Archives for category: Poverty

Helen Ladd, Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, and her husband, Edward Fiske, former education editor of the New York Times, reviewed the recently released letter grades for schools and here explain what they mean. 

 

They write:

 

In a nutshell, we need to figure out how to break the link between poverty and achievement in our schools. A crucial first step is to support policies and programs that directly address the particular challenges that poor students bring with them to school.

 

The most striking pattern that emerged from the letter grades from the NC Department of Public Instruction was the near-perfect correlation between letter grades and economic disadvantage. The News & Observer reported that 80 percent of schools where at least four-fifths of children qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch received a D or F grade, whereas 90 percent of schools with fewer than one in five students on the subsidized lunch program received As or Bs.

 

The fact that, on average, students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school than peers from more advantaged backgrounds has been documented at all levels of education.

 

What can we do? Ladd and Fiske say there are three possible strategies:

 

1. Reduce poverty directly. That will be politically difficult and take time, even though it is the best response.

 

2. Ignore the problem. This is the approach of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

 

They write about this approach of denial:

 

Policymakers often rationalize their denial of the relationship between poverty on achievement because they sincerely believe that schools should offset the effects of low socio-economic status. Others fear that setting lower expectations for some groups of students – what President George W. Bush called the “soft bigotry of low expectations” – will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But in both cases, simply wanting something to be true does not make it true.

 

Still other policymakers cite examples of schools serving low-income students, such as some of the Knowledge as Power Program (KIPP) charter schools that have managed to “beat the odds” with disadvantaged students. Consistent with such exceptions, according to The News & Observer, about 5 percent of North Carolina schools where at least three-fifths of students qualify for subsidized lunches, received As or Bs as letter grades, some of them charters. But such successes are often largely attributable to these schools’ success in attracting students from the high end of the ability or motivational spectrum, or to substantial supplemental funding from foundations, or to extremely hard work of their teachers. Absolutely no evidence exists that the few success stories can be scaled up to address the needs of large proportions of disadvantaged students.

 

3. A third – and far more preferable – approach is to acknowledge that while we are not going to be able to eliminate poverty any time soon, we can find ways of targeting the specific ways in which poverty hampers learning. Put another way, we can address the particular challenges that disadvantaged children face as they pursue their education.

 

Fortunately, we already know a lot about these challenges. A wide body of research has demonstrated how poor health care – both physical and mental – and the lack of quality early childhood education translates into low cognitive performance. Research by one of the authors, Helen Ladd, and two colleagues has shown that quality early education programs reduce the need for spending on special education later on.

 

Other research has documented how poor children often have limited access to the language and problem solving skills that serve as springboards to future learning. We know how family poverty also translates into limited access to books and computers at home or to the enrichment that comes from vacation travel….

 

The challenge for policymakers is to look for ways to minimize the impact of the particular challenges that many disadvantaged children face. We should, in short, look for ways to provide children from low-income families with the same sort of education-enriching experiences and resources that middle-income children take for granted.

 

They give examples of valuable interventions such as school-based health clinics, early childhood programs, after-school and summer programs, and other “wraparound” services.

 

The message of the letter grades, say Ladd and Fiske, is that the relationship between poverty and low school achievement can no longer be denied.

 

 

 

 

Arthur Camins, Director, Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education, Stevens Institute of Technology, critiques here the now-popular idea that the best way to end poverty is by improving education. While both parties continue to talk about race and poverty, they have given up on integration as a strategy. What they propose, he says, is that education is the best anti-poverty program. Unfortunately, this claim has neither evidence nor  logic to support it.

 

He writes:

 

Integration has largely evaporated as a key driver in the struggle for equity. It has been replaced by the idea that education is the most effective anti-poverty program. The argument is framed by the following ideas:

 

“A high-quality education offers the best path out of poverty and into to the middle class. The new and improved, common-core aligned, standardized tests will accurately reflect the differential levels of student learning in areas that matter for their own future and that of the nation. Students who perform poorly on these assessments are unlikely be very successful in their post-secondary college and career endeavors. As a result, they are headed for low paying jobs or unemployment. Therefore, if we can increase their performance on these tests they will be more likely to succeed and escape poverty.”

