Charter School Attrition

These are indeed interesting numbers that should be part of the discussion. I'd like to know what charter advocates say about them - is there a competing explanation to the "counseled out" theory? - promoted by david

Well, with Scot Lehigh once again burnishing the charter school myth in today’s Globe, it’s time once again to go to the numbers.

Charter schools like to tout their test scores and long waiting lists, especially when advocating for more charter schools.  But neither they nor their handmaidens in the local media ever talk about their attrition.

Using data from the Mass DOE’s website, let’s look at the attrition from several Boston charter schools, shall we?

Academy of the Pacific Rim had 81 5th graders in the 2005-2006 school year. Only  26 of those students remain as 12th graders this year.

Boston Collegiate Charter School had 88 6th graders in the 2006-2007 school year.  Only 35 of those students remain as 12th graders this year.

Boston Preparatory Charter School had 102 6th graders in the 2006-2007 school year. Only 39 remain as 12th graders this year.

City on a Hill Charter School had 130 9th graders in the 2009-2010 school year. Only 47 remain this year as 12th graders.

Codman Academy Charter School had 53 9th graders in the 2009-2010 school year. Only 24 remain this year as 12th graders.

MATCH Charter high school had 72 9th graders in the 2009-2010 school year. Only 45 remain this year.

Judging by these numbers, MATCH is by far the most effective charter high school in Boston, retaining 62.5% of its students until 12th grade.

Academy of the Pacific Rim appears to be the least effective with a 32% retention rate.

As a point of comparison, Boston Public Schools enrolled 4,862 9th graders in 2009-2010 and has 3,869 12th graders this year.  This is 79% retention.

I would like it if Scot Lehigh or any charter school advocate or operator could explain to me how these numbers reflect success.

 



Discuss

51 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Exactly the facts

    that need to be out there! Why are there no columnists willing to speak the truth about charter schools? They absolutely, without a doubt are cherry picking their students and we never hear about how they weed out the underperforming students from their ranks. When will there be a charter school looking to recruit the most challenging students? How about a truly open lottery-any families wishing to try for a slot simply write their child’s name on a slip of paper and place it in an open container, and in front of everyone present, students are in if their name is picked out. No pre-screening, no lengthy application process, no problem if your child has an IEP…

    • irony

      There’s some good questions and a fair amount misleading stuff on this thread. I used to jump in on these with my BMG friends Pablo and Sabutai arguing the anti-charter case, those were the days…

      I chose to respond to your comment because, with the very small chance it will change your mind, what you described as wanting is EXACTLY THE PROCESS which charters follow in real life.

      1. There is a charter “looking to recruit the most challenging students.” And they’re growing.

      2. The application is a single piece of paper. Name, phone number, address, etc. No pre-screen. No “lengthy” application process. By state law also asks if siblings already attend — automatic admit.

      3. The lottery often does have an open container and someone — often a priest, a public official, one year we got Rep Kevin Honan — who picks. Ie, what you described is literally what happens. Here’s a 2-minute video I found with a little googling from an NYC charter.

      • No, you will not change my mind,This is not

        the process the charters in Boston follow. Why must applicants include a current report card? I had quite a group of parents very upset about the grades their children earned the first marking period. I know of a parent who called one seeking to enter her child with Down Syndrome into the “lottery” and she was

        • discouraged from doing so.

          I’m not interested in NYC charter schools or their application process because I’m invested in the BPS and I have personal knowledge of the shady practices threatening our public schools. The charter schools have NO magic formula for education, and when their student body reflects ours they might have the same results we have (probably they will even be lower). I know of no charter in Boston reaching out to recruit any of our .4 or ELD newcomer and Level 1 students. Please let me know when one of these open lotteries is held as I want to observe-I want to personally witness each app AS IT IS PLACED in the open container. Because your reply addresses the application/lottery process I won’t even get into the attrition rate which has been so well illustrated by other posters…

        • that's not true

          I honestly wonder if you’re confusing things with district-run, unionized charter-like schools called pilot schools.

