Charter Schools in Washington – history lesson

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This topic contains 37 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  skeeter 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #604766

    skeeter
    Participant

    I got the chance to meet Rob McKenna a couple weeks ago. Bright guy. I don’t know much about his politics – but I got the impression he has a really firm understanding of the issues challenging our state.

    As a new parent, I’ve been thinking about education more. So I asked Rob his thoughts on charter schools. He supports them. He mentioned 41 states have charter schools, and Washington should too. He also commented that charter schools will only be part of Washington’s solution to education challenges. Since most students would continue to be in public schools, we’ll have to improve those as well.

    I’m aware that charter schools have been on the initiative ballot before, and failed more than once. I’m looking for historical perspective on these failures. Was it because the initiatives included tax hikes to pay for the charter schools? Or were Washingtonians happy with the current system? Or was there massive spending to have the initiative fail? Something else? I wasn’t paying attention at the time of the initiatives, so I’d love to hear some history if people here recall. Thanks.

    #770482

    kootchman
    Member

    Massive WEA spending to defeat the measure. WA State is more labor dependent than most to retain their status as a Democratic state. Are WA resident happy with the PS system? Happy enough to not change it or not pay attention to initiatives. Although this can be said… we are int the top tier of states who have school age children who attend private schools as a matter of choice. Those than afford to, attend private schools at a higher rate than most states.

    #770483

    JanS
    Participant

    skeeter, I would advise you to look a little deeper, and not just take the word of the #2 commenter.

    #770484

    JV
    Member

    Classic, JanS has no advice other than don’t listen to Kootch!

    Are you sure you didn’t speak at the DNC convention?!

    #770485

    JV
    Member

    Okay, skeeter, feel free to take my advice or not, but here it is;

    In Washington State, Healthcare and Education are in a big tug-o-war for funds. (But when one party runs both sides of the table, you don’t see ads of granny being pushed off the cliff, or starving children when cuts are made.)

    Believe it or not, it’s been going to mostly to HC, and EDU has been losing out.

    Full disclosure, I work in the healthcare field, and I’d prefer more money to go to HC, but McKenna’s plan is more EDU centered.

    If he can fix EDU, that’s great because they really need help.

    #770486

    JanS
    Participant

    I was simply saying that the OP should do more homework than simply listen to commenters on here…including me. You, Kootch, me…we’re all about opinions, and that’s it. none of us (even if we think we are) are experts on everything. The information is out there, not on the West Seattle Blog Forum.

    #770487

    JanS
    Participant

    and, of course, we get the “granny off the cliff” line…wow…nothing like that is coming along. That’s one of the many reasons why the OP should look elsewhere for answers to his/her question.

    #770488

    JanS
    Participant

    having said all that, I do believe that education needs a boost..including, esp., public schools. Always have felt that way.

    #770489

    gambaru
    Participant

    OP: The concern is that each student is worth $X to the public school system. If a student decides to attend a charter school. Not only do they take their $X with them and away from the neighborhood public school, but the money is going toward a “private” curiculum. For example (and an extreme one)a student could potentially take those public dollars to a very fundamentally religous “charter” school. You can see why some would be opposed. However, possibly with strict guidelines determining what will be accredited as a charter school to recieve those students and dollars, that wouldn’t HAVE to be the case….

    #770490

    gambaru
    Participant

    Sorry for the grammar and bad spelling… I am one of those soccer moms that does everything while sleep deprived… although I don’t park in disabled spots. =)

    #770491

    JanS
    Participant

    gambaru…napping is great :)

    #770492

    kootchman
    Member

    Or… you could attach a voucher to each child. Seattle schools would roll over and pee on themselves with excitment if they could achieve the outcomes of say… the Catholic school system. A graduation rate of over 98 per cent? Charter schools ARE public schools.. something WEA would like to ignore. I see when the PS fails.. they are more than willing to send their kids wherever they can. YOU as the parent should be in charge of education and where to send your kids. What they are afraid of is exactly that… you will leave the neighborhood schools… they don’t want to rise to the challenge of being the first choice. when you have choice..you are the most empowered you will ever be. Let your neighborhood school EARN your support.

    #770493

    skeeter
    Participant

    I’m familiar with the complaint that charter schools take money from public schools. But that’s only half of the truth. Because charter schools also take students from public schools. So the spending per student would remain the same I would think. I suspect there is some truth in the points Kootch is making. Any competition to the public schools is a threat to the establishment. I’m going to do more research.

    #770494

    skeeter
    Participant

    JV – thank you for your thoughtful response in post #5. I find your observations very interesting.

