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Forum Post: Charter Schools Exposed

Posted 8 years ago on July 16, 2012, 2:50 p.m. EST by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY
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Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is an historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.

Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader magazine, a small journal devoted to democratic ideas. In 1975, she became a historian of education with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At that time she worked closely with Teachers College president Lawrence A. Cremin, who was her mentor. She was appointed to public office by Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Secretary of Education Richard Riley appointed her to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress; she was a member of NAGB from 1997 to 2004.

She has participated in a "blog debate" called "Bridging Differences" with Steinhardt School colleague Deborah Meier on the website of Education Week since February 26, 2007.[6]

[edit]Writings and statements on education

Ravitch critiqued the punitive uses of accountability to fire teachers and close schools, as well as replacing public schools with charter schools and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education (2010). The book became a surprise best seller a month after its release. One reviewer wrote "Ravitch exhibits an interesting mix of support for public education and the rights of teachers to bargain collectively with a tough-mindedness that some on the pedagogical left lack."[7]

While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, Ravitch later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers."[8]

Ravitch said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by "right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation," for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers' unions.[9] She reviewed the documentary Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim, as "propagandistic" (pro-charter schools and anti-public schools), studded with "myths" and at least one "flatly wrong" claim.[10] Of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program, Ravitch said in a 2011 interview it "is an extension of No Child Left Behind ...[,] all bad ideas." She concluded "We are destroying our education system, blowing it up by these stupid policies. And handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. There's plenty of evidence by now that the kids in those schools do no better, and it's simply a way of avoiding their - the public responsibility to provide good education."[11]

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/10/now-it-can-be-told-the-secrets-to-success-and-riches/

Common Core Standards: A Boon for Edu-BizEmergency Manager in Muskegon Heights Picks Charter Corporation » Now It Can Be Told! The Secrets to Success and Riches July 10, 2012 // 42 Bruce Baker has distilled the qualities of successful charter schools. In this post, Baker looks at the reasons that some NYC charter schools succeed.

The reason for creating charters in the late 1980s was that they would have the freedom to try new ideas and thereby to help public schools improve.

As the charters tried new things, public schools would learn from their experience and would improve. The charters were supposed to gain freedom from most state regulation in exchange for their willingness to be held accountable. After twenty years of charter school experimentation, we now have a pretty solid idea of “what works.”

The same things that “work” in charter schools should also work in public schools.

We should not waste time. Let’s learn from the charters so all schools can be successful schools.

First, the best charters spend considerably more money so that they can provide additional services and tutoring. Some spend thousands more per student. That is an important lesson. Every public school that wants to see dramatic improvement should get extra funding.

Second, the charters are free of burdensome regulation by the states and districts.

That’s an important finding. The states and districts should immediately give public schools the same regulatory relief now available to charters.

Third, the charters do not accept the same proportion of students with special needs or students who are English language learners. Uh-oh. That’s a hard one. Public schools are required by state and federal laws to have their doors open to all students. I don’t think that public schools can follow the charter model here. If public schools didn’t take these students, where would they go? Fourth, the charters have even more money to spend because of the small proportion of children with disabilities and English language learners; this is a budget plus. But again, I don’t think public schools can maximize their dollars by excluding the most expensive-to-educate kids. So that’s another no-go. Fifth, the charters make their own disciplinary rules and can toss out kids who misbehave by their rules, like bringing chips to school or not looking in the eyes of the teacher, or speaking up when they are supposed to walk in silence. But if public schools kicked out kids for minor infractions, where would they go? To another public school.

Sixth, the charters have longer school days, longer school weeks, and a longer school year. More time to teach, more time to get ready for state tests. Public schools can do that too, unless those pesky unions insist on being paid more for working longer hours. Seventh, charters keep their costs low by encouraging or tolerating or not minding constant turnover among the teachers. That way, the bulk of teachers are in year one or two, at the bottom of the salary scale, and they are more malleable. Senior teachers cost more, and have ideas of their own. But public schools will have a hard time learning this lesson because senior teachers have job rights. Of course, with the current move on to eliminate seniority and tenure, even public schools will soon be dealing mainly with inexperienced and malleable teachers in their first year. Who will train the new teachers if the senior teachers have left? Well, that’a a problem we will deal with some other time. No one has time to think about that now.

But one thing seems clear: If public schools get more money; if they can be freed of regulations, if they can exclude the most challenging students, if they have longer hours, if they have constant teacher turnover to save money, if they can keep out or push out the students who don’t obey or who can’t pass the tests, then they too will get fabulous results.

