Thursday, February 20, 2014

Diversity in charters: Another view

After spending some time exploring the start-up struggles of StudentFirst Academy,  a charter serving disadvantaged kids in west Charlotte,  I swung by the other end of the charter spectrum this week.

Pine Lake Preparatory School is an established charter with strong academic results,  located in Iredell County between Davidson and Mooresville.   Most of the 1,700 students are white,  and few live in poverty.  When people complain that charters are publicly-funded private schools,  this is the kind of school they're talking about.

Terrill at Pine Lake Prep's new art building

Chris Terrill,  who was hired as head of school in 2012,  invited me to visit and hear his thoughts on North Carolina's charter system.  His previous experience was with charters in Florida,  a state many N.C. leaders look to for models of school reform.

In Florida,  Terrill said,  charters could use race as a factor in lottery selection to get closer to the area's demographics.  Here it's luck of the draw  --  and with 550 children applying for about 50 kindergarten seats next year,  there's a lot of luck involved with getting in.  He says the racial makeup of Pine Lake  --  89 percent white,  5 percent African American,  4 percent Hispanic and 2 percent Asian  --  is pretty close to that of the surrounding area.  The school offers busing from  "depot stops"  in Huntersville and Mooresville to give opportunities to families who can't drive their kids,  he said.  Pine Lake doesn't participate in the federal lunch program,  he said,  but low-income students admitted through the lottery can get aid for lunches and field trips.

Pine Lake pulls about half its students from Mecklenburg County,  with the rest coming from Iredell-Statesville,  Mooresville,  Cabarrus and Catawba.  For most,  he said,  Pine Lake provides an alternative to crowded district schools,  not failing ones.  When Pine Lake opened in 2006,  CMS had neglected to keep up with north suburban growth.  North Mecklenburg High was the state's largest school,  with some 3,100 students sprawling into trailers,  and Torrence Creek Elementary was overcrowded as soon as it opened.  While 1,700 students is hardly a small school,  Pine Lake covers K-12, which means 125 to 140 students per grade level.  Many parents see it as a safer,  more personal environment,  Terrill said.

Coincidentally,  I had also spoken with state Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville this week about the state's school calendar law.  Jeter has three children at Pine Lake,  and he said crowding at Torrence Creek prompted the move.

Both Jeter and Terrill said they see charters as a supplement to traditional public schools,  not a substitute.  As Jeter put it,  "charter schools should be the icing on the cake;  they shouldn't be the cake."

Terrill,  whose wife is a principal in Cabarrus County Schools,  said the ideal situation is when charters spur innovation in school districts.  He cited Iredell-Statesville Schools' decision to create an International Baccalaureate magnet at Mount Mourne Middle School,  less than a mile up the road from Pine Lake.

Terrill says he's watching with hope and trepidation as North Carolina revs up an expansion of charters,  with much of the growth centered around Charlotte.  His first experience with Florida charters came when he took a job with founders who had more ambition than expertise;  he says he found himself running seven underfunded,  low-performing charters.  He had moved to a much better setting when Pine Lake recruited him,  he said,  but he saw how easy it is to get into trouble.  If the state can't provide supervision and support for its growing roster of schools, he said,  start-ups may fail and hurt the charter movement,  the district schools that take those students back and the families who vest their hopes in the school.  "While I am a charter school proponent,"  he said,  "I cannot support the effort of every charter school."


74 comments:

Bill Clinton said...

That is how the rest of Charlotte should be - white and non-free loader.

Anonymous said...

Get off this "diversity" crap lib. Everyone knows it means black only.

Wiley Coyote said...

Just the other day it was "CMS wants to partner with charter and private schools to learn from one another".

This is laughable.

CMS will never learn anythng from charters because the status quo and race hustlers pushing their failed diversity policies BEFORE any program is put in place ensures failure.

It's just a matter of time before liberals try to dismantle successful charter schools such as Pine Lake.

All you have to do is look at what the new socialist mayor of New York is about to do to charters.

I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing "Charter Trashing Thursday" marches from the usual suspects...

Anonymous said...

Look, another successful public school, driven by concerned parent demand is being written about by Ann.

And note the special spin.

Sorry I meant to post the first one under my fake name account.

Sorry Ann, do not want to get angry you world is not working the way you want it to.

Anonymous said...

How did Jeter get all 3 children into that charter? I thought it was a lottery system for every child?

Is there a policy that lets all children from a lottery winner's family to attend?

Not really sure how these things work, but I'd love to get some clarification.

Ann Doss Helms said...

8:49, they do have a system where if one sibling gets in the others do, too. So I guess it's more of a family lottery. (CMS also has sibling guarantees for magnets, though I can't swear all the sibling preferences work exactly the same way.)

Anonymous said...

" Most of the 1,700 students are white, and few live in poverty. When people complain that charters are publicly-funded private schools, this is the kind of school they're talking about."

