Charter CEO Backpeddles. – K. Griffin

Tom Barrett, CEO of White Hat Charter Schools, is a hypocritical dunce trying to mask the failed Charter experiment with excuses while protecting his own salary.

In Saturday’s Dispatch, he wrote that poverty is a significant challenge for both traditional and charter schools.  Oh what a different tune they are singing now.  You see, 15 years ago, when for-profit education companies like White Hat started, they said those of us who were talking about poverty were just making excuses.  Now he’s the one using poverty as an excuse.

The “demand” for charters was not created by a failed traditional school system.  It was created by the profiteers who exaggerated the challenges facing traditional schools.  They created their own market by claiming competition was the magical silver bullet and then they preyed on the most vulnerable with flashy brochures and promises of excellence by means of a “no-excuses” approach or a “safe online environment.”  Now that the data is showing they are the failures they are whining about how difficult education is.

The simple truth is the for-profit charters get more money per student, are taking locally voted levy dollars from school districts, are exempt from over 200 regulations public schools must follow, are not held to the same standards as public schools, and in the rare cases where they are, are failing far worse than even the worst public schools in Ohio.

Tom Barrett’s letter is a sad and shameless attempt to shield the company that employs him.  If he truly cares about children he should not be lobbying for his employer.  He should be explaining that 100% transparency of charters schools will give parents a honest choice as opposed to the marketing propaganda from the for-profit charter owners.  But then again, holding himself to the standards of public schools may cost him his job.

Ohio Ed Funding: 2013 vs. 2003

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Messsage from a Charter School: Thrive or Transfer. – M. Winerip

Winerip, Michael. “Message from a charter school: thrive or transfer”. July 10, 2011.  New York Times.  Retrieved from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/nyregion/charter-school-sends-message-thrive-or-transfer.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

A parent thought she “hit the jackpot” when her son was selected to go to a charter school.  After two weeks the school decided the student didn’t belong there due to his behavior and recommended a transfer back to the public schools.

From Day 1 of kindergarten, Ms. Sprowal said, he was punished for acting out.

“They kept him after school to practice walking in the hallway,” she said.

Several times, she was called to pick him up early, she said, and in his third week he was suspended three days for bothering other children.

In Matthew’s three years of preschool, Ms. Sprowal said, he had never missed time for behavior problems. “After only 12 days in your school,” she wrote the principal, “you have assessed and concluded that our son is defective and will not meet your school criteria.”

Ohio’s Mostly Failing Charter Schools Continue to Grow. – S. Dyer

Dyer, Stephen. “Ohio’s Mostly Failing Charter Schools Continue to Grow.”   August 22, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://innovationohio.org/2013/08/22/ohios-mostly-failing-charter-schools-continue-to-grow/

The report discusses the increase in funding that failing charter schools will receive through the new state budget and point out that our local schools are losing close to a billion dollars a year because of these schools.

It always starts in Cleveland. – K. Griffin

A while back I wrote a piece called “Teachers are Guilty”. The post was basically about how it was easier for teachers to close our doors and focus on our students and classrooms than to become involved with the ugliness of educational politics. For fear of offending some colleagues I didn’t publish the piece.

This week the Cleveland Plain Dealer and State Impact OH pulled a little PR stunt by publishing teachers names and “value-added” scores. They also made an amateurish attempt to mask this unethical report by also pointing out some of the flaws of using the data to evaluate teachers. Then, after reporting the data was incomplete and should not be used solely to evaluate teachers, they published the teachers names and “value-added” scores anyway. I guess competent reporting takes a back seat to tabloid-like, website hit generating drama.

The Plain Dealer and State Impact OH focused on Cleveland. Teachers across the state should pay attention because all educational ugliness begins in Cleveland.

The first Charter School Scam legislation was specific to Cleveland. While public education activists across the state tried to get it squashed the message from the charter supporters was “Don’t worry. It’s only an experiment. It’s specific to Cleveland.” And now we have failing charters all across the state.

Last year “The Cleveland Plan” was passed. While those paying attention opposed it the supporters had the same message as with the charters. “It’s specific to Cleveland.” One year later the Ohio House and Senate are trying to implement a similar plan to Columbus Schools and the Cleveland merit-pay system has been touted as “statewide model” by Governor Kasich.

This week the flawed “value-added” scores were published just for Cleveland. How much longer until it’s a statewide shaming of our teachers?

Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence

Alex Molnar, Gary Miron, Luis Huerta, Jennifer King Rice, Larry Cuban, Brian Horvitz,Charisse Gulosino, Sheryl Rankin Shafer. “Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence.”  National Education Policy Center.  May 2, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2013

This national study, which comprehensively reviews 311 virtual schools operating in the United States, finds serious and systemic problems with the nation’s full-time cyber schools. Despite virtual schools’ track record of students falling behind their peers academically or dropping-out at higher rates, states and districts continue to expand virtual schools and online offerings to students, at high cost to taxpayers.

Saxton Rips School Funding. – S. Scarmack

Scarmack, Sandy.  “Saxton Rips School Funding.”  The Herald.  March 20, 2012.  http://sharonherald.com/local/x765741399/Saxton-rips-Ohio-school-funding

The author reports on the State Finance Subcommittee testimony of  school superintendent Tim Saxton.  Superintendent Saxton was angry about the amount of funding his district is receiving, the amount going to charter schools and also the lack of instruction the students are receiving from the local charter schools.

While charter schools aren’t solely to blame for the district’s financial woes, Saxton said the state’s system of funding allows charter schools to garner nearly $6,753 for each student enrolled, while public schools get $3,916. That’s because, Saxton said, “the money follows the student.”

While the “uneven playing field” is detrimental to the district’s wallet, Saxton said he is more concerned about the poor quality of education students receive from several online schools. Of nine area charter schools serving Brookfield students, only one is rated as “effective” by the state. Six others are listed by the state as on academic watch or academic emergency.

For example, he said, one of the more popular online schools, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, met only five of 26 state effectiveness indicators. A report card issued by the state placed Summit Academy of Warren (one of 10 indicators) and Summit Academy of Youngstown (zero of 12 indicators) on academic emergency.

“If those were our numbers, I’d be out of work and all the students would be looking for another school to attend,” he said.

Saxton pointed out that charter schools offer no athletics, transportation, lunches or even a full-day’s education, yet are funded at twice the levels of public schools. “There are no contractual obligations, no board policy and none of them are really local districts,” he said.