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Charter (public school) Success in L.A. (is opposed by the teachers unions)

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Charter (public school) Success in L.A. (is opposed by the teachers unions)

Old 10-14-08, 11:49 AM
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Charter (public school) Success in L.A. (is opposed by the teachers unions)

South Central Los Angeles is a real world example of good public schools vs bad public schools.

The good public schools, which do a great job of teaching low income and minority students, are good because they are not controlled by the teachers' unions.

The unions want these successful public schools to be shut down. The unions wants all low income and minority students to be trapped at the horrible public schools that are controlled by the unions.

I side with the good public schools, and against the teachers unions.

Which side are you on?


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122394095677630803.html

OCTOBER 14, 2008

Charter Success in L.A.

School choice in South Central.

With economic issues sucking up so much political oxygen this year, K-12 education hasn't received the attention it deserves from either Presidential candidate. The good news is that school reformers at the local level continue to push forward.

This month the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a charter school network in Los Angeles, announced plans to expand the number of public charter schools in the city's South Central section, which includes some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country. Over the next four years, the number of ICEF charters will grow to 35 from 13. Eventually, the schools will enroll one in four students in the community, including more than half of the high school students.

The demand for more educational choice in predominantly minority South Los Angeles is pronounced. The waitlist for existing ICEF schools has at times exceeded 6,000 kids. And no wonder. Like KIPP, Green Dot and other charter school networks that aren't constrained by union rules on staffing and curriculum, ICEF has an excellent track record, particularly with black and Hispanic students. In reading and math tests, ICEF charters regularly outperform surrounding traditional public schools as well as other Los Angeles public schools.

ICEF has been operating since 1994, and its flagship school has now graduated two classes, with 100% of the students accepted to college. By contrast, a state study released in July reported that one in three students in the L.A. public school system -- including 42% of black students -- quits before graduating, a number that has grown by 80% in the past five years.

Despite this success, powerful unions like the California Teachers Association and its political backers continue to oppose school choice for disadvantaged families. Last year, Democratic state lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nez, tried to force Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would have made opening a new charter school in the state next to impossible.
Mr. Nunez backed down after loud protests from parents in poorer neighborhoods.

School reformers in New York, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut, Utah and Arizona have faced similar challenges of late. Last year in Texas, where 81% of charter school students are minorities (versus 60% in traditional public schools), nearly 17,000 students had to be placed on charter waiting lists. Texas is currently bumping up against an arbitrary cap on the number of charters that can open in the state. Unless the cap is lifted by state lawmakers, thousands of low-income Texas children will remain stuck in ineffective schools.

Back in California, ICEF says that its ultimate goal is to produce 2,000 college graduates each year, in hopes that the graduates eventually will return to these underserved communities and help create a sustainable middle class. Given that fewer than 10% of high-school freshmen in South Los Angeles currently go on to receive a college diploma, this is a huge challenge. Resistance from charter school opponents won't make it any easier.

Last edited by grundle; 10-14-08 at 11:59 AM.
Old 10-14-08, 12:08 PM
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Well, aren't the kids at the charter schools there only because they showed higher potential? I'd expect that group to perform well, teacher union or not.

Also, won't building more charter schools drag down the performance?

If I was going to work in a high-crime area, I'd want the teacher union to lobby for better school safety. But I suppose if a problem's bad enough, something will be done, teacher union or not.
Old 10-14-08, 12:35 PM
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Are you a teacher grundle? I have never seen someone so singularly obsessed with public schools.
Old 10-14-08, 12:43 PM
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Yeah why not look into the unions for the prisons?
Old 10-14-08, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
Yeah why not look into the unions for the prisons?
Hopefully most of our kids won't be affected by the unions for the prisons.
Old 10-14-08, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by spainlinx0 View Post
Are you a teacher grundle? I have never seen someone so singularly obsessed with public schools.
No, I am not a teacher.
Old 10-14-08, 01:01 PM
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Is it only me, or is this poll one-sided? Just me? OK.
Old 10-14-08, 02:45 PM
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Like KIPP, Green Dot and other charter school networks that aren't constrained by union rules on staffing and curriculum, ICEF has an excellent track record, particularly with black and Hispanic students. In reading and math tests, ICEF charters regularly outperform surrounding traditional public schools as well as other Los Angeles public schools.
As brought up by Ranger, a charter school gets to pick and choose which students it wants to enroll. If a student is not up to the standard that the charter school has set, the student must go to another school. If the charter school feels that the student (after being enrolled) is not a good fit for the school, the student is asked to leave the school. Guess where these students who don't fit the charter school criteria end up. Guess what kind of parental supervision these low-performing students (who can't get into a charter school) have.

