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Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Old 07-01-13, 11:40 PM
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Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has released another report on US charter schools.

I think this quote from an Education Week story sums things up nicely:

Andy Maul, a fellow at the National Education Policy Center and an assistant professor of research and methodology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that overall effect sizes in the study showing differences in academic performance between charters and traditional public schools are "trivial in magnitude." Backers of charters, he said, are "making a lot out of a little."
This is not an opinion. It is a fact. Researchers, including CREDO ones, focus on effect sizes because they express practical significance. At the end of the day, the public is interested in large gains in achievement. Period.

Generally speaking, here is what an effect size for an educational intervention means:

0.2 = weak effect
0.5 = moderate effect
0.8 = strong effect

Here are the charter achievement effects from the CREDO study:

Reading = 0.01
Math = -0.01

There was a lot of variation from state to state, but NOT ONE STATE managed to attain a positive effect greater than 0.2. The highest effect size was 0.15 (Rhode Island, math). There is essentially no difference in the achievement of charter school students and regular public school students.

And yet many journalists, and even the CREDO researchers, try to paint a different picture. Business people and politicians have convinced them to continue polishing a turd.

In the future, this entire debate will be regarded as ONE MASSIVE DIVERSION. Ultimately, what matters is what happens in the classroom. Governance is a side issue.
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Old 07-04-13, 09:02 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Your assuming the sole purpose and/or the main reason some prefer Charter Schools is better better test scores.

Think at the very least that is a misguided assumption.
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Old 07-04-13, 09:08 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Let's accept the fact that the test scores are the same. Aren't charter schools costing the typical taxpayer a lot less than a typical public school? I thought that was the entire idea behind charter schools. More independent funding, and minimal government assistance.
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Old 07-04-13, 10:10 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
Let's accept the fact that the test scores are the same. Aren't charter schools costing the typical taxpayer a lot less than a typical public school? I thought that was the entire idea behind charter schools. More independent funding, and minimal government assistance.
Yes. At the very least they are doing as well on test scores with less public funding.
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Old 07-04-13, 11:23 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
Let's accept the fact that the test scores are the same. Aren't charter schools costing the typical taxpayer a lot less than a typical public school? I thought that was the entire idea behind charter schools. More independent funding, and minimal government assistance.
Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
Yes. At the very least they are doing as well on test scores with less public funding.
It would seem to me that the answer to this would be to loosen the restrictions on public schools to the level of the charter schools then. I don't mind charter schools, but it pisses me off when they are sold as "competition" but then the states don't require a number of things from them that they require from public schools. That isn't competition. Have the same requirements for both and see how they do.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:16 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
It would seem to me that the answer to this would be to loosen the restrictions on public schools to the level of the charter schools then. I don't mind charter schools, but it pisses me off when they are sold as "competition" but then the states don't require a number of things from them that they require from public schools. That isn't competition. Have the same requirements for both and see how they do.
I hate it when you post something reasonable and I am forced to agree with you.

Please stop.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:42 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
It would seem to me that the answer to this would be to loosen the restrictions on public schools to the level of the charter schools then. I don't mind charter schools, but it pisses me off when they are sold as "competition" but then the states don't require a number of things from them that they require from public schools. That isn't competition. Have the same requirements for both and see how they do.
I don't really get why it is competetion. Why isn't it just a choice?

At some point or another, my kids attended Charters, private religious, private non-religion specific, and public schools. Currently one goes to a community college, the other a state university.

There are pluses and minuses to each. And my kids did well in some areas of each and not as well in other areas of each.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:46 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
Let's accept the fact that the test scores are the same. Aren't charter schools costing the typical taxpayer a lot less than a typical public school? I thought that was the entire idea behind charter schools. More independent funding, and minimal government assistance.
Hopefully, the general public doesn't have this misconception.

The funds to pay for a single child in public school is simply taken out of the public system and paid to the charter. There is no reduction. In fact, it probably ends up being higher as public schools are then responsible for transporting that student in specialized runs for that school.