    #770495

    gambaru
    Participant

    Skeeter-

    The math isn’t quite that straight forward when it comes to school spending. To put it crudely, it’s cheaper to educate on a mass scale than based on individuals. When students are dispersed in multiple facilities, there are ultility, maintenance, and facility costs that weren’t there before. Not to mention, each new school will have to pay for it’s own principal,curriculum development, admin team, and enrichment. Also, by taking away from a neighborhood school, you are essentially creating more of a divide of haves and have nots. The kids typically going to charter schools tend to have parents who are more involved and have more resources to transport their children out of the neighborhood vs. for example, a single mother working 2 jobs. Then you also get into the pandora’s box of special education: the schools are federally mandated to accomodate kiddos, not just special ed, but those with minor learning issues and speech issues. An “average” student is much cheaper to the school system than a special needs student. Therefore, average joe may be worth $X to the district, but some of his dollars are spent on accomodations and specialists for struggling sam. In a charter school sitaution, Average Joe could leave and take his $X, leaving much less for struggling sam… So there are also additional costs there to employ more specialists to reach the same amount of children in more locations. I completely agree SPS are in a sad state. I just don’t think taking away funds fixes any of the problems, but in reality may just abandon the ship… For me, it comes down to whether or not it’s better for the individual or the herd to split up resources.

    #770496

    skeeter
    Participant

    Gambaru you make good points. There are economies of scale in everything, including education. And agreed that a special needs child costs far more than a non-special needs child.

    I don’t have the answer, though. Our assigned grade school, if we do not move, would be West Seattle elementary. Check out the test scores. I think it has the lowest test scores of any elementary school in the state. (I recall reading that in the Times.) We have a little time but we really need to start planning in the next couple years.

    How difficult is it to get into a public school that is not your assigned school? I have no idea if it is 90% or 10% chance of success.

    #770497

    bsmomma
    Participant

    Please bare with me as I am just a common folk with zero political preferance. So my common sense question may be a doozy…….. Why in the world is our public school education so far below that of private schools and charter schools? I went to private school 1st-7th. Once in public school for the remainder, I learned nothing new. To me, that is a damn shame. I’m sure the teachers got the same College education and they have the same knowledge to pass along……..so what gives?

    #770498

    gambaru
    Participant

    Skeeter- We are in the same boat. I have a 3 yr old and 8 month old. I am also a former elem teacher. I have taught in the midwest and west seattle. In my opinion, magnet schools are a better public option in lieu of charter schools. Magnet schools take schools that are considered low-scoring or high risk and are given a specialty curriculum to draw kids from other parts of the district to their school. For example, West Seattle Elem could remain open but will be re-vamped as having a music or language focus which would draw students who excel or are interested in that content area. It has the benfits of the charter schools without taking students away and out of neighborhood schools. In fact, it actually bolsters them and allows for kids within an at risk school the opportunity to go to a school with more involved families and a specialized curriculum. In my opinion, it bolsters the neighborhood schools. Concord in Georgetown does this with it’s Spanish immersion program. You also have the option of applying for pathfinder or stem if they seem like good fits for your child.

    bsmomma: you’re comparing apples and oranges. 1. In other parts of the country where public schools are thriving, private schools are really only considered for those who want a parochial education for their child or an alternative type of learning. In the midwest: IA, MN, WI, most private schools are considered less competitive than public.

    2. Private schools aren’t required to spend funds on expensive special needs students so most special needs students are better off in public. This doesn’t just affect the school fiscally, but means the teacher isn’t responsible for as much differentiation within the classroom. For example, you can move faster with a class full of high achieving students rather than a mix of kids who can’t afford breakfast/lunch, come from unstable lives, have learning disabilities, and transiency.

    3. Private school families tend to have higher education as a whole, with means, time, and priorities for education.

    4. Public class sizes tend to be bigger so you could argue there is less time for individual instruction and more of a crowd control type of classroom.

    5. funding and resources.

    6. Over-extended and under-paid teachers with a high burn out rate. –In most cases public teachers have higher credentials than private educators due to the public school systems requirements and differentiated payscale.– All of which teachers have to pay for out of pocket. I believe for the state of WA teachers have to take 30 hrs of continuing ed per year just to maintain their cert.

    I could go on and on in regards to politics and assessments. It really is a pandora’s box. Comparitively, public and private school stats aren’t even compared to eachother side by side because they aren’t even considered the same ball game. They are even accredited differently (if at all in some private school cases). So I guess, that’s what gives…

    #770499

    kootchman
    Member

    Magnet schools are a bait and switch tactic. They take a motivated, good student and move them to a low performing school to “bump” the miserable stats of the low performing school. Second, your kid becomes a target. The low performing kids are fully aware that their schooling will not change. They will still have the same low expectations, only now, they have a comparative population to resent. Some magnet school programs do create a better result for both those being ?magnetized” and those who are bound ny neighborhood status. A magnet school needs a very careful structure and the very best teachers. Lack of the latter can fail miserably. Actually, Catholic schools for instance have larger class sizes than public schools on average. It is not uncommon for multiple professionals to keep their professiona accredidation or licensees. This is not unique to teachers and is a expected behavior of professionals in every field , Most of us do not get three months off per year to achieve this feat, There are some good core stats… ones WEA wil fun from. Average SAT, ACT scores are good indicators. I doubt public schools could pass some of the private accrediting bodies. They are the lowest common denominator. Not the highest. I will give a generous nod to the role public education plays in meeting the needs of special needs children. Privates schools do not have the resource base. In a national survey of college admissions counselors and our very own UW… parochial school graduates require less remedial work and graduate on time with greater frequency. You will as a parent have to defer to the school. an example… from a local school.. you agree to certain conditions. Curfew. In a public school, this would be a hands off discussion. The axiom of being the best of the worst verses belonging to the best. which pool do you throw your kids in?

