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The kind of school is only one variable. There are interwoven factors that affect performance. Think about the systemic issues regarding the health of the local community. I picture Englewood, IL, for example, where there appears to be insurmountable challenges due to the crime and loss of control of youth and gangs. Families struggle with parenting and the adults as well as the children live in fear. The schools are either havens or strongholds rather than purely educational institutions. It doesn't matter if they are charters, for profit, traditional, small, or tech prep.
It is so important for the education community address the concerns of the public education system. To have students graduate from high school with the inability to attend college academically or with the ability to attend but, without the supervision and or oversight to make it through our post secondary education system is a waste of time, effort, and resources. If the Charter School model provides the guidance and oversight to achieve the expected learning outcomes then, this is the model that the public school system should emulate. There must be also a system of viable checks and balances as well as, continuous assessment and analysis to ensure all (faculty, adminstrators, and students), are comitted to the success of this new model alongwith, a method of tracking the successes and or concerns that students are having or may encounter at the post secondary level and provide immediate feedback by addressing the concerns. The bottom-line in this instance is, if we fail to educate our students properly then we face a future of uncertainty.
From a teacher's perspective, working at a charter school gives you a little more freedom, albeit a smaller salary. For the student, the smaller school and the smaller class sizes of a charter school provide something of an advantage. Nonetheless, it is hard to keep teachers in the urban schools, even for charter schools.
If you look at the turnover rate of teachers, an obvious observation is that you have a large number of brand new, non-minority teachers teaching urban youth. You are not going to quell the exodus of experienced teachers to the suburbs. The lure of more managable classrooms and safer environments is undeniable.
Nonetheless, if we can raise teachers from the "hood" commited to teach in the "hood" perhaps the results can change. Twenty or so years ago, some churches successfully replaced their missionary preachers in Indian reservations with Indian preachers. Results were good. Perhaps we can try something like that in education.
The issue of changing struggling schools to models of charter schools which are successful bring forth several concerns: 1)How are we definining "successful". 2)If we are basing the "success" of a school on whether a child is able to pass a state mandated test (such as the TAKS test in Texas) then I must conclude that we, as educators are still in this mode of "passing the test". The teaching profession has evolved into a profession so stucked on students' passing these state mandated test that we have failed to realize that teaching is more than reading, writing and math. On a daily basis, the classroom teacher provides encouragement, provides counseling, provides hope to sometimes a hopeless child. It is this writer's opinion that if the teaching profession ever get pass this "passsing the test" mentality then and only then will we produce a student, not only able to "pass a test" but is able to pass the test of life. Lastly, the teaching profession has evolved into a profession where teachers are almost regulated to providing strategies necessary to "pass the test", not teach their content, not make students "life-long" learners. I do not want to leave this response without letting the readers know that I am a teacher that loves this profession and just pray and hope that one day we will get beyond this "pass the test" mentality and begin to provide the 21st century learner with the tools necessary to survive in this ever-changing technological society in which we live.
My answer is no - for the reasons that
(1) The vote doesn't give it's definition of public education
(2) The vote doesn't give it's definition of what is a charter school
(3) There are too many competing agendas that aren't competing for the right things - the rights of school age children who have little voice of their own; the rights of the parents to better themselves at the same time; equal rights for every element of public education at every school irregardless of neighborhood - staffing; environment; safety; curriculum materials - these basics need to be non-negotiable. They're not
I don't believe that the Charter School model as we have them in RI can serve as a solution for turning around failing schools. They operate under different "rules" than the regular public schools. I think it would be quite difficult if not impossible to impose the charter structure on a failing school in our state. I feel their value for parents and students is that they offer choice. While they were touted as also fostering the benefits of competition and serving as "laboratories" for the development of best practice, neither has proved to be the case.
Charters provide choice - a good thing. Unfortunately, as in the case of private school choice, charter do often take the cream. We have a new Mayoral Academy in our area that has received much attention. It opened with 76 Kindergarten students. When our school district called parents of students from our district that enrolled and asked why they made this "choice" for their children, they were unanimous in saying that it was the program (FUll Day K including before and afterschool programs). While we now have space for a full day program, the economy and a tightening state mandated property tax cap combined with the failure of the state to establish a fair and predictable funding formula for schools will make establishing a Full Day K program difficult if not impossible. Each year we will lose students, not because we are failing to provide for the needs of our students or that the School Committee, Superintendent and teachers don't want to but because we cannot afford to.
You've painted Charter Schools with a very broad brush. Some of the schools are truly unique and trying to do schooling in new and different ways. Others are just more of the same--in the ones I've visited I've seen very little new instruction--mostly more of the same just faster.
The questions from the survey are misleading... the title seems to be about Charter Schools yet the questions are about school reform--your questions link them as if they were the same thing. I doubt your survey questions would pass even minimal review by survey developers. Any results from this survey will be spurious. It's more like a marketing tool than an authentic survey.
In my community, charter schools are further entrenching the deep problems caused through CHOICE. Those who can, flee to wherever they perceive the grass to be greener...the squeaky wheel get the grease. What results are a number of schools that manage some superficial qualities that are enough to appease the parents into believing they have the "best" schools. The remaining schools are further, astonishingly ghettoized. Low-income students with parents who take what they are given are repeatedly abandoned and marginalized.
Some charter schools do a good job, but not all of them. They get the students who have better parental supervision and if they don't want them they can send them back to the public school and I have been told they keep the money at the charter school.
Parents want the children in charter schools necause they feel they are safer, not because they get a better education. I was told that by the Diector of Charter Schools in LAUSD. I thought it was because they thought the children get a better education. Charter Schools do not test better over time, there are low performing charters schools too.
The goal should be to require parents to support the education of the child. At the same time the student needs to take responsibility for learning. Teachers need to do the very best job with each student. The Teachers need to be respected as professionals and trusted to do what they have been trained to do. The requirements to get a Clear Teaching credential take many years, the effort and level of education should be respected.
More than "school" and education staff often fails our children -- the combination of family issues, peer relationships, living environment, varied learning styles and strengths/weaknesses all contribute to challenges of being in school every day and being successful. How can any child pay attention and do well in school if he doesn't feel safe at home or in the classroom? Therefore, when trying to "fix" schools, those success models that work involve supporting students on multiple levels -- from personal and family issues, to connecting more with community members/groups, as well as getting more individualized educational instruction, assessment and support. More engaging learning strategies that provide truly meaningful applications and opportunities, while helping students to not "feel dumb", can go a long ways. I have seen this work, though it takes a paradigm shift in attitudes by all around, and dedication to it over multiple years -- such deep dysfunction cannot be "fixed" in just one or two years. Plus, different schools, staff and students need different "remedies" to forge the path to success -- it's not a "one size fits all" solution.