Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
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Rocketship Lands in Milwaukee // The Progressive

Rocketship Lands in Milwaukee // The Progressive | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Barbara Miner
"Like most principals, Brittany Kinser is a cheerleader for her school. “I just want to make sure you’ll be positive,” she says when I visit the Rocketship charter school in Milwaukee. 
 

Looking younger than her thirty-seven years and with the physique of a long-distance runner, Kinser has a seemingly endless supply of energy and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to like her. Following one of the school’s axioms—Dress for Success—she is wearing a magenta pencil-skirt that nicely sets off her black sweater, tights, and four-inch stiletto heels. Her Dress for Success message is clear: I am competent and I am in charge.


At the same time, Kinser is nervous about my visit. It’s understandable.  For almost a quarter century, I have criticized using public tax dollars to fund private voucher schools and privately run charter schools. Rocketship, an entrepreneurial network of charter schools based in the Silicon Valley, has become a national poster child for the privatization of public education. It is particularly known for its bare-bones curricular focus on standardized test scores in reading and math, its use of computer-based “learning labs” that cut down costs, and its promotion of the Rocketship brand—including a daily pep rally where students chant that they are “Rocketship Rocketeers.”


After visiting Rocketship Southside Community Prep, as Milwaukee’s K4 through fifth-grade school is formally known, I could see why some people might react positively. Students were well behaved. Parents were welcome. The young teachers were energetic.

But as I left the school, I couldn’t help thinking: Can young students dress their way to success? Or chant their way to academic achievement? Are computerized worksheets the answer to reducing the achievement gap?


Rocketship opened its Milwaukee school in 2013, serving overwhelmingly low-income, Latino students on the city’s South side. The local chamber of commerce raised $2.5 million in private contributions to help fund Rocketship’s expansion to eight schools in Milwaukee by 2017.


Just inside the main entrance, there are banners from various universities hanging from the ceiling—part of the school’s message that students should be thinking about college. At the students’ eye level are Dress for Success posters featuring young children wearing the school uniform of khaki pants and a blue polo shirt with the Rocketship logo.

 

I’m not opposed to uniforms. I wore them throughout high school and appreciated that I didn’t have to figure out every morning what to wear. But the nuns never told us that our uniforms were the key to success. The policy was based more on a Catholic school philosophy that worried about the sin of pride and that discouraged too much attention to individual appearances.

 

At Rocketship, I couldn’t quite figure out the laser-like focus on Dress for Success. They don’t take it lightly. The school handbook notes that students who do not wear their uniform “may lose recess, lunch or other privileges.”...

 

For full article published on "The Progressive", click on title or image above or here: http://www.progressive.org/news/2010/12/187931/rocketship-lands-milwaukee#sthash.YGLtwC0G.dpuf

 

For recent news related to the illegal forced parent work policies that are central to Rocketship's parent engagement model (revealed by the Public Advocates report) please visit: http://sco.lt/9FGAkr

 

For other Rocketship related posts: 

http://www.scoop.it/t/charter-choice-closer-look?q=rocketship&nbsp

and www.stoprocketship.com.

 

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Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
This collection has been created to raise awareness about concerns related to the privatization of public education. The page also serves as a research tool to organize online content. The grey funnel shaped icon at the top (in the 'Desktop View' mode) allows for searching by keyword (i.e. entering K12 Inc, KIPP, TFA, Walton, Rocketship, ALEC, Koch, or 'discipline', etc.) will yield specific subsets of articles relevant to each keyword).  Readers are encouraged to explore additional links for further information beyond the text provided on the page. [Note: Views presented on this page are re-shared from external websites.  The content does not necessarily represent the views nor official position of the curator nor employer of the curator.]  For critical perspectives on the next wave of privatization poised to take over public services, see the page on Social Impact Bonds and Pay For Success programs: http://bit.ly/sibgamble. For additional education updates, see http://EduResearcher.com [Links to external site]
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National NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for Moratorium on Charter School Expansion [Full Resolution Included]// EduResearcher

National NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for Moratorium on Charter School Expansion [Full Resolution Included]// EduResearcher | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

For full post, click on title above or here: https://eduresearcher.com/2016/10/21/naacp/ 

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Why Doesn't KIPP Sign Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law? (Government Code 1090) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90LAsBgh6Fg&feature=youtu.be 

 

"The above video includes excerpts from the Santa Clara County Board of Education meeting on November 1st, 2017 where KIPP refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding indicating that it would abide by Government Code 1090 related to conflicts of interest. The final board vote was 5 to 2 to deny the petition at the County level. This decision was overturned by the State Board, which rubber-stamped the charter on March 14th. 