For example, our school district now pays out over $4 million to charter schools. That is money that used to pay for that extra reading teacher or new band uniforms or new school buses or new servers to accommodate the government's insane data submission requirements. The taxpayer still pays that $4 million but instead of funding the public infrastructure, it's funding fly by night operations. Meanwhile, our district still has the same number of buildings and the only place to cut to make up for the loss of funding is teachers.
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Old 07-05-13, 09:10 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Well, you might want to tell your local school administration to work on their public perception, because all I've come to understand, is tens of millions of dollars being wasted on non-Charter programs and administrators from taxpayer schools.

Over here in Booksmartville, OR (aka Portland, OR), we allegedly had tens of millions of dollars (maybe even more) set aside for schools every single year which were going to be funded by the state lottery (I'm sure your state has something similar) so taxpayers wouldn't be burdened...

...but as the years went by, and people forgot about that promise...the lottery isn't enough capital for schools and we see, every single year, the message that schools just don't have enough money.

That's bullshit.

True, maybe teachers never see the tens of millions of dollars allocated to schools, but to say that teachers are losing jobs and don't have enough money...is not the taxpayer's fault. It's your School Administration and their fatass expense budget that does not include a well-versed student education.
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Old 07-05-13, 09:31 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

I believe over 75% of the district's budget is spent on salaries and benefits. That's not negotiable. The remainder is what districts have to work with to "ease the burden" on taxpayers. That's where the buses and uniforms and other niceties go to die. Of course, one tactic is to cut into the 75% by reducing staff which by this point most districts have already done to the point of causing a detrimental effect.

The facts are that school districts (big ones at least) have a lot of infrastructure to maintain and their bill are skyrocketing like everyone else's (energy, healthcare, etc). And I can't stress enough the cost of technology both in educating students and in running enterprise level data operations which is demanded by the federal and state governments.

At any rate, charter schools are public schools. They are funded directly through your public school district on a per student subsidy.
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Old 07-05-13, 11:26 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I believe over 75% of the district's budget is spent on salaries and benefits. That's not negotiable.
But you aren't talking about teachers salaries. I read an interesting statistic in the Wall St Journal, 50 years ago teachers made up 65% of school district employees, and today it's only 40%, and cost per pupil (adjusted for inflation) has gone up almost 4 times during that time ($2800->$10500).

Translating the numbers, it means there are currently 50% more non-teachers than teachers where before it was twice as many teachers as non-teachers. That's a huge cost shift away from the student.
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Old 07-05-13, 12:08 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Our district is closer to 55% teaching staff. The others are very low paid cafeteria workers, teaching aides (because they cant afford teachers), custodial and maintenance staff, bus drivers, and business and IT people. Where you are trying to go is to point out a bloated administrative level. That may be the case in some places but certainly not everywhere. It takes a LOT of staff to run a large school district. Think about it, a large school district had ZERO IT staff 50 years ago. Now a district of any size needs a staff of 30 people or more (and that is laughable in scope compared to an equally sized private company).
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Old 07-05-13, 01:34 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Hopefully, the general public doesn't have this misconception.

The funds to pay for a single child in public school is simply taken out of the public system and paid to the charter. There is no reduction. In fact, it probably ends up being higher as public schools are then responsible for transporting that student in specialized runs for that school.

For example, our school district now pays out over $4 million to charter schools. That is money that used to pay for that extra reading teacher or new band uniforms or new school buses or new servers to accommodate the government's insane data submission requirements. The taxpayer still pays that $4 million but instead of funding the public infrastructure, it's funding fly by night operations. Meanwhile, our district still has the same number of buildings and the only place to cut to make up for the loss of funding is teachers.
Assuming this is correct, and it appears it is....Charter schools do not receive the same funding as do public schools in the same area. Yes they get the bulk (I would assume) but not all,

In the United States, charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and may, like other schools, also receive private donations). They are subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, but generally have more flexibility than traditional public schools. Charter schools are expected to produce certain results, set forth in each school's charter.[1] Charter schools are attended by choice.[2]

In exchange for flexibility, charter schools receive less funding than public schools in the same area - typically, they receive only 'head' funds (a certain amount per student) and do not receive any facilities funding which typically pays for a public school's maintenance and janitorial needs. Although charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is oversubscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions systems. However, the lottery is open to all students.[3]
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Old 07-05-13, 10:11 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
I don't really get why it is competetion. Why isn't it just a choice?
What is choice if not competition? You choose to send your kids one place over another. One place offers something the other place does not, and that thing is of value to you. But in the public school's position they are often not allowed to offer the very thing you value while the other school is. Everything that is about choice is also about competition.

