Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Often charter management companies don't charge for specific services, but charge a general percentage of revenue. Charters often have no idea what the services they receive actually cost.
In a different twist, a Pennsylvania charter school is fighting to protect records of expenses paid to its management company and the management company's owner. Why is it that a school's expenses are subject to public records searches, but a management company that charges 10% to 14% doesn't have to simply because it is a for profit company. Well, the courts in Pennsylvania have now held that because a management company serves a function that ordinarily would be filled by public employees, it must give up its records. In the same way that for profit management companies have profited from public funds, they now have had the table turned on them. If this decision holds up, then for profit management companies may begin to be held to the same standards as non-profits and governmental entities.
Given the inherent issues with a for-profit company managing a non-profit company as well as a governmental entity, perhaps this level of scrutiny is appropriate. This puts management companies on an even par with internal management.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The author also notes that it normally takes six to ten years for substantial changes in achievement to occur. Could it be that charter performance is still on the rise?
If that's true, then in most cases when charters are performing at the same level as the surrounding public schools, couldn't that mean that in the next three to five years, we'll see that charters (on average) out perform traditional public schools?
If that is true, then we need to start looking at those successful schools and emulate their tactics.
If a ride makes an attendee sick continue to make the attendee ride the same one again and again until they figure out how not to be sick.
If there is litter on the ground make everyone come back and pick it up.
When attendees enter the park they sit in front of the ride and are instructed on how to ride it so they will be able to do so some day in the future.
On the off chance the park decides to drop all of the rules and let the kids just have fun for the day, before the kids leave they will write a 5 paragraph essay on what they have learned, or compare and contrast a roller coaster with a Ferris wheel.
The concession stands are only open from 12:00-12:20.
When you enter the park you are given a list of the ride you can and can't go on.
...can go on and on...great post!
Writing as he does from Ohio, where charters take some serious heat, Terry’s insights are much more than theoretical. As Ohio has experienced, it isn’t early enough to launch a lot of charter schools with a variety of authorizers. It is just as critical to provide strong accountability measures for schools and for authorizers.
Terry rightly calls out “irresponsible” sponsors (authorizers) but he needs to pay as much attention (more than a paragraph) to the irresponsible advocates and legislators who pushed for incomplete legislation. Charter schools work when accountability and autonomy exist in tension. If you pull accountability out of the equation, you get toxic levels of incompetence, low-performance and corruption. This is exactly the criticism many of us have with the unaccountable population of tenured public school teachers who are virtually fire-proof. (However, I challenge any educator anywhere to produce a list identifying traditional school closures that is equivalent to this list at the Center for Education Reform.) My point—while charter schools must and can do better, they are already the best in the business when it comes to organic accountability or school closure.
Back to the relationship between teacher accountability and school accountability. There remain great teachers in the current system, just as there are great charter schools in Ohio and elsewhere with immature accountability systems. But one key goal of reform efforts must be to increase the percentage of excellent teachers and excellent schools by relentlessly raising the expectations on the lowest-performing among us.
In the comments on Terry’s piece, one of the founders of a dropout recovery charter school objects to the term “zombie” as an unfair characterization. He may be right that school accountability expectations should be varied based on the population—and there is a way to correct for populations.
Colorado and Arizona are both famous for silver and for bullets, so there is some sort of logic that we should look for our solution in the Mountain West. In addition, these states are near the top in the CER ranking of states’ charter school laws.
Both Colorado and Arizona are developing and implementing growth models as part of the accountability system for charter schools. I have previously praised the Arizona model here, and my friend Karin, the Charter School Examiner chimed in with much more detail here. To that discussion, add the Colorado Growth Model that is being refined and applied in several states.
The Colorado Growth Model (CGM) is just about to outgrow its original name. You can review the federal resources on the CGM at the DOE website; view scores for Colorado charter schools at the Colorado League of Charter Schools; peruse powerpoint presentations about CGM from the DOE and from the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment; or check out the Colorado Department of Education for actual data applied to real students and schools.
