Archives for category: Segregation

The National Education Policy Center regularly reviews reports from think tanks and advocacy groups. In this report, its scholars review an effort by charter school advocates to defend charter schools against critics. The conclusion: charters promote privatization and segregation.

“National Charter School Report Misleading and Superficial, Review Finds”

Contact:
Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965, gary.miron@wmich.edu
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 23, 2015) — A report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) attempted to “separate fact from fiction” about charter schools. The report addressed 21 “myths” regarding charter schools, which were quickly rejected. However, an academic review of the report finds that it perpetuated its own myths and fictions about charter schools rather than adding to the discourse surrounding school choice.

The report, Separating Fact and Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools, was assembled by NAPCS with no author identified. Gary Miron, Western Michigan University, William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, and Kevin G. Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Succinctly, the original report addressed various claims about charter schools in such areas as financial equality of charter schools, lower teacher qualifications, student selection demographics, academic outcomes, segregation, and innovation.

Yet, the reviewers found that the report’s main purpose appears to be the “repetition or ‘spinning’ of claims voiced by advocacy groups and think tanks that promote privatization and school choice.” Furthermore, the reviewers found that it relied almost exclusively on advocacy documents rather than more careful and balanced empirical research, and provides only a superficial examination of any “criticisms” regarding charter schools.l

The review is organized in a format that lists each of the criticisms identified, and then provides a short commentary based on the extant research literature. Where the original document overlooked research evidence, the reviewers provide readers with a valuable tool to examine charter school criticisms.

Additionally, the reviewers find that the report fails to redirect the sector toward its original ideals, “Charter schools were originally designed to be a new form of public school. They were supposed to be small, locally run, innovative and highly accountable. They were supposed to be open to all and were expected to provide new freedoms to teachers to creatively innovate and serve their communities.”

Instead, the reviewers point out the most disappointing non-myth that comes out of the research: “In reality, the main outcomes of charter schools have been to promote privatization and accelerated the stratification and re-segregation of schools.”

The reviewers conclude, this report is unlikely to be of any use to “the discerning policy-maker” and fails to engage the important underlying issues.

Read the full review at:

http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Separating Fact and Fiction on the web:

http://www.publiccharters.org/publications/separating-fact-fiction-public-charter-schools/

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

http://nepc.colorado.edu

Daniel S. Katz of Serin Hall University explains here why the New York Times is wrong about the value of annual standardized testing.

The editorial acknowled that there is too much testing, but failed to acknowledge that this condition is the result of federal mandates. It credits the high-stakes testing regime with higher achievement but doesn’t recognize that test scores increased faster before NCLB.

It is hard to believe that the Néw York Times editorial board is so out of touch with parents, students, teachers, and the realities of school.

This video, shown on PBS, documents a wonderful story: Two high schools in Birmingham, Alabama, collaborate to produce “To Kill a Mockingbird.” One high school is all-black, the other is all-white. We are reminded that desegregation peaked in the 1980s, according to the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

 

The video shows high school students working together to present the play. The video devotes more time to the historical setting of the book, the realities of life in Birmingham and the segregated South than to the production. This is not a disadvantage but a strength because the play and the novel are set in time. The video includes film footage of the segregated South in the 1930s (which the book portrays) and the 1950s (when the book was written and the civil rights movement was on the march). It includes film footage of civil rights protests in Birmingham, when the police loosed dogs on black demonstrators. It interviews black and white adults about life under segregation. It includes clips from the film that starred Gregory Peck and home-made films from local families. It interviews the actors who appeared in the 1962 film and the students who appear in the play today. It raises the irony of white families who trusted black servants to raise their children yet would not allow black children to attend the local schools or universities.

 

It is a must-see, partly for the ideas of the play, but mostly for its realistic portrayal of segregation then and now and for the reactions of today’s students. It is an important story about our history, our past and our present.

Yohuru Williams, a professor of history at Fairfield University, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Malcolm X by revisiting the cultural and racial biases that robbed him of his dreams.

Williams argues that black students today are labeled and stigmatized by test scores as surely as Malcolm was labeled and disparaged because of his race.

Williams writes:

“It is the kind of racial determinism that many students of color have become accustomed to. Proponents of high stakes testing resurrect such determinism, presumably without the racial overtones, by reducing students, their hopes and dreams for the future, to test scores. Effectively, they close the door to the hope of achievement through hard work and academic engagement…..

