Friday, January 31, 2014

Rating NC and charter schools

A lot of folks are weighing in on the state of charter schools this week.  The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked all 43 states with charter laws,  based on 20 components they say account for strong charter systems.

North Carolina was 19th,  up from 23rd last year.  The lifting of the 100-school cap and increase in charters counted in the state's favor.  (Get the report here; the rating scale is on pages 6-7 and details on North Carolina on page 68-69.)

Meanwhile,  the Center for Education Reform issued a survey of the state of America's charter schools,  though it doesn't seem to include state-by-state analysis. It does refer to letter grades issued last January,  when North Carolina got a C.

Both of the above groups consider charter growth a good thing.  Education Week offered a different perspective with an article about concerns related to North Carolina's rapid charter growth.

National School Choice Week rally in Charlotte

It's no coincidence that all this is landing now.  It's National School Choice Week,  and I was intrigued by this article in Nonprofit Quarterly tracking down the funding for this national road show.  The "choice week" buses outside the Carolinas Aviation Museum and the logo-bearing yellow scarves being handed out at Charlotte's observance indicated there was plenty of money behind the event.

Meanwhile,  my personal award for worst choice week observance goes to PR Newswire,  which hacked off reporters across the country Tuesday morning by emailing separate notices of every choice week event going on in schools across the nation,  clogging inboxes at a rate of about one a minute.  I chose to filter their emails directly to trash.


Anonymous said...

Oh goodness did anyone read the article about who is supporting and funding these things?

Why those Conservative Groups seem to be behind this thing. You know like Congress Woman Shelia Jackson Lee, the Democrat who we can just apparently just forget, as she is not Conservative, at least according to the tone of this article.

And I guess no on is impressed with the Black Alliance For Educational Opportunities. I know that the fastest growing group of home schoolers are African American, but I guess Ann has not spent much time looking at that.

But then again as a paid journalist, she does have the freedom at the Observer to ignore so many emails which go to her, oh sorry, go to her trash directly.

Now we see why we need a conservative writer and editorial board member at the observer.

And we all

Shamash said...

Sorry you lost that election, Larry.

But the CO isn't going to change its editorial policies or board.

Funny, but my captcha phrase to prove I'm not a robot is:

"assopay increase"

Even captcha is politically biased nowadays.

Veronica said...

Scarves and (my goodness) buses "indicated there was plenty of money behind the event."

Indeed! Something wicked is clearly afoot.

Ann - You have zero credibility writing anything about charter schools. You are a bitter partisan with some sorts of emotional ties to the education bureaucracy. It's a little weird actually.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday the North Carolina State Board of Education voted to grant additional charters to Baker Mitchell, who has collected over $16 million in last five years to run three charters.

Today, Lindsay Wagner of NC Policy Watch reports that Mitchell’s schools are under federal investigation.

Mitchell is on the board of the John Locke Foundation, a libertarian foundation that advocates for charters and is funded by Art Pope, the multi- millionaire state budget director. Bill Moyers recently featured Pope in a documentary about his role in the far-right takeover of the legislature.

Mitchell also serves on the State Charter Advisory Board

so I would say Ms. Helms is probably correct in that there is a great deal of money backing the charter school movement. So back off with the insults, she coudl report a great deal more with regards to cahrters but she refrains.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame you have too include our governor when writing an article about education. He has been against good public education in North Carolina since day one! John Gillespie

Anonymous said...

What? CMS, no 2 hour delay today? I guess you've changed your cold temp policy already.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Veronica, if asking about what things cost and where the money comes from is a sign of enmity, then I am apparently opposed to the choice movement, teacher raises (see previous post) and pretty much everything CMS does (see last 12 years of coverage). But that's just what reporters do. And, I think, what a lot of informed citizens want to know.

Ann Doss Helms said...

