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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Challenges and opportunities unique to charter schools

Challenges and opportunities unique to charter schools

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What do you think are the unique hurdles faciong charter schools? What are the most novel solutions and innovations you've seen at work in charter schools for students and their learning? Please share your thinking about charters in all stages of their life cycles - Warm regards, C

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Barbara Ruiz's picture
Barbara Ruiz
Title I Instructional Coordinator, Albuquerque Public School District

One challenge I have witnessed with Charter schools and Title I funding is that, at least in our district, we have struggled with finding an efficient and effective means of gathering the information needed to know if a family qualifies as low-income. Since that information is required by Federal regulations and is used to identify Title I students, many of our charter school families hesitate to sign the forms we use in the public schools because they require the Social Security number. Schools that could receive some additional funding to help those lowest achieving students do not qualify for funding because they cannot collect enough of the required forms.
If anyone has had success in getting parents to disclose that information, please let me know.

Gloria5's picture

Hi Barbara,
I can understand why people would be reluctant to release certain financial information, for fear that they earn to much and will be rejected. Families are struggling today, and even if they are making enough to afford rent/mort.,medical insurance, and the other necessity it does not mean they are off the hook. Many many families are relying on credit for more than 1/3 of items that may be deemed as necessary. Crossing wires is a big part of American living, otherwise everybody would appreciate the benefits of a good education. I believe that is what the public schools are able to give students today. In certain instances where kids are not able to conceive that education is important, the public school system has failed.There are many areas of education that are in need of a over haul. Kids don't get why education matters, because the teachers aren't able to convey first off this is about the kids, second off it is about maintaing a sense of discipline that kids can understand as being to their benefit, I rest assured we are not going back to the days of Jane Eyre. I would hope that disclosing the amount of finances would not be used for the opposite sense of forfeiting the moneys that the charter schools need and helping kids have a sense of oneness among many.

Barbara Ruiz's picture
Barbara Ruiz
Title I Instructional Coordinator, Albuquerque Public School District

Hi Gloria,
So much of what you say is true about the current situation in schools. If ever a system was broken, it is the education system now.
After re-reading my prior comment, I understand your response. Let me see if I can clarify my concern. As for Title I, I am very proud of the work that Title I programs in the schools can do for children, whether they are low income, in poverty, or even wealthy. That is the beauty of the way Title I funding works. First of all, the states are funded based on the Census data, then schools are funded based on the number of families living in the poverty and low income ranges. Then it changes when it comes to the students. The students most in need of academic support are eligible for additional help through Title I programs. There are low income, poverty level students who are proficient and there are middle and high income students who are at risk of failing. Title I funding is meant to address the needs of the lowest performing students. The easiest way to get the information regarding income is the free and reduced meal plan applications used by most districts across the US, but charter schools do not usually use the public school food services. I think people are afraid of revealing their SS#'s due to all of the identity theft and they don't know who will have access to these forms. As for releasing their income information, I would like the school personnel to tell the families that this information could bring more funds into the school to help out those students who need it the most, that it won't be used for any other purpose, and that an individual student will not be refused services based on income. Asking for family income, with all of the personal information that goes along with it, gives Title I departments the "big picture" of the level of poverty in schools in order to be in compliance with Federal regulations. Once that is done, the students most in need academically are identified and given the extra support, no matter the family income or whether they are in public, private, or charter schools.
It is obvious that you have a heart for children. I hope this helps relieve some of your concerns.
Regards,
Barbara

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