 

This argument, while simplistic, sounds reasonable and appealing. However, close examination reveals that it is not evidence-based, nor is it logical.

 

Camins adds:

 

The logic about escape from poverty only works on the individual level. While individuals are certainly better off with the best possible education, there is no evidence that attaining a significantly increased percentage of high achieving students would eliminate the need for people to clean our offices, homes and hospitals, stock our store and warehouse shelves or serve us in fast food restaurants. There is no evidence that employers will suddenly agree to pay such better-educated workers a living wage that would enable them to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter so that poverty would cease to exist.

 

Maybe, more effective teaching will increase the size, diversity and creativity of the nation’s knowledge workforce, who will subsequently spur innovation and new kinds of well-paying employment for others. Maybe, our superior innovation capacity will offset the competitive advantage of lower wage countries. These would be good outcomes, but they will not end poverty. Unless, we commit to real high-quality universal health care, food and housing security, and full employment at fair living wages for all (through, for example public investment in infrastructure improvement), it is illogical to believe that universally high-quality education will significantly reduce, much less end poverty. Imagining that it will do so represents magical, not evidence-based logical thinking….

 

Sadly, too many policy makers seem more committed to enabling profiteering from the results of poverty than ending it. The testing industry is an excellent example. Education policies sanction and encourage multi-billion dollar testing and test preparation corporations that enable destructive punishment and rewards for educators, gaming the system and sorting of students for competitive access to an increasingly unaffordable post secondary system that perpetuates inequity. State and federal education policies support costly, overly stressful and time consuming high-stakes testing in order to verify and detect small differences within the very large socio-economic disparities we already know exist.

 

Well-designed large-scale assessments can contribute evidence for institutional and program level judgments about quality. However, we do not need to test every student every year for this purpose. Less costly sampling can accomplish this goal. I am not opposed to qualifying exams- if they validly and reliably measure qualities that are directly applicable to their purpose without bias. However, imagine if we shifted the balance of our assessment attention from the summative to the formative. Then we could focus more on becoming better at interpreting daily data from regular class work and use that evidence to help students move their own learning forward. Imagine what else we could accomplish if we spent a significant percentage of our current K-12 and college admission testing expenditures on actually mediating poverty instead of measuring its inevitable effect. Imagine the educational and economic benefit if we invested in putting people to work rebuilding our cities, roads, bridges, schools and parks. Imagine if we put people to work building affordable housing instead of luxury high rises. Imagine the boost to personal spending and the related savings in social service spending if a living wage and full employment prevailed. Imagine the learning benefit to children if their families did not have to worry about health, food and shelter. Imagine if our tax policies favored the common good over wealth accumulation for the 1%ers.

 

Such investments are far more logical than the current over-investment in testing and compliance regimes. Education, race and poverty are inextricably intertwined. Let’s do everything we can to improve teaching and learning. More students learning to use evidence to support arguments would be terrific. But, if we want to do something about poverty we need to ensure good jobs at fair wages for the parents of our students. That is where evidence and logical thinking lead.

 

At least since the adoption of No Child Left Behind legislation education reform has been promoted as an anti-poverty program and a way to narrow the racial achievement gap. Maybe that appeal is a good sign about the conscience of US citizens. Apparently, many people still believe that the connection between educational achievement, race and socio-economic status is unfair. However, no policy makers have been forthright enough to reveal or admit to themselves their real underlying logic: We have given up on ending or seriously mediating poverty. The best we can do is to give some kids who are willing and able to work hard a better chance to make good. That is why we support school choice. No one will say this out loud because it sounds so pessimistic and cynical.