As a principal working directly with individual students on the CGM, I can attest that this approach to accountability resolves lingering concerns I have about evaluating schools with historically underperforming populations. It isn’t fair to compare an established school filled with highly engaged parents to a fledgling school targeting students with high mobility returning from dropout status.
This then is a legitimate silver bullet. Accountability measures that correct for student population profiles are a necessary part of the school evaluation equation. I’d go even farther. I believe that just as we sometimes hire teachers on a status called Intent not to renew (INR) charter schools should be chartered on an INR basis. This is more rigorous than the current 3, 5, or 30-year renewal cycle. Especially after the first 2-4 years, charter schools should be held to accountability measures that match their high degree of autonomy. I see no more benefit to holding open schools that consistently score F’s than to rehiring teachers who add no value to the students.
While we’re at it, let’s apply the charter model to traditional schools. If it works on charter zombies, why not the more experienced and entrenched super-zombies we call traditional public schools?
Monday, May 25, 2009
The AFT reported in 2007 that charter school teachers make approximately 20% less than unionized teachers on average. It appears that the union in Buffalo is trying to make that worse.
Another interesting fact in today's news is that people do form their opinions about education as they hear updated information. One related example is that:
researchers say, the two groups most in favor giving teachers larger salaries are blacks and teachers. The survey found that when blacks are told how much teachers actually make on average their support drops 20 percent while the support of teachers falls 8 percent.I find it interesting because it seems to me that it's possible that if the public knew what charter teachers made and what unionized teachers make, the public might support either a drop in unionized teachers' salary or an increase in charter teachers' salary. Either way, the playing field would become more equal.
I'm not for decreasing teacher pay, but it would be nice if charters were funded so that they could afford to pay their teachers on the same scale as unionized teachers. Perhaps informing the broad public could have an impact on this inequity on the education landscape.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Of course, unions care more about teachers than they do students. It makes sense. Afterall, how many students to you know that pay union dues?
(From the April 29, 2009 edition of Education Week)
What if we ran amusement parks the way traditional educators run the public schools?
If you were independently wealthy, you could buy the all-parks pass and go where you want. If poor students were given free tickets, they would be kicked out of the park under new ownership. Or maybe not.
Once inside the park, you would be tested to determine your IQ (intensity quotient). This information would be promptly ignored and you would be assigned to a ride alphabetically. If you showed special promise as a rider, you might be allowed to upgrade to the inverted coaster.
Only “certified” workers would be allowed to operate the rides. Bored, distracted, conflicted, or malicious operators would gain lifetime employment after three summers.
If your ride is broken or your operator is incompetent—too bad. At least you don’t have to go to school in East St. Louis. If others on your ride misbehave, the
learning ride will be shut down until they comply.
The best operators with the most popular rides and the cleanest venues would be promoted to “head operator” and required to relentlessly inspect all the rides in the park. Only .3% of all operators would earn the lowest rating. The inspection reports would have zero impact on hiring and firing.
Designs from the 1936 World’s Fair would dominate the park. The best and newest rides would be computer-based, but the network filter would block access.
All rides would be converted to “the basics” so riders would have their choice of Ferris Wheel, Roller Coaster and Water Rides. The best riders would be rewarded with "enhanced basic" coasters, while the worst rides would earn extra inspections and more federal regulations.
“Special” riders would be confined to a self-contained area of the park with high walls and kiddie rides.
Don’t get me started on the food.
There would be no laughing.
In some states, independent amusement parks would start testing out new rides, renovating smaller parks, and recruiting skilled operators. The traditional parks would accuse the newcomers of stealing customers.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
At the same time, opponents of charters want to measure them the same way they measure a system that is mature.
It seems to me that we have an extremely unfair comparison, so let me throw in one more analogy to the life stages.
It appears to me that the non-charter school system has reached old age, and in many cases senility.