8:41, you threw me off with the timing; there was no state board action yesterday. But I found the article from a couple of weeks ago and it's interesting:

Mamma mia said...

words by James Meredith, civil rights hero -

“We are losing millions of our children to inferior schools and catastrophically misguided and ineffective so-called education reforms. Our schools are being destroyed by politics, profit, greed and lies,” he adds. “Instead of evidence-based practices, money has become the engine of education policy, and our schools are being hijacked by politicians, non-educators and for-profit operators. Parents, teachers, citizens and community elders must arm ourselves with the best evidence and take back control of our children’s public education before it is too late. We all must work together to improve our public schools, not on the basis of profit or politics, but on the basis of evidence, and on the basis of love for America’s children.”

Anonymous said...

In the looming battle for public education dollars, Jon Hage has launched a preemptive strike.

His school management company, Charter Schools USA, has doled out more than $205,000 in contributions to political candidates and organizations this election cycle, state records show. That’s more than triple what the Fort Lauderdale-based company spent on political campaigns in 2010, and seven times what it spent in 2008.

“If we don’t support our friends in Tallahassee, they are left out there to take the enemy’s bullet,” Hage said.

For-profit education companies are becoming serious players in lobbying the Florida Legislature. In the current election cycle, charter school companies, school management firms, online learning outfits and for-profit colleges have lavished more than $1.8 million to statehouse candidates, electioneering organizations and political parties, according to a Miami Herald review of Florida campaign finance data. Most of the money went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.

Read more here:

While this is in Florida, this for-profit charter school chain is operating schools in several states, including North Carolina. Currently they are operating two schools (Concord and Moorseville) Charter Schools USA is opening a second school in Mooresville next year. There is a great deal of money behind the charter movement because people such a Jon Hage are financially benefitting from it.

Anonymous said...

What we need are strong, involved parents. We need more schools that strongly encourages and helps parents to: be directly involved in their children’s education; support their children with healthy eating and daily physical activity; disconnect their children from TV and video games and read with them on a daily basis; and a school that regularly invites parents to take part in school activities.

Maybe families can more easily find these things at a Charter school?

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear they are under investigation, as that just tells us something has to be wrong, you know like the IRS investigations of Conservative groups.

And that one reader felt Ann could blow the lid off of Charter Schools is priceless.

She does seem to have a lot of time to do so, as she is just waiting for the next publicity piece from CMS.

Shows what you have to deal with when fighting the folks who make so much off of keeping the trillions pouring in to a failing public school system.

Oh where is her usual cabal for public school who protest so much for more money.

I hope the public schools get that magic amount, so one day they can do all the wonderful things they say will happen when we do give them money.

So yes we are glad that we now have that information about the investigation. Because then we know if something is being done wrong it will be fixed.

And of course we know that Ann will be right on that story and any just like it about Charter Schools.

Anonymous said...

It was great to hear you on Charlotte Talks. I guess the one question I don't have answered from Charters is do they have to follow the same rules on kicking people out as a public school?
To me, all else being equal, the private schools ability to exclude the misbehaving is a consistently powerful lure.

Shamash said...


James Meredith asks 21 tough questions about school reform:

Good stuff.

And here's where I go for my "evidence":

Charles said...

11:27 I wasn't aware our public schools kicked anyone out? Even though they should.

Yes, private schools have been the best decision we have made for our kids. There is often financial help available for those who think they can't afford it, check it out.

Wiley Coyote said...

Mama Mia...

and Meredith was a Republican...

Anonymous said...

perhaps I am in the minority on this, but my children are excelling in traditional public schools, we could not be happier. We never really even considered charter or private schools. We have been blessed with some amazing teachers and school administrators.

Shamash said...


Not only that, but Meredith also worked for Jesse Helms for a few years. Whew.

And Meredith's son Joseph graduated at the top of his class at Mississippi State with a Ph.D. in Business in 2002.

So he apparently knows how to raise kids who appreciate an education.

