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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Charter Advocacy Misses Point, Misleads

In an Op-Ed focusing on how the Chicago teachers' strike is relevant to SC education concerns, I offered one point that included a caution about committing to charter schools in our state:
If we want to hold our schools and teachers accountable for the best education we can offer to all children regardless of their backgrounds, we must reject top-down education policy created by political leaders with no experience or expertise in education — notably rejecting Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluations linked to test scores, the expansion of charter schools and the hiring of Teach for America core members.
This prompted an anonymous (as always) comment from The Walrus, including several mean-spirited personal swipes:
Well, as always, Paul is painting with a really broad brush. States with public charter schools have their own laws that are unique to each state. There are thousands of public charter schools and over one million public charter school students. Short of saying that all of those students were born on this planet, it's pretty hard to make any "charter schools" are this or "charter schools" are that kind of statement, if you're serious about the truth, and I doubt that Paul is. Yeah, you can find some public charter schools that are terrible and then do a guilt by association thing, but the really bad public charter schools become closed. Really bad traditional public schools never die, they just get more money. I think that if Paul could limit his temper tantrums to just public charter schools in SC, it would help what he's trying to pass off as a rational argument. I think that he'll also find it hard to say that Palmetto Scholars Academy, Spartanburg Charter School, Fox Creek High School, Calhoun Falls Charter School, and York Preparatory Academy (all public charter schools with an "A" or high "B" state ranking) are providing "the students who need schools most the worst possible eduations."

In the end, I think it is silly to bring the charter school community of SC into this Chicago thing. Every time there is an issue in traditional public education in the US, the charter school community in SC doesn't say that a problem in Omaha is a problem in Orangeburg. We've got enough fish to fry here in this state without having to make some twisted leap of logic that the issues in Chicago really matter here, but, if Paul still wants to learn about Chicago, then he can take a look at some of the fine public charter schools there and let us know how they're "the worst possible educations." I've visited some of them before. Maybe you can, too. 
The comment clearly suggests that I have avoided data about public and charter schools in order to present false claims in a public forum (including that I have done so with my name and picture attached to this piece of public commentary). Let's consider the claims made by The Walrus about charters he deems successful and thus proof charters outperform public schools.

The data of charter schools referenced by The Walrus:

Palmetto Scholars Academy has a Poverty Index (PI) of 31.82 (Report Card Excellent/Good, Met AYP)
Spartanburg Charter School has a PI of 55.21 (Good/Good, Not Met AYP)
Fox Creek High School has a PI of 45.07 (Excellent/Good, Met AYP)
Calhoun Falls Charter School has a PI of 89.34 (Below Average/Below Average, Not Met AYP)
York Preparatory Academy has a PI of 29.56 (Good/Below Average, Not Met AYP)

PSA report card data are exactly like public schools comparable to the charter school (10 are Excellent, and 1 Good).

SCS compares less well (33 Excellent, 20 Good).

FCHS report card data are exactly like public schools comparable to the charter school (17 Excellent, 1 Good, 3 Average).

CFCS compares less well (30 Average, 20 Below Average, 8 At-Risk).

YPA compares less well (10 Excellent, 1 Good).

If we compare YPA to a comparable public school (Augusta Circle in Greenville County), YPA's data are significantly weaker, with Augusta Circle receiving an Excellent/Excellent report card, meeting AYP.

The charter examples used in the comment, then, confirm my claim that has been questioned as being somehow untruthful or simply "painting with too broad a brush."

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