 

Government Code 1090 is stated here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=GOV&sectionNum=1090

 

For more information, see:

The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use For Financial Benefit // National Education Policy Center http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/charter-revenue

KIPP's Efforts to Keep the Public in the Dark While Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies // http://sco.lt/7pxYg5  via Center for Media and Democracy https://www.prwatch.org/news/2016/04/13096/exposed-cmd-kipps-efforts-keep-public-dark-while-seeking-millions-taxpayer 


Red Flags Known and Overlooked with State Board Votes on San Jose Charter Schools: https://eduresearcher.com/2018/01/18/charter-red-flags/ 


The Failure of Policy Planning in California’s Charter School Facility Funding https://www.inthepublicinterest.org/report-the-failure-of-policy-planning-in-californias-charter-school-facility-funding/ 

 

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: Federal Charter School Spending, Insufficient Authorizer Oversight, and Poor State & Local Oversight Leads to Growing Fraud Problems in Charter Schools // http://sco.lt/5Mkurh 

 

Letter from East Side Union High School District to State Board of Education Encouraging Denial of KIPP: http://sco.lt/7WhGQT 

 

“KIPP” Keyword Search Subset of posts from Charter Schools & Choice: A Closer Look collection: https://www.scoop.it/t/charter-choice-closer-look?q=KIPP 

 

Charter Schools & Choice: A Closer Look
http://bit.ly/chart_look 

 

Is Charter School Fraud The New Enron? 
https://eduresearcher.com/2017/03/16/charter-enron/ 

 

School Privatization Explained
https://eduresearcher.com/2017/04/24/privatization-explained/ 

 

NAACP Statement and Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Charter School Expansion https://eduresearcher.com/2016/10/21/naacp/   

 

For update, see: 
https://eduresearcher.com/2018/03/13/denykipp/ 

 

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Are California’s Charter Schools the New Separate-but-Equal ‘Schools of Excellence,’ or Are They Worse Than Plessy? Oluwole & Green, 2018

Are California’s Charter Schools the New Separate-but-Equal ‘Schools of Excellence,’ or Are They Worse Than Plessy? Oluwole & Green, 2018 | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

"Abstract
This article explains how charter schools provide California's black and Latino communities the opportunity to create modern separate-but-equal schools of excellence. However, they also pose a danger. Outside entities that prioritize financial gain are also seeking to offer charter schools to black and Latino communities. Unfettered charter school expansion spearheaded by these groups could further drain educational resources, thus creating a situation that would be even worse than Plessy v. Ferguson."

 

Oluwole, Joseph and Green, Preston, Are California’s Charter Schools the New Separate-but-Equal ‘Schools of Excellence,’ or Are They Worse Than Plessy? (February 23, 2018). Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3128802


and 
http://www.csus.edu/coe/academics/doctorate/jtlps/issues/7-1/oluwole_jtlps7.1.pdf  

_______________________

Related: https://today.uconn.edu/2018/04/danger-california-charter-schools/ 

“A lack of restrictions in California’s charter school regulations could potentially create a situation that would be even worse than Plessy, as a result of  black and Latino communities losing control of education funding allocated to them,” says Green.

 

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Sackler Applies OxyContin Marketing Lessons to Charter School Movement // Non-Profit Quarterly

Sackler Applies OxyContin Marketing Lessons to Charter School Movement // Non-Profit Quarterly | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Steve Dubb

"Last month, we covered a New Yorker story about the Sackler family, the nation’s 19th wealthiest family, with assets of $13 billion. The Sacklers have made much of their fortune through ownership of Purdue Pharma, a business that produced, sold, and popularized OxyContin, a drug that has led to over 200,000 deaths and counting. The Sacklers are getting more attention for their ownership of the Purdue Pharma company now, but they have long been known for philanthropy that has supported many museums and universities.

 

But as Sarah Darer Littman writes in AlterNet, the Sacklers’ philanthropic influence can also be found in charter schools. Jonthan Sackler, nephew of Purdue Pharma founder Arthur Sackler, is “a major funder of charters and an extensive network of pro-charter advocacy groups.”

 

Sackler, Littman adds, is “a well-known name in the education reform movement.” In 2005, Sackler founded the charter school advocacy group ConnCan (the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now). In 2011, Sackler helped found a nationwide group, 50CAN, which seeks to bring the Connecticut model to all 50 states; Sackler is a member of their board. Littman adds that Sackler is broadly invested in the charter school movement, noting,

 

"He is on the Board of Directors of the Achievement First charter school network. Until recently, Sackler served on the board of the New Schools Venture Fund, which invests in charter schools and advocates for their expansion. He was also on the board of the pro-charter advocacy group Students for Education Reform.

