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A Progress Report on Charter Schools

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 12:50 AM


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#12 chickensomething



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Posted 30 August 2017 - 01:46 AM

The next generation will have their hands full with all the problems we face today. It's about time quality education is coming back. Too bad the so called 'government' doesn't believe in educating its citizens. They'll be a price to pay when more people realize how much they have been lied to and stolen from.


The way the geopolitical landscape is unfolding, I doubt there will be a next generation if people don't slow down and begin to think beyond our current flawed society known as the human condition filled with hate and mendacity. We have the tools to look beyond ourselves and build a future of genius and peace. 


I doubt at any point in World history the planet has been so ignorant. 


I was homeschooled before I went to the garbage they called education back in the 1980s. Today education is paralyzed with agendas of doom and ignorance. I certainly wouldn't let my child learn from some misguided so called educator. 

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#13 Digger


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Posted 31 August 2017 - 04:32 PM

The way the geopolitical landscape is unfolding, I doubt there will be a next generation if people don't slow down and begin to think beyond our current flawed society known as the human condition filled with hate and mendacity. We have the tools to look beyond ourselves and build a future of genius and peace. 


I doubt at any point in World history the planet has been so ignorant. 


I was homeschooled before I went to the garbage they called education back in the 1980s. Today education is paralyzed with agendas of doom and ignorance. I certainly wouldn't let my child learn from some misguided so called educator. 


You're right about that. Considering that humans have discovered better ways to psychologically control people on a mass scale. Keeping the people in ignorance has always had an extreme purpose. A Darwinian expression of supreme authority for the best of the best over all the rest.

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 02:48 PM

Charter schools are trending. People are getting tired of below par public education. Do chartered cyber schools provide a decent curriculum? I've heard a lot of government money goes in that direction. 

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 03:18 PM

Cyber Schools Are Much Worse Than You Think
When I first started working at a cyber school I thought they were the future of education, and I still do. But the problem is that they are only started by for-profit companies who try to run them like businesses. So the top priority becomes customer satisfaction instead of student learning. The results are hard to measure, but I fear that they are worse than anyone suspects.
The curriculum is touted as first class material, designed by experts. In truth our school purchases whatever it can get from third party vendors. There isn’t much stuff out there. Most cyber schools get their curriculum from K12, a company started by William Bennett, a former federal Secretary of Education. My school gets the majority of its high school material from a mail order company called Aventa.
When Aventa creates a course it is fairly bare bones. They choose a textbook from one of the major textbook companies, and cut it up into lessons. The lesson will contain a few paragraphs introducing the topic, they will have the students read a section of a chapter, they will ask the student to do a few problems from the book, and lastly, there will  be some form of graded assessment, taken from textbook review problems. That is all.
I don’t know who Aventa employs to do this cutting and pasting but judging by the results I do not think they are subject matter specialists. Nor do I think they have training or experience in education. The introductory paragraphs read like they are written by someone who barely has a grasp of the material. Furthermore, the selection of questions that are included on the tests and quizzes is unusual. The textbook companies create test banks of hundreds and hundreds of questions because they want to be all things to all teachers. They will rewrite the same question ten, twenty times and include all versions in the bank because different teachers will prefer different versions. They don’t expect one teacher to create a test and use two versions of the same question. But, unfortunately, the Aventa people do. For example, on a quiz for one of my classes, say the chapter has five main and ten secondary topics, the first four problems ask the same exact question just worded a little differently. Also, the question comes from one of the secondary topics. The next four questions are, again, the same question reworded four different ways, and from another secondary topic. That is the entire quiz, eight mostly multiple choice questions from two ancillary topics. This is the only assessment from the most important chapter of the class.
So they aren’t subject matter experts, but there is also a reason to assume that they don’t have any education training. The textbooks have chapter review questions and they have chapter test questions. These are two different types of questions. Review questions tend to be open ended, they can have many different answers. They are meant to get the student thinking, to engage them. We call them formative questions. The test questions are used to measure a student’s learning. They are called summative questions. One of the first things we learn in education is the difference between formative and summative questions and when to use each. But for some reason the Aventa quizzes and tests are taken from the formative chapter review questions. And to top it off they seem to choose the most awkwardly, or erroneously, worded ones. Sometimes I show the questions to other teachers or friends and family and they have a hard time figuring out what the question is asking, but even if they do their answer almost never matches the “official” answer I am only supposed to give credit for.
There is one more major problem with the Aventa curriculum has that makes me think they have no experience teaching. Like I said before, the textbook companies like to throw everything and the kitchen sink into their books so they can please everyone. This is also true with the chapter topics, they include chapters on every possible topic of a subject so that the same book will cover all the standards of the state of California, plus all the standards of the state of Texas, plus all the standards of the state of Pennsylvania, and so on. That way they only have to publish one book. Teachers can then pick and choose the chapters they want so that they cover their particular state standards and still have time to go into detail in a few subjects. Not Aventa, they include every single chapter of every single book they use. This means that a chapter only gets about a week of time, just enough to give it the most cursory of inspections. So the students don’t really learn anything they just memorize some superficial facts, and it on to the next topic.
You could go into any high school in the country and select a teacher at random, have him or her pick a textbook and cut it up into lessons and you would have a better curriculum than what we purchase from Aventa. But my company needs a product that they can market. If the most important factor in education is the teacher then they have no product, every school has teachers. So they treat the Aventa curriculum as if it were the gold standard even though they know it is substandard. And they treat their teachers as if they were chimps banging on a keyboard.
Experts at the corporate office then cut-and-paste the curriculum into our learning management system(lms), the portal from which the students download their lessons. If there is any extra material that comes with the textbooks, such as animations or worksheets, they will embed a few into the lessons. The people at the top of the curriculum department are PhDs, without classroom experience, but the rest are just data entry clerks with no education training or experience. I have had several frustrating email conversations with them. By the time the curriculum gets to me it has been copied and recopied and has many, many typos, misstatements, and inaccuracies. There is no quality control. The teachers are told to review the lessons as we cover them, but we are given no time. We are to email the data clerks when we find errors. This creates a very adversarial relationship. The only time we contact them is to point out their mistakes and give them more work. In turn they are hostile and refuse to make our changes. Once a clerk refused to make a change I suggested because the typo was also in the textbook. The error was so obvious I found myself questioning if the clerk had even graduated high school.
It goes beyond just typos, the teachers are not allowed to change anything about the curriculum. When teachers log into the lms we are given the ability to grade assignments and email students and that is about it. What this means is that every one of our students across the nation gets the exact same curriculum, no matter what their strength or weaknesses, no matter their learning style, no matter their level. Our curriculum department tries to create three tracks out of the Aventa courses but all they do is cut out a couple chapters. So if the advanced class covers all twenty chapters of a textbook, the regular class will do eighteen chapters, and the remedial has sixteen.

