Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Charter School Double Standard: Feel Sorry for the Privateers.

As I read the following piece in the Journal Sentinel about a struggling charter school trying to turn things around, I couldn't help but think how outrageous this would have been if this were about a public school.

With taxpayer funded turnaround money, and kids stuck in a failing charter school, its assumed the readers should be pulling for the little guy...the charter. It should be anything but that. I’m not against this charter’s efforts, or their staff, but what I am against is all this time, money and effort going into a private school. Instead we could be spending money and effort on a similar public school. Oh, but we're against them.

Here’s a small sample of the article that tugs at your heart strings…but shouldn't:
jsonline: Student scores didn't look at all good under the new standards. And DLH Academy was informed that it was among the lowest 5% of schools in Wisconsin, earning the label of being a "priority" school … (it) needed to pursue fresh ways to get better or face likely closing.

The school responded with a surge of efforts to improve. It was awarded a $1.7 million federally funded School Improvement Grant (stimulus).
Here’s where the privatized…gets even more privatized:
Obligated to pick one of several strategies for change, it went with the one that required bringing in an outside partner to help turn things around … a consulting firm, Voyager Sopris Learning, a Dallas-based arm of a company called Cambium Learning.
Public schools could never get away with these excuses:
If you're looking for dramatic improvements in student achievement, you'll have to be patient. 260 students currently … The outcomes of the SIG initiative nationwide have been mixed so far. Lessons have been learned: It's not easy to turn around a faltering school. A second big lesson: A well-run school is better than a not-well-run school. Is DLH better now than a year ago? Improvement hasn't shown up yet in overall results at DLH. In state tests given last fall, only 13% of the school's students were rated proficient or advanced in reading. In math, it was 12%. Lois Fletcher, principal of DLH, said the school is like a construction site where a lot of work is underway…
Yet the following summation would never hold up for public schools:
I thought it was like a lot of schools I visit – a place with hard working, well intended educators where things just weren't quite coming together for good results. I hope sharpening and focusing the school's program and carrying it out in a high-quality way will pay off. There are encouraging signs. But it's going to be a long haul. It's one thing to have school improvement grants. It's another for schools to improve.

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