    12th Grade: 1:00 a.m.

    11th Grade: 12:00 midnight

    10th Grade: 11:30 p.m.

    9th Grade: 11:00 p.m.

    where private schools and public schools compete directly for students, public school performance increases. See Chicago..there is a public school monopoly… they can live with one of lowest proficiency standards in the nation.. and have the highest teacher compensation rates.

    There is a simple comparison. Take your childs SAT scores, they will be ranked with their same school peers. Compare those scores to a neighbors school… they too will be ranked according to their standing with their peers. You may have a child with a 75 percentile rating.. yet, in absolute terms, a 55 percentile rating in a better school has college admission edge.

    Money does become a dividing line. The public system insures that. When a large proportion of middle, and low income students who are the core of parochial schools their parents are far less willing to vote for increased education funding. They soley support one system and tax support a second one. One of the largest budget squeezes on middle class families is the two system education. WEA despite over thirty years of exporting kids out of the system and into the classrooms of private schools still believes they can force public school attendance. They cannot and while they lose market share… they crank our the same product every year… year after year. Maybe one year of professional development should be a month of reading W Edwards Demming… he slayed Detroit dominance in the auto industry… customers will pay more for, and wait, for better product outcomes. It’s not “production” that wins economic battles … it’s designing in quality at every step. Public schools lurch from one crisis to another… all the while losing their salvation .. customers. aka students. we aren’t buying 1981 Chrysler “K” cars…. at a minimum Toyota or Honda vehicles,

    #770500

    kootchman
    Member

    Funny…. private schools are not accredited? “if at all”?… you wish the SPS could place as many students that are accredited in four year institutions. Pray that SPS could graduate as many as the faith based schools… no college admissions officer shies away from the schools that serve WS students, Kennedy HS, O’Dea, Holy Names Academy, Seattle Prep, Hope Lutheran, .. any I will gladly bet will graduate well over 95% of their kids and have acceptance rates in WSU, UW, Gonzaga, well above SPS averages. Instead of trying to denigrate the excellent work of private schools… who DO educate a more motivated student, demanding parent support system, and produce pretty good citizens and potential contributors to the larger society… even the parents that still support the SPS… send their kids to Vashon, Mercer, Bellevue. etc…. here’s the simple test… SPS loses market share every year. Granted most families are not going to pop for the 50-100 grand it will cost for a K-12 education… but SPS does not dare ask …. why do so many? Well we have our answer… Washington State WANTS charter schools… the votes say so. A rare win against state organized labor and special interests.

    #770501

    redblack
    Participant

    so, ko00otch, you’re insinuating that the majority of college students went to private/parochial/charter schools, because public schools don’t produce as many graduates?

    or are you talking percentages?

    #770502

    miws
    Participant

    Okay, the Election is two plus weeks past, and most of the people/issues I voted on went the way that I wished. I can only presume that my fellow Libs attained similar results.

    So, with all of that hoopla over, and the Earth hasn’t totally wobbled off its axis in the last couple of weeks, kootch has nothing better to contribute that bringing up threads that have sat dormant for the last month or two?

    Mike

    #770503

    I think charter schools provide an opportunity to explore and locate what programs might be making a real difference in the field of education. When our daughter was approaching school age in Seattle, we took a giant leap and moved halfway across the country to attend a unique school and I’m so glad we did.

    Their results are nothing short of spectacular. You may have seen Oprah Winfrey’s expose on it back in March. This is a private school with an open enrollment policy. It has a 40 year track record and its unusual approach is slowly growing in popularity as communities become more willing to look outside the box.

    After returning to Washington State, I continue to seek an audience with anyone who wants to consider this consciousness based education. It is a simple program to introduce and administer. It could end up being offered in one of the new charter schools but could just as easily be adopted by any existing school or district.

    Time will tell whether or not Washington State is ready to try it out. But if you are a parent with school kids of any age, watch this video:

    http://www.maharishischooliowa.org/about-us/video-cafe

    If you are like me and my wife, you may not want to wait until a consciousness based school comes to your neighborhood.

    #770504

    hooper1961
    Member

    one of the problems with Public Schools is teaching to the lowest common denominator. when i was in PS’s the best teachers taught to the highest level and the rest of us got dragged up instead of down.

    and what the blank are awards for participation. when i was in PS’s the winner got the award and everyone else nothing; thus making you work harder next time!

    #770505

    JanS
    Participant

    Hooper…when is the last time you sat in a classroom, anywhere. How do you know they’re teaching to the lowest common denominator….? Or did you hear that on some program again…?

    do you volunteer your time to share your engineering expertise with youth? just curious..

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