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.