 

Maybe it is time to hold policy makers accountable in their own behavior for what they demand of students: At least be clear about your hypothesis, experimental design and collect appropriate evidence. That would allow the public to participate in deciding whether escape from poverty for a few more students is a worthy goal that represents our values as a nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Greene discovered a bold new policy plan in Milwaukee. It turns the war on poverty into a war on the poor.

He writes;

“On Wednesday, Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Dale Kooyenga released “New Opportunities for Milwaukee.” It’stunning. It’s a blueprint, a plan, a carefully-crafted rhetorical stance that turns the war on poverty into a war on the poor. Does it present new opportunities? It surely does– but they are opportunities for more privateers to use the language of civil rights to mask the same old profiteering game.

“Make sure your seat belts and safety harnesses are locked in place, because we are about to travel to a place where up is down and forward is backward. The first chunk is directly related to education; the rest is not, but I’m going to go the distance anyway because it helps lay out a particular point of view that is driving some reformsters. The full report is twenty-five pages; I’ve read them so that you don’t have to, but you may still want to. Forewarned is forearmed.”

The report begins with this claim;

“2014 marked the 50-year anniversary of the war on poverty. Since 1964, taxpayers spent over $22 trillion to combat poverty. Little, if any, progress has been achieved.”

“”Two-thirds of the incarcerated African-American men come from six zip codes in Milwaukee and it is no coincidence that those zip codes are also home to the greatest density of failing schools and the highest unemployment in the state.” Boy, and that’s true. It’s also no coincidence that every time I see a building on fire, there’s a fire truck right nearby, or that every time find water dripping off my car, there’s rain. Say it with me, boys and girls– correlation is not causation.”

The plan not only declares the war on poverty a failure (no point throwing money at poverty, even though lack of money defines poverty) but declares the civil rights movement a success, therefore matters like segregation are unworthy of our attention.

Peter, in his inimitable style, dissects the recommendations for ending poverty without spending money. It starts with charter schools…

Rex Smith, the editor of the Albany Times-Union, wrote an excellent column, chastising Governor Andrew Cuomo for picking on teachers. Let’s hope that the mounting criticism of Cuomo’s cynical effort to place the blame on teachers for low test scores persuades him to reverse course. The surest predictor of low test scores is poverty, not “bad” teachers. Rex Smith knows this. Why doesn’t Governor Cuomo?

 

Here is an excerpt from Smith’s column:

 

 

Students come to school with all sorts of problems, starting with poverty. Most low-performing schools are in high-needs communities. Plenty of research underscores the link between learning capacity and poverty, with its attendant problems – including poor housing, inadequate health care and neighborhood violence.

 

 

The governor knows this to be true. He has on occasion been eloquent on this very point. It makes his current campaign of demonizing teachers all the more mystifying.

 

 

Yet we hear him repeatedly attacking “the public school monopoly,” ignoring all the non-public (and taxpayer-aided) schools that make the educational system a lot more competitive already than other government services. You know, police and fire departments are monopolies, too. Should we subsidize competing privately-owned agencies, and blame cops for crime and firefighters for fires?

 

 

And there was the governor during his State of the State presentation last month, juxtaposing two statistics as though one directly related to the other: 96 percent of teachers were rated “effective” or better by the state’s teacher evaluation system last year, but less than 40 percent of students in grades three through eight were at least “proficient” in standardized language arts and math tests.

 

 

The inference he wants us to draw, it seems, is that more teachers should be rated lower so they can be fired, making way for teachers who can raise test scores.

 

 

The problem with this analysis begins with a logical fallacy of seeing a causal relationship where there’s really a coincidental one. Call it the Pirate Paradigm, explained thus: The number of pirates plying the high seas has shrunk over three centuries, even as roughly 40 percent of marine species have vanished. Thus, you may conclude that pirates are good for fish.

 

Good work, Mr. Smith!