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12 Comments


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[-] 2 points by Parhelion (5) 8 years ago

I grew up in a poor district -- my school had the bare minimum offering (no art, no music, no clubs, no languages, not even math or science past basic geometry or biology). In my last two years of high school, I went to a public boarding charter school that accepted students from low-income areas, and it turned my life around. As a result, I am a bit biased.

I don't think the key to "fixing education" is going to be throwing more money at the problem. School districts are bankrupting, and they're trying to save face by not admitting it while they close down schools and shuffle kids around into classrooms with 30+ students or more.

Blaming the unions doesn't do anyone any good. Are they causing harm right now? Yes. But bottom line, we NEED unions and we're not going to be able to restructure them until more teachers demand it.

I'm tired of hearing about how "pesky" public school teachers are, and how "overpaid" they are. People act as though teachers walk into school at exactly 9am, pop in a video tape for the perfect little angels that they are educating, and then leave at 2pm and then go party. Oh yeah, and they get summer vacation! -- Please. Being a teacher is a year-round, 12-to-16-hour-a-day job, and your compensation is the bare minimum payment, no ability to deal with unruly kids who may or may not be sociopathic, and bear the brunt of the rage of every parent out there who feels the "schools are failing" them because of "greedy teachers." People expect them to handle kids with real problems and always know exactly how to turn every child into a little Einstein, but teachers are NOT psychologists.. and even if they did have training, you wouldn't want to pay them for the extra credentials.

[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 8 years ago

I grew up in Queensbridge Projects went to PS 111, them PS 4 then JHS 204 then Long Island City High. That was in the day of the tax and spend Democrats aligned with unions and the NAACP so we had art, science, orchestra (starting in Junior High) where I learned to play the violin and the trumpet too. We went on class trips paid by someone else to the Planetarium and various museums. There were problems too. For example some of the teachers were plain nuts, and even before the union came in the principals refused to even try to do anything about them. The teachers struck while I was in High School and thus birthed their union in battle. Drugs were practically unknown to us, we didn't have music that urged us to do antisocial things and we mostly believed that if we did what the teachers told us we'd have pretty good lives. Much of that has changed. The worse thing is that increasingly the kids see no point, no relevance to their lives to education.

http://theassailedteacher.com/2012/02/24/the-next-teacher-strike/

New York City teachers are due for a strike.

Leo Casey claims (check the comments section) that the union will fight for something other than standardized exams on the local level. He claims that there are other types of assessments the city can use.

Sure there are.

But what happens when Bloomberg and Commissioner King say that they will not hear of anything else except local exams? How far will the UFT be willing to go to prevent our schools from becoming testing factories?

As Diane Ravitch has said, can you imagine a school system that tests kids 3, 4 or 5 times every year not to help them learn anything, but for the sole purpose of holding their teachers “accountable”?

How far is the UFT willing to go to prevent this madness?

The UFT already lost the fight in court to prevent unreliable, less than garbage “value added” data from being released to the public. Despite the fact that Bill Gates (!) and Dennis Walcott (!) have warned against the unreliability of these numbers, every major media outlet is set to release them tomorrow morning. Even Gotham Schools, despite getting pats on the back (including from themselves) for vowing not release the reports, will still publish them in some form.

This is the result of a ten-year campaign of teacher vilification from the media, politicians and business leaders who have blamed us for urban poverty and an “achievement gap”.

Enough is enough.

The last major teacher strike in 1968 drove a wedge between the city’s (predominantly Jewish) teachers and the predominately black school districts in Brooklyn.

The next major teacher strike will bridge that gap.

The common theme throughout all of these things is testing. It looms over the heads of students and teachers as a weapon used by people who know absolutely nothing about education to destroy public schools.

If teachers strike, the issue of testing must be the centerpiece. Everything else: the lack of funding for inner-city schools, the decline of teacher rights, the chartering wave, can all be tied (if tenuously) back to the central issue of testing.

Do the parents of New York City want their children to do nothing but take tests for 10 months of the year? Do they want the teachers of their students to be so repressed, so ill protected, that they cannot speak out against poor treatment and lack of services for their students?

Do the people who send their children to NYC schools, who are the same people being gentrified out of their homes, want to continue to leave the school system in the hands of the mayor responsible for their displacement? Do the inner city communities of New York City want to leave the school system in the hands of the same mayor who has given them nothing but “stop and frisk”?

Negotiating, compromising and lawsuits, which have been the preferred tactics of the UFT, have failed. They have done nothing but provide a rubber stamp for all of these atrocities perpetrated by the Bloomberg regime.

Yes, I know, without the union, things would have been worse. Yes, the union has cushioned the blow against many of these so-called reforms. Even if that is true, which I am not sure it is, that simply is not good enough anymore. Just like the Democratic Party, their “cushioning” ends in disaster for the people they are supposedly representing.