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#16 Feathers


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Posted 04 November 2017 - 04:45 PM

A Progress Report on Charter Schools


Minnesota passed the nation's first charter-school law in 1991. Since then, 43 states and the District of Columbia have allowed for the existence and operation of these independent public schools. Today, some 6,700 of them serve nearly three million students, almost 6% of U.S. public-school enrollment. They are the fastest-growing school-choice option in the country. They are also as close to a "disruptive innovation" as American K-12 education has seen to date, creating a new market and alternative delivery system that affords long-neglected families access to potentially higher-quality schools than they find within the traditional district structure.


Charters now educate more than half as many children as attend private schools, which have been around for ages. Along with vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, magnet schools, virtual schools, education savings accounts, and innumerable "open-enrollment" schemes, charter schools are responsible for a major increase in the rising fraction of U.S. students attending schools that their families have chosen. The charter approach contrasts sharply with traditional public education, which is generally still defined by more-or-less compulsory attendance at neighborhood schools determined by a family's home address and enforced by a district bureaucracy. Our 2000 book, Charter Schools in Action, foresaw this innovative education governance and delivery system as a promising path to stronger achievement and as an engine "to recreate the democratic underpinnings of public education and rejoin schools to a vigorous civil society."


Yet for all their promise, impressive growth, and visibility in the public square, charter schools remain a mystery to many Americans. Are they public or private? Who pays for them? Do they choose their pupils? Do they serve needy children or enrich plutocrats? Are they only for minority kids? Do they further segregate public education? Do they teach religion? Serious misunderstandings abound.




Charter schools are public schools of choice. Nobody is forced to attend them, and — within their capacity limits — they're open to all who wish to enroll. They are non-selective, have no admission prerequisites, and typically use lotteries when oversubscribed. From the standpoint of families, they're free, financed by tax dollars (and sometimes philanthropy). They don't charge tuition. Almost all are (at least technically) non-profit entities with their operations governed by their own boards and overseen by "authorizers," who act on behalf of the state.


The fundamental "charter bargain" is straightforward: Schools are held accountable for results — gauged primarily by academic achievement — in exchange for freedom to produce those results as they think best. Optimally, this freedom extends to their operations, budgets, staffing, curriculum, and more. If they don't deliver the promised outcomes, their authorizers are supposed to close them, not tell them what to do or meddle with them.


Even when charters are cut some slack, it doesn't always last. Recent years have seen numerous instances of re-regulation, of government fishing expeditions pursuing supposed infractions that are used to justify more rules, and of clashes between state and federal requirements. These can arise in unexpected places. In 2012, for example, the Department of Defense adopted a new recruitment policy that required graduates of online and blended-learning charter high schools to score 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, while those graduating from traditional schools could enlist with scores in the low 30s. It took a provision in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to correct this discrimination against charter students. In another example, the Department of Education required charters seeking federal "start-up" funds to use "blind" admissions lotteries, thus contradicting many state laws that allow weighted lotteries to give preference to disadvantaged children and sometimes to siblings of current pupils. Rectifying this took nearly two years.