Originally Posted by PerryD View Post
But you aren't talking about teachers salaries. I read an interesting statistic in the Wall St Journal, 50 years ago teachers made up 65% of school district employees, and today it's only 40%, and cost per pupil (adjusted for inflation) has gone up almost 4 times during that time ($2800->$10500).

Translating the numbers, it means there are currently 50% more non-teachers than teachers where before it was twice as many teachers as non-teachers. That's a huge cost shift away from the student.
And here is why. We cry about wanting accountability, and so the states mandate tests that everyone must take, and the feds implement "No Child Left Behind" and then the next administration requires more shit and institutes another program called "Race to the top" while keeping NCLB. What do you suppose that does that didn't happen 50 years ago? It requires more and more administration because the school must increasingly make sure they are dealing with all the red tape correctly.

I got on the local school board 12 years ago (this is my last year) with the intent of decreasing administrative costs as I had seen them continually go up over the years. I saw teachers lose jobs, but administration just got bigger. Then I got into the system and saw why that was. It was all being done just to stay in compliance with all the various income streams.

My area's state senator is a typical Republican who is all about charter schools, voucher programs, etc. He likes to speak loudly about accountability and the failure of the current system. I attended a regional meeting he was at and he was asked about schools and said some random crap about needing more accountability and less money spend on administration. I asked him nicely, "You say you want more accountability which means more people running numbers, making sure everything is being followed to the 't,' being in compliance with all the regulations, and yet you say you think less money should be spent on administration. If we get rid of the administration we currently pay to make sure we are in compliance with NCLB, applying for Race To The Top, administering the mandatory state testing, implementing the new funding formulas we are given each year from the state and the feds, and preparing for yearly audits that the state charges us for, then how are we going to be able to be more accountable?" While there was huge applause, he gave an answer that complimented me, further demonized the problem, and ultimately had no solution. Typical politician crap.

Think about this. Bullying is the newest current craze that schools have to be looking out for. Most states went ahead and passed laws about bullying and what schools must do about it. Well, someone in the district has to follow those laws and regulations. Someone has to go to training on the new law, and then workshops have to be done to get the information out to everyone in the district. That is administration. And each new "crisis" requires the same fucking thing. Because if you don't do it, you will get sued. But when the states pass a new law like that do they include funding for the schools to get the training, etc? Fuck no. They bitch when the feds give them unfunded mandates, but then do the same fucking things to everyone else. That is why your administration costs are so high.

I firmly believe that if you cut all state and federal money by 30% and had absolutely no strings attached to it, you would have a far better school system and save money. Some would suck ass, but then you would have direct democracy in choosing your school board members. You'd get the schools you deserved, because the community voted for them. But for the majority of schools it would mean having the ability to cut administrative costs while funneling money to the districts specific needs instead of spending money on crap they don't need because the strings attached to the money dictate what it can be spent on.

But that is the nature of a huge government. An ever increasing amount of money necessarily spent on administration and less local control.
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Old 07-05-13, 10:30 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
What is choice if not competition? You choose to send your kids one place over another. One place offers something the other place does not, and that thing is of value to you. But in the public school's position they are often not allowed to offer the very thing you value while the other school is. Everything that is about choice is also about competition.

.
Well, again, I didn't think private schools were better than public. Just different. In fact I think the private HS my son went too did him a dis-service. Hence I pulled my daughter out and put her in public.