 

Through his personal charity, the Bouncer Foundation, Sackler donates to the above mentioned organizations, and an ecosystem of other charter school promoting entities, such as Families for Excellent Schools ($1,083,333 in 2014$300,000 in 2015 according to the Foundation’s Form 990s) Northeast Charter School Network ($150,000 per year in 2013, 2014 and 2015) and $275,000 to Education Reform Now (2015) and $200,000 (2015) to the Partnership for Educational Justice, the group founded by Campbell Brown which uses “impact litigation” to go after teacher tenure laws. Earlier this year, the Partnership for Educational Justice joined 50CAN, which Sackler also funds ($300,000 in 2014 and 2015), giving him a leadership role in the controversial—and so far failing cause—of weakening worker protections for teachers via the courts."

 

But it’s not just money that Sackler contributes. Littman writes that Sackler brings the “same influence techniques Purdue used to promote painkillers … to expand charter schools.”

 

Littman observes, “Just as Arthur Sackler founded the weekly Medical Tribune, to promote Purdue products to the medical professional who would prescribe them, Jon Sackler helps to fund the74million.org, the ‘nonpartisan’ education news website founded by Campbell Brown. The site, which received startup funding from Betsy DeVos, decries the fact that ‘the education debate is dominated by misinformation and political spin,’ yet is uniformly upbeat about charter schools while remarkably devoid of anything positive to say about district schools or teachers’ unions.”

 

A key Sackler strategy for promoting drugs, Littman observes, was vertical integration. Littman cites a memo that staffers for Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver wrote in the 1960s:

 

“The Sackler empire is a completely integrated operation in that it can devise a new drug in its drug development enterprise, have the drug clinically tested and secure favorable reports on the drug from various hospitals with which they have connections, conceive the advertising approach and prepare the actual advertising copy with which to promote the drug, have the clinical articles as well as advertising copy published in their own medical journals, [and] prepare and plant articles in newspapers and magazines."

These promotional efforts worked. Art Van Zee, a doctor at Stone Mountain Health Services in Virginia, wrote an article in 2009 for the American Journal of Public Health. The title: “The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy.”

 

Among the tactics that led to commercial success, writes Van Zee, was that,

 

"From 1996 to 2001, Purdue conducted more than 40 national pain-management and speaker-training conferences at resorts in Florida, Arizona, and California. More than 5000 physicians, pharmacists, and nurses attended these all-expenses-paid symposia, where they were recruited and trained for Purdue’s national speaker bureau.” In 2001 alone, Van Zee adds, the company spent more than $200 million on marketing, including lavish “branded swag for health care practitioners."

 

Littman points out that “lavish swag” is a mainstay of “the no-expenses-spared charter school rallies. She calls some pro-charter organizations “AstroTurf” groups, because these groups have received millions in support from hedge fund managers.

 

Patrick Riccards, a former CEO of ConnCan, the pro-charter group that Sackler founded in 2005, emphasized the importance of marketing. Riccards told Littman that “ConnCan’s focus was: how does the charter industry continue to grow? Every year, ConnCan’s fight was how do we increase the number of seats, and how do we increase the per pupil expenditure?”

Then there is the case Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy (FESA) in Massachusetts, which this past September was ordered to pay $425,000—the largest civil forfeiture fine in the 44-year history of the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance—for raising campaign funds in a way that disguised donor identity. As part of the settlement, “the group was ordered to reveal the names of its secret donors. Jonathan Sackler,” Littman points out, “was one of them.”     -Steve Dubb

 

For full post, see:

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2017/11/14/sackler-applies-oxycontin-marketing-lessons-charter-school-movement/ 

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When States Take Over School Districts, They Say It's About Academics. This Political Scientist Says It's About Race and Power // ChalkBeat

When States Take Over School Districts, They Say It's About Academics. This Political Scientist Says It's About Race and Power // ChalkBeat | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2018/06/12/state-takeovers-book/ 

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Charter schools are draining California's education funding // via In The Public Interest 

https://youtu.be/T6M7IPJVZEE 

From In The Public Interest

"Charter schools are draining funding from neighborhood public schools in many districts nationwide, leading to cuts in core services like counseling, libraries, and special education. Watch as California’s public school officials, teachers, and students speak out about the growing crisis caused by the state's unlimited charter school growth. See more at http://HowMuchChartersCost.Org  
#HowMuchChartersCost 

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Why Is Silicon Valley So Bent on Destroying Public Education? // David Bacon, ReThinking Schools via Alternet

Why Is Silicon Valley So Bent on Destroying Public Education? // David Bacon, ReThinking Schools via Alternet | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By David Bacon

"Nearly every metropolitan area these days has its own wealthy promoters of education reform. Little Rock has the Waltons, Seattle has Bill and Melinda Gates, Newark has Mark Zuckerberg, and Buffalo has John Oishei, who made his millions selling windshield wipers.

 

Few areas, however, have as concentrated and active a group of wealthy reformers as California’s Silicon Valley. One of the country’s fastest-growing charter school operators, Rocketship Education, started here. A big reason for its stellar ascent is the support it gets from high tech’s deep pockets, and the political influence that money can buy."...

