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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Charter Cheerleaders Admit: We Can't Teach EVERYONE

When charter cheerleaders are called on their bluffs, they always fold:

The head of one of the city’s largest charter school networks is calling on state charter authorizers to reject a law that requires charter schools to serve a larger share of high-needs students.
The law, Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz wrote in a letter to authorizers this month, creates “perverse incentives” for charter schools to “over-identify” students in high-needs categories, an effect that she said would do more harm than good for children.
“We urge you not to impose any enrollment and retention targets,” Moskowitz wrote to the New York State Education Department and SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which are charged with enforcing the law. “Instead, we request that you partner with us in going to Albany to change this poorly-thought-out legislation.”
The mandate for charter schools to enroll more high-needs students was established in 2010 when the lawmakers passed the Race to the Top bill. A charter sector self-assessment earlier this year found that a large majority of charter schools still served lower proportions of poor, special-needs and English language learning students than their district. [emphasis mine]
I have to admit: these guys and gals are very, very good at constructing ridiculous arguments to justify their cream-skimming:

At the heart of the Success network’s concerns is the belief that many district schools too easily classify students as high-needs and then doesn’t work hard enough to declassify them, in part because schools received additional funding to provide these services.
“Poorly designed financial incentives and a dense bureaucracy have turned the city’s ELL programs into a parking lot – a place where students sit idly for years without hope of mastering essential skills and accelerating their academic progress,” concludes a report on the city’s ELL population that Success released last year. The report found that about one-third of the city’s English language learners failed to test out of the program for seven consecutive years.
Moskowitz said since her schools excel at declassifying ELL students authorizers could slap her with being out of compliance in middle school grades because most of her students would be declassified by then.
“Bizarrely, our successful education of ELL students will actually put us out of compliance with the proposed ELL targets,” Moskowitz wrote.
Really, Eva? You really think you'll be punished for taking lots of ELL kids and moving them into general education quickly? That your "success" won't be rewarded?

Or are you afraid you're going to be found out?
Critics of Moskowitz and the Success charter network have raised their own concerns about the schools’ high rate of student attrition and it’s unclear how many students who leave the schools are identified as high-needs. Many Success schools lose more than 30 percent of their students over the course of elementary school. [emphasis mine]

Let's face it: the last thing Moskowitz wants is for the state to take a serious look at her student population. But, to be fair, she's not alone. Dr. Steve Perry's school in Connecticut has a different population than his neighboring public schools. Noble Charter in Chicago has a different population. Elysian in Hoboken has a different population; so does Learning Community in Jersey City. In fact, the best way to get Chris Christie to visit your charter is to make sure it has low populations of poor and special needs students.

New Orleans is segregating its special needs students via charters and vouchers, with little to show for the effort. The profane Ben Chavis saw the demographics of his charter in Northern California shift radically, yet he says his success is due to "no excuses" or some other such platitude.

Pennsylvania uses an insane funding formula to shift resources to charter schools, which enroll only the least expensive special education students. The KIPP crew admits they can't turn around existing public schools, with their diversity of students. Even the godfather of reforminess, Geoffrey Canada, kicked out kids when they weren't cutting it.

This is THE fundamental issue in school "choice" across the country: the differing student populations in schools that exist solely to give an illusion of "choice."

Anything that pulls back the curtain on this phenomenon is a threat to reforminess. Which is why these people will fight tooth and nail to keep their schools' populations different from their neighboring public schools, and do whatever it takes to distract the rest of us from this practice.

If they don't, they might have to prove they really have the "secret sauce." And I don't think anything scares them more than that.

Just pour on your charter school and serve!


The Perimeter Primate said...

Hey there Jazzman! Speaking of Ben Chavis, did you happen to come across this in today's news?

"State audit finds evidence of fraud, conflicts of interest by Oakland charter school operator."


"A state investigation into allegations of operational fraud and other unscrupulous activity by Ben Chavis -- a businessman who has also served, off and on, as director of three publicly funded but independently run charter schools named American Indian -- and his wife, who provided financial services to the school, cited numerous examples of financial conflicts of interest and fraudulent expenditures...

... Director Ben Chavis touts the model's success and ridicules the public school system for wasting tax dollars, arguing that schools don't need more money.

But in recent months, Chavis' own stewardship of public funds has come under scrutiny...

... Chavis could soon find himself the subject of a criminal investigation. Jordan announced Wednesday she would forward the case to the District Attorney's office, as recommended by the audit team. Jordan said she also wrote a letter to Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith, asking the district to consider revoking the schools' charters..."

Duke said...

Karma! Good stuff, PP! Did you blog on it?