It doesn't understand itself or its problems. It can't fix its own problems. It tries almost random solutions, but can't always recall why or what the purpose is. It maintains bad habits such as unionized teachers which have lost direct.
Charters on the other hand are really just getting going and finding out what works. Sure, there is some trial and error. Don't get me wrong. Some charters need to change or close, but sometimes they just need that chance to get through adolescence. They make mistakes, but they provide new ideas. They provide options. They have the opportunity to make learning exciting.
BUT, they are restricted. They can't hire a native Spanish speaker who might be a great teacher because, OMG, she doesn't have a bachelor's degree. In fact, in places where charters have to hire certified teachers, they can't even hire a retired college professor because she doesn't have the proper credential.
I believe that once charters get through puberty, they will show their real worth and the positive beginnings that they've had will only shine brighter as they enter adulthood. Now, the question is will the non-charter world accept them into adulthood and will the non-charter system, having gone through old age and senility, die.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
"I think when the Supreme Court talked about school funding and unconstitutionality - is it unconstitutional for those children to attend those schools and not have the same adequate funding as children attending the public schools?" asked Harris.
Wow. Is this really possible? Will Ohio give equal funding to charter schools? Stay tuned to the news from Ohio.
I hope all states get in on this race to the top.
Well, that's unless you are a charter school in the same district and the same location. Charter schools do not receive any of the "reform" funding. So, while we commonly hear that charters are effectively funded between 75% and 80% of non-charter schools, in some areas of New Jersey charter schools are effectively funded at about 65% of their non-charter counter-parts--talk about killing off the competition.
Wouldn't it have been nice thirty years ago if you were General Motors and you could have handicapped Toyota? General Motors might not be in the position it is today. Of course, Americans would be buying crappy cars equivalent to a Lada.
In the same way Americans believe that our corporations should have to compete fairly to bring us the best products, public education should be forced to bring Americans the best product. We don't have it. Charter Schools bring us one possible way to change and improve our education. If nothing else they allow us to choose a new path. We won't know if the new path is successful unless we allow it to work side by side with non-charter schools equally funded and allowing each to use the best in education to achieve a quality product for their customers.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The essay notes that districts that support quality charters do not risk looking bad compared to the charters, but if done right, show that they support innovation. Taking risks does not always work out, but not taking risks means more of the same.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Teachers fuel the school. They really do. But traditional schools can only fill up the tank with conventional “certified-grade” teachers, while charter schools can use flex-fuel, traditional, hybrid, and other, less metaphorical, fuel sources.
When teachers are passionate, virtuous, and knowledgeable, they can make up for lots of facility, administrative, and legislative deficits. That’s the lesson of the high performing teachers joining Teach For America. But there are some in education who want to suppress the size and quality of the teacher labor pool. If you are a mediocre career professional, and you were not protected by tenure, would you want to compete for your job against some of the best and brightest from our nation’ greatest universities?
In a rather draconian move recently, the NY schools chancellor put a freeze on hiring teachers from outside the system. According to the NY Times, this includes Teach For America (TFA) (bright, young, rising stars) as well as teaching fellows—(often some highly motivated candidates with significant life experience.)
What does this do to the labor pool for teachers in the Northeast? I say it is a huge boon for private, charter and alternative schools. Normally these schools have some difficulty competing on price. Many of the teachers who end up in these non-traditional public schools are motivated by something other than pay. In economic terms, they are not price-sensitive customers. (In one sense the teacher is the seller, but in another sense the teacher is “buying” a job.) With the move by the NYC DOE, some of these teachers will try out alternative schools, fall in love, and stick.
That would be fine with the cartel who want to keep public school teaching jobs safe for existing teachers. If you are part of a collective of teachers and you want to suppress competition within the collective while raising the price you can charge for your commodity, then it makes absolute economic sense to constrain the supply? How do you do that? One way would be to increase the barriers to entry in the profession. Make certification overly laborious and expensive. Make sure to expel members from the
union cartel collective if they don’t pay their dues.