The only thing left is to opt out of this brutal regime. The only way to opt out is by using the only thing over which we have any control: our bodies.

They can make all the laws and evaluations they want. If people are not there to follow them, then it is all irrelevant.

The only thing left is a strike.

But it has to be more than a strike. It cannot just be one sector of workers or one group out for their own interests hitting the streets. This needs to be a movement. It needs to be teachers, administrators, parents and students. It needs to be an eruption of all of the people Bloomberg has tried to suppress. Veteran educators, oppressed minorities, children and the urban poor must hit back and hit back hard.

How fitting if we could get something like this off the ground when Bloomberg is on his way out? What better repudiation of his tenure, his legacy, his entire school-closing, stop-and-frisking, gentrifying, bike-lane drawing vision for New York than to have everyone victimized by this vision to take the streets and shut the city down?

We know the UFT will not support us. The first words out of their mouths will be “Taylor Law”, followed by all the usual hems and haws about why nothing of substance can be done to resist.

So it must be done by going around the UFT. It must be done by going around the entire Neoliberal apparatus in which the UFT has been complicit.

The only question is how? What strategies and what tactics should be used? How do we sustain this action in the face of court injunctions, jack-booted police and media ridicule that is sure to meet such action?

Those questions are still being debated.

But I am reminded of a quote by Nietzsche: “if one has his why, then he can put up with almost any how.”

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 8 years ago

Joethefarmer needs to read this.

Good Post.

Thx

[-] 1 points by hua052011 (1) 8 years ago

Hi

I found that a member asked same question in this forum some months ago.

Pls use search box to find this questions with comments

If you want to get more materials that related to this topic, you can visit: http://teacherinterviewquestions.info/bilingual-teacher-interview-questions

Best regards.

[-] -2 points by delayedgrat (-157) 8 years ago

In 1970 there were 3.4 million teachers. Today there are 6.4 millon teachers. In that time time, total number of students has increased 8%. Cost per pupil in inflation adjusted dollars has quadrupled.

Money isnt he issue and union teachers have become the problem.

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 8 years ago

Your numbers are inaccurate.

Teachers are only part of the problem. The worst performing students are still in poorest communities (black and white).

Schools there are still crumbling, and understaffed (teacher to student ratio still the worst) teachers are underpaid and parents overworked and less able to provide the guidance children need at home during the school years. Students still suffer from not enough to eat (and therefore less able to focus) and poor students still suffer from a lack of hope. They don't see an opportunity for their future. In fact the see how they are being underserved. Treated like stepchildren, who do not matter.

All these reasons affect the education outcomes. Teachers also share blame. But they aren't the only problem. You comments putting all the blame on unions appear to be simply partisan republican anti union rhetoric.

Put it to rest. The problem is not simple as that.

Peace

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 8 years ago

In 1970 policy in most of these great United States denied education to most disabled children (denied to around 80% of them), something that is likely to return with the privatization/ for profit model of education that's now all the rage. Some of these kids get one teacher each, Some are in classrooms of a few kids.

http://www.learningrx.com/history-of-special-education.htm

Student to teacher ratios have gotten better all around. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. The top private schools and the public schools in wealthy districts strive for this. So, yes there are more teachers, and most definitely for now disabled and troubled kids still go to school. In my lifetime they didn't and no doubt if people like you had their druthers it'd be like that again. Save money, yeah.

[-] -1 points by delayedgrat (-157) 8 years ago

Ratios have improved but results have declined. The answer ALWAYS from progressives is more teachers, more money. Clearly that hasnt worked. All that happens when we add more teachers is create more unions slackers.

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 8 years ago

The entire society is going into the garbage can if you haven't noticed. Just how much a teacher can do to counteract that is arguable. The solution would be I suppose to enlarge classrooms, make teachers into day laborers who read to the kids from a corporate sold testing rehearsal script and stop wasting time trying to prepare kids with serious problems for these multiple choice computer graded tests.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 8 years ago

Hey - isn't that the no child left behind program?

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 8 years ago

Why is it OK for a CEO to get exorbitantly high salaries, but a teacher should be grateful for what she gets if even though, in the big scheme of things, it is only a pittance? Also, doesn't a CEO of a private chatter make more than the highest paid public administrator? That's got to be wasteful and demoralizing to the teacher. Don't you think?

http://thenotebook.org/april-2009/091206/charter-executive-pay-how-much-too-much

                                                     VS

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 8 years ago

There's been a concerted campaign to demoralize the teacher force over the past several years and Obama is a participant in this attack. Democrats have attacked their own base consistently or stood by while it got bloodied.