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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

LAUSD Charters Call "Foul" on Regulations: Why?

You can count on someone throwing a hissy-fit any time you mention "regulations." In this case, it's the charter school operators down in SoCal that cannot understand why LAUSD would impose such tyrannical mandates. From the Connie Llanos at the Contra Costa Times:
While charter school operators and advocates applaud LAUSD's recent embrace of their campuses, they criticized some of the new regulations, which they said create more bureaucracy for the alternative schools.
Regulations and bureaucracy: the ultimate enemies of free-market fanatics, hedge fund managers, and the entire right wing. Wait - what kind of dreaded regulations and atrocious bureaucracies are we talking about?:

The new rules include increasing building safety standards to bring charters in line with district-operated schools. Also, members of charter school boards will now be required to fill out conflict-of-interest forms, similar to those filed by elected school board members.

The new charter policy also requires charter schools to meet all the requirements placed on district-operated schools for special education. That means charters are expected to increase enrollment of students with disabilities, use district data systems to track special education students, and contribute more funding for district special education programs.

Oh, the horror! Conflict of interest forms, building safety, and special education students, oh my!

Remember: back in June of '09, an audit showed LA charters serve fewer special education students and even fewer students with more severe disabilities. Creamin'?

The pro-charter crowd began complaining about the potential regulations earlier this week, with Jed Wallace making the most noise. From a Jan. 10th article, also by Connie at the Conta Costa Times:

Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter School Association, said while he welcomes higher standards, he disapproves of restrictions that attempt to make the independent schools more like district-run campuses.

"We want to play on the field that is healthiest for kids," Wallace said.

"For the district to impose the same restrictions on charters as they have is ridiculous. ... That's why the movement started, because we wanted freedom from those restrictions."

Wallace said the push back comes at a time when charter school operators feel a real sense of change at LAUSD. Specifically, Wallace praised the district for moving forward with its School Choice plan, allowing charter operators, nonprofits and teacher collectives to apply to run district schools.

"There is a larger trend toward greater receptiveness to charters and that should be acknowledged and seen by all as an encouraging sign," Wallace said.

"Yet within this charter policy there is clearly still a tendency ... towards excessive regulation, and the reason charters have been so successful is because of the flexibility and autonomy they have."

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, argued that the increased access to district facilities that charters now have means restrictions need to be imposed.

"Anybody who uses public monies should have public oversight," Duffy said.

I wonder which restrictions Wallace is talking about: the requirement to take children from all spectrums of the public (even though you're a privately operated school and not a "state agent"), or the part about disclosing conflicts of interest? I'll be honest: I've worried about Jed's grasp of the facts after he made some absurd claims about charter transparency in the December '09 piece in the LA Times, "Who's watching the charter schools?"

The other piece of related information/litigation is the LAUSD vs. charter schools conflict over special education funding, with LAUSD blaming charters for creaming the easiest to deal with kids from the special education population (and their funding) while leaving the more costly kids in LAUSD schools; charters counter that LAUSD isn't sharing the money properly.

Oh - and why does that pig-f**ker, Duffy, have to complain about public oversight of public monies? (What a CRAZY idea!) It'd be so much easier to misuse public funds if you didn't have to fill out pesky paperwork and abide by the regulations...

How can you stand up for a movement that resists filling out conflict of interest forms and publicly opposes educating the entire spectrum of the public? How can a movement that consistently talks about education as a civil right actually remove the civil rights of teachers? How come charter believers cannot understand that charter schools are at least partly private, and that the private side deserves more scrutiny?

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