 

For full post, see: 

https://img.alternet.org/education/why-silicon-valley-so-bent-destroying-public-education 

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Special Report: The Profit Motive Behind Virtual Schools in Maine // Press Herald 

Special Report: The Profit Motive Behind Virtual Schools in Maine // Press Herald  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Colin Woodard

"Maine’s education commissioner had just returned to his Augusta office last October after a three-day trip to San Francisco where he attended a summit of conservative education reformers convened by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which had paid for the trip.

He’d heard presentations on the merits of full-time virtual public schools — ones without classrooms, playgrounds or in-person teachers — and watched as Bush unveiled the “first ever” report card praising the states that had given online schools the widest leeway.

 

But what had Bowen especially enthusiastic was his meeting with Bush’s top education aide, Patricia Levesque, who runs the foundation but is paid through her private firm, which lobbies Florida officials on behalf of online education companies.

 

Bowen was preparing an aggressive reform drive on initiatives intended to dramatically expand and deregulate online education in Maine, but he felt overwhelmed.

 

“I have no ‘political’ staff who I can work with to move this stuff through the process,” he emailed her from his office.

Levesque replied not to worry; her staff in Florida would be happy to suggest policies, write laws and gubernatorial decrees, and develop strategies to ensure they were implemented.

“When you suggested there might be a way for us to get some policy help, it was all I could do not to jump for joy,” Bowen wrote Levesque from his office.

“Let us help,” she responded.

So was a partnership formed between Maine’s top education official and a foundation entangled with the very companies that stand to make millions of dollars from the policies it advocates.

In the months that followed, according to more than 1,000 pages of emails obtained by a public records request, the commissioner would rely on the foundation to provide him with key portions of his education agenda. These included draft laws, the content of the administration’s digital education strategy and the text of Gov. Paul LePage’s Feb. 1 executive order on digital education.

 

A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.

K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Education, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of education publishing giant Pearson, are both seeking to expand online offerings and to open full-time virtual charter schools in Maine, with taxpayers paying the tuition for the students who use the services.

At stake is the future of thousands of Maine schoolchildren who would enroll in the full-time virtual schools and, if the companies had their way, the future of tens of thousands more who would be legally required to take online courses at their public high schools in order to receive their diplomas.

 

The two companies have at times acted directly, spending tens of thousands of dollars lobbying lawmakers in Augusta and nurturing the creation of the supposedly independent boards for the proposed virtual schools they would operate and largely control."...

For full post, see: 

https://www.pressherald.com/2012/09/01/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02/ 

 

 

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Here's the Story of Nine Billionaires Aiming to Privatize New York’s Public Schools 

Here's the Story of Nine Billionaires Aiming to Privatize New York’s Public Schools  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

https://www.thenation.com/article/9-billionaires-are-about-remake-new-yorks-public-schools-heres-their-story/ 

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Federal court rules lawsuit against Success charters can go forward as NYS admits overpaying them by $1.5 Million 

Federal court rules lawsuit against Success charters can go forward as NYS admits overpaying them by $1.5 Million  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it
By Leonie Haimson
"This week, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that a lawsuit vs Success Academy could go forward to trial on behalf of some of the children who were on the "Got to go" list put together by the principal of Success Academy Fort Greene, Candido Brown.  These children were subsequently pushed out out of the school.The decision is here.  
 
While the school claims they simply made "errors in judgement," the practice of repeatedly suspending kids and calling ACS on their parents if they don't pick them up promptly in the middle of the school day is a common practice at Success, used to persuade parents to pull their children out of the school. Other methods commonly used by the school include calling the police to take unruly children either to the precinct house or to a hospital emergency room.
 
Here's an excerpt from the judge's decision (image above).
 
Meanwhile,  NYSED reported today that last year it had overpaid charter schools and underpaid NYC from federal Title II funds.  The spreadsheet is here, revealing that Success charter schools were overpaid by $1.5 million; and NYC public schools underpaid by $7.1 million, which will only be repaid slowly over four years."... 
 
Copies of the ruling are available at www.nylpi.org.
 
The press release about the court decision is also available on the original post here:  
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The Fiscal Externalities of Charter Schools: Evidence from North Carolina // Ladd & Singleton (2018) ERID Working Group 

The Fiscal Externalities of Charter Schools: Evidence from North Carolina // Ladd & Singleton (2018) ERID Working Group  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

Abstract
A significant criticism of the charter school movement is that funding for charter schools diverts money away from traditional public schools. As shown in prior work by Bifulco and Reback (2014) for two urban districts in New York, the magnitude of such adverse fiscal externalities depends in part on the nature of state and local funding policies. In this paper, we build on their approach to examine the fiscal effects of charter schools on both urban and non-urban school districts in North Carolina. We base our analysis on detailed balance sheet information for a sample of school districts that experienced substantial charter growth since the statewide cap on charters was raised in 2011. We find a large and negative fiscal impact in excess of $500 per traditional public school pupil in our one urban school district, which translates into an average fiscal cost of more than $3,500 for each student enrolled in charter schools. We estimate comparable to somewhat larger fiscal externalities per charter school pupil for two non-urban districts."

