Charter schools

Major charter school organization leaves 17 NC schools in the lurch

Oregon sugar daddy has apparently turned sour:

An organization that helped set up charter schools in North Carolina and Arizona has lost several of its leaders and cut back on its work, leading two N.C. schools to drop the organization’s services. Now, those schools — which represent about 11,000 students — are wondering what to do next.

The turnover at TeamCFA has created uncertainty around the Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides financial, instructional and management support to 17 charter schools in North Carolina and four schools in Arizona.

I first came a cross John Bryan's name a few years ago during a routine exploration of high-dollar campaign contributions to Republican politicians here in NC, and soon stumbled across the reasons why he had contributed so much. But like many billionaires do, he has apparently lost interest in the cause:

NC's Innovative School District program suffering mysterious turnover rate

And nobody wants to fess up as to the causes:

LaTeesa Allen took over as superintendent of the ISD after Eric Hall, the first superintendent, left for a job in Florida. That was February. In response to inquiries from EducationNC, Dave Prickett, head of communications for the ISD, said that Allen’s last day was June 28. That is all he said. Meanwhile, in addition to Allen’s departure, the principal of the sole ISD school — Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County — has also left.

In interviews for an article about Southside-Ashpole published in March on EducationNC, neither Major nor Allen gave any indication that they were thinking about leaving.

"Rats fleeing a sinking ship" comes to mind, but it could also be something as simple as a management company being too tight with resources. That second thing has always concerned me about Charter Schools, because the governing boards are usually made up of business people, as opposed to educators, and cutting costs *always* emerges as a top priority with those folks. But honestly, the very nature of the ISD approach is wrong-headed, and amounts to a hostile takeover of public schools:

Teach For America's true colors show during strike

Just another cog in the school privatization machine:

The tensions came to a head this week when hundreds of Teach for America alumni criticized the educator placement program for suggesting corps members who strike in Oakland would lose thousands of dollars promised to them at the end of their two-year service commitment.

Teach for America said there was a misunderstanding on the guidance it provided about the strike that could start next week. It said it gave the same message to other members facing recent strikes, including in Los Angeles.

I have a very good friend who took the TFA route several years ago, after receiving her Bachelor's in Communication. Don't know all the details, but she is no longer teaching. Two years in an inner-city school burned her out like a short candle. Their five week "boot camp" doesn't even come close to preparing TFA members for that particular high-stress job, but it looks like that is not their goal anyway. Creating a teacher pool for charter schools has become their main function:

Veto S469, Municipal Charter School pension access

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Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever:

A law that allows for town-run charter schools in four Charlotte suburbs has been criticized because it could lead to more racially segregated schools in that area. Now, a bill to offer state pensions to teachers at those proposed schools could make it easier for the model to spread to more cities. That bill (S469) is on the governor’s desk awaiting veto or signature.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has publicly opposed the technical corrections bill passed last week that would allow municipal charter schools to offer state benefits to their employees. “Prior to this technical corrections bill, the functional reality is, these schools weren’t going to start,” said Charles Jeter, legislative liaison for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The whole idea of municipal charters is insane, but allowing them to participate in the state's pension system is even crazier. Why? Because it makes us all complicit in the re-segregation of schools. First of all, municipalities have the ability/authority to refuse incorporation of poor and (quite often) African-American communities, basically blocking those black students from attending the new schools. And throwing the pension in there will no doubt draw many good teachers away from county schools and into the same white incubator. But that's not all this particular bill would do. It's a "technical corrections" bill (see omnibus), which would also give $8,000 vouchers to disabled students attending private schools:

Charter school foxes in the public school henhouse

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Mark Johnson has just proven he's nothing but a shill:

Johnson touted Maimone’s background with the charter school in his announcement Friday, pointing out that he led the school as it grew from 110 students in grades 7-9 in 1999 to about 1,300 students in grades K-12 today. The superintendent’s announcement said students “thrived” at Maimone’s school.

The charter earned a “B” performance grade and did not meet growth expectations on its 2016-2017 assessments, according to the most recent state report available. The school serves a decidedly different population than many typical public schools, however, with just 7.5 percent of its students considered “economically disadvantaged.” Traditional school supporters have often pointed out that the state’s growing charter sector serves a more affluent population.