Traditionalists fear the power shift if schools have more hiring options. When school leaders can hire from a broader pool, they tend to diversify the teaching staff with some teachers who are not traditionally certified. On my staff I have former college professors, military retirees, personal trainers, professional athletes, business leaders, and scads of professionals who never considered traditional public education. 100% of our teachers are highly qualified according to the NCLB guidelines and the Colorado standards for charter schools. Since I can hire from a larger pool, and often hire teachers who are not certified, my financial options are more dynamic. And on a pay-per-student basis, my teachers have the best deal in town because our school caps class size at 22 and keeps a teacher average at 18. I don’t just compete with the neighboring district. I compete against a salary range that includes industry, defense contractors, the non-profit sector, ministry organizations, international markets, etc. Our school pays less that the traditional district on an absolute average, but we pay more than the private and charter schools around us. That means we draw from a larger pool of excellent professionals who want to be teachers.
Because of that freedom, I’d put the quality of our teaching staff against any school in Colorado. We are younger and less experienced than most, but in terms of value delivered, we compete very well. As this staff gains experience in our philosophy, the upside is unlimited. That wouldn’t be true unless I had alternative options to fuel the school.
Are principals necessary?
The inspiration for this post came from Deven Black, an urban special education teacher and union leader who challenged one of my earlier posts in an excellent comment. He said, "Instead of butting heads with each other or engaging in name-calling and blame-gaming, we should be working together to make sure all students are getting the best possible education, even if it does not involve schools at all." (emphasis mine) I tend to agree with teachers and disagree with unions, so Mr. Black put me in a bit of a quandary.
That quandary got me thinking about replacing the word "schools" with "teachers", "principals"...and so this post.
There was a time when no school had an administrator. In the days of "boarding round" the teacher would show up for a term, live in the home of each student for a fixed period (perhaps two weeks) and then rotate until every student's family had played host. When teachers were lousy, they lost housing privileges and went home early. When they were excellent, the families might hold on to them longer or perhaps provide an apartment or permanent boarding room.
There was no principal and often no school board. Then things changed.
The institutionalization of public education began early in the 20th Century and was well established by the 1920's. It slowly grew into the system we now know over the last 130 years or so.
In the modern school system, principals are essential. They take care of all sorts of little tasks like budgeting, record-keeping, data analysis, hiring,
firing (wait—most principals really can’t fire.), setting the alarm system, choosing carpet colors, supervising, managing student behavior and literally dozens of other task sets that keep the school operational.
So it seems obvious that we need them no?
A very few systems do exist where lead teachers, collective principals, or teams of educators take on the administrative function. So too, the home-school movement has shown us a small-scale way to combine instructional and management responsibilities in one person.
Many of the decisions I make could be made by a grocery store manager. When do we open the doors? How many classes should we offer? Which sports teams get how much money this year. Should we buy that Tuba off Craig’s list or pay rack rate from the music store? (This is no slam on grocery store managers or principals, just an observation that their responsibilities to make logistical decisions are very similar.)
Increasingly, the principal is custodian-in-chief of testing processes, materials, reports, and analysis. An accountant could do that part of my job better than me.
School discipline? Hire a former probation officer.
Teacher recruitment? There are dozens of headhunter firms looking for work.
Communications? Find a social media “expert” to make blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter accounts and let the info flow.
Special Education? Please. Any special education teacher knows more than most principals what works best for their kids. Local knowledge trumps generalist authority any day.
See? That principal is getting less essential all the time.
If we are honest about evaluating the institution, we have to re-conceive it as it might be. What if the position of principal had never evolved out of the days of boarding ‘round. What if all the deans, assistants, office aids, copy-room workers, etc. were gone?
What if teachers were the principals of their own world? How many of the “essential” tasks performed by principals would fade away? In a school where teachers had to answer directly to parents, would the level of responsiveness change? Would unions even be necessary? Would teachers reflexively file grievances against themselves?