 

 
Ladd, Helen F. and Singleton, John D., The Fiscal Externalities of Charter Schools: Evidence from North Carolina (April 9, 2018). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 261. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3082968 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3082968
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The Charter vs. District School Funding Debate: Who Gets More Money? // Craig Harris, Arizona Republic 

The Charter vs. District School Funding Debate: Who Gets More Money? // Craig Harris, Arizona Republic  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it
Selected quote: 

..."As charter school operators have received more state per-pupil funding, a smaller share of that money reached the classrooms compared with traditional public schools.

 

Charter schools spend roughly double what districts do on administration, and some charter operators profit off large management fees and no-bid deals to furnish IT services or the facilities themselves, The Arizona Republic has found."...

For full post, see

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/07/12/arizona-charter-schools-get-more-state-funding-pay-their-teachers-less/686900002/ 

 

 

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An Open Secret: The Problems with Virtual Schools

An Open Secret: The Problems with Virtual Schools | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

From the National Education Policy Center

"It is no secret. The news media is full of reports about problems with cyber schools. Some recent examples include:

• In January 2018, the nation’s largest virtual school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), closed. There was a subsequent failure to determine what happened to 2,300 of 11,400 students. The school shut down after the state of Ohio found that ECOT had overstated its enrollment by more than 9,000 students, resulting in a $60 million overpayment.

• The Akron Digital Academy quietly closed last month because it could not repay the state the $2.8 million it owed for failing to correctly track enrollment. Akron Public Schools dropped its sponsorship of the school in 2013 due to problems such as poor student performance.

• The state of New Mexico is in the process of shutting down the state’s largest virtual school, also for poor academic performance.

 

An Education Week resource, updated through 2017, includes hundreds of news stories, state audits, and reports about online schools, many highly negative, dating back to the early 2000s.

 

Some of the best and most updated information about these schools is provided in the NEPC’s Sixth Annual Report on Virtual Education, titled Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance.  The report provides a census of the nation’s full-time virtual schools as well as institutions that blend online learning with face-to-face instruction. The report also includes student demographics, state performance ratings and, where available, analyses of school performance measures.

 

Michigan public radio station WKAR mentioned the NEPC report in a piece about another study that found that a quarter of the 101,000 Michigan students enrolled in online classes did not pass a single one. In an interview with the outlet, Gary Miron, author of the Virtual Education report, said: “We need a moratorium right now; we have to stop. No more growth for the schools; no more schools. The schools that are performing extremely poorly, we have to take sound steps to dismantle them.”

 

Ed tech-focused EdScoop devoted an article to the NEPC report’s findings, noting that: “While the average ratio in the nation’s public schools is 16 students per teacher, virtual schools reported having close to three times as many, and blended schools clocked in with twice as many.” In a piece about a rural school district that partnered with for-profit virtual education company K12 Inc., NBC News quoted the report’s finding that district-operated online schools tend to perform better than charter school versions. Yet the latter continue to dominate the sector. And despite the highly publicized problems with virtual schools, the sector continues to thrive. “It’s rather remarkable that virtual schools continue to grow even while study after study confirms that these schools are failing,” Miron told NEPC.

“Students are clearly being negatively impacted when they attend these schools, and revenues devoted to public school systems are being siphoned off to the private companies that dominate this sector.”...


For full post, see: 

https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/newsletter-virtual-schools-073118 

 

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New Report Uncovers Systemic Failure by California Charter Schools to Meet Local Control Obligations // Public Advocates 

New Report Uncovers Systemic Failure by California Charter Schools to Meet Local Control Obligations // Public Advocates  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

From Public Advocates
"A new report by Public Advocates Inc. uncovers a massive failure on the part of California charter schools to be transparent about how they spend millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit high need students, as required by state law.

 

The report, which is the first systematic analysis of charter school Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) found critical financial and engagement information missing, unavailable, or incomplete at a shocking number of charter schools.

 

Not a single school analyzed for this report properly documented how it was increasing or improving services for high need students, services for which those charter schools received $48.6 million this past year. Even more concerning, two-thirds of that amount was completely unaccounted for. Statewide, charters receive over $900 million annually to increase or improve services for high need students.