Seven outstanding teachers wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo. It was published in the Albany Times-Union, where there is a good chance he and members of the Legislature might read it. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. Maybe by now the paywall has disappeared. I hope so as everyone in every state should read this excellent letter.

The teachers write:

The following article was written by seven New York state Teachers of the Year: Ashli Dreher (2014, Buffalo); Katie Ferguson (2012, Schenectady); Jeff Peneston (2011, Syracuse); Rich Ognibene (2008, Rochester); Marguerite Izzo (2007, Malverne); Steve Bongiovi (2006, Seaford); and Liz Day (2005, Mechanicville)

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We are teachers. We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor. We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life. For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.

Under your leadership, schools have endured the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the tax cap, which have caused layoffs and draconian budget cuts across the state. Classes are larger and support services are fewer, particularly for our neediest students.

We have also endured a difficult rollout of the Common Core Standards. A reasonable implementation would have started the new standards in kindergarten and advanced those standards one grade at a time. Instead, the new standards were rushed into all grades at once, without any time to see if they were developmentally appropriate or useful.

Then our students were given new tests — of questionable validity — before they had a chance to develop the skills necessary to be successful. These flawed tests reinforced the false narrative that all public schools — and therefore all teachers — are in drastic need of reform. In our many years of teaching, we’ve never found that denigrating others is a useful strategy for improvement.

Now you are doubling down on test scores as a proxy for teacher effectiveness. The state has focused on test scores for years and this approach has proven to be fraught with peril. Testing scandals erupted. Teachers who questioned the validity of tests were given gag orders. Parents in wealthier districts hired test-prep tutors, which exacerbated the achievement gap between rich and poor.

Beyond those concerns, if the state places this much emphasis on test scores who will want to teach our neediest students? Will you assume that the teachers in wealthier districts are highly effective and the teachers in poorer districts are ineffective, simply based on test scores?

Most of us have failed an exam or two along life’s path. From those results, can we conclude that our teachers were ineffective? We understand the value of collecting data, but it must be interpreted wisely. Using test scores as 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation does not meet this criterion.

Your other proposals are also unlikely to succeed. Merit pay, charter schools and increased scrutiny of teachers won’t work because they fundamentally misdiagnose the problem. It’s not that teachers or schools are horrible. Rather, the problem is that students with an achievement gap also have an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few. If we truly want to improve educational outcomes, these are the real issues that must be addressed.

Much is right in public education today. We invite you to visit our classrooms and see for yourself. Most teachers, administrators and school board members are doing quality work. Our students and alumni have accomplished great things. Let’s stop the narrative of systemic failure.

Instead, let’s talk about ways to help the kids who are struggling. Let’s talk about addressing the concentration of poverty in our cities. Let’s talk about creating a culture of family so that our weakest students feel emotionally connected to their schools. Let’s talk about fostering collaboration between teachers, administrators and elected officials. It is by working together, not competing for test scores, that we will advance our cause.

None of these suggestions are easily measured with a No. 2 pencil, but they would work. On behalf of teachers across the state, we say these are our kids, we love them, and this is personal.

Kiersten Marek writes in Inside Philanthropy that the Gates Foundation seems to be ramping up its interest in the connection between housing and education. The foundation has made a few small investments in this interaction, and it appears to have realized that homelessness and housing instability has a negative impact on educational achievement. One straw in the wind: “The new CEO of the foundation, Susan Desmond-Hellman, recently wrote on the Impatient Optimists blog that a “stable place to call home” is one of the “few things that every child needs to lead a healthy, productive life.” (Along with good schools and a strong community.)…”

 

While the Gates Foundation has long noted the obvious linkages between housing, family stability, and student achievement, it hasn’t done much grantmaking to specifically address that nexus. But that’s changing, and [Gates’ program officer Kollin] Min says the foundation is advancing “partnerships between housing authorities and school districts, to look at the connection between housing stability and educational outcomes.”