And he apparently understands that the PARENTS and the STUDENTS have to meet the schools more than halfway to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

Sorry your article makes 0 sense since its cold outside/possible snow in the forecast and Mayor Pat is pictured as a speaker on education. Please remove Pat from anything you would like folks to read in the future. Keith W. Hurley

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:27, if there's a simple answer to your question I don't have it. As another poster notes, true expulsions are quite rare. However, my sense is that both charters and CMS magnets have more leeway to say a student hasn't met the requirements of the program and bump them back to their "home school" in CMS. As we all know, there are rules on paper and rules in practice. I'd be curious to hear what people who have worked in charters and CMS say about this issue.

Shamash said...

Anon 11:27am

Here's one side of the discussion (a rebuttal of another side) on the rules for suspensions and expulsions:

Anonymous said...


In regards to your question about charters bumping students back to their home schools if they are behavior issues, the answer is "yes they do." I know because my school sees parents leave because they are unhappy with the expectation that students will behave appropriately and they do not want their children disciplined. They are quick to blame bad teachers, administrators, and anyone else who expects some level of appropriate behavior. They run and enroll them in various charter schools and these same students suddenly reappear a month or two later. We never see the parents when this happens, but the records that arrive and the follow-up calls we make are very similar - "difficulty adjusting, behavior concerns, etc." If neighborhood schools had such a luxury, imagine what school would be like for the students who are there to learn!

Anonymous said...

If only we could get research like this reported in the observer.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...


But Arne doesn't like it when kids are expelled or suspended.

It's just so much better to let them ruin everyone's chance at an education.

Like in the public schools.

Of course, that's exactly why some parents tell you they choose charters.

Because of buy-in from parents and students and the resulting discipline.

I wonder what Project LIFT would be like if it was a charter?

My guess is more successful.

For those still left.

Bring back reform schools and USE them.

Then problem solved for everyone.

Shamash said...

Apparently Australians have similar discipline problems:

Funny how similar some of the comments are...

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...


More interesting parallels with Australia:

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the PISA results showed Labor's "education revolution" and its billions spent on laptops and school halls had failed to lift student results.


This is some 7 years into the federal takeover of control of Australian schools (national curriculum) from the states back in 2007.

Interesting that Australians are looking to the US for solutions (such as Charters and vouchers).

Maybe we can learn from their mistakes as they learn from ours.

Anonymous said...

Who cares, I teach in public schools, if parents want to try something different, let them. All students should have a chance for choice. Not just free lunch students but all. One size does not fit all. CMS has nothing to worry about. Most parents from my observation are happy. I like trying different things. If patents want charters, cool. Be careful, i BELIEVE only 1 in 4 are successful. Catholic schools traditionally are awesome. Homebound works really well for some. It is a families choice. Not mine, the governments or anyone else.

Pamela Grundy said...

One significant difference between traditional public schools and charters is that when a child moves into a traditional school's attendance area, that school takes that child in and the teachers do their best to help that child adjust to that school and to educate him or her, no matter when in the school year it is. It is a significant challenge, especially in high-mobility areas, but those schools are always there for children. Charters don't have to do that.

Anonymous said...

My kids have been in all types of schools: private, public and charter. The advantage that private and charter schools have is that the parents care about education---b/c they have taken the time to look for the best educational setting for their family/kid. Parents collectively lift the school up (whether thru time, $ or other efforts). In some traditional public school settings, it is exhausting if you feel like you are one the few parents doing all the heavy lifting----and the administration of the school seems focused only on a subset of kids at the school (not your kid). No school can arrange an educational curriculum around a single kid---but charter schools often have "themes" that may more closely match your kids' learning style or gifts. You feel more invested if you feel the school's mission fits your kid's needs. Not everyone can afford private school, and I am truly grateful for the choice of charter schools.

Shamash said...

I think we could benefit from looking at what some other countries do with their schools.

Particularly with their recent immigrants.

In Hong Kong, for example, they don't just throw them into the nearest school and expect the local school to clean up the mess.

They have special schools for non-Chinese-speaking people and mostly put the kids in those.

Until they can prove their Cantonese proficiency.

And they also have a special half-year crash program in Cantonese and Hong Kong living for their adjustment.

