of the existence of dinosaurs on earth. Jurassic Park…Indeed…
THOUSANDS of American school pupils are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real – in an attempt by religious teachers to disprove Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Pupils attending privately-run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature.
Thousands of children are to receive publicly-funded vouchers enabling them to attend the schools – which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum.
The Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme teaches controversial religious beliefs, aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism.
Youngsters will be told that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man, then Darwinism is fatally flawed.
Critics have slammed the content of the religious course books, labelling them “bizarre” and accusing them of promoting radical religious and political ideas.
One ACE textbook called Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.
“Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.” Read the rest of this entry »
Charter School advocates have expanded their desire to “corporatize” and privatize education to the suburbs, even pursuing establishing specialized Charter Schools in well to do areas with excellent school systems. Unlike in poor areas where parents have little political clout – suburban residents are pushing back hard against what they see as a drain upon the resources of their school systems, and a ripoff of their tax dollars.
MILLBURN, N.J. — Matthew Stewart believes there is a place forcharter schools. Just not in his schoolyard.
Mr. Stewart, a stay-at-home father of three boys, moved to this wealthy township, about 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan, three years ago, filling his life with class activities and soccer practices. But in recent months, he has traded play dates for protests, enlisting more than 200 families in a campaign to block two Mandarin-immersion charter schools from opening in the area.
The group, Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools, argues that the schools would siphon money from its children’s education for unnecessarily specialized programs. The schools, to be based in nearby Maplewood and Livingston, would draw students and resources from Millburn and other area districts.
“I’m in favor of a quality education for everyone,” Mr. Stewart said. “In suburban areas like Millburn, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the local school district is not doing its job. So what’s the rationale for a charter school?”
Suburbs like Millburn, renowned for educational excellence, have become hotbeds in the nation’s charter school battles, raising fundamental questions about the goals of a movement that began 20 years ago in Minnesota.
Charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently operated, have mostly been promoted as a way to give poor children an alternative to underperforming urban schools — to provide options akin to what those who can afford them have in the suburbs or in private schools.
Now, educators and entrepreneurs are trying to bring the same principles of choice to places where schools generally succeed, typically by creating programs, called “boutique charters” by detractors like Mr. Stewart, with intensive instruction in a particular area.
In Montgomery County, Md., north of Washington, the school board is moving toward its first charter, a Montessori elementary school, after initially rejecting it and two others with global and environmental themes because, as one official said, “we have a very high bar in terms of performance.”
Imagine Schools, a large charter school operator, has held meetings in Loudoun County, Va., west of Washington, to gauge parental interest in charters marketed partly as an alternative to overcrowded schools.
In Illinois, where 103 of the current 116 charter schools are in Chicago, an Evanston school board committee is considering opening the district’s first charter school.
More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 1 in 5 of the 4,951 existing charter schools were located there in 2010, federal statistics show. Advocates say many proposed suburban charters have struggled because of a double standard that suggests charters are fine for poor urban areas, but are not needed in well-off neighborhoods.
“I think it has to do with comfort level and assumptions based on real estate and not reality,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, which studies and supports charter schools. “The houses are nice, people have money, and therefore the schools must be good.”…
The bigger problem, at least to my mind, is that despite a few exceptionally performing Charter Schools – the vast majority perform no better, and often worse than the schools they supposedly were designed to replace. Indeed, when comparing “Apples to Apples”, elite and selective public Schools versus Charters… It’s no contest. And while the concept of “special purpose” Charter Schools with specialized curriculum, WTF are we doing this when school districts across the country are cutting basic programs and laying off teachers because of the economic disaster the conservatives made of America?