I just don't think all kids do well in the exact same environment, same formula. That a charter for example (or private religious school) can be better for kid A, but not kid B. The parents have to find the right fit, in some cases.
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Old 07-16-13, 10:45 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

CREDO's Significantly Insignificant Findings at the National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado-Boulder

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University announced in a June 25th press release that “charter school students now have greater learning gains in reading than their peers in traditional public schools.” This conclusion was repeated in newspapers across the nation. But there is much less to the CREDO study and to its claim than meets the eye, according to a new review...

“With a very large sample size, nearly any effect will be statistically significant,” the reviewers conclude, “but in practical terms these effects are so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.”
Allow me to translate: Whoop-de-doo!
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Old 07-16-13, 11:33 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by Ghostbuster View Post
CREDO's Significantly Insignificant Findings at the National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado-Boulder
Which is by the same guy you quoted in your very first post. You don't get to count his opinion twice, sorry.

“With a very large sample size, nearly any effect will be statistically significant,” the reviewers conclude, “but in practical terms these effects are so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.”
This at best meaningless and at worst disingenuous.
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Old 07-17-13, 08:43 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

My child goes to a charter school. If it wasn't there we'd likely move due to the horrid public schools around us. Only commenting on our particular charter, but the scores in this K-5 school are up there with some of the very best in the state. My assumption is that it has a lot to do with not only the different type of teaching, but also heavy parental involvement.

(edit: fixed a typo)

Last edited by atlantamoi; 07-17-13 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 07-17-13, 08:47 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by atlantamoi View Post
My child goes to a charter school. If it wasn't there we'd likely move due to the horrid public schools around us. Only commenting on our particular charter, but the scores in this K-5 school is up there with some of the very best in the state. My assumption is that it has a lot to do with not only the different type of teaching, but also heavy parental involvement.
You believed the hype.
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Old 07-17-13, 09:07 AM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Flava Flav in the hizzouse
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Old 07-17-13, 02:42 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Just some random thoughts on the topic of education in general:

1. If the educational achievement of students in a school system is regarded as substandard, there is one answer that is always wrong. That answer is not making substantial changes.

2. There is a broad perception that teacher unions are consistently an impediment to change, even in the face of woeful academic performance. This perception is overcooked, but certainly not without some basis in reality as well (i.e., it varies).

3. Charter schools are change. It is trying something different. For that reason alone, I support the efforts towards implementing them, at least in general. However, "charter schools" as a concept are extremely heterogeneous, seemingly much more so than traditional public education. Some are assuredly much more successful than others. Which leads to...

4. The strength of our education system, with its fairly localized control, is its ability to experiment, to try new things. The ability to do this has been hampered somewhat in recent decades but the charter/alternative school movement has been a move back in the right direction, at least in this limited regard.

5. Sadly, the whole "charter school" debate has become highly politicized, and to the substantial detriment of what should be the core issue, the successful education of our children. I don't happen to think that the loudest mouths on either side of this issue truly have the children's interests at heart.

6. The achievement gap between Asian/white and black/Hispanic students is the single most important civil rights issue of our time. I don't feel like anything else even comes close. Any minority "leader" who doesn't spend 75%+ of their time focusing on this issue is doing their respective ethic constituency a disservice.
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Old 07-17-13, 04:30 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
6. The achievement gap between Asian/white and black/Hispanic students is the single most important civil rights issue of our time. I don't feel like anything else even comes close. Any minority "leader" who doesn't spend 75%+ of their time focusing on this issue is doing their respective ethic constituency a disservice.
Great post. I think it's important to understand that the gap was not created by schools and therefore can't be fixed by schools. It's parental involvement and a culture that admires, rewards, and expects educational success that makes whites and Asians excell. Blacks and hispanics need to change their culture; change the way they value education. Teachers can't fix that problem.
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Old 07-17-13, 04:43 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Just some random thoughts on the topic of education in general:
Good list. I will add to just a few, and I agree with them, especially in spirit.

2. There is a broad perception that teacher unions are consistently an impediment to change, even in the face of woeful academic performance. This perception is overcooked, but certainly not without some basis in reality as well (i.e., it varies).
Agreed. Getting rid of the unions would not make substantial changes. In fact, we'd likely need even more administration as we negotiate contract individually. The only really positive thing I can see from getting rid of the union would be the ability to pay math and science teachers more than PE teachers. Those that are really good at math and science can simply get so much better jobs with those degrees that it is tough to get good teachers in these positions. And PE teachers pretty much make more than they could in any other field.

