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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Charter School Revoloving Door

The Times Union obviously didn't get the same memo as their peers at the corporate-controlled NY media outlets, the dirty rags that have been hammering State Sen. Bill Perkins about his questioning of charter school policies despite ample evidence of questionable activities and requests from parents (and charter parents, nontheless!). In the piece excerpted below, the Times Union notes the high rate of teacher turnover in a few NY districts and asks one teacher about why she chose public schools over charters.

A similar story appeared earlier this year in the Texas Tribune.

From the Times Union:
At charter schools, a revolving door
Teachers in Albany's charter schools more likely to leave than those in public schools
By SCOTT WALDMAN, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, April 22, 2010
ALBANY -- Valarie Karas wants to teach the difficult kids, the ones who crack her class up to hide their learning disabilities and who don't have anyone at home to make them do homework.

The Hackett Middle School seventh-grade teacher did not find that at a charter school, so she plans on spending the rest of her career in a district school. Karas was unhappy in her six months working at a charter school because she saw too many struggling students sent back to district schools.

"I want to be in a place where we don't get rid of kids," Karas said. "I wanted the kids nobody wanted to teach."

The reasons for leaving a school vary with the teacher, but new data from the state Department of Education reveal that more teachers leave charter schools and that educators are more apt to stay put once they find employment in a school district.

Half the educators at two Albany charter schools left their jobs at the end of the 2007-08 school year, according to a Times Union analysis of data compiled by the state Department of Education. At least 20 percent of the teachers at virtually every other charter school in the city departed before the next year.

The Albany school district's attrition rate, by comparison, was just 13 percent that year, according to the department's findings, which rely on self-reported figures from schools. [Ken's note: good reason to be wary of self-report. I wonder if they'll have more solid numbers in the future]

High teacher turnover prevents teachers from getting to know the way their students learn, experts say. Educator attrition rates at New Covenant Charter School were a primary reason cited by the State University of New York board of trustees for its decision to close that school in June. Of the educators who do leave charter schools, a significant number are teachers with less than five years' experience, the data show.

And how the pro-charter camp frames this evolution of the teacher temps working with barely any job security, lower pay, and longer hours:
Charter advocates interpret the data to mean their approach is working. A larger number of teachers leaving demonstrates the higher standards to which charter school educators are held, said Chris Bender, executive director of the Brighter Choice Foundation, which will support all of Albany's 11 charter schools next fall.
Continued here.
Other statistics included in the TimesUnion piece:

Teacher turnover

Percentage of teachers who left their jobs after the 2007-08 school year:

Albany Community Charter School 27%

Albany Preparatory Charter School 50%

Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys 21%

Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls 25%

Henry Johnson Charter School 8%

KIPP Tech Valley Charter School 40%

New Covenant Charter School 50%

Ark Community Charter School (Troy) 19%

Percentage of teachers who left public school district jobs in 2007-08:

Albany school district 13%

Schenectady school district 18%

Troy school district 19%

Source: state Department of Education


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