This is the same thing that was (and probably still is) said about successful CMS schools in south Charlotte. Most notably during the early 2000's critics seemed to believe that any school that had high proficiency, active parents, and mostly well behaved children was somehow inherently unfair--that only private schools should follow this model. Rather than promoting the behaviors and community support that led to the success of these schools these critics preferred to cast aspersions on that success. Apparently to be a "true" public school the school had to have struggling and failing students, discipline issues, and of course "diversity" (which fell to the critics to define).

Also "When Pine Lake opened in 2006, CMS had neglected to keep up with north suburban growth." Was any of the old guard on the school board or in the Charlotte establishment admitting that fact? Exactly the same thing happened a few years earlier in South Charlotte--the board refused to acknowledge suburban growth. It was preferable to claim that suburbanites were whiners and elitists for wanting schools close to home.

Shamash said...

"While I am a charter school proponent," he said, "I cannot support the effort of every charter school."

Agreed.

These schools need CLOSE SUPERVISION and proper vetting of everyone involved.

To prevent NC from becoming another Louisiana.

We also need criminal background checks for ALL charter school employees, including principals and board members.

We need to know WHO is behind these schools and what they are doing.

And that information should be made public.

Just so the parents KNOW who is teaching their child.

Otherwise, an ex-con put away for something like armed robbery in another state could be running a Charter school near you...

See Kinston Charter Academy (now closed):

http://www.wnct.com/story/23350928/lenoir-county-charter-school-closing-its-doors

Or the newly approved Anderson Creek Club Charter School:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/20/3550057/charter-school-to-open-near-gated.html

So, who is Rev. Ozie Lee Hall, Jr. from Wilmington, Delaware?

Google knows, do you? Does the state? Do his employers and parents who send their kids to his schools know his background?

https://www.casetext.com/case/hall-v-state-19#.UwYOb76PKWs

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/28/us/ex-inmates-bringing-hope-to-wilmington-streets.html

Has he ever put ANY of this on an application form, bio, or even mentioned it to anyone in NC?

Sure looks like the same guy to me. Both from Delaware, same name, etc., etc.

Also, the "Reverend" quoted on reparations:

http://curmilus.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/reparations-quotes-by-rev-ozzie-hall-jr/

Parents making a "choice" need to know these things.



Anonymous said...

Charter schools are almost always going to be one race schools until the state requires them to meet the standards required other "public" schools. That includes transportation and meals for the kids who qualify.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.41 Why would African Americans not attend Charter Schools unless they get free transport and food?

Anonymous said...

Strange how Ann did not have space to do a story on this:

http://apps.schools.nc.gov/pls/apex/f?p=155%3A1%3A0%3A%3ANO

See how your school, teacher and admin does compared to all NC schools.

Shamash said...

What do transportation and meals have to do with race?

Are you suggesting that all the predominantly black Charter schools should close until they can meet these standards?

Or is it just the predominantly white schools you want closed?

This is exactly what is wrong with public education today.

Too much focus on the social service freebies and not enough on education.

Anonymous said...

I am African American with an advanced degree and work for a living. My children are doing well academically and when applying to any charter schools, I have always been wait listed. The lottery process for most is a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The intent is to keep the non whites out.

Anonymous said...

Open one or two in Mecklenburg County PLEASE!

Shamash said...

Gee, why don't we make ALL Charters follow ALL THE RULES?

And not just the free lunch and transportation, but the EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS as well?

Well, SOME people just wouldn't like that for "their" people.

Like Ozie Lee Hall, Jr., and the Association of African American Charter School Administrators...

http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/27/455365/charter-schools-allege-state-bias.html

"The State Board of Education policy adopted in December says that a charter school's students must absorb at least a year's worth of material each year and that 60 percent or more must pass standardized tests. The state board is supposed to yank charters from schools that fail to meet these standards two out of three straight years.

The state Association of African American Charter School Administrators said the policy is discriminatory. Some principals suspect that mostly black charters are being squeezed out to make way for white charters."

The "arbitrary selection" of a 60 percent passing rate on tests that are culturally biased discriminates against black charter schools and their students, the complaint said.

Ozie Lee Hall Jr., CEO of Kinston Charter Academy, said charters do a better job of educating low-income African American students than traditional schools.

---------

And HE would know...

Anonymous said...

"Many parents see it as a safer, more personal environment", Terrill said.


That's why we moved our kids out of our south charlotte schools. Too crowded, too impersonal and too many behavior issues, and we're all much happier now.

Anonymous said...

Pine Lake is a prime example of what many want in a Charter Schools, which is the private school/elite experience for free (especially around the Lake). There are other schools like this one throughout the region, Union Academy, Graystone Academy for example, practically all white schools. The interesting thing for me is that charter advocates will promote these schools as high performing schools. When in reality, they are more a reflection of the type of student that attends the school, that being said, I am not devaluing the efforts of the teachers. (Two CMS schools, Ardrey Kell and Providence outperformed some of the best charter schools in the region). I still maintain, when you compare apples to apples (schools of simliar demographic make up), charters do not outperform traditional public schools, despite what Eddie Goodall states. I am sure there are many who will argue with me, but I think much of this charter school movement has little to do with actual education and more to do with perception. Charter school advocates do an amazing job of promoting their product and seldom does anyone make them accountable for their claims. occasionally Anne does shed some light, as she has with this article, but then you folks hit her with the insults.