4. The strength of our education system, with its fairly localized control, is its ability to experiment, to try new things. The ability to do this has been hampered somewhat in recent decades but the charter/alternative school movement has been a move back in the right direction, at least in this limited regard.
Agree in concept, but the reality is that there is very little local control in terms of the education kids receive. That is all given out by the states and the feds. You want their money, you spend it like they say you will, because everyone knows that what works in some rural Iowa town will work in Baltimore and Oakland as well. That is what government gives....a blanket solution to hundreds of differing problems. We could save money and provide for a better education by allowing schools to spend money on the needs they believe they have.

5. Sadly, the whole "charter school" debate has become highly politicized, and to the substantial detriment of what should be the core issue, the successful education of our children. I don't happen to think that the loudest mouths on either side of this issue truly have the children's interests at heart.
I think the Right is generally motivated by education, but has this fantasy that if we just get back to a 1 room school house, everything would be better. And they have no interest in spending money on it.

The Left is also motivated by education, but sees charter schools as a ruse for religious teachings, devaluing teachers by getting rid of the union, and further splitting resources (heating a public school and a charter school instead of a single school) which takes money out of education for students.

In the end, I do think they all believe these things are best for education, and they simply disagree with each other on how to achieve it.

6. The achievement gap between Asian/white and black/Hispanic students is the single most important civil rights issue of our time. I don't feel like anything else even comes close. Any minority "leader" who doesn't spend 75%+ of their time focusing on this issue is doing their respective ethic constituency a disservice.
Get over this as soon as you can because nothing will ever be done about it and it will never get any better. Politicians DO NOT blame the parents (voters) for things, and that is where the bulk of the blame lies in the achievement gap. Find studies (I've seen them at conferences on this) about parental views of education, and suddenly it becomes quite clear. In general, White/Asian/Pakistani parents simply value (school) education more than Black/Hispanic/Native American parents do. Those students who are held accountable at home and have a peer group that values education simply put more effort into it and achieve better. Those groups who do not have the value of education reinforced and are held accountable for it do not. That is so fucking obvious, and politicians know this as well. But, like I said, they aren't going to go out and blame the voters. This is all part of the "blame others for these problems" mentality that never lays blame on those that elect you.

To that end, there are things that do bias people in education. Dress like a gang banger (Black or White) and teachers will assume you don't care about education much, and will dismiss you easier. This is mostly done because of past experience with students who dress like this. Additionally (this comes up in WA a lot), Native Americans place an incredible amount of value on cultural things like fishing, rituals for the recently departed (I've seen them take days), and as a result the students can end up missing a lot of school. currently the schools in WA are trying to find a way to accommodate this, but there are no really good solutions.

But those things are absolutely tiny in comparison to parental and peer view of education. That is where you need the change. And that is what politicians won't do. Look at the ration of shit Bill Cosby gets when he speaks about it.
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Old 07-17-13, 04:44 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

For me, in a perfect world, charter schools would do amazingly, and it would be decided that having far fewer regulations, etc. is the primary cause. This would lead to states and the fed to getting rid of so many regulations that do nothing but cause schools to continually spend more money on administration as they try to stay in compliance with all the rules.

You may say I'm a dreamer.
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Old 07-17-13, 10:22 PM
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Re: Charter Schools: Don't believe the hype.

Originally Posted by dork View Post
Which is by the same guy you quoted in your very first post. You don't get to count his opinion twice, sorry.
Fortunately, this is a matter of evidence, not opinion. The achievement effect sizes are tiny by any standard accepted by statisticians and education researchers.

This at best meaningless and at worst disingenuous.
In statistics, one factor that influences the likelihood of rejecting the null hypothesis is the sample size. (In this case, the null hypothesis is that there is no difference in achievement between charter schools and regular public schools.)

See statistical power.
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