Charter school

Charter Schools reduce risk taking behaviours

More good news from research on the effects of US Charter Schools.

A couple of key points make it clear that the only reason unions and the political Left are against these here is that it wasn’t their idea (or they don’t give a rats backside about kids).

Low-income minority adolescents enrolled in California’s high-performing public charter high schools are less likely to engage in risky health behaviors, according to a new study by the University of California – Los Angeles.

Researchers said that these adolescents also scored better on Math and English tests as compared to their peers from other schools.

The researchers conclude that public charter high schools in low-income neighborhoods can cause beneficial health effects and bridge the growing academic achievement gap between wealthy and poor students.

The finding is published in the journal Paediatrics.

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Over time Charter Schools getting better and better

In the USA Charter Schools have had time to bed in. Those that fail get closed and progress occurs in the others and the approval and evaluation systems.. The Stanford Credo studies of 2009 and 2013 showed significant growth and improvement.

A new nationwide US study produced from the University of Arkansas also paints a picture that will challenge the half-baked assertions from the NZ left/unions.’

A first-ever report released July 22 by the University of Arkansas, which ties charter school funding to achievement, finds that public charter schools are more productive than traditional public schools in all 28 states included in analyses of cost-effectiveness and return on investment.

The national report, titled “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,” found that  deliver on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam taken by students for every $1,000 invested. These differences amount to charter schools being 40 percent more cost-effective in math and 41 percent more cost-effective in reading, compared to traditional Read more »

“Child Poverty Action Group” inadvertently advocate for Charter Schools

The Child Poverty Action Group has a range of ivory tower types who do the odd bit of research and then say all problem solving is up to the government. Families are responsible for nothing but are simply victims of socio-economics.

Their latest outburst is for Massey University long-term trough muncher John O’Neil telling the country the all teachers in lower decile schools are not doing their job.

He effectively calls them no better than useless – not a popular man I would have thought – unless you are looking for an excuse.

They have forgotten that compulsory schooling up to 16 years of age is there to break cycles – not accept them.

O’Neil starts with:

“You cannot allow today’s generation of children to suffer because of some political argument that teachers need to do better.”

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No.1 Reason why the Left rant about Charter Schools: Fear of Success!

There are only 5 Charter School in NZ so far. The unions rant about them, misrepresent them and exaggerate their funding. Hipkins and Cunliffe (who also exaggerate their funding) refuse to even visit, let alone explain – face to face – to parents and children why they threaten to close down something that is working already. See South Auckland Middle School or Vanguard Military School.

As the data set grows for Charter Schools the NZ Left’s biggest fear is exactly what is occurring – success and community empowerment without union or centralised control. Keep in mind that the NZ Left is years behind the play (best guess – 1970s) – Obama’s administration does understand that education is for children and their families.

The other thing that is clearly frightening NZ’s left is that major philanthropists in the US are seeing that the schools are avoiding the bureaucratic black holes of time and money and are actually getting results for needy kids – therefore they are prepared to help.

The Philanthropy Roundtable of the USA have just issued a book: From Promising to Proven about Charter Schools in the USA. It will frighten the unions and the political Left in NZ so much that they will avidly avoid reading it (as will most of the MSM). They prefer to blame the economy for any education failure and to see schools and teachers as helpless victims. The book has a different message so a number of points are summarised for them here (full references are in the book):

Bill Gates explains that after his foundation decided in the mid‑1990s to focus on U.S. schooling, it poured about $2 billion into various education experiments. During their first decade, he reports, “many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.” There was, however, one fascinating exception.

“A few of the schools that we funded achieved something amazing. They replaced schools with low expectations and low results with ones that have high expectations and high results.” And there was a common variable: “Almost all of these schools were charter schools.”

Other philanthropists had the same experience. Eli Broad, one of the biggest givers to education in the U.S., observed that “charter school systems are delivering the best student outcomes, particularly for poor and minority students. They are performing significantly better than the best traditional school district systems.” Ted Mitchell of the NewSchools Venture Fund drew some bold bottom lines: “Good charter schools have pretty much eliminated the high-school dropout rate. And they’ve doubled the college‑going rate of underserved kids.”