 

The report, “Keeping the Promise of LCFF in Charter Schools,” included an investigation 43 schools in Oakland, Sacramento, Richmond, Los Angeles, and San Jose and found that:

 

  • One-third of all charter schools examined had no LCAP online. These public documents were still missing after email requests to the school, its authorizer, and the County Office of Education
  • More than two-thirds of the state funds generated by high need students—over $30 million—were unaccounted for; of the $48.6 million these schools received specifically for high need students in 2017-2018, there was only documentation for $15.8 million in planned spending

  • Only 21% clearly measured how they engaged parents in school decision-making, and only 37% described how community engagement impacted their planning process

  • 91% of charter schools examined serving 15% or more English learners did not post their LCAPs in a language other than English

  • Of the 12 Charter Management Organizations examined in the report and that manage 123 charter schools in multiple cities, 100% adopt LCAPs at a single meeting in a single location, with minimal public comment
 

The report calls for expert oversight and improved support over charter school LCAPs, especially when it comes to transparency for funds designated to improve services for high need students. The report also recommends legislation that would holds charter schools to similar standards of transparency and engagement as public schools."

Click here for a copy of the report
Click here for a list of the charter schools investigated for this report
Click here for a copy of the press release in English
Click here for a copy of the press release in Spanish
Click here to contact Rigel Spencer Massaro, Senior Staff Attorney about the report

  
Related Posts

 

For main post on Public Advocates, see:

https://www.publicadvocates.org/uncategorized/22875/ 

 

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"Separate and Unequal: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations in Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools" // Stanford Law & Policy Review 

"Separate and Unequal: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations in Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools" // Stanford Law & Policy Review  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

"The extent to which special student populations (ELL, Special Education and Economically Disadvantaged) gain access to charter schools is understudied. The new study Separate and Unequal?: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations in Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools utilizes state, district, and local level data to understand the enrollment of high-need special populations in charter schools compared with non-charter public schools.

Vasquez Heilig, J. Holme, J., LeClair, A. V., Redd, L., & Ward, D. (2016). Separate and Unequal?: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations in Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools. Stanford Law & Policy Review27(2), 251-293.

In this article, we examine the extent to which charters in the state of Texas are serving high needs populations (English Language Learners, Special Education, and low-income students) at the same rates as traditional public schools. We first conduct statewide analyses to compare charter school and traditional public district demographics by locality. We also compare levels of segregation of those populations between traditional public schools by locality and charter status. We then conduct a local-level analyses to understand high-need students demographic patterns within the footprint of a large urban district to evaluate the extent to which students with greater than average instructional needs are served by charter schools in equal proportion to the neighboring public schools. We then conclude by descriptively examining the access and enrollment of high-need students in several popular “exemplar” charters.

Summary of Findings

We find that while Texas charters appear to be demographically similar to traditional public schools at the aggregate, the granularity provided by geospatial analyses demonstrate that charters under-enroll ELL students and special education students relative to nearby non-charter schools. State-level dissimilarity analyses show only modest disparities in segregation and access of high-need students within the Texas charter system compared to traditional public schools. However, local-level descriptive and geospatial analyses of charters in a large metropolitan area shows that there are large disparities in the enrollment of high-need students relative to traditional public schools nearby. (Please click on the article links above for more detailed findings)


Policy Implications

We conclude by discussing implications and recommendations for law and policy. The policy implications that logically emerge from the geographic granularity of these data could either be first-order incremental or second-order substantial. On the one hand, a set of first-order changes to educational policy related to charter schools would seek to take what is in place and make incremental adjustments to policy that aim to better regulate public charter schooling. On the other hand, a second-order change would be an approach that is a substantial departure that would purposefully curtail growth that charters have exhibited over the past two decades."...

 

For full post, see: http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/are-charters-beacons 

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Educational Inequities in the New Orleans Charter School System // SCOPE Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education 

To download above summary, please click title above or here: 
https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/docsonly/scope-nola-infographic.pdf 

______________

For more on Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, please see link at bottom of post. [Selected quotes/links from research page are provided below]

 

"The New Orleans Experiment

New Orleans provides a model for examining the feasibility of a nearly 100% charter, market based system of schools. This is truly an education experiment on a grand scale, and because New Orleans’ system is unique, the nation is watching. How is it working?

A recent SCOPE study examines the New Orleans experiment in terms of the experiences of students and families managing their way through a portfolio of charter schools. Among many findings, the research shows that New Orleans reforms have created a set of schools that are highly stratified by race, class, and educational advantage, operating in a hierarchy that provides very different types of schools and to different types of children. While some have choice; others do not.

The report, “Whose Choice? Student Experiences and Outcomes in the New Orleans School Marketplace,” by Frank Adamson, Channa Cook-Harvey, and Linda Darling-Hammond, and a 12-page research brief are available for free download.

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#KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education // EduResearcher 

#KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education // EduResearcher  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

[Original Title]: Will KIPP Be Allowed To Bypass Conflict of Interest Law In Its Bid For State Funds?