          For example, Fenway High — a wonderful school — requires the things you ask for.

          See their application here.

          http://www.fenwayhs.org/admissions

          See how they ask for transcripts and letters of recommendation? It’s really the district you’re criticizing here (in my opinion, incorrectly), but not “charters.”

          By contrast, the Commonwealth charters do not ask for report cards. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be impolite, but it simply doesn’t happen, and it’s prohibited under the law.

          This is one of the crazy things about the level of misinformation on this thread. Many of the complaints are actually about charter-like schools run by the traditional school district, yet incorrectly attributed to “charter schools.”

          Remember that Massachusetts has these school classifications:

          Commonwealth Charter
          Horace Mann Charter (run by district)
          Selective Pilot (run by district)
          Lottery Pilot (run by district)
          Innovation (run by district)
          Turnaround (run by district)
          Exam (run by district)

          All are public, and each has different amounts of freedom compared to a traditional public school.

          • I'm not confused at all.

            It simply does happen. One charter school application I’ve seen asks for a current report card to “verify grade level”. I know perfectly well what a pilot school and all of the others you’ve listed are. How about the fact that the in-district UP Academy required all students to reapply to a school they already attended, the former Gavin Middle School. How convenient that 15% of the student body are now at other BPS schools…which students do you think aren’t there anymore? Hmm, maybe the entire Special Needs class that is in the building but under the auspices of the Murphy School (which now owns those MCAS scores), or maybe the students with behavioral issues, or those who were advised that that school may not be a good fit. These “prohibitions” are no problem for these schools seeking to cherry-pick their students. We are the publics, we proudly take all comers and we do a damn good job educating all.

            • I can't tell if you're

              Deliberately obfuscating, or if you’re actually trying to engage but just misinformed. I suppose I should assume the latter.

              1. The Globe article about the Gavin had a chart — it showed that UP had LOWER departure rates than most of the other BPS middle schools. Do you want a link?

              2. In addition — in that case, as I suspect you know, it was the superintendent who decided to relocate the special needs class from the Gavin, she said so herself. How could you possibly hang that on the folks at UP?

              3. But overall, I don’t even fathom your concern. Above, Fenway openly (and I believe correctly) asks for grades to consider applicants. You know of a charter that asks for it to verify grade level, and you essentially accuse their teachers and principal of lying, and instead using the report card for not operating an open lottery. Really? do you have any evidence of that? But in any case, if a charter were, for the sake of argument, screening kids by their previous report card….

              wouldn’t that be EXACTLY what you already are okay with, with the BPS pilot above?

              • I am not misinformed.

                !. I read that article in the Globe. I’ve been following the charter school movement for quite a while. The Globe is extremely pro charter to the point of only printing positive and misleading information and so can’t be relied on as a credible source.
                2. That whole deal was shady from the start-UP was awarded a no-bid contract to take over the Gavin and ALL of the teachers were let go, as if they are the problem.
                3. You don’t fathom my concern? Boston has granted access to student lists, and yes, I am accusing these charters of not operating an open lottery. The “highly successful” newer charters that are cherry-picking students are leaving us with the rest. This wouldn’t be a problem except that schools are unfairly characterized as failing based on test scores. And failing schools are threatened with “turnaround status,” and with that comes more teacher blaming and excessing.
                I see the big picture-charter schools exist to make money from what should remain public-education. Please don’t reply that I’m misinformed or confused or that I should be fine with the charter school process-I see what they are, a big chance to break the teachers’ unions, drive down salaries and end public education. Corporations have no business funding and supporting theses movements.

  2. what I find amusing...

    …is when Lehigh claims that Connolly has “bold” positions on charters, what he really means is that Connolly has positions that Lehigh agrees with. That’s what qualifies as “bold” these days, apparently.

  3. JP is correct. THESE are damming facts. Charters get away with counseling youngsters out in the name of ‘high’ standards. The students who are convinced to leave are sacrificial victims so charters can brand self promote . public schools neither practice that policy nor do they want to.