Charter schools also get to choose the space and classrooms that they wish to use inside of the public schools if no separate facility is available. Guess which classrooms they choose. (There is a big fight in several of the public schools in Los Angeles where this is taking place because, of course, the charter schools want the best classrooms.)

And it's not true that the teachers' union sets the curriculum for the schools. Teachers can make suggestions about what should be taught, but ultimately the state dictates what needs to be taught in public schools. Charter schools, on the other hand, have more input about how the curriculum is structured in their schools.

Ideally, ALL schools should be allowed to screen out students who do not wish to be educated, but that's not how the educational system operates.
Old 10-14-08, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandoman View Post
Is it only me, or is this poll one-sided? Just me? OK.
Did you see who made the poll?
Old 10-14-08, 02:52 PM
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I am no friend of the teacher's union, but I don't think they are the root of the problem in this instance. If public schools were allowed to live under the rules of charter schools, they could make a great deal of changes that would benefit the students. But those rules are typically in place by the legislature or state school board. The union my have some influence on that, but they are generally after more freedom for the schools, and not more rules from the states.
Old 10-14-08, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
Did you see who made the poll?
Is this any different than the other charter school poll he did last year?

I can't wait to see what kind of charter school poll we get to see next year!
Old 10-14-08, 04:15 PM
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Next year? I'm sure we will have another school thread by next week. The same arguments will be brought up and ignored while he stares at his Montessori diploma lovingly.
Old 10-14-08, 06:23 PM
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I live in a part of the city that has bad schools. Bad enough that we were planning on moving when we started a family. But now that a charter school might be started that interests us we will probably stay (if it gets passed). The people starting this school tried desperately to improve the local elementary school to no avail. Many sent their children there and tried to become involved, but the administration was so set in their ways that after a few years the people in the community decided to try it themselves.

And I'm thrilled after having attended many meetings about the startup. It's exciting because it will involve parents who actually give a crap about the education of their children. The school will also be open to the community... it's not private, of course. And the concept of the school will have to be very different from the direct teaching style of the public school to be approved.

Honestly, I'm no expert on the political implications of charter schools. I just know I want something better for my kid. I'm a fairly new parent who doesn't want to wait around for the local public schools to change. We're making it happen ourselves.
Old 10-14-08, 06:52 PM
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Better Education > Worse Education

Unions look out for the needs of the union, and not the child, parent, or community. If a charter school can provide a quality education, not only do I think they should support it, they should expand to other schools and provide the kind of education our kids deserve.
Old 10-14-08, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by pedagogue View Post
Better Education > Worse Education

Unions look out for the needs of the union, and not the child, parent, or community. If a charter school can provide a quality education, not only do I think they should support it, they should expand to other schools and provide the kind of education our kids deserve.
Seems like it would be easier to just give public schools the same rules you give charter schools and cut our losses with kids that suck, imo.

I like charter schools. But I don't like that we give them lenient rules that help them to succeed where public schools have more restrictions and then are amazed at what charter schools can do by comparison.
Old 10-14-08, 09:17 PM
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it's simple - charter schools choose which kids to take. if they don't take the problem kids of course they'll fair better than a public school that has to teach every kid. secondly, under the nclb act charter schools are not held to the higher standards that public schools are. but hey, let's take away public school funding anyway.......
Old 10-15-08, 08:03 AM
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Get rid of tenure, and alot of teachers will change their habits. I can't tell you how many older teachers I had in high school who were tenured and nearing retirement, and just didn't give a shit. Now at the time, they were the teachers you tried to schedule into cause they were an easy A. Looking back now that was a disgrace at how those teachers didn't really teach us anything, because they were so easy on us, and that is because they could not get fired because of tenure.

I grew up in Public Schools and what most people don't understand is that they have to move EVERY kid through the school and you are just going to get a section of great students, a section of good students, and a section of losers. In private schools you just get the great/good students who are paying for their tuition so every kid wants to succeed and go to college, where as public school, usually half of the kids don't even think about going to college. If the kids parents aren't pushing them to do well in school, and the kid doesn't give a crap, the teacher has no shot, and that is always a portion of students you get at a public school that you don't get at a private/charter school.

Last edited by coli; 10-15-08 at 08:06 AM.
Old 10-15-08, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
Well, aren't the kids at the charter schools there only because they showed higher potential? I'd expect that group to perform well, teacher union or not.


That's a good point.