[3/14/18] Update: The California State Board of Education has voted to approve two KIPP petitions to expand campuses into San Francisco and San Jose despite strong community resistance and knowledge of the charter chain's refusal to abide…

 

https://eduresearcher.com/2018/03/13/denykipp/ 

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Parent Lawsuit Against Success Academy Charter School 

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-nyed-1_15-cv-07058/pdf/USCOURTS-nyed-1_15-cv-07058-0.pdf 

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“If you close all the public schools in your area, and you pop up two or three charter schools, what is the choice? You have no choice.” - Aliya Moore, Detroit parent and public school activist

https://twitter.com/vicenews/status/1005232319651831814 

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As Fiscal Problems Mount, Celerity Charter Network Closes A School // Los Angeles Times 

As Fiscal Problems Mount, Celerity Charter Network Closes A School // Los Angeles Times  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Anna M. Phillips

"For months after federal agents raided the offices of a Los Angeles charter school network, seizing documents and electronic records, the Celerity Educational Group tried to overhaul its image.

 

The nonprofit cut financial ties with its parent organization and replaced its chief executive. It launched a rebranding effort to distance itself from allegations of financial wrongdoing that have hovered for more than a year.

But in a sign that all is not well, the charter management organization made the decision last week to close one of its seven schools in Los Angeles County: Celerity Rolas, in Northeast L.A.  In a letter to parents, Nadia Shaiq, the group’s CEO, said that Rolas had been unable to attract enough students to justify the costs of keeping it open.

  

“Closing a school is always a disappointment for our entire community,” Shaiq wrote. “But keeping the school without the enrollment necessary for a balanced budget would threaten the overall health of our other schools, impacting students, parents and employees.”

 

A spokesman for Celerity did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Rolas’ closure means that several hundred students will be forced to find new placements — and without much time. The first day of school in the Los Angeles Unified School District is Aug. 14, and many of the deadlines for enrollment lotteries at the most sought-after charter schools have passed. Celerity’s leaders have encouraged families to switch to its school in Glassell Park, Celerity Octavia.

 

The closure is the first public sign that Celerity is under considerable financial strain.

 

In the aftermath of the January 2017 raid and news that the FBI was investigating the nonprofit and questioning its employees, Celerity was thrown into turmoil. The State Board of Education refused to renew two of its charter schools, and although both schools were able to reopen under different names, the network said some its families never came back.

At Celerity Rolas, an elementary and middle school split between two sites — one in Eagle Rock and one in Highland Park — the school needed 435 students to break even, according to the organization’s correspondence with the state. But only 309 students enrolled last year.

 

The loss of students meant less funding from the state. Meanwhile, the organization’s legal fees were rising.

Facing investigations by federal agencies and L.A. Unified’s Office of the Inspector General, the group hired the law firm Gibson Dunn to aid it during the inquiries and help it separate from its founder, Vielka McFarlane, a target of the investigations. Celerity has also continued to pay a separate firm that specializes in charter school law.

 

The group’s most recent financial projections show that while its individual schools are bringing in more money than they are spending, the organization that manages them is on less firm ground.

 

An L.A. Unified analysis described the fiscal condition of the group as weak. Within a year, the nonprofit’s expenses are expected to exceed its revenue by $826,000. Out of its total budget of $5.3 million for the coming school year, the group expects to spend more than $500,000 on legal fees alone.

 

Last month, the organization’s board voted to hire a consultant — Aristos Strategies, run by City Hall lobbyist Gustavo Valdivia — to recruit students and boost enrollment."...

 

For full post, see: 

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-celerity-rolas-closing-20180725-story.html 

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Nashville Charter School Under Investigation For Financial Irregularities and ADA Compliance // 

Nashville Charter School Under Investigation For Financial Irregularities and ADA Compliance //  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/05/22/nashville-new-vision-charter-school-under-investigation-financial-irregularities/615230002/ 

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Arizona Investigated Charter School After Official Boasting of Mass Expulsions // Phoenix New Times

Arizona Investigated Charter School After Official Boasting of Mass Expulsions // Phoenix New Times | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Joseph Flaherty

"Casey Mulligan’s presentation to the board that oversees Arizona charter schools was supposed to be a chance to brag about the achievements of Mohave Accelerated Schools.

 

Instead, during his April 9 presentation to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, the Bullhead City school superintendent boasted about expelling dozens of at-risk students years ago in order to change his charter school’s image."...

 

He didn't know his audience. Organizers with the ACLU of Arizona had packed the room, part of a campaign to push the state board on greater accountability for charter schools. Advocates seethed as Mulligan cheerfully described the same exclusionary practices the ACLU is trying to end."...