  4. Test scores

    As I’ve pointed out before, charter schools do not always outperform their public counterparts on MCAS. Witness the Chelmsford Public schools, which often do better on the tests than Innovation Academy, the local charter school. This is despite Innovation’s drawing from several affluent towns and Chelmsford taxpayers’ resistance to increasing school spending.

  5. The dirty little secret..

    This is great data and I thank you for putting this all together! I’d be interested in knowing what the application process looks like for these charters and I may just look for that information at a later date. I betcha there is some kind of smarmy language about “kids with IEPs need not apply”.

    • here you go

      Kipp is the best known charter school.

      KIPP is committed to equal treatment for all individuals. KIPP does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.

      Students are accepted regardless of background or academic record on a first-come, first-served basis. If more students apply than spaces are available, students are admitted by lottery.

      • Yes, but...

        Even some KIPP applications ask questions that could lead to students being left out of the lottery. KIPP MA’s form asks for the languages spoken at home, which reveals information potentially linked to ESL status. KIPP Memphis’ form asks for students to list and describe any IEP, 504, ESL, or other special services received. There’s no reason that this information ought to be provided prior to the lottery. KIPP Colorado clearly indicates that parents will be expected to pay a “small fee” each year for transportation, trips, sports, and other activities.

        Further, your argument is a bit of a straw-man because schools can have a non-discrimination policy but also have policies that make it difficult for ALL students to enroll. Schools that have requirements for parent involvement/volunteering for example ensure that the population at a charter school is NOT the same as a traditional public school. Further there is no centralized way to apply for charter schools, so a parent must be very knowledgeable (or have resources to help them) in order to navigate all of the applications and deadlines. Schools that do not back fill their classes also ensure that fewer and fewer behavioral and academic problems persist over the years. Why should only 9th graders be able to enter a charter high school? Why shouldn’t the charter have to enroll 10th-12th grade students – certainly charter proponents would agree that there are many students on waitlists who want to attend. Why not let them in unless you are worried you will be getting students who might drop your testing numbers?

  6. Dropout vs. Attrition

    Thank you for these numbers. High droput rates for poor and at-risk kids are a real problem for our nation. It has always struck me that when students leave traditional public schools it is known as dropping out, but when students leave charter schools, it is reported as “attrition.”

    The most troubled and difficult to educate students are often those who change schools mid-year, often due to problems related to poverty, inadequate housing, or family issues. We need to develop systems so that charter schools enroll students who enter the US mid-year due to a natural disaster in their home country, whose families are forced to move because of a rent increase, or who are released from a DYS facility, etc. I remember my assistant principal many years ago once commenting when the war in Bosnia was raging that he never thought that enrollment at our Boston Public School would be dramatically affected by unrest in the Balkans. But it happened then, just as it happened when Haiti was struck by the devastating earthquake a few years ago. I am proud that our public schools welcome and educate all students, no matter where they come from or when they enroll. Charter schools should be forced to fill their available seats, no matter when they occur, with students who may not have had the advantage of parents who enrolled them via a complex and little-known process months previously. That is what our public schools do.

    • This is an interesting point

      after all, with all this attrition, there ought to be room mid-year to add a student or two, no?

      • There are plenty of charter seats available but many charter schools do not “backfill” seats lost to “attrition” because that would “change their community” and their MCAS scores! Also, legally charter schools do not have to fill seats in the last half of the grades they serve, or in grades 10, 11 and 12 (MCAS years). That’s why many middle charter schools start in grade 5 instead of grade 6. Then they are not required to fill the empty seats in grades 7 and 8. Also, Charter schools don’t have to accept students after February 15th. Last week I had 10 charter school students assigned to my class in Boston Public Schools. Was I surprised? No, MCAS starts March 22nd!

        • Wait -

          Are you saying the charter school shipped out a bunch of students to public schools just before (and because of) the MCAS tests? That’s outrageous. This whole charter thing is looking more and more like a pile of lies.

        • wow

          Could I contact you privately and visit your class to verify that?

          The idea that 10 new students from anywhere are assigned to a single class in March — well I’ve just never heard of that in my 14 years!