Aside from being completely in the thrall of the school choice crowd, Johnson may have just hired somebody who's keeping a dark secret:

NC Senate bill would shift more funding to charter schools

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The school privatization train picks up speed:

The battle in question concerns how local funding is shared between traditional public schools and charter schools. SB 658 would require traditional school districts to send more of their local funds to charter schools.

This bill is misguided because charter schools already receive more local funding than traditional public schools, and the gap is growing. A NC Justice Center report published in September showed that, controlling for student residence, the local spending in charter schools in fiscal year 14-15 exceeded the local per pupil spending in traditional schools by $142 per student. That gap has increased in fiscal year 15-16, with charter schools now exceeding local spending of traditional schools by $212 per student. SB 658 would only exacerbate these funding discrepancies.

We're heading into a public school crisis with the unfunded mandate on class sizes, which has already cost educators several dozen jobs. Instead of fixing that problem (which they created), they're trying to take away even more money from traditional public schools. The word "irresponsible" falls way too short in describing their actions, but they just keep chugging along.

Vinroot uses faulty data when promoting diversity of charter schools

Masking the reality of state-sponsored segregation:

“I am very much concerned,” says state Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat and former high school math teacher who sits on the N.C. House of Representatives’ education committee. “I think when our legislators have false information, we come up with legislation that is not in the best interest of kids.”

To make his points, Vinroot relies on free or reduced lunch data in charters. By most estimations, that’s not a fair assessment, experts say, pointing out less than a third of the state’s charters participate in that program.

But I'm sure the public school haters in the General Assembly will eat it up with gusto.

Behind closed doors: No press allowed at Michelle Rhee's education gathering

Get ready for more charter/private school legislation this session:

Some North Carolina public education activists are crying foul over a private legislative meet state lawmakers are scheduled to attend with controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee next month.

This week, Policy Watch requested access to next month’s event, but BEST N.C. President & CEO Brenda Berg said no members of the media will be granted access. Berg said such a rule will allow “candid” conversations between participants, which includes an unspecified number of state lawmakers and school stakeholders.

Stating the obvious: If such conversations can only be "candid" if the public is kept in the dark, then maybe those conversations *are* the problem, not the solution these people are looking for. And if you want to see what can happen when those lines are blurred, let's travel to the West Coast and take a look at Sacramento:

Blatant hypocrisy emerges in charter school scandal

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Oversight? We don't need no stinking oversight:

But when it comes to the Republicans’ pet education issues – increasing the number of charter schools and expanding the use of vouchers for private schools – the accountability demands ease. The lack of oversight has now shown up in a Durham charter K-12 school that awarded 53 diplomas in the last two years to students who lacked the credits necessary to graduate. That’s nearly a third of the school’s graduates since 2014 and the problem could go back further.

I find it extremely hard to believe administrators at this school couldn't keep up with a simple credit count. It's not quantum mechanics, for God's sake. Which means, there was an intentional effort to graduate unqualified students, and an apparently widespread problem in even providing enough classroom instruction to meet the criteria. What other shortcuts did they take? We likely won't find out, because Republicans seem intent on ignoring the problem:

Charter supporters throw temper tantrum over low approval numbers

And engage in a little name calling between tears:

Today, Alan Hawkes, a Greensboro charter leader who sits on the state’s Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB), is still hot. That’s because five schools tapped for opening by Hawkes’ board, which makes recommendations on charter applicants to the state board, were overwhelmingly voted down by the State Board of Education (SBE). Board members cited typos, weak applications and publicly questioned whether some schools’ academic plans were ready for prime time despite the CSAB’s support. Typically, state board members heed the counsel of the CSAB, but not this month.

“Don’t get me started about public charter school no-nothings (sic) on the NC State Board of Education,” Hawkes wrote in an email to Policy Watch this week. “The temerity and ignorance of those soulless SOB’s (sic) presuming to know better than the NC Charter School Advisory Board with its diversity of knowledge and experience in this area. If there is anyone who knows the good, the bad and the ugly about public school choice, it’s members of our NC CSAB.”

The plural form is "sons of bitches," so I'm thinking it should be "S'sOB"? Still doesn't look right...Anyway, if the people who are supposedly going to teach our children can neither write well nor proofread, maybe they should take up another hobby, like ATV riding without a helmet? Using a chainsaw to cut the wrong side of the limb they're sitting on? Something along those lines.

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