 

Min cited McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma, which was recently profiled by the Urban Institute, as an example of the kind of collaboration that the Gates Foundation has created. By enrolling in the McCarver special program, kids and families commit to staying with the same school and receive rental assistance as well as other forms of support. The idea, of course, is that less moving around will allow kids to improve academically—and not only the kids who would otherwise be shuttling around, but also their classmates, who studies show are negatively affected by the disruption of students coming and going.

 

Min says the foundation has seen “positive results” from the partnership between the Tacoma School District and the Tacoma Housing Authority. But he also says this work is still early in the game. “We are just kind of taking baby steps with thinking about these issues.” On the other hand, as Min describes it, all this is hardly rocket science: “We’ve come to the firm point of view that for many children challenged by housing and mobility issues, it really is important to try to bring systems together, and that’s really the only way that we can improve outcomes.”

 

Perhaps the Gates Foundation could become a strong voice taking a stand against school closings, which are needlessly disruptive in the lives of children, families, and communities. The recognition that children are negatively affected by disruption is an important insight. We can hope that these are lessons learned that will change future practice.

 

 

 

 

LIndsay Wagner of the NC Policy Watch reports that nearly 30 percent of the public schools in the state received a letter grade of D or F.

 

Surprise: Almost all of them are high-poverty schools.

 

“The only thing these grades tell us is where our poor children go to school and where our rich children go to school,” said Lynn Shoemaker, a 23 year veteran public school teacher representing the advocacy group Public Schools First NC at a press conference held by Senate Democrats.

 

The North Carolina General Assembly joined more than a dozen other states in adopting A-F school letter grades — a system of accountability that former governor of Florida Jeb Bush conceived more than 15 years ago. Eighty percent of North Carolina’s school grades reflect student achievement on standardized tests on one given day, and 20 percent reflect students’ progress on those tests over time….

 

“Is this data for shaming purposes?” said Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenberg) in an interview with N.C. Policy Watch.

 

Rep. Cotham, who has worked at a low-wealth school, said it’s very damaging to receive yet another strike that these letter grades bring when low-wealth schools already battle against so many obstacles.

 

Since poverty is the root cause of low academic performance, why isn’t the North Carolina leadership working on that problem instead of shaming schools?

 

 

– See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/02/05/high-poverty-schools-receive-vast-majority-of-states-d-and-f-grades/#sthash.2qix4ld8.dpuf

 

This year, for the first time, North Carolina followed Jeb Bush’s lead and gave each of its schools a letter grade, A-F. The grades reflect poverty and also the state’s failure to support the schools with the greatest needs. The idea that a complex institution can be given a single letter grade is nonsensical. If a child came home with a single letter grade, his or her parents would be outraged. How much stupider it is to stigmatize schools with a single letter grade.

Here is a letter from North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan on this subject:

“The North Carolina State Board of Education (SBOE) and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released performance grades for all public schools on February 5th. According to the formula, a high percentage of each school grade was based on a single round of tests, assessments rushed into implementation to satisfy Race to the Top requirements.

“These performance grades serve as a clear indication of what our leaders are not doing to help students in public schools. Of the 707 schools that received a “D” or an “F” from the state, 695 qualify as schools with high poverty; meanwhile, more than half of the schools that achieved an “A” were early colleges, academies, and charter schools whose enrollments are much smaller and more selective than traditional public schools.

“What the state proved with this grading system is that it is ignoring the very students who need the most help—not just in the classroom, but with basic needs such as early childhood programs and health care accessibility. These performance grades also show that schools with smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction are more successful, a fact lawmakers willfully ignore when it comes to funding our schools to avoid overcrowding.

“My prediction is that the results next year will be even more polarized but not because of any real improvement. Instead of a fifteen-point scale, the state will use a ten-point scale. Gov. McCrory and Sen. Berger will tout the strength of charter schools and other “reforms” for election-year platforms. It becomes confirmation bias.