Far too often, a single school's error has led states, districts, or authorizers to institute new oversight regimes that apply to all charters. And the regulatory whip has also been wielded by political foes, usually in the name of "leveling the playing field" so charters don't have unfair advantages over district schools. But this contradicts the premise that charters are meant to be different — and freer.


Authorizing challenges aren't the only problems in charter-school governance. Each school ordinarily has its own governing board, a non-profit corporate body that receives the charter from the authorizer and is legally responsible for operating the school, including selecting and supervising the principal. Think of them as mini-school boards, although usually self-perpetuating like other non-profit boards rather than elected by voters. But this promising arrangement has yielded new dilemmas. For example, strong school founders often recruit their own boards, which end up more beholden to the leader's — or outside operator's — desires or whims than to the needs of students, taxpayers, and other school constituents. Profit-seeking management organizations contracting with schools to oversee their operations create other challenges when investor interests trump those of quality teaching and learning.


A common criticism of the charter movement is what some call the "oversized" role that philanthropy plays in supporting it. Detractors caricature this donor support as the "billionaire boys club" or "hedge fund crowd" wielding their money to privatize public education. While it's true that philanthropists have provided generous support to the charter movement on multiple fronts, this allegation is undermined by the facts, notably that district schools get even more money from nonpublic sources: $571 per pupil versus $552.




Potential Trump voucher scheme could cost New York City schools half a billion dollars a year in federal support for poor students


The Trump administration is on record supporting choice and voucher programs, but has yet to specify where the administration would find the money to start a national school voucher program.   Congressional Republicans, in the name of flexibility, have previously tried to change federal law to allow states to use Title 1 funds for other purposes.


The diversion of public funds from public schools — through charters, vouchers or both — is a pattern already embraced by high-level members of the new administration.


Vice-President-elect Mike Pence strongly backed a voucher program as governor of Indiana. As a major political donor and conservative activist, Betsy DeVos has played a leading role in undermining public education in her home state of Michigan.


A study from the University of Notre Dame found that the Indiana's voucher program was a windfall for private schools, most of which attracted white students — many of them middle-class — but on average the students' performance suffered compared to their peers in public schools..



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Posted 26 July 2019 - 04:07 PM

Why boarding schools produce bad leaders

The elite tradition is to send children away at a young age to be educated. But future politicians who suffer this 'privileged abandonment' often turn out as bullies or bumblers. A psychotherapist explains why

In Britain, the link between private boarding education and leadership is gold-plated. If their parents can afford it, children are sent away from home to walk a well-trodden path that leads straight from boarding school through Oxbridge to high office in institutions such as the judiciary, the army, the City and, especially, government.

Nevertheless, this golden path is as sure today as it was 100 years ago, when men from such backgrounds led us into a disastrous war; it is familiar, sometimes mocked, but taken for granted. But it is less well known that costly, elite boarding consistently turns out people who appear much more competent than they actually are. They are particularly deficient in non-rational skills, such as those needed to sustain relationships, and are not, in fact, well-equipped to be leaders in today's world

Boarding children invariably construct a survival personality that endures long after school and operates strategically. On rigid timetables, in rule-bound institutions, they must be ever alert to staying out of trouble. Crucially, they must not look unhappy, childish or foolish – in any way vulnerable – or they will be bullied by their peers. So they dissociate from all these qualities, project them out on to others, and develop duplicitous personalities that are on the run, which is why ex-boarders make the best spies.

Now attached to this internal structure instead of a parent, the boarding child survives, but takes into adulthood a permanent unconscious anxiety and will rarely develop what Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence. In adulthood he sticks to the same tactics: whenever he senses a threat of being made to look foolish, he will strike. We see this in Cameron's over-reaction to Angela Eagle MP, less than a year into his new job. "Calm down, dear!" the PM patronisingly insisted, as if she were the one upset and not he. The opposite benches loved it, of course, howling "Flashman!" (the public school bully from Tom Brown's Schooldays), but they never take on the cause of these leadership defects.

The social privilege of boarding is psychologically double-edged: it both creates shame that prevents sufferers from acknowledging their problems, as well as unconscious entitlement that explains why ex-boarder leaders are brittle and defensive while still projecting confidence.

This anachronistic entitlement cannot easily be renounced: it compensates for years without love, touch or family, for a personality under stress, for the lack of emotional, relational and sexual maturation.

To change our politics, we'll have to change our education system. Today, most senior clinicians recognise boarding syndrome, several of whom recently signed a letter to the Observer calling for the end of early boarding. Its elitism ought to motivate the left. The Attlee government intended to disband the public schools, but not even Wilson's dared to. There's a cash problem: boarding is worth billions and has a massive lobby.


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