  7. And the success they do claim is hardly surprising...

    The only factor Lehigh (and indeed the data) can point to when charters do succeed is extra instructional time. That’s not an innovation–it’s a resource. Successful charters use a variety of means to secure this resource: grants from corporate-funded foundations looking to make the case for privatization, administrative cultures of intimidation, armies of young, childless tutors (see the MATCH school). But none of them are scalable without diluting teacher pay or de-professionalizing teaching.

    • Charter's that service regular ed kids in Boston also get more money

      Charter Schools in Boston are also getting around $3,146 more to educate a regular ed students, which make up most of the charter schools population. Charter schools are funded on the “average” that a sending district pays for ALL its students. For example, in Boston Public Schools (BPS), a Regular Ed student cost $11,558. However, when you add the cost of all the BPS Special Ed & ELL/SEI students, the cost averages out to $14,704! Charters are paid the average $14,704! from the district, even though their population of students is mostly Regular Ed, and in no way reflects the demographic of the Boston Public Schools! This figure does not include the “non-tuition” revenue that charter schools receive.

      After 12 years a regular ed student attending a Boston charter school receives $37,752.+ more in tuition alone! This figure does not include the 5% yearly increases anticipated, and budgeted, for charter schools, and does not include the non-tuition revenue!

      The “non-tuition revenue” received by charter schools includes the state and federal nutrition funding, transportation reimbursements, a state grant related to Academic Support Services, a direct per pupil facilities grant, and federal entitlement grants including Title I funding directed to the school’s tutorial programs, IDEA funding directed at the school’s Special Education program, and Title IIA Improving Educator Quality.

      Boston charter schools saturate the East Zone, and their recruitment efforts targets the Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester neighborhoods. Initially, you might think this is a good thing, until you understand that the “non-tuition revenue” is calculated based on students at the school! The higher the student poverty rate, the higher the non-tuition revenue! It is really quite ugly when you realize the big picture.

      I feel that families of students in Boston’s traditional schools should file a suit against the city! After 12 years a Boston charter school student is getting $37,752+ more than a traditional Boston public school student! That’s a lot of bake sales, and a lot of services that a traditional school student does not receive! That $37,752.+ tuition (which does not include non-tuition revenue), comes out of the budgets of traditional BPS schools that are servicing Boston’s neediest children!

  8. I'm Calling Bull Crap on Your Interpretation of the Facts JamaicaPlainniac

    Inner city non-private schools i.e. public and charter schools all have high numbers of attrition because for the most part you have a high number of students from low income and poverty stricken homes and the social consequences associated with many of them them.

    Mobility is a factor within the poor community. Poorer families move. So when a child in charter school moves from Mattapan to East Boston (usually housing related) he/she most likely has to go to a knew school.

    But if that same child was in the Boston Public school system his leaving the mattapan school to another Boston public school does not change the attrition rate.

    Flawed analysis by far I am afraid to say.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Sat 9 Mar 9:17 PM
    • Exactly: the BPS can't wash its hands of a kid

      Charters generally aren’t zoned, so a kid moving neighborhoods actually has a better chance of staying in the same school if it’s a charter, and they often do. If you go to the charter school open house, they are from all over the city and they boast of attracting kids from all over too.

      And if it’s true the post doesn’t compare school to school, that’s part of the point: the BPS doesn’t pit schools against each other, it tries (if not perfectly) to make a system of schools work for every single kid who enters it, no matter what. Doesn’t it count for something that when a BPS student moves between schools, the BPS remains responsible for that kid’s education, in fact facilitates the transfer itself and makes the new school available? The fact is that kids can flunk out of charters, and they can misbehave their way out of charters, and charters can be done with the kid. The BPS, however flawed, is in for the duration. That’s what public education should mean, especially in poor areas: a commitment. Charter schools instead are a model of fragmentation, divide and conquer, winners and losers.

    • Except, as cannoneo correctly points out, charter schools, like BPS high schools, aren’t zoned. Your hypothetical mobile child could still attend the same charter school as long as their family remained in the district.