Anonymous said...

So, what Charlotte wants is a publicly-funded resolution for "white flight." That's the charter school movement in a nutshell. Shifting the "problems" in public education into a for-profit model, without actually solving the "problems" with public education. Brilliant.

Wiley Coyote said...

9:41

1 - No one knows who qualifies because the USDA refuses to allow states and LEAs to do a 100% audit/background check of applicants.

2 - Unions and socialist liberals are charter schools public enemy #1. As I meantioned earlier, the new socialist mayor of New York and the unions are going after Success Charter Schools in NY.

Here's why:

...As she reminds every audience, the 6,700 students at her 22 Success Academy Charter Schools are overwhelmingly from poor, minority families and scored in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English on the most recent state test. Four in five charters in the city outperformed comparable schools.

"We think one of the sins of American education is intellectually underestimating children," she says. "It's so much more engaging for kids when they're challenged." Her other complaint about many traditional schools: "It's incredibly boring." While those public schools don't have her flexibility to design a curriculum and hire and fire teachers, "engagement doesn't cost any money. It can be done tomorrow if the adults decide that boredom is not acceptable and you embrace a curriculum that's interesting and rigorous."

Such astringent assessments of public education-as-usual are fighting words in New York and other cities where schools find themselves struggling to explain chronic underperformance.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304434104579382993628994458

3 - Mindset. We don't have to have teacher's unions in NC as long as the liberal, status quo mindset prevails. It's the same mindset that has killed public education for decades under their diversity driven programs that have failed time after time.

Anonymous said...

A black poster says he is wait listed for Charter Schools and is angry.

A person says Charter Schools have too tough an education plan for black children.

Others says no way black kids will go to these schools with out buses and free food.

And then of course the white flight, and taking money for buses and free stuff.

Just when did education become about race? Oh right when we were bused back in the seventies.

You know when they said we would not need to do it for long as black folks would catch up and things would be great in education.

Strange how today they say we are now in need of even more of the same mess they have inflicted on us over these last forty plus years.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, Success Academy games the system. The numbers are skewed since they push out the under-performers to give the ILLUSION that they are more successful than the public school down the road. Add to that, when you have parents who are actively involved in their child's education, said child is normally more successful.

Here's how the charter game is played...accept a bunch of kids, get the funding per kid, then kick the under-performing or troubled kid out, keep the funding, class size gets smaller (key in student success, despite what some delusional republican congressmen would have you believe), test scores increase. It's not a "better" school if the game is rigged.

Better solution? Allow public schools to kick out the bad kids, and send them to the charter schools.

Anonymous said...

The only reason Ardrey kell and Providence outscore other schools in the area is due to the very high number of Asian and Indian students at those schools now.

Anonymous said...

If charters are gaming the system, then why not make all schools charter schools and get the same gamed results?

Sorry about the two I posted as Charlotte Observer above.

But they will be removed anyway.

Wiley Coyote said...

10:58

That's not gaming the system.

Public schools should be doing the same thing. That's my point.

Until politicians and educrats call a timeout, tell parents that this or that is no longer acceptable, their little Johnny or Susie will be expelled.

In the end, you can't argue with their success.

We should have a complete gaming of the public education system!!

Charles said...

BOE, why is Comm House Middle School so big? any plans to decrease the student population at this school?

Anonymous said...

Because charter schools don't solve the REAL problems in education: poor parenting and poverty.

Charter schools don't solve problems, they merely participate in a for-profit model funded with public tax dollars, and little regulation and oversight. Hardly a solution, unless your solution is to segregate schools, and judging by the racial undertones, that may be what some of you want.

Wiley Coyote said...

11:06

Then how does Success Charter schools have such success and outperform public schools, when the majority of their 6,700 kids are poor and non-White?

It seems to me they ARE solving a problem.

Where are the demographics and other data from CMS Ann?....

Silence is deafening...

Anonymous said...

11:06 Oh I see your point, we need to only have public schools as they have cleaned up the problems you mention already and we do not want them back in public schools.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I've already spelled it out to you. Here is the formula: motivated students/parents + get rid of bad/under-performing kids = success.

Anonymous said...

11:06--Perhaps the properly run charter schools will educate children who were not being well educated in CMS (maybe helping them escape from unruly classrooms and providing more structure and discipline). Then those children can become successful adults and their children will not be held back by poor parenting and poverty.

Wiley Coyote said...

11:23

The formula is: put programs in place for students to have an equal OPPORTUNITY to succeed + strict guidelines of what is acceptable and what is not + parents who understand these strict policies = success.

There is no “kicking out” unless kids egregiously violate discipline rules or other policies. Scholastically, if the programs are there for