Diane Ravitch

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

While Parent Trigger was first promoted by a small charter school operator in California, it was taken up and launched into hyperdrive by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

What is a Parent Trigger law? The proposals have varied from state to state, but they generally allow parents at any failing school, defined by standardized testing, to sign a petition to radically transform the school using any of four “triggers.” Parents can petition to: 1) fire the principal, 2) fire half of the teachers, 3) close the school and let parents find another option, or 4) convert the school into a charter school. While the details of how the school can be “restructured” vary from state to state, the charter school option is always present. Charter schools are privately managed, taxpayer-funded public schools which are granted greater autonomy from regulations applicable to other public schools, ostensibly in exchange for greater accountability for results, but they have been criticized for uneven and mediocre track records.

The trigger is from a gun aimed at the survival of our public school system and promotion of ALEC’s education program.  To read all of this excellent article from PRWatch, please click here

To see the trailer for this movie, please click here
the link to the trailer has been removed as YouTube apparently was fearful of a complaint from FOX (ALEC member via News Corp.).  No sooner did I remove the video – per YouTube’s instructions, than we got another message from YouTube telling us that there was no claim.

This appears to be part of a campaign of attempted intimidation.  Virus attacks from sources unknown were planted on the computers of two of our researchers preventing them from getting to this site.  A virus was planted on my computer also, again by sources unknown, but I removed it before knowing what it was going to do.

We will not be intimidated or silenced in our efforts to get information to our readers.

 

 

The Charter School Threat to American Society

If charter schools served the neediest children, if they recruited the students who had dropped out, if they made an effort to collaborate with public schools in a joint undertaking, they would have a valued place in American education.

But in the current context, they have been turned into a battering ram to compete with public schools and skim the ablest students.

Where will this lead? Will we have a dual school system in ten years, with one system (the charters) for the motivated and able students, and the other system (the public schools) for those who didn’t get into a charter?

Admin note:  ALEC model legislation has been forging the way for taking money that the states allocate to the public school systems and giving it to what are essentially private schools.  This, in turn leaves the public school systems even more inadequately funded and unable to deal with the general population of students which they are required to educate by law.

To read this important article by Diane Ravitch, please click
here.

Pennsylvania: Cyber charter schools aren’t working — so let’s expand them!

There’s an interesting and worthwhile debate over whether we should be expanding alternative, public-funded charter schools; some, like the Kipp Academies, are clearly successful, although we can argue about the extent of that success. Others have been flat-out scams. Then we have the case of cyber charter schools, which receive public tax dollars to educate children over the Internet, and which seem to be especially popular in Pennsylvania.

What could possibly go wrong with poorly supervised, taxpayer-funded online learning, right? Especially in such an on-the-ball state as this one.

“In an April 2011 study (PDF), the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania’s charter schools.  Virtual-school operators have been aggressively expanding in the state for more than a decade, making it a good place for a study; around 18,700 of the state’s 61,770 charter school students were enrolled in online schools. The results weren’t promising.

The virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters. But according to the study, they ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than kids in traditional charters and public schools. Says CREDO research manager Devora Davis, “What we can say right now is that whatever they’re doing in Pennsylvania is definitely not working and should not be replicated.

To read more about the expansion of virtual schools in PA, please click here