But it makes more sense than throwing a Nepali into a Cantonese speaking classroom.

Or having Nepali teachers hanging around just in case a few Nepali children happen to show up in the local school.

What a waste that would be.

Especially in a country where so many immigrants speak so many different languages.

They have a few mixed-language Cantonese-English schools, but just as much to teach English to native Cantonese speakers as vice-versa.

Of course, we can't do anything SENSIBLE like that because the feel-good, kumbaya, "we're all the same" crowd will throw a fit.

We have to "mainstream" everyone and the public schools get the privilege of being Jack-of-all-trades and Master-of-none.

More public schools with specialties would be a good thing.

But, in the meanwhile, charter "public" schools will have to do.

Why not have a native Spanish language Charter school?

Or would that be "discriminatory"?

They could make it where you could "test" into the school if your Spanish was good enough.

Shamash said...

Actually, now that I think about it, I think Charlotte could support several (maybe 4 to 6) Spanish charter (or even magnet) schools.

And I don't mean the typical bi-lingual schools where native English speakers are "immersed" in Spanish.

I mean the other way around.

Turn the tables.

Have schools for the native Spanish speaking crowd (while they learn English on the side) with the goal of graduating them fluent in English and Spanish.

Why isn't THAT happening?

Why should EVERY school attempt to do this poorly, when we could have A FEW schools which do this well?

Oh well, maybe in another time and place.

Shamash said...

Hey, y'all. It's official.

I'm a Librul.

La Raza agrees with me on charter schools for Latinos and English Language Learners:

We need half a dozen of those Raul Yzaguirre School for Success (RYSS) thingys here.

Anonymous said...

There places in the united states that have specialty schools, vocational schools and special needs schools. There are places that have transition specialist that helps special needs students transfer out of high school. CMS doesn't, because they still work under the sneaky Pete Gorman school of thought that says "All students are going to college". Teachers have complained about this for years. The people downtown do not listen. They want to teach Common Core to students with sever disabilities. When Heath came here I was hoping he would change the culture of the top down CMS way.. I am sad to say, things have not changed.

Anonymous said...

I taught at a school that taught spanish speaking students how to speak proper Spanish. Many Spanish speaking students speak an odd blend of spanglish.. The school was not in CMS.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

A lot of kids from the border are that way.

It used to really bug an educated Mexican guy I worked with that so many of the Mexcicans from just across the border said things like "trucka" when there were Spanish words for truck.

And another lady I met from Peru said the same thing about the immigrant kids from Mexico and Central America she has taught here.

Namely, that they not only cannot speak English, but their Spanish is pretty bad as well.

And many of them and their parents don't really care about education, either.

Of course, as I've said before, if you think education in the US is screwed up, you haven't checked Mexico.

Google it sometimes.

Apparently teaching jobs go to relatives of officials or the highest bidder in some places.

And some teachers don't even bother to show up at school, they just collect their pay.


A Union's Grip Stifles Learning
Teaching Posts Inherited, Sold in Mexico's Public Schools

And the teachers response to "reform" is to riot.

Anonymous said...

I used to be against unions in education. Especially after I saw waiting for super man. Then I moved here. There is not a union. Teaches do not have special protections. CMS even lost a million dollar law suit for bulling a teacher out. Who was a good teacher but had false accusations against him. My neighbors daughter is a teacher and she said most teachers are even scared to speak there minds. Its weird. Some states like PA (not Philly, state not city) and Massachusetts have strong unions and good schools. Other states have unions that stifle change of any kind and get involved in things that have nothing to do with education or teachers. You would think this place would be a waiting for super man dream but it is a mess. I want ideas and input from teachers. School is about students and teachers. Not suits from downtown and Raleigh. I loved Mount Lebanon PA schools. They had unions but the schools where awesome and the teachers and administrators respected each other. I don't see that here. I see heavy handed administrators and teachers trying to get out. Almost every teacher I talk to thinks school start times should change. Then they say " where just teachers what can we do". There needs to be a balance. Every year the staff in my child's school looks completely different. In Mt Lebo, my mom and I had some of the same teachers. Teachers lived in our community. Teachers here can't afford to live around here. We need to find a balance.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for superman was funded by a billionaire who has pledged himself to the Bill and Melinda gates group. He funds documentary's that supports and advances his views. I can't remember his name but he also bankrolled All Gores film. It's weird that corporate Republicans and Obama push the same agenda on education.. You know something's wrong.