Some broad strengths of charter schools

  • They attract more entrepreneurial principals and teachers into the field of education
  • School autonomy allows wide experimentation with new ways of educating
  • This same flexibility is used to circumvent bureaucratic obstacles that often block conventional schools from succeeding
  • Charters sidestep the dysfunctional labor relations of many urban districts
  • They erode monopolies and introduce competitive energy into public education
  • Research shows that charters are more effective at recruiting teachers who graduated in the top third of their college class
  • Charters give parents who cannot afford private schools, or moving, another choice besides their neighborhood school
  • They give nonprofits and community organizations practical opportunities to improve the education of local children
  • Their emphasis on student outcomes fosters greater accountability for results
  • By functioning as laboratories and alternatives, charters foment change in conventional schools as well

In the 2013 U.S. News and World Report rankings of public high schools, for instance, 41 charters made it into the top 200. Read more »

Smart People see the great opportunity of Charter Schools

Mark Zuckerberg has just put $120 million in.

“The latest gift, which also comes from that fund, will help “improve education for underserved communities” over the next five years, Zuckerberg said. Some of the $120 million will help start new public and charter schools in the Bay Area while the rest will pay for equipment, training and other programs at existing schools. The first $5 million will go to needy schools in the Ravenswood and Redwood City school districts and other “high-need” neighborhoods of San Francisco.”

The Gates and Walton Foundations are generous. Andre Agassi is doing incredible things. There is also opportunities for NZ philanthropists now (I am sure the schools wouldn’t mind a contact). Given that the Left in NZ is now completely in the pocket of a millionaire capitalist they no longer have any grounds to complain.  Read more »

Thomas Sowell Slams Anti-Charter School Crap

Thomas Sowell is someone who knows a good thing for minority groups when he sees it.

In this article he makes clear the fantastic changes occurring for poorer children in the US through Charter Schools and the philanthropy that goes with it.

“The Walton Family Foundation — created by the people who created Walmart — has given more than $300 million to charter schools, voucher programs and other educational enterprises concerned with the education of poor and minority students across the country.

The Walton Family Foundation gave more than $58 million to the KIPP schools, which have had spectacular success in raising the test scores of children in ghettoes where the other children are far behind in academic performance.

D.C. Prep, in Washington, whose students are mostly poor and black, has also received grants from the Walton Family Foundation. Its test scores likewise exceed those of traditional neighborhood schools, as well as the test scores of other local charter schools. Other wealthy people across the country have been doing similar things for years, including high-tech tycoons like Bill Gates and Michael Dell. It is one of the great untold stories of a unique pattern of philanthropy that makes America truly exceptional.   Read more »

Good things already from NZ Charter Schools

Even apparent Charter School opponents have had to acknowledge some good progress and potential on this front already. From the Save our Schools team: http://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/hoping-for-some-honest-answers-on-charter-schools/

At the Quality Public Education Coalition forum, chairman Bill Courtney caused heads to swivel when he greeted Alwyn Poole in the audience before giving an update on charter schools. Poole is the principal of Mt Hobson Middle School. He’s also a member of the Villa Education Trust, whose South Auckland Middle School is one of the first in the charter schools pilot.

Courtney’s talk used South Auckland Middle School’s figures to explain how funding has been allocated. He also made the point that the charter school model has been hijacked by the privatisation movement. One of the first proponents of the idea, Albert Shanker, saw it as a way to allow teachers greater autonomy, to engage the students who weren’t being served by normal schools

This sounds like what Poole’s schools have been able to do: Poole said he works with children with needs like dyslexia or Asperger’s, or kids who need a “boost” at middle school level. He was asked why couldn’t he achieve it within the system as a special character school. In 2002, that option was “blocked”. They were looking for “ways of expanding what we do”, so applied for the partnership school option.   Read more »

The Stupidity of the Left’s “Finland” chant for Education

In terms of education no one on the left is offering anything this election – just more BANS – to go alongside truck bans, man bans, foreign investment bans, Nigella bans etc.

The Green/Labour/PPTA/NZEI block simply plan to ban National Standards, Charter Schools and the $359 million of government spending directed at improving leadership, teaching and learning in areas where schools are failing.

The only glimmer of a proposal they give is to say – we need to be like Finland. The funny thing is that those groups would go even more apoplectic if some of the things Finland does were put in place – plus – those working in Finland recognise that the conditions that make it work there do not work anywhere else.