The best comparison would be to compare the charter school students to the non-charter school students who tried to get into the charter school but didn't get in because they lost the charter school lottery.
Old 10-15-08, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I am no friend of the teacher's union, but I don't think they are the root of the problem in this instance. If public schools were allowed to live under the rules of charter schools, they could make a great deal of changes that would benefit the students. But those rules are typically in place by the legislature or state school board. The union my have some influence on that, but they are generally after more freedom for the schools, and not more rules from the states.

I bolded the part of the article that says the unions are against charter schools.
Old 10-15-08, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by atlantamoi View Post
I live in a part of the city that has bad schools. Bad enough that we were planning on moving when we started a family. But now that a charter school might be started that interests us we will probably stay (if it gets passed). The people starting this school tried desperately to improve the local elementary school to no avail. Many sent their children there and tried to become involved, but the administration was so set in their ways that after a few years the people in the community decided to try it themselves.

And I'm thrilled after having attended many meetings about the startup. It's exciting because it will involve parents who actually give a crap about the education of their children. The school will also be open to the community... it's not private, of course. And the concept of the school will have to be very different from the direct teaching style of the public school to be approved.

Honestly, I'm no expert on the political implications of charter schools. I just know I want something better for my kid. I'm a fairly new parent who doesn't want to wait around for the local public schools to change. We're making it happen ourselves.
Excellent!
Old 10-15-08, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by grundle View Post
I bolded the part of the article that says the unions are against charter schools.
You did not bold the part, nor was it reported, as to why the union is against it. Why are you so opposed to letting the public schools compete on the same level as charter schools?

For most people who love the ideas of charter schools, they say they want competition (which I agree with), but they don't mind making the other guy in the race wear a blindfold and be in a wheelchair and proclaim that they now have competition.
Old 10-15-08, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Seems like it would be easier to just give public schools the same rules you give charter schools and cut our losses with kids that suck, imo.
I do like the system Germany has, where you get to choose a track: there's high schools for those that want to go to college, others go to a school that ends earlier (as early as ninth grade), then go learn a trade or do an apprenticeship.

I'll admit that I'm really uninformed on this since I don't have kids so I don't pay too much attention to it aside from making sure my property taxes don't go up to the level of Pennsylvania's.
Old 10-15-08, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
You did not bold the part, nor was it reported, as to why the union is against it. Why are you so opposed to letting the public schools compete on the same level as charter schools?

For most people who love the ideas of charter schools, they say they want competition (which I agree with), but they don't mind making the other guy in the race wear a blindfold and be in a wheelchair and proclaim that they now have competition.
I am in favor of allowing the public schools to be exempt from the union rules, red tape, bureacracy, etc., just as the charter schools are exempt from those things.

It is the unions, not me, who is against competition.
Old 10-15-08, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
I do like the system Germany has, where you get to choose a track: there's high schools for those that want to go to college, others go to a school that ends earlier (as early as ninth grade), then go learn a trade or do an apprenticeship.
I would definitely support an educational system such as this. Our public schools in California were actually structured somewhat like this in the past. There were many vocational courses available in high schools so that students could learn different trades (auto mechanic, plumber, electrician, cosmetologist, data processor, etc.) and could gain meaningful employment after high school if they chose not to go to college. The teachers' unions were also in favor of vocational classes in the schools.

But, somehow, going to college turned into a big many making venture for too many people so vocational courses were pushed out with the idea that ALL students should aspire to go to college and if you didn't go to college you were going to end up in a minimum wage job. (Of course, this was almost guaranteed since there were no longer any vocational courses to learn needed skills.)

One problem I see with the German idea of schooling is what happens if a student chooses not to go to college or learn a trade and just wants to hang out and get high all day. (I guess he can get on welfare or join a gang. )
Old 10-15-08, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by grundle View Post
It is the unions, not me, who is against competition.
I don't find that to be true. I believe that public school teachers would very much welcome a level playing field and could easily yield some highly competitive students. But when a teacher has a class that is a mixture of outstanding students, average students, truant students, mainstreamed students (once known as special needs/special education/semi-retarded students), drug-addled students, English-as-a-second-language students, "Opportunity Transfer" students (students who have committed criminal acts and are moved to another school to give them a "second or third" chance to excel at a different school), and simply unmotivated students, then the classroom becomes a juggling act for the teacher with most of the teacher's efforts and time being used up in helping the "under achieving" students.

Now, before you say, "Let's put all the excellent students in one class, all the mainstreamed students in one class, all the truant students in one class, etc.", stop. That's against the law in a PUBLIC school.

(Teachers were totally against the mainstreaming of students, but the courts won out.)

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