“So as a parent, teacher, voter, and taxpayer, I want to offer my own grades to the very officials who control the conditions of school environments and manipulate how schools are graded:

The General Assembly receives an “F” for the following actions:

· The denial of Medicaid expansion for students who live in poverty. It is hard to perform academically when basic medical needs cannot be met. 1 in 5 students in Forsyth County are in poverty. WSFCS had an overall rate of 41.1 percent of schools with a “D” or “F”.

· The financing of failed charter schools that have no oversight and are, in many cases, acts of financial recklessness. New oversight rules are being requested in light of questionable use of taxpayer money as 10 charter schools are currently on a watch list.

· The funding of vouchers (Opportunity Grants) that effectively removed money for public education and reallocated it to charter schools.

· The underfunding of our public university system, which forces increases in tuition, while giving tax breaks to companies who benefit from our educated workforce.

· The removal of longevity pay for all veteran teachers, who now are the only state employees without it.

· The dismantling of the Teaching Fellows Program that recruited our state’s brightest to become the teachers of our next generation.

“The SBOE and DPI receive an “F” for the following actions:

· The emphasis on publicizing favorable graduation rates rather than on addressing the social factors that impede learning, particularly at the preschool or elementary levels.

· The removal of the cap for class size for traditional schools and claiming it will not impede student learning.

· The administration of too many tests (EOCT’s, MSL’s, CC’s, NC Finals, etc.). These change every year, take more time away from instruction and measure very little.

· The constant change in curriculum standards (Standard Course of Study, Common Core, etc.).

· The appointment of non-educators to leadership roles in writing new curricula.

· The engagement with profit-motivated companies that dictate not only what teachers are allowed to teach but also how students are assessed. Pearson, for example, provides not only curriculum standards for many of the subjects taught in North Carolina but also insists you use Pearson-made standardized tests many which require that Pearson employees grade them—for a price.

· The continuous change in how teachers are evaluated (Formative/Summative, NCEES, True North Logic, Standard 6). The system that many teachers are now subjected to is actually being implemented before it is even finalized.

“Officials who support the school performance grading system claim that it gives parents a better view of how our schools are performing. But if that is the case, why have EVAAS growth models and accreditation requirements? Never mind that those measures offer a more complete view of a school’s competence.

“Schools provide a great reflection of a society and how it prioritizes education. When our schools are told that they are failing, those with the power to affect change are really the ones who deserve the failing grades.”

Stuart Egan
West Forsyth High School
Clemmons, NC

I sent this to each Senate Committee member:

 

 

Dear Sen. xxxx

 
I am a TN educator and I’d like to ask that you consider some facts about public education reform in TN generally and the proliferation of charter schools in particular.

 

The testing & accountability measures in TN were written by ALEC and by for-profit entities that have an interest in privatizing public education.

 

The value-added model (TN version is TVASS), marketed as an indicator of teacher quality, is junk science according to the American Statistical Association and by a majority of independent researchers: The lit review is here:

 

http://vamboozled.com/recommended-reading/value-added-models/

 

How can an education system improve if Congress allows junk science to dictate the direction of our education system? Test scores are designed to sort & rank. Testing is not learning- it’s a tool that teachers know when & how to use. Congress doesn’t dictate to any other profession how to use the tools of their profession. Why should teaching be any different?

 

All around the country VAM & standardized test scores are being misused to close schools, disperse, destabilize poor communities, sort out high needs (e.g. expensive children in SPED or at-risk) and privatize. The Dept of Education is now promoting VAM junk-science for colleges of Education.

 

Accountability has been in short supply for TN’s charter authorizer Achievement School District (ASD) and for outside consultants sucking up our tax dollars for invalid teacher evaluations and useless standardized tests(e.g., TEAM/TAP was developed by convicted felon Michael Milken & his brother and has no valid research line to support it’s claims)

 

Here are some persistent problems with charter schools & education privatizaion that deserve greater accountability and compliance.

