"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

White Hat Charters Continue Chronic Underperformance, and So Do the Profits

The Ohio charter school scam just rolls on, with their status protected regardless of their performance:
. . . .In a news release issued by the Coalition for Public Education, the organization claims that a decade after the inception of charter schools, traditional public schools in Ohio continue to provide the best opportunity for children to learn and succeed.

‘‘If your child attends a traditional public school, he or she has an 80 percent chance of receiving an effective or excellent education. Those are pretty good odds,’’ states CPE chair Barbara Shaner.

The numbers used by the CPE come from state report card results released in August by the Ohio Department of Education for the 2006-07 school year. CPE claims that, according to that data, public schools have outperformed charter schools 10 years in a row.

In Trumbull County, there are five charter schools in Warren with a total enrollment of more than 700 students, according to data from the ODE. State report cards show that four of the schools rate in either academic watch or academic emergency — the two lowest of the state rankings. One building, which houses grades K-2, is not rated.

In Mahoning County, ODE shows that there are 12 charter schools in operation in Youngstown, with more than 2,700 students enrolled. Nine of of those schools are in academic watch or academic emergency. Three have been rated to be in continuous improvement.

In comparison to the charter school state report card results, the Warren City Schools and the Youngstown City Schools both were rated as districts in academic watch for the 2006-07 school year.

Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for White Hat Management, which operates Life Skills Centers that work with dropouts, said, ‘‘This is not new criticism.

‘‘It’s very unfortunate that the OEA, among other groups, have made it very clear that they’re simply anti-charter and they they’re either unable or unwilling to distinguish schools that are designed for a very unique student body,’’ Tenenbaum said.

But, he added, that doesn’t mean that the low scores shouldn’t be addressed.

‘‘Anything can be improved and should be improved,’’ Tenenbaum said.

But expecting the same amount of improvement between different types of schools is impractical.

If some charter schools go as many as three to four years in academic emergency, the state pulls the plug and they’re closed. To date, more than 25 community schools are in jeopardy.

But dropout recovery schools such as Life Skills are exempted by the state from being closed for underperformance due to the nature of that particular student body, Tenenbaum said.

Officials from Summit Academy Schools, which operates buildings in Warren and Youngstown, as well as from the Academy of Arts and Humanities and Art and Science Academy in Warren, did not return calls for comment.

In numbers compiled in an analysis by the Ohio Education Association in conjunction with CPE, data shows that statewide 57 percent of charter schools remain in academic watch or academic emergency, and only 21 percent of charter schools met local report card standards by ODE.

Bill Sims, head of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools in Columbus, said that such data can be misconstrued.

For example, the ODE reported that no school districts in Ohio are rated in academic emergency for the 2006-07 school year. But more than 100 individual public school buildings statewide have received that rating, Sims said.

But, he said, he isn’t one to back any failing school, traditional or community-based.

‘‘Those schools have got to go,’’ Sims said. . . . .

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