 

For full post: 

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-investigated-charter-school-after-official-boasting-of-mass-expulsions-10717025 

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Schools Aren't "Fast-Food Franchises," Charter Schools Aren't Public Schools, and Education Isn't A Business // Eclectablog

Schools Aren't "Fast-Food Franchises," Charter Schools Aren't Public Schools, and Education Isn't A Business // Eclectablog | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

https://www.eclectablog.com/2018/08/schools-arent-fast-food-franchises-charter-schools-arent-public-schoolsand-education-isnt-a-business.html 

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Charter schools have done more harm than good in Michigan [OpEd by Dr. Mitchell Robinson]// Bridge Magazine

Charter schools have done more harm than good in Michigan [OpEd by Dr. Mitchell Robinson]// Bridge Magazine | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

By Mitchell Robinson
"Why is it that every time I chat with a charter school cheerleader and issues of policy (such as privatization, school choice, competition, school closings, vouchers, teacher tenure, funding, regulations, testing) come up, they are unable to muster a defense of those policies?

Instead, they respond with something like, “We probably agree on more than we disagree. Let’s take the snobbery out of our discourse. I doubt combativeness does much to help conversation, let alone students.”

 

Kind of reminds me of conservatives who attacked President Obama for eight years in the most brutal ways, who are now demanding “civility” from liberals.

 

No. Just no. Public school advocates and charter school boosters don’t agree more than they disagree. We disagree completely on many issues of prime importance. And public school supporters know that many of the problems in the schools, while they may not have all been caused by charters, have been made a whole lot worse by them – and the reform movement leaders who are profiting from charter schools.

 

The most recent charter school booster I spoke to asked me, “So, what’s your solution? It’s obvious you’re not interested in seeking solutions with me, so just tell me.”

 

OK, here you go ….

 

Let’s adequately fund all of our schools, and make sure that the school in the inner city is as clean, safe and well-equipped as the one in the wealthiest suburbs.

 

Let’s stop allowing uncertified, unqualified edu-tourists from groups like Teach for America to be handed the responsibility of educating our children in urban and rural schools, and insist all kids be taught by dedicated, committed professionals, with the appropriate coursework, licenses and certifications.

Let’s demand that all schools offer a rich, engaging curriculum, including music, art and physical education, and let’s stop referring to these subjects as “extras” or “specials” – our children don’t see them as “extras.” For some kids, these are the things that make school worth going to.

 

Let’s guarantee that every publicly-funded school is held to the same standards, regulations and expectations, that all such schools are required to admit any child who wishes to attend, that “lotteries” and other similar methods of artificially “managing” student enrollment are eliminated, and that every child has access to a high quality public school, regardless of geography or socio-economic status.

 

Let’s stop pretending that competition and choice are the solutions to the problems that have been created by competition and choice.

 

Let’s stop trying to fund two parallel, “separate but equal” school systems, and put a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools until all publicly funded schools are “competing” on level playing fields.

 

And let’s return control for our public schools to where it belongs: elected school boards made up of concerned citizens from the communities in which their schools are located.

 

Let’s put an end to schools governed by unreliable charter “management companies” and state-appointed “emergency managers” and “CEOs.”

 

For original post, see:

https://www.bridgemi.com/guest-commentary/opinion-charter-schools-have-done-more-harm-good-michigan 

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How Charter Schools Drain Money From Public School Districts // In The Public Interest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5eDr552ymc 

 

For the report on How Much Charters Cost, see: http://inthepublicinterest.org or

http://howmuchcharterscost.org 

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How Much Charter Schools Cost // In The Public Interest

How Much Charter Schools Cost // In The Public Interest | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | Scoop.it

"In a first-of-its-kind analysis, In the Public Interest has found that public school students in three California school districts are bearing the cost of the unchecked expansion of privately managed charter schools.

The report, Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts, calculates the fiscal impact of charter schools on Oakland Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, and San Jose’s East Side Union High School District.

  • Charter schools cost Oakland Unified $57.3 million per year. That’s $1,500 less in funding for each student that attends a neighborhood school.
  • The annual cost of charter schools to the San Diego Unified is $65.9 million.
  • In East Side Union, the net impact of charter schools amounts to a loss of $19.3 million per year.

The California Charter School Act doesn’t allow school boards to consider how a proposed charter school may impact a district’s educational programs or fiscal health when weighing new charter applications.

However, when a student leaves a neighborhood school for a charter school, all the funding for that student leaves with them, while all the costs do not. This leads to cuts in core services like counseling, libraries, and special education, and increased class sizes at neighborhood public schools.

In the Public Interest recommends that public officials at both the local and state levels should be empowered to take fiscal and educational impacts on neighborhood schools into account when deciding whether to authorize a new charter school.

Wondering what the cost is in your district?

In the Public Interest has designed a template to enable any California school district to calculate the net fiscal impact of charter schools in its community. Email info@inthepublicinterest.org to get a copy.

 http://howmuchcharterscost.org/ 

 

See also http://inthepublicinterest.org

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