 

1. Increased Segregation

 

• The vast majority of high-poverty charters fail due to racial & socio-economic segregation. The high-poverty model has not met with success at a national level.

 

• The most comprehensive study of charter schools completed to date found that only 17% of charter schools outperformed comparable traditional pubic schools.83% of public schools are better than charters. New Orleans Charter Schools have the lowest ACT scores in the country.

 

• Many families now believe- as do virtually all leading colleges & universities- that racial, ethnic, & income diversity enriches classrooms.

 

• The main problem with American schools in not their teachers or their unions, but poverty & economic segregation.

 

Reference:

 

Kahlenberg (2013). From all walks of life: New hopes for school integration. American Educator. Winter 2012-2013, pp. 2 – 40.

 

2. Sanctioned Discrimination or Whose Choice?

 

• The first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school; it is unclear how this bill supports that choice. In fact, we have seen how the rapid expansion of the charter sector has undermined neighborhood schools, drawing resources from them and at the same time expecting them to serve our most at-risk students. –

 

• Charters take public money yet have the legal status of private schools.

 

• Charter organizations have gone to court to protect themselves from educating & retaining ALL children.

 

• Charters discriminate against children with disabilities, children who do not test well, or who do not fit into inflexible discipline policies. Such children may be admitted to bolster enrollment but are expelled or counseled out after BEP funds are distributed, Public schools lose $6,000/child and face class overloads near testing time.

 

• Charters advertise ‘choice’ but overwhelmingly exclude parent voice.

 

• Parents have no legal recourse to challenge harmful charter school practices. Charters may legally ignore the key aspect of parent involvement: school level decision- making.

 

• Parents and the public are consistently misled about the community desires for a charter school. Charter waitlists cannot be confirmed and many records are slipshod.

 

• In New Orleans where all public schools have disappeared, the most difficult to teach children have been abandoned.

 

References:

Green, P. C., III, Baker, B. D., & Oluwole, J. O. (2013) Having it both ways: How charter schools try to obtain funding of public schools and the autonomy of private schools. Emory Law Journal, Vol. 63.303.

 

Parents Across America (PAA) http://parentsacrossamerica.org/parents-america-hr2218-%e2%80%9cempowering-parents-quality-charter-schools-act%e2%80%9d/#sthash.Ch0TKntq.dpuf

 

Welner, K. G. & Miron, G., (2014). Wait,wait. Don’t mislead me! Nine reasons to be skeptical about charter waitlist numbers. National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/charter-waitlists

 

Gabor, A. (2013) The great charter tryout. The Investigative Fund. http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/1848/

 

What we support:

 

More community schools just like the highly successful Pond Gap in Knoxviile, TN.

 

To improve the schools we have, rather than shutting down or turning around traditional schools to make way for more charter schools.

 

All charter schools to have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school. Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.

 

Charter schools should be held accountable for their enrollment, discipline, transfer, and other practices.

 

Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable to the public.

 

Finally, TN has a shameful 45% child poverty rate. My state has one of the highest rates of low wage & minimum wage jobs in the country. Our public schools in TN need resources- not privatization- to compensate for failed political & economic policies.

 

Thank-you for your work & consideration,

 

 

Joan Grim

An economist recently predicted trillions of dollars of increased productivity if schools raised test scores and thus eliminated poverty.

This teacher has a different view, grounded in reality, not speculation.

“As a teacher in a high poverty urban school, I would like to weigh in here. My school is not set up to eliminate poverty. That argument is rubbish. Would any of these economists like to put a price on the psychological toll of poverty? My kids are worried about getting shot. It is a common occurrence in the neighborhood. They eat the school breakfast totally lacking in nutrition as if it were mana from heaven. Some wear the same clothes day after day. The vast majority are not focused on their studies due to shouldering the unrelenting burdens of poverty.”

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