I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Education Nation & Charter School Myths

The Education Nation conflagration is in full swing at MSNBC, and what a difference a year makes! Brian Williams looked a little stunned at times at the reactions of the teachers in the audience. I don't know if it's the Chicago strike, the election, or that we've simply had enough reformy nonsense, but it's clear teachers are not just going to sit quietly and take it anymore.

Which means that those who are used to getting automatic applause for bashing teachers and unions had better adjust their expectations. One New York City charter school teacher who took a swipe at unionized teachers, claiming she was told she couldn't work non-contract hours, wound up getting an earful for putting out such an obvious untruth (No video yet; I'm going on memory here, but will embed clips later).

So when a teacher from the International Academy of Flint stood up, he made sure to say his school was a public school, and that "we take everyone." He then proceeded to sell his school's many virtues.  Well, that sort of talk makes my reformy radar go "ping!" Because there's a big difference between admissions and retention policies for charters and publics (as a member of the audience pointed out). Does IAF really "take everyone"?

I wrote a quick post based on data from the Michigan Department of Education; 64% of the freshman in the Class of 2013 at IAF who took the freshman state exam did not take the junior year state exam. That was enough for me to look into enrollment numbers, which can be found at the Common Core of Data from the Institute of Education Sciences at the National Center for Education Statistics.

What happens to a class at IAF between their freshman and senior years? Do they lose kids, gain kids, or stay the same?

The blue bar is the size of the class in their freshman year at IAF; the purple bar is the senior year. For example, the freshman class had 47 students in 2001-02; that same class, as seniors in 2004-05, had 12 students.

How much attrition is this?

It's not just that the rates can go as high at three-quarters of the class; it's that it happens year after year after year.

I'm sorry, but this is not "taking everyone." This is making a "successful" school by cherry-picking students. It's easy to brag that all of your students are going to college when you lose so many students within the span of their high school careers.

And so, once again, we find that "successful" charter schools are not replicable. Don't stand up in a crowd and claim that they are if the data isn't on your side.


be careful said...

Thank you for watching and posting for all of us. I didn't want to ruin my Sunday or my week. I just can't take the bashing anymore. I will check in to read more. Thanks for doing this for us.

Susan said...

Thank you for posting so the rest of us don't have to sit through that nonsense. I spent the day outdoors enjoying the great southern Oregon weather.

Rita McClellan said...

Thank you for your hard work today. It is very much appreciated. I couldn't watch this today because I was working on a fundraiser for my great public school. I'm glad to hear that teachers are finding their voices again and are willing to stand up to this nonsense.

Jon Awbrey said...
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Jon Awbrey said...

If these mainscream media pundits had any journalistic integrity at all they would get back to work trying to recover the journalistic standards they had before they became corporate concubines and stop pretending to be authorities on things they don’t know diddley squat about.

Like I said … if they had any journalistic integrity at all …

FromChiTown said...
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FromChiTown said...

Thanks so much for this info, and for slogging through all of the propaganda so the rest of us don't have to feel like shameful targets of ridicule yet again, for not eradicating poverty.

I've often wondered why Arne Duncan did not bring his Ariel Community Academy in Chicago http://cps.edu/Schools/Pages/school.aspx?id=609951 to scale, if it's so successful in mediating poverty. I'd have thought he could, when he was CEO of CPS. (I've seen it tagged as a charter, a magnet and now as a regular neighborhod school.)

The school has a curriculum focusing on finance and investment and they're sponsored by the firm owned by Duncan's friend John Rogers, Ariel Investments, so I imagine that both the curriculum and additional funding would be controversial in corporate "reform" circles. (They also taut having small class sizes.)

I have to wonder about the attrition rate there, too. I could not figure it out from the data provided at the NCES site. Could you please help?

Duke said...

Thx everyone. Really appreciate when you leave a comment.

Duke said...

FCT: If you go to the CCD, you need to build a table. It's a little tricky, but you can get the enrollment for every grade level every year. I built a table with multiple years for IAF, then moved the data to create the attrition data. A bit of work, but worth it when you look at charters. See the post above about Rauner College Prep.

FromChiTown said...

Thank you for the info. How did you generate the graphs from the table? Didn't see that option.