I know that in our current model principals are tremendously important. The best can inspire teachers and move schools forward. The worst shed teachers like my golden lab sheds hair. They let the school stagnate and worse. But I don’t agree that the principal influence must necessarily be concentrated in one person.
The duty to inspire and lead could be shared by others in the school. Leadership for personnel, curriculum, assessment and the like could be a collaborative venture. Just because that isn’t our convention doesn’t mean it couldn’t be.
What do you think? After a reasonable "implementation dip" while the tasks were redistributed, would a post-principal school be an improvement?
Friday, May 8, 2009
Charter All Schools, FAPE ≠ IEP ≠ 504 ≠ FAPE
One of our recent blog readers is confused about the difference between federal laws protecting the rights of students in public schools. It is important that school leaders and parents in the charter community understand the difference, or they may apply the wrong standards to assessments, learning plans, and programming decisions. This can lead to frustration and conflicting expectations.
Here’s a very brief rundown.
FAPE is a Free Appropriate Public Education. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA) (which is the legislation that proscribes IEP’s) a FAPE is an education that provides benefit. While the benefit must be more than minimal, it need not be optimal. The school is responsible to provide a program that helps the learner progress, but it doesn’t have to deliver the very best program possible.
An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan. If a student has a learning disability (which may be emotional, cognitive, or language-based) then the IDEA specifies the assessments, process, some programming, meeting schedules, and procedures for school disciplines. One of the keys to establishing and implementing an IEP is using the proper assessment in the proper way. For example, the Behavioral Assessment Scale for Children (BASC) has three scales, but a trained school psychologist will vary the number of scales administered depending on whether the reported condition is a learning disability or an emotional disability.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is concerned with discrimination. This law does not proscribe particular plans, meetings, schedules, or outcomes. All §504 requires is that the school not discriminate. The 504 guidance is mostly concerned with physiological conditions such as impairments, disease, and other handicapping conditions.
Which brings us back to FAPE. Unlike under the IDEA, under §504, a FAPE is an education that is equivalent to that provided to a student without a disability. In some ways, this is a higher standard than the IEP, but it is not nearly as proscriptive.
This is the briefest of overviews, which is why I appreciate so much working with great resource teachers, speech pathologists, and school psychologists. I have condensed some information about basic special education into a presentation for second career administrators who enter the charter world from a non-education career.
You can review the presentation at: http://is.gd/xZLr
At the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, a group of nearly 20 teachers, resource staff, former teachers, principals, school psychologists, ad parents showed up for my daughter’s final IEP meeting. That meeting was a celebration of her progress through special education and her return to general education. As a principal, I have attended many such meetings. I know that teaching and leading at a charter school is mostly a labor of love. I suspect that a few teachers in charter schools are “paycheck pros” who take an acceptable wage and deliver uninspiring service. But I’m certain that most of the teachers, tutors, assistants and administrators who staff over 4,000 charter schools around the country do so because they find value and significance in nurturing children. Witness the growing number of charter schools aimed specifically at students on the autism spectrum. These students can be tough to teach and emotionally draining—but we love them. The parents who start such schools, the principals who lead them and the teachers who staff them are noble idealists. Their kind have been represented on every school staff since we started ringing bells and gathering at the front door.
The difference with charter schools is that there is a higher concentration of student-focused, customer-oriented, principle-driven adults than in a normal school. You will not find any “rubber rooms” or “reassignment centers” in charter schools. In part, this is because you rarely find a thriving union at a charter school. Charter schools may struggle to attract and retain the most experienced professionals, but thanks to excellent professional resources and the flexibility of RtI, they have many ways to help special needs students be successful. Traditional schools don’t always know what to do with twice-exceptional students. They don’t typically have a neat program that maximizes these students’ abilities while scaffolding their deficits. Charter schools don’t have a program either, but they are much more likely to have an intimate relationship with a parent who is making a specific choice to bring a challenged child to a public school. That parent has a lifetime of insights—and access to school staff who are eager to hear them.