“In shrinking students’ lives to test scores, the opportunity for them to dream and achieve beyond the arbitrary measures of intelligence offered by standardized tests will be lost. Coupled with punitive disciplinary policies, high stakes tests narrow the pathways to success for poor and minority youth even as they come neatly wrapped in the language of colorblind assessment.

“More significantly, testing will continue to feed, not eradicate the real great civil rights issue of our time; the growing school to prison pipeline, which like a malignant cancer, continues to eat away at the fabric of many inner cities by robbing students of their future…..”

“Rather than acknowledging the potential dangers posed by the adoption of high stakes assessments, testing’s proponents press forward heralding such evaluations as the best hope for a level playing field. In the same way that segregation laws limited opportunity under Jim Crow, high stakes testing has become one of the primary instruments of exclusion in support of what legal scholar Michelle Alexander has termed the New Jim Crow…..

“We are saddled with an education system that transforms believers in fairness and equality into staunch critics of a system that reduces the hopes and dreams of future generations to a score.”

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

Marie Corfield, education activist and blogger in Néw Jersey, has an amazing story to tell about her state.

The big surprise: Two moms sued to desegregate their local public school and won, a decade before the Supreme Court’s Brown decision of 1954.

“The state is home to many firsts. The light bulb, phonograph and motion picture projector were all invented here. The first baseball game was played here. The first Miss America pageant was held here in Atlantic City, home to the world’s longest boardwalk and Monopoly’s street names. The first Indian Reservation was founded here. The first drive-in theatre was opened here. Modern paleontology began here.”

And there’s so much more that the Garden State can be proud of. Did you know that Néw Jersey has one of the best school systems in the nation? Massachusetts, Néw Jersey, and Connecticut are our three top states, as judged by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Strange that all three have governors who decided they know how to reform their state school systems. They should take care not to “fix” what is not broken.

Yohuru Williams, professor of history at Fairfield University, has written a brilliant and powerful piece about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the current effort to privatize large sectors of public education, especially in urban districts.

 

He scoffs at the idea that turning public schools over to private management is “the civil rights issue of our time,” as so many “reformers” say. He cites a number of statements by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that claim the mantle of civil rights for policies that actually exacerbate segregation.

 

He cites Dr. King at length to show that he would  not have supported the use of standardized testing as a means of “reform.”

 

Dr. Williams writes:

 

“We must remember,” King warned, “that intelligence is not enough . . . Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” He asserted, “The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”

 

King saw the goal of education as more than performance on high-stakes tests or the acquisition of job skills or career competencies. He saw it as the cornerstone of free thought and the use of knowledge in the public interest. For King, the lofty goal of education was not just to make a living but also to make the world a better place by using that production of knowledge for good. “To save man from the morass of propaganda,” King opined, “is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” The notion that privatization can foster equality is fiction.

 

Dr. King understood the dangers of privatization, writes Dr. Williams:

 

King saw how school privatization was used to maintain segregation in Georgia. He witnessed the insidious efforts of Eugene Talmadge’s son, Herman, a distinguished lawyer, who succeeded his father in the governor’s office. Herman Talmadge created what became known as the “private-school plan.” In 1953, before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Talmadge proposed an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to empower the general assembly to privatize the state’s public education system. “We can maintain separate schools regardless of the US Supreme Court,” Talmadge advised his colleagues, “by reverting to a private system, subsidizing the child rather than the political subdivision.” The plan was simple. If the Supreme Court decided, as it eventually did in Brown, to mandate desegregation, the state would close the schools and issue vouchers to allowing students to enroll in segregated private schools.

 

What we are seeing in the name of “reform” today is the same plan with slight modifications: brand schools as low-performing factories of failure, encourage privatization, and leave the vast majority of students in underfunded, highly stigmatized public schools.

 

This effort will create an America that looks more like the 1967 Kerner Commission’s forecast, two societies separate and unequal, than Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community.