      And they probably would. High schoolers travel from all corners of the city to attend BPS high schools. Brighton to Latin Academy is a hell of a commute on public transportation, and yet many students do it because they value what that school is offering.

      Boston Latin Academy had 250 7th graders in 2007-2008. This year there are 281 12th graders. (They accept additional students in the 9th grade.) According to data here , 96.9% of BLA’s low-income students remain at the school.

      It seems that poor students can, in fact, remain in a school. Given this, I really don’t think your interpretation of the data holds water.

    • beyond the city limits

      If a child moves a few blocks from East Boston to Revere, the child must change public high schools because the family crossed the city line.

      If a child moves across the city line, and is enrolled in a charter school, the only think that moves is the bill. The child can remain at the charter school, the only thing that changes is which municipality’s Chapter 70 account is garnished for the inflated tuition.

  9. I've noticed the exact same thing here in the Berkshires.

    Our local charter school usually only graduates a fraction of the original 7th and 8th graders. (The data you link to suggests that BArT has 22 seniors, but in recent years they’ve only had 10, or so. They have almost 70 7th graders) I know several parents whose children were “counselled out” for reasons that were obviously related to making the school look better rather than helping the students.

    I tried really hard to like the Charter school because our town sends so many middle school kids there, but the washout rate (and the personal stories of bad experiences from friends) are exactly why I will not sent my Asperger’s son there, even though the smaller cohort and emphasis on tech might be a good thing for him. I simply do not trust them to serve him should they decide he hurts their numbers.

    • Is BART a Gulenist school?

      Gulen is a reclusive Turkish Imam that was chased out of Turkey. He preaches ecumenism and such, but he’s also made Islamacist statements. His organization has been steadily building a charter school empire.

      I don’t know that the Gulen charter schools provide bad educations per se, but the organization is sketchy.

      60 Minutes did a piece on him.

      • Didn't know Gulen had schools here

        From what I can tell, Gulen’s in a typical top3 reasons why Turkey is steadily becoming less democratic. Not exactly the person I want teaching youngsters.

        sabutai   @   Sun 10 Mar 8:46 PM
      • BArT is not a Gulen school...

        … to the best of my knowledge. It was chartered by some local parents, a couple Williams College dot.com millionaires (tripod.com), and is run by a teacher who used to be at Mt. Greylock H.S. (who happens to be married to one of the dot.com guys.)

        They are very sincere about helping poor kids make it to college, but they do it in such small numbers that I have to question their methods.

        I’ve got friends on staff there and I’ve personally contributed time and money to help the school, but I just can’t get past the fact that they refuse to deal with challenging kids.

      • Wouldn't know it

        I don’t know that the Gulen charter schools provide bad educations per se, but the organization is sketchy.

        from reading the fawning Globe editorial on Saturday (“If this is foreign interference in American education, maybe we need more.”)

        • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

          This editorial doesn’t even make sense logically. As long as a school has high test scores, who cares who teaches there? Who cares if the money they make goes to a cultish organization run by a guy talks ecumenically until he slips and talks about Islamacist hegemony. Who cares if he employs these Turks, pays them a salary, which they then hand back to him? No one knows exactly what Gulen is up to. We do know that they are bringing in a huge number of people on Visas. According to Wikileaks, the government is concernd.

          If this is foreign interference in American education, maybe we need more.

          Indeed.

  10. It's Not About Ambivalent Statistics, It's About the ShitHead Problem

    It is what it is. The high number of shitheads that remain in the public schools after the charter schools grab a fair number of the kids whose parents give the kid support in and out of school.

    The kids whose parents, or more likely their mother, doesn’t give a crap and and are poor usually provide the pool of applicants to cause nothing but trouble.

    This manifests itself in the high degree of anti-intellectualism being forced upon many kids by their peers in poor urban public schools like never before.
    As more and more kids enter the charter schools by definition the traditional public schools will fail.

    I’m not saying I disagree with many of the issues regarding charter schools v. public schools.