In full fairness, there are parents who have had bad experiences with special needs education at charter schools. There are parents who disagree with my perspective or level of service. But those parents have had many hours over many years to press their case with me and others. They have aired their concerns and got most or all of what they felt their child needed. We who have poured our best into the charter school movement are motivated to be resourceful, responsive, optimistic, and diligent. We are exactly like the pioneers who settled the American West. We cannot afford to ignore the gift and potential of a child or her family just because they come intertwined with learning challenges and struggles. We want to succeed together, and every solution we develop prepares us to attract and serve the students we need to mature and thrive. Parents, by partnering with us to serve your child, we are both strengthened—and strengthened schools and parents are good for all students…especially the most special among us.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
How did they do it?
They added the following section into the act.
22-54-106.5. Fiscal emergency restricted reserve – calculation of reserve amount
For FY2009-10, the General Assembly has determined that a state financial crisis requires each district and the state charter school institute to budget an amount to a fiscal emergency restricted reserve. The department shall calculate the amount to be budgeted to the fiscal emergency restricted reserve by each district and the Charter School Institute. The total statewide amount to be held in reserve is $110 million.
If the General Assembly has not taken action by January 29, 2010, the money may be released for expenditure.
In other words, each district (and presumably each charter school) must restrict the use of approximately 3% of its budget in a reserve until January 29th, at which point the district or school with either get to spend the money or else have to give the money back to the state. I suppose a third option is that the state could allow schools to hold the money in reserve on behalf of the state until the economy comes back.
So, we will get our full funding next year, which is great, but we'll just need to watch and see and prioritize allocations of that money if it is released.
-- Albert Einstein
It seems as if those who don't like charters believe that non-charter schools can fix the system. They talk about new techniques, better training, more pay for teachers, but they don't talk about a truly disruptive change that could really improve the system.
For example, they talk about better pay and education for teachers, when it's very clear that pay and education are not major factors in making a better teacher. The other drive is for certified teachers. Certification is also not a factor that contributes to improved educational outcomes.
Non-charter schools largely give negative opinions about online schools and if they do like online schools, it's only if they have certified teachers.
The fact is that solutions to the educational problems of the U.S. will not be solved the old regime thinking in their old ways. We need something new. Charter schools may not be THE answer, but they certainly can bring innovation in ways that non-charter schools can't or won't. The fact is that most non-charter schools aren't solving their own problems--perhaps they can't.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Charter Schools are a better model for special education: A Dad’s Perspective
As a parent of six children—three with IEP’s, three ELL’s, one 504 plan and one ILP, I have some familiarity with the parent experience of special education services. My exposure as a parent began when my firstborn was offered an IEP in Minnesota. It continued as I adopted three children with no English skills, fathered another son and daughter with learning challenges, and ended up seeing my special needs children learn skills, make honor societies, graduate, attend college and generally accumulate many of the benefits of a free and appropriate public educations.
Unfortunately, there have been some serious hiccups along the way. There was the principal in North Carolina who said indignantly of our Ethiopian-born ESL daughter, “You can’t expect us to find someone who speaks her language!” (We actually wanted someone to help her speak our shared American language.) Then there was the school whose idea of occupational therapy was doing jumping jacks and wall sits in the principal’s office. Don’t make me talk about the teacher who forced our physically impaired son to attempt 20 pushups in front of his classmates as punishment for a missed attempt at throwing trash in the wastebasket. There was the Colorado school where scoring a 5 on the ASVAB (30 is the minimum score for entry into the armed forces) was good enough to graduate. Like most problems with special-needs education, the issue was often that the well-meaning educators didn’t have the resources or expertise to differentiate instruction and classroom environment effectively.