 

Dr. Williams says that the corporate education reform movement is the opposite of what Dr. King sought:

 

For King, the Beloved Community was a global vision of human cooperation and understanding where all peoples could share in the abundant resources of the planet. He believed that universal standards of human decency could be used to challenge the existence of poverty, famine, and economic displacement in all of its forms. A celebration of achievement and an appreciation of fraternity would blot out racism, discrimination, and distinctions of any kind that sought to divide rather than elevate people—no matter what race, religion, or test score. The Beloved Community promoted international cooperation over competition. The goal of education should be not to measure our progress against the world but to harness our combined intelligence to triumph over the great social, scientific, humanistic, and environmental issues of our time.

 

While it seeks to claim the mantle of the movement and Dr. King’s legacy, corporate education reform is rooted in fear, fired by competition and driven by division. It seeks to undermine community rather than build it and, for this reason, it is the ultimate betrayal of the goals and values of the movement.

 

Real triumph over educational inequalities can only come from a deeper investment in our schools and communities and a true commitment to tackling poverty, segregation, and issues affecting students with special needs and bilingual education. The Beloved Community is to be found not in the segregated citadels of private schools but in a well-funded system of public education, free and open to all—affirming our commitment to democracy and justice and our commitment to the dignity and worth of our greatest resource, our youth.

 

 

 

 

I regret to say that I never met Dr. King. But I participated in the March on Washington in 1963, when he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was one of the greatest days in American history, a day that marked a major turning of the tide, a day led by civil rights groups in alliance with labor unions and religious groups, a day that marked the beginning of a new era in American society, when black Americans claimed full citizenship rights, silent no more. No one was more important on that day than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose words rang out across the nation and the world

 

In honor of his birthday, I am linking to that speech ( here is a YouTube video of the March and speech) and also to his famous “Letter from a Birmingham City Jail.”

 

Dr. King was a brilliant man with a wide range of knowledge. He wrote and spoke with unparalleled moral power and left us with a lasting legacy.

 

Here is a quote provided by one of our readers, which is relevant to our lives today and tomorrow:

 

 

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?

 

But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

Jersey Jazzman posted four articles about charter schools in Hoboken. In this, his final post in the series, he draws together the issues that confront Hoboken and will soon confront urban (and perhaps suburban) districts across the nation as charter schools continue to proliferate with the active encouragement of philanthropies like Walton, Broad, and Gates and the of the Obama administration and Congress.

 

He writes:

 

America is a society that sorts its citizens, and that sorting begins in school. Want your kid to get a high SAT score and consequently go to a competitive college? Your best chance is to enroll him in a school with low numbers of students in poverty. As I’ve said, it’s not wrong to act on this reality in the best interests of your child; I would be a screaming hypocrite if I tried to deny that I had. What’s wrong is to pretend that the reality of schools as engines of social reproduction doesn’t exist. Which brings us back to Hoboken… I have no doubt the supporters of Hoboken’s charter schools want to help children in economic disadvantage and children of color succeed. Nobody thinks it’s acceptable for poor children to be consigned to a life of poverty. I believe the efforts of the people who run Hoboken’s charters to recruit a diverse student body are sincere and well-intentioned. I further believe, as I have said before, that affluent charter school proponents who stay in their cities with their families, rather than decamp for the ‘burbs, can make a good case that they are doing more to help their communities than those that flee. So, to be clear: I am not criticizing anyone who teaches at or sends their child to a Hoboken charter school. God bless and good luck. No, my issue, as always, is with the charter cheerleaders who repeatedly refuse to have an honest conversation about what is really happening.

 

When charters claim they serve the same demographic as public schools, and when they claim that they “do more with less,” the discussion is pure spin, says JJ:

 

There is a serious conversation that needs to be had about segregation, school funding, gentrification, and charter schools — but we can’t have that conversation as long as nonsense like this is allowed to go unchallenged. The “doing more with less” arguments from the Hoboken charter cheerleaders are, at best, incomplete, because those charters raise substantial additional funds from their parents, and rely on a concentration of social and political capital to benefit their schools.

 

The charter cheerleaders deny the facts and distort the reality. Private schools have the same segregative effects, but they don’t take money away from needy public schools; charters do.

 

JJ writes:

 

How can anyone make the case that charter school expansion isn’t having an unequal and pernicious effect on the neediest children of Hoboken? How can anyone seriously deny that the proliferation of charters is harming children in HPS — children who are far more likely to be in economic disadvantage?

