I respect my fellow brothers and sisters that are teachers and administrators at Charter Schools. We all fight the good fight within the classroom, striving to prepare the next generation of students to tackle the problems of society and keep this country, this planet, a positive and productive place to live. I say this because I’m about to go on the romp about charters, again, and charter school teachers often get upitty because while it is perfectly ok to go after public education, charter schools are blessed by the Holy See and are therefore beyond criticism.
Those of you that have read this blog for awhile know my contempt for the Ukiah Daily Journal. With the exception of Joe Langstaff (the Sports Editor), the paper has a blazingly good time pointing out every single negative about public education within the town, while only giving positive reporting about useless endeavors such as Homecoming. Charter schools on the other hand have become darlings of all media, including the local paper. That brings us to a recent Mendocino Grand Jury report which finds, among other things (according to the Ukiah Daily Journal);
The grand jury found that dropout percentages in charter schools are much lower than traditional schools. They attribute student success to parent, teacher, and community involvement in charter schools.
This statement annoys me for a couple of reasons. First, there are Mendocino County charters that have a significantly lower graduation rate than Ukiah High School, even with the advantage of having a charter. Then I’d point to three factors that represent a fallacy in the Grand Jury report, centered on a comparison with Ukiah High School and it’s primary competition, Redwood Academy.
Special Education %- Redwood: 3.9 Ukiah: 11
Second Language Learners %- Redwood: 5.1 Ukiah: 25%
Academic Removal- Redwood: “ The Principal is authorized to remove from school any student who is not demonstrating adequate academic progress at any time.” Ukiah: Mandated to teach all students based on state and federal guidelines
It’s a misrepresentation of the facts to ignore these items and to simply say that a school is better because of parents, community, and teachers; as if Ukiah High School doesn’t have good teachers, involved parents, or support from the community. The point is that I can make Ukiah’s stats go up this year if I’m allowed to dump any students that don’t perform academically, with a special emphasis on those with special needs and Second Language Learners. Hell, I’ll look like a genius. I won’t be teaching everyone, but then again, nobody sees to be caring about that anymore.
This isn’t about the people that work in charters. The are as dedicated and passionate as every teacher in this country. But the statistics continue to show that charters create little to no difference in the academic lives of students, and that the worst charters are in fact far worse than bad public schools.
When society demands reform of the entire system then we’ll all get somewhere.