On the other hand, there have been sparkling moments of grace and compassion that helped our children grow and thrive. Mrs. H. gave our son permission to go into a classroom phone booth to manage his sensory overload. The ESL teacher in Minnesota attended evening school events with our daughter to help her use English in context. Mr. A. formed a international tribe of English-learning students through the sheer force of love and optimism. His self-fulfilling prophecies of success made a cohort of young learners thrive. Many of them—after only a few years in the country, were initiated into the National Honor Society at a major public high school. Our daughter was there because Mr. A. cared.
So, since these positive example include traditional public schools, why do I claim that charter schools are a better system to support special needs learners? It is precisely because I bring a father’s heart and experience to the principalship that I can speak to the difference between traditional and chartered public schools. Tomorrow, I’ll pull on my principal's hard hat and explore some of the student-supporting characteristics that I’ve observed across the charter school community.
So, go check it out. The clear conclusion is that the money does not leave public education and that if the traditional school isn't doing it's job, then the money ought to leave the non-charter school.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The title of this blog relates to a problem common to many professional occupations. How do you translate your experience and ability into added value for the customer?
Monday, May 4, 2009
While I'm not sure I agree with all of the solutions provided, un1crom gives a list of problems identified in the LA Times.
You can read the details at socialmode, but the summary is that bad teaching isn't even considered a reason for firing a teacher and the process for removing bad teachers is horrendous. This isn't news to those of us that have been following these issues for a while.
The bigger issue is when will the problem be solved. un1crom suggests that it could take 10-30 years. I think that could be optimistic.
The fact is that large districts tend to bow to unions and don't want to take on the real issues. Report after report shows that the biggest factor in education is the quality of the teacher. That means many things and can be somewhat subjective, but clearly there is a difference between an acceptable teacher and a bad teacher. By keeping bad teachers in the classroom, we do them a disservice and we do the kids a disservice. The point of education is to educate. If a teacher can't do that, the system needs fixing now, not 10-30 years from now.
Charter School often are places that release bad teachers to do other things in life. This is often more beneficial to the teacher and to the students. Please, let's acknowledge that if for no other reasons, charter schools should exist as a wake up call to the non-charter world that there is another model that can, and often does, work better than the non-charter system.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
@beckiwithani Charter schools are to traditional K12 as microbrews are to Anheuser-Busch!
@PeterHilts Charters:K12 as Skywalker's rebellion to Vader's Empire.
@gnaeyaert Charters are to traditional K-12 schools as MacBook Air is to Commodore 64.
@barbsbooks Charter school(s) is/are to traditional K12 as gourmet pizza is to __frozen.
@isamaria Charter school(s) is/are to traditional K12 as NYC Green Market is to MetFood produce section. (NYC version)
@CharterExaminer Charters are to traditional: What Earl Gray is to other teas. Not everyones cup of Lipton, but the flavor for me!
Friday, May 1, 2009
The one that stuck out to me is that many charters begin with the idea that they want to improve education. They might even have some methods that they want to use, but they often don't have a philosophy that holds it all together. Afterall, a program is not the same as a philosophy.
So, I started thinking through the charters that I'm familiar with around the country. I began to sort of count program vs. philosophy in those schools. It's interesting that while most of those schools have a mission. It was hard to really determine whether or not they had a "philosophy."
So, then I began wondering whether or not a philosophy is really important. Was my friend correct? As I said, I'm not primarily a philosophy guy, but I thought about the many college courses that I've taught over the past seventeen years. I realized that part of my problem when I first began teaching was that I didn't have a philosophy. I had outlines and notes and activities. I had tests and assignments to measure defined student outcomes. I also realized that I've become a better teacher now that I've developed a philosophy of teaching.
So, (and, yes, I do realize I've got a lot of "so" in this blog) I decided that my friend's insights probably are valid. A teacher and, to have consistency, a school must have a philosophy to be truly effective. Does your school have a philosophy? Is there an overarching philosophy guiding your instruction or is it just method? Do you know why this method? Do you know what kind of students you want to produce and why? Is your philosophy well stated so that everyone on staff understands it and buys in?
Perhaps I'll have my friend write the next blog. What do you think? Do you need a philosophy?