 

What’s happening in Hoboken is, again, atypical. But as cities gentrify; and family size shrinks, making urban living more attractive; and income inequality grows, watch out: Hoboken may be the template for a new wave of charter school proliferation. The intra-city economic and racial segregation that used to be the exclusive province of private schools may well be replaced by charter schools, subsisting on the taxpayers’ dime.

 

We have enough problems with segregation between school districts; do we have to replicate that within cities simply to create diverse communities? Wouldn’t we be better off fully funding our urban — and, for that matter, non-urban — schools, so that they become as desirable as the best-resourced suburban districts? Or is the current form of charter proliferation in Hoboken as inevitable as the current segregation of our urban and suburban school districts?

 

These are hard questions that need to be discussed. Let’s get rid of the charter cheerleading, then, so we can do just that.

In a stunning post at Salon, Christopher Bonastia describes the ugly origins of the charter industry in the segregationist movement. The basic idea behind efforts to fight desegregation was school choice, paid for by taxpayers. The goal was to allow white students to continue to attend all-white private academies with public dollars. Today, the charter industry targets black students, which ironically popularizes the idea of all-black, segregated schools. Desegregation is no longer a priority for public policy, despite research that shows its benefits.

He writes:

“The now-popular idea of offering public education dollars to private entrepreneurs has historical roots in white resistance to school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The desired outcome was few or, better yet, no black students in white schools. In Prince Edward County, Virginia, one of the five cases decided in Brown, segregationist whites sought to outwit integration by directing taxpayer funds to segregated private schools.

Two years before a federal court set a final desegregation deadline for fall 1959, local newspaper publisher J. Barrye Wall shared white county leaders’ strategy of resistance with Congressman Watkins Abbitt: “We are working [on] a scheme in which we will abandon public schools, sell the buildings to our corporation, reopen as privately operated schools with tuition grants from [Virginia] and P.E. county as the basic financial program,” he wrote. “Those wishing to go to integrated schools can take their tuition grants and operate their own schools. To hell with ‘em.”

Though the county ultimately refused to sell the public school buildings, public education in Prince Edward County was nevertheless abandoned for five years (1959-1964), as taxpayer dollars were funneled to the segregated white academies, which were housed in privately owned facilities such as churches and the local Moose Lodge. Federal courts struck down this use of taxpayer funds after a year. Still, whites won and blacks lost. Because there were no local taxes assessed to operate public schools during those years, whites could invest in private schools for their children, while blacks in the county—unable and unwilling to finance their own private, segregated schools—were left to fend for themselves, with many black children shut out of school for multiple years….

“Attorney David Mays, who advised high-ranking Virginia politicians on school strategy, reasoned, “Negroes could be let in [to white schools] and then chased out by setting high academic standards they could not maintain, by hazing if necessary, by economic pressures in some cases, etc. This should leave few Negroes in the white schools. The federal courts can easily force Negroes into our white schools, but they can’t possibly administer them and listen to the merits of thousands of bellyaches.” (Mays vastly underestimated the determination of individual black families and federal officials.)…”

“The driving assumption for the pro-charter side, of course, is that market competition in education will be like that for toothpaste — providing an array of appealing options. But education, like healthcare, is not a typical consumer market. Providers in these fields have a disincentive to accept or retain “clients” who require intensive interventions to maintain desired outcomes—in the case of education, high standardized test scores that will allow charters to stay in business. The result? A segmented marketplace in which providers compete for the “good risks,” while the undesirables get triage. By design, markets produce winners, losers and unintended or hidden consequences.

“Charter school operators (like health insurers who exclude potentially costly applicants) have developed methods to screen out applicants who are likely to depress overall test scores. Sifting mechanisms may include interviews with parents (since parents of low-performing students are less likely to show up for the interview), essays by students, letters of recommendation and scrutiny of attendance records. Low-achieving students enrolled in charters can, for example, be recommended for special education programs that the school lacks, thus forcing their transfer to a traditional public school. (More brazenly, some schools have experienced, and perhaps even encouraged, rampant cheating on standardized tests.)

“Operators have clear motives to avoid students who require special services (i.e., English-language learners, “special needs” children and so on) and those who are unlikely to produce the high achievement test scores that form the basis of school evaluations. Whether intended or otherwise, these sifting mechanisms have the ultimate effect of reinscribing racial and economic segregation among the students they educate — as the research on this topic is increasingly bearing out.”

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