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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Charter Industry's New Spin on Rotten Charter Schools: Blame Parents and Educators

Even though Newsweek has earned its demise through its allegiance to the corporate information filters, it has apparently decided to double down on its commitment to misleading the public, particularly on education issues.  This week's leading entry is an unsigned piece called "Understanding Charter Schools" that breaks new ground by reporting on the only peer-reviewed national charter study exactly a year after the study was released in June 2009:
. . . it came as a bit of a shock to the community of educational reformers last year when a study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) found that 37 percent of charter schools produce academic results that are worse than public schools, while only 17 percent perform significantly better. Earlier studies sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers’ union, had produced similar results, but they were suspect, since unions stood to lose from the charter-school movement. CREDO, on the other hand, is part of the Hoover Institution, known for favoring free-market solutions. “The perception that charters are per se better than other public schools has been belied by the facts,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT.
So far, so good.  But then Newsweek puts its own special topping on this year-old news that it never reported by explaining that educators and parents are to blame for not closing down that 37% of bad charter schools.  

What happened? In a nutshell, educators have been better at starting charter schools than at shutting bad ones. In theory, charter schools are laboratories where educational ideas are tested. If a charter school is failing after three to five years, it is supposed to be closed down, freeing up a slot for another educational entrepreneur. Too often, however, it hasn’t worked out that way. The parents at charter schools are often unaware that the school’s performance lags behind. Some schools stress strengthening a child’s self-esteem or cultural identity and don’t worry about those pesky test scores. “I’ve seen parents fight tooth and nail to keep a failing school open because they thought it was safer than other options,” says Andrew Rotherham of Bellwether Education Partners, a national reform group. “To them, it’s a rational choice.” Public officials forced to vote on closing schools in front of a room full of crying children and mothers are tempted to say, “Let’s give them more time,” particularly if there are no good alternatives.
Generally speaking, in states and cities where the bar is set high for both entry and performance (Boston, New York, D.C., Chicago), charter schools do well. In states that started with the loosest oversight (Arizona, Florida, California, Ohio, and Texas), there’s much more of a mixed bag. 
A couple of things beyond noting that the Rotherham (the Eduwank) has been owned by the charter industry and the Oligarchs for years.  He, in fact, was so eager in 2008 for the Dems to adopt the Republican position on charter schools as their own that he made up a ridiculous story about Republican hostility to charter schools.  Now we know that he had nothing to worry about--Broad and Gates took care of that.

Rotherham and the author (J. Alter?) of this latest Newsweek infomercial for ed deform have the audacity to blame the public school boards and parents for not shutting down the 37% of charters that are doing worse test-wise than their public counterparts, when in fact there is a nationally-linked well-financed syndicate (here, here, herehere, and here, etc.) standing by to attack any effort anywhere to close one of these testing chain gangs for the poor.  

Witness what has happened, or not happened, in Ohio, where White Hat Management has been robbing the state for years by buying politicians and very effective lobbyists to counter any effort to shut them down, despite reports every year showing Brennan's outfits at the bottom of the barrel.  It is much easier to shut down a school board and turn things over to the mayor or one of Eli Broad's goons than it is to close a charter school in Ohio, or anywhere else.  And it's not because of parents or educators.

In Massachusetts, where towns get charters despite public campaigns against them, it took over 4 years to shut down the Robert Hughes Academy, one of the most egregious offenders, even after a 2006 state auditors report outlined a case for fraud charges.

Rotherham is real piece of work.  I wonder what he plans to do with his doctorate, now that the ed reformers he has signed on to support are eager to banish anyone who wears glasses or can read.  Ask Diane Ravitch.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the article was right on the money, and either Andrew Rotherham was being honest about how dumb parents are about bad charter schools (they know what's best?), or he inadvertently let the cat out of the bag.

    I blogged recently about the unresponsive nature of one charter school to parents demanding answers. They found out too late that they weren't talking to accountable public schools anymore.


    Parents being unaware of just how a bad a school is shouldn't surprise anyone, except a ill informed parent. Can you imagine any school taking 3 to 5 years of a childs education away from them before the community discovers how bad a school is?