    The stats thing is what caught my eyes. They can be used to make any point but the can also be short down. Better argument for the cause than these stats.

    So instead of tall the negatives i got for my above comments I should have seen some love from you people.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Sun 10 Mar 9:54 PM
    • Goddamned poor people

      It’s not our fault that the parents are perma-burned-out because they have to work three jobs in our perma-sucks-for-the-99% economy, and don’t have the oomph left to investigate other options for their kids. It’s their fault for being born in a country that now has almost zero social mobility.

      Goddamn Food Stamp Queens.

      • Not Sure I Get What You Mean Manny?

        I think there is too much broad brush painting.

        When too many disruptive kids are ruining the education of others is the solution to keep them together because it is not fair to the disruptive if the they are separated?

        This in my opinion based, on observations and experience is a major hinderance for poor urban school districts in helping the average kid shoot for the stars.

        But don’t penalize the low income urban families that want a good and safe atmosphere where doing homework doesn’t get the shit kicked out of you by the shitheads.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Sun 10 Mar 10:25 PM
        • I'm sympathetic to eb3's points...

          what do you do with a kid who’s really gifted academically in the Boston public schools? We all know that schools which are
          * safer
          * have fewer outbursts
          * have more resources
          * have better teacher-student ratios
          * have more after school activities
          * have more art, music, theater, and other cultural activities
          have graduates who get into (better) colleges, and are more prepared for higher ed, vocational ed, etc.

          So, when we keep the most academically talented kids in lower performing Boston public schools, we are holding them back. Why not pull them into a better school? The trouble is, when we creamskim, what’s left? The average falls. The percent of kids who are troublemakers [I won't call a kid a s*%@head] goes up. That’s certainly not better for the middle-of-the-road kids who are neither classroom superstars nor troublemakers.

          Pulling the academically gifted kids into a better school is better for them, but worse for a large number of “regular” kids.

          It’s really not obvious what to do in these cases.

        • Sorry if I misunderstood

          “The kids whose parents, or more likely their mother, doesn’t give a crap and and are poor usually provide the pool of applicants to cause nothing but trouble.”

          I thought this was a gratuitous bash at the poor.

          I think we need to fix the underlying problems instead of dealing with the consequences. By law, the children of all politicians should have to go to public school.

      • I don't think Ernie was bashing the poor here.

        He’s saying the charter schools, similar in this regard to private schools, are likely to have better output because the input is better. Yes, these are generally people who, if not wealthy, at least those who have just a little extra time and motivation to get their kids something better. He’s basically using the same arguments against charters as we could against vouchers. I used to say the jury is still out on charters, but now I think the jury has returned with a verdict not favorable to charters. They drain both human and financial resources from the public schools, so if there is something else that can be tried, let the public schools themselves be labratories of innovation.

    • But they haven't been shot down

      You suggested that the charter school attrition numbers are due to the poverty of the student body, but the data from BLA suggests poverty doesn’t cause movement.

      You are correct, though, that this data is not the full story. But however one interprets this data, it needs to be part of the conversation about charter schools. They consistently mention the people waiting to get in; they need to acknowledge the people leaving as well.

  11. Boston Latin has a high attrition rate...

    … always has. I doubt, very much, that anyone is accusing them of perfidy in the cause of educational ledgerdemaine. To a first approximation, a school with high standards may have an attrition rate equal to that of a school taking shortcuts. How to tell which is which? And how to do so without a knee-jerk antipathy?

    I’m not saying you’re wrong in your assessment. You may very well be spot on correct. But I’m unwilling to take that one on faith.

    I’m also fairly concerned about Heisenberg here: what amount of criticism, continuous and, frankly shrill, of charter schools scares off students (or, more importantly, their parents) ?? Many people, it seems, having lost at the “charter schools are not public schools” line of attack are now pivoting to attrition, though amorphously understood and rather ill-defined, as a line of attack.

    I’m in sympathy with the notion that charter schools have not lived up to their promise, but I’m also in sympathy with the notion that this is not wholly the fault of charter schools.