Anonymous said...

I just read that a poor immigration policy is the real problem. I looked up waiting for supper man and found an article that says the movie is PC bs. We have always had poverty and unions have been in schools along time. He arguers federal intrusion and a failed immigration policy's are to blame. The system is being over run. It is responsible for things it was never intended for. Teachers have to many responsibilities that have little or nothing to do with teaching. What say you blogers:-)

Shamash said...

Well, it's interesting to me that Australia is having similar problems to the US and similar "solutions" are being proposed.

And it also appears that THEY are having an immigrant problem as well.

Especially with Muslims...

White flight leaves system segregated by race

At first I thought this was just about the aboriginal people, but then I read about the "Sydney gang rapes" and the "Cronulla riots" which involved mostly Middle Easterners.

And apparently there are problems with the large numbers of Asians who are in Australia as well, especially the people from India and China.


Funny also, that part of the overhaul of the Australian curriculum deemphasizes the European influence on their country.

Simply amazing parallels out there.

“We have a seemingly over-emphasis on Indigenous culture and history and almost an entire blotting out of our British traditions and British heritage,”

Political Correctness.

Ruining a country near you.

Across the globe.

Anonymous said...

6:41, I said the same thing the other day. I do not have children, so I don't really pay much attention to education issues. I started when my friends son was talking about going to a moral Monday protest. My freind and his son are not liberal by any means. So I was kinda shocked. He is a teacher and is tired of the low pay, I said it can't be that bad. I looked up the pay on the old computer and thought, wow mabey a union is not such a bad thing. Compare pay around the country and NC is looking pretty poor. I have started paying more attention. I had heard things where bad but dam.. A man can't feed his family on that.

Anonymous said...

I had a student last school year, who's behavior was awful. I worked with him and he got back on track. He came right before Christmas break from a private school that gave him the boot. I like private schools. I my self went to a private school. Public schools take all. Private schools do not.

Anonymous said...

So the obvious question...If both charter and public schools are funded with public money, why are charter schools not held to the same standards/rules/requirements as public schools?

Anonymous said...

Are there different standards? I understand private but if charter is public, y do they not have the same standards? Maybe the support of characters by the political and economic elite tips the scales.. Charters are supported by both Obama, Duncan and corporate right. These groups do not like to be wrong or competition. I am not against charters by any means, but why different rules for one. If you are a leader and u think a rule or requirement is foolish, then get rid of it. It doesn't make sense to have different requirements. If U lead, lead all. In the end we want what's best for kids.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

I guess it depends on what you are going to call standards.

There is always more than one way to meet a standard.

Even Common Core doesn't dictate exactly how the schools teach.

Or even exactly what they teach.

Just because the Common Core standards don't cover Calculus doesn't mean schools can't teach Calculus, for example.

Of course, it may mean that some of them won't even try, but that's a different problem.

Or they may teach Calculus to different levels at different schools.

From what I've seen of Common Core, though, there is enough confusion and debate over how to teach fractions for them to tackle Calculus just yet.

And I don't even think Common Core DARES approach behavioral standards.

Due to "disparate impact", of course.

Anonymous said...

There is another way to look at this and probably the reason Republicans like Tillis support this program. On average, North Carolina spends over $6,000.00 per year to educate a child in public schools. If that child leaves the public school via this program to attend the private school, the State actually saves $1,800.00. However like others have stated, I really doubt this program will be used by the families this was intended for, which is poor African Amercian children who are apparently stranded in failing public schools (per Darrell Allison).