“Compulsory schooling begins at the age of seven, with only a broadly-outlined national curriculum, and students wear their own clothes and call the teachers by their first names.”

Problem 1: Schooling begins at 7. In New Zealand the Left blame all school failure on poverty in the home. So they would want to leave children in that situation longer – so when those kids start school they are even further behind? When the children don’t own clothes of a quantity and quantity acceptable to going to school it just given them one more things to be socially distinct on – the Left would be happy with that?

Problem 2: That change would put a whole lot of NZEI employees out of work and out of the union. I can just see NZEI marching in favour of that.

Problem 3: One of the complaints with Charter Schools from the clueless Left has been that they may propose a curriculum apart from the national one. So they would suddenly be in favour of the much greater curriculum freedom offered to Finnish schools? Would they happy for schools to simply be leaving out portions benefiting the Left’s social agenda that are in our current curriculum?

“PISA results show that Finland was 12th best in the world for maths – outside of Asia, only Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Netherlands and Estonia fared better. Britain was 14 places below Finland.”

Problem 4: Some of the Finland results are not that flash. The Left also complain vehemently about testing and whinge about PISA (especially when it calls into doubt their “world class” mantra). So – they want Finnish systems based on a testing system that shows quality but at the same time bag the testing system and don’t want it here? It must be confusing having to try and think this way.

“And a study by the Smithsonian Institution showed that the difference between Finland’s weakest and strongest students was the smallest in the world.”

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More evidence of the success of charter schools

Yesterday Josh Metcalfe, one of my commenters made this comment:

I’m all for parents having choice, but I’m wary of Charter Schools becoming a way to prey on underprivileged kids and put them on a single career path from an early age. And so you could have corporations locking these kids to work for them for life.

Now I’m not saying that this’ll definitely happen but it’s something to be mindful of.

Obviously the comment is loaded with the group-think and approved lines of the teacher unions, and he makes assertions with no evidence. Other commenters call him out and he then abandons any pretence of discussion and accuses other commenters of talking past each other. Yet he was the one making broad and bald assumptions without a shred of evidence. He goes on to make all the usual claims.

Clearly though he isn’t reading the building bodies of evidence that show that the union centric control of schooling is failing and that the refreshing and unrestrictive methods used in charter schools are achieving huge success in any jurisdiction you care to mention.

Quite simply the facts do not support the lies that the teacher unions are telling everyone via a compliant and uncritical media. As the model is bedded in across different places there is some good stuff coming out:

How can policymakers, educators, and parents know if charter schools are delivering on their promise of improving students’ lives? Test scores are the barometer most frequently used. While test scores can tell us a lot about school quality, they don’t always indicate how effective schools are at helping students secure a better future – from high school graduation, through college, and into the workforce. Now, for the first time, we have solid data about how charter schools not only improve students’ academic performance, but also give them a great start in life. Read more »

Teacher Unions and Green/Labour Opposition smack down the kids

Despite their attempts at rhetoric to the contrary the union and opposition stance against Charter Schools is looking more and more stupid. Especially the “there is no evidence of success overseas” approach.
Some pieces speak for themselves:

Recently, a leading education research center at Stanford University released a comprehensive study looking at the academic performance of students in public charter schools compared to their traditional school peers in 27 states.

The results of this study deliver promising news for students in Mississippi whose needs are not currently being met, especially for the two-thirds of our public school students who are growing up in poverty. Across the nation, charter school students living in poverty gain the equivalent of an extra 14 days of instruction in reading and 22 days in math each year compared to their traditional public school counterparts. African-American students in poverty who attend charter schools see an even larger gain with the equivalent of an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math per year when compared to their traditional public school counterparts.

These findings are not alone. Since 2010, four national studies and 11 regional studies from across the country found similar positive academic performance results.

Of course, the most important measure of a transformational education is whether students are graduating prepared for college and career. How do public charter schools fit in that equation? Mississippians must ask that question, especially considering we have one of the lowest social mobility rates in the nation.

Last month, Mathematica Policy Research announced some preliminary research results that measured the effects of charter schools on long-term educational attainment and subsequent earnings of public charter school students. They found significant evidence that charter schools are increasing educational attainment and are boosting long-term earnings of students — ending the cycle of poverty for many low-income students enrolled in charter schools.

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