    • The problem here

      a school with high standards may have an attrition rate equal to that of a school taking shortcuts.

      is that, with the population of students BPS is asked to education, the very notion of “high standards” is something of a shortcut. BPS can’t show the door to any students not meeting rigorous behavior or academic standards.

      My hope is that we can reach a point where people like Scot Lehigh will be more fair in their coverage. I also hope that those who oppose charters will refrain from being critical of all the hardworking educators who happen to be employed by them. Full disclosure: my wife is a teacher at a charter school, one of the ones named in this post. Neither of us is gung ho about charters as a matter of public policy. She works there largely because they’re the ones who offered her a job. She and her teaching colleagues work hard every day and must combat student apathy and misbehavior like everywhere else. But she realizes that, as challenging as her job can be, it is probably easier than the job of most regular BPS teachers for the reasons detailed here.

    • Not true

      The days of “look to your left, look to your right, one of you will not graduate” are long gone. BLS has a low attrition rate. In part this is because neither BLS families nor teachers would tolerate the lack of support for struggling students that the school prided itself on in the distant past.

      Second, when you ask whether charters have “lived up to their promise,” you’re framing the question too narrowly. A charter can still succeed (live up to that promise) for reasons that have to do with its independence from wider and deeper obligations. The question is what does the proliferation of charters mean for public education broadly.

      • If I accept your facts, do I then have to accept your double standard?

        The days of “look to your left, look to your right, one of you will not graduate” are long gone. BLS has a low attrition rate. In part this is because neither BLS families nor teachers would tolerate the lack of support for struggling students that the school prided itself on in the distant past.

        Accepting, for the nonce, your facts, you’re saying that a problem was identified and a fix put in place…. at no time did any one say either that the very idea of Boston Latin was wrong nor that it’s ‘success’ was illusory and/or ephemeral…

        Second, when you ask whether charters have “lived up to their promise,” you’re framing the question too narrowly. A charter can still succeed (live up to that promise) for reasons that have to do with its independence from wider and deeper obligations. The question is what does the proliferation of charters mean for public education broadly.

        The deeply bogus nature of this postulate is frightening: on the one hand you say that BLS can overcome it’s own pride and issues and on the other you imply that charters can do nothing but harm. What’s so special about BLS and their ability, indeed perhaps a laudable willingness, to examine their own methodology and change that is, somehow, absent from charter schools?

        If BLS can do wrong, and correct themselves, then so too can charters: then so too can public education broadly do so…

        • err... BLS == BLA.

          urp.

        • Exam and charter schools play very different roles

          I didn’t imply that charters “can do nothing but harm.” I said that individually they can succeed, i.e. educate children very well. The question at hand is the lifting of the cap on more charters and what effect that will have on the provision of public education to all the city’s children.

          A charter school could in theory commit to retaining whatever students arrive at its doors, and no doubt some do. What makes this difficult is that charters and the wider ed reform movement have defined success by raising the test scores and college placement rates of a general student population—outdoing regular public schools on these measures is the premise for their existence, as exhibited by Lehigh’s argument. The attrition rates show that many charters pursue this success in ways that belie the claim of general access and scalable results. What motive is there for charters to do otherwise if they are not called out for it?

          BLS could change in the 1990s because the pressures on it were different. It is premised openly on the idea of taking in the most advanced students. With the help of alumni funding it can retain students who are struggling and still expect overall success. This meritocratic elitism is (contrary to your claim) controversial and its value has been debated. But right or wrong, by long, long-established custom, BLS plays a special role in the system. Its exclusivity is by definition not scalable.

  12. true...

    is that, with the population of students BPS is asked to education, the very notion of “high standards” is something of a shortcut. BPS can’t show the door to any students not meeting rigorous behavior or academic standards.

    … and in addition, while students are more or less required to stay with their traditional public school (if they stay in the district, or in school at all) , charter school students are not required to stay with the charter (this is another variable in the amorphous ‘attrition’ debate… what percentage of attrition is students voluntarily leaving a charter?)

    I also hope that those who oppose charters will refrain from being critical of all the hardworking educators who happen to be employed by them.

    Unfortunately, the most important wedge in the whole debate here is between the teachers unions and the charter schools and it is hard to say who is at fault for this. The unions see charters as an existential threat and the charters actively discourage union involvement. Until those issues are overcome we’re going to revisit this debate again and again: a good (union) teacher who might otherwise excel in a charter school is discouraged from doing so and charters, presently, have an unacceptably high turnover rate in their faculty numbers. Charters have a pressing need that is not getting filled because of intransigence on both sides of the debate.

    My chief criticism of charters is that it appears that the option to hire outside the unions has become hard-and-fast dogma that is never breached: an option, which is a good thing, has become incontrovertibly ‘the only way’, which is a bad thing.

    • Any reason to think otherwise?

      The unions see charters as an existential threat…

      Are they wrong to think that? I don’t think they are.

      …the option to hire outside the unions has become hard-and-fast dogma that is never breached: an option, which is a good thing, has become incontrovertibly ‘the only way’…

      Again, I don’t think it ‘has become’ the only way; I think it always was the only way for a lot of charter supporters, since they see teachers’ unions as evil.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but you’d have to show me some reasons to change my mind.

      • The unions see charters as an existential threat…

        Are they wrong to think that? I don’t think they are.

        It remains to be seen if the existential threat exists a priori, or if the teachers union has set themselves up by way of an “either they go or we go” stance… I, honestly, don’t know who started it. I do know that entrenchment has set in and is counter-productive. Personally, I think that this wedge has been exploited by ideologically driven third parties and proponents of ‘for profit’ education. Personally, I also think that charter schools could be the best thing that ever happened to the teachers unions and, rather than being an existential threat, could be the boost to further greatness for Massachusetts educators of all types.

        Again, I don’t think it ‘has become’ the only way; I think it always was the only way for a lot of charter supporters, since they see teachers’ unions as evil.

        Well… I am a charter supporter and I DO NOT see teachers unions as evil. Never have. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, I don’t think charters will ever truly work if this wedge between charters and unions continues. And I think there are significant benefits for the union if they can learn to be more flexible… but I recognize how difficult that is in todays politcally charged environments.

        I am sure, however, that there are people who support charter schools because they think it is a way to stick it to the teachers unions… and I think these people work overtime fanning the flames of that pyre… but that antipathy might just be an attempt to capitalize on the enemies the teachers unions have identified for themselves…. nor do I, for a second, believe that actual charter school administrators and/or faculty believe this.

        • Why do charters automatically mean non-union?

          It seems to me teachers at charters can and should have just as much right and ability to formally organize as their public school counterparts.

          • They Don't

            As you suggest, teachers at charters can and do have the right and ability to formally organize. And a few have (see e.g.: http://www.massaflcio.org/aft-massachusetts-organizes-first-charter-school-union-massachusetts )

            BUT, such organizing (schol-by-school) is very, very difficult. Charter schools are small, have high turnover and are generally operated by those with viewpoints (anti-central authority) that are sometimes inconsistent with labor union realities. See e.g.:
            http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/09/23/charter-school-unions-lose-ground/nXsau4M2zw9KStzJWUdR3H/story.html

          • That's the question, isn't it...

            [new] Why do charters automatically mean non-union?(0+ / 0-) View voters

            It seems to me teachers at charters can and should have just as much right and ability to formally organize as their public school counterparts.

            There are no legal barriers to either A) charter school faculty unionizing OR 2) existing teachers unions ‘farming’ their staff out to charter schools, either short-term (temporary) or long term.

            “Why” either of these avenues have not been readily explored seems to be because of the mutual antipathy between charter school proponents and the existing teachers unions. As I mentioned earlier, the option of possibly choosing non-union teachers has, for many charters, morphed into the dictum of must choose non-union… and some of that is because the teachers unions have dismissed that possibility outright. My questions have to do with whether this antipathy is based upon real-world problems or is simply a result of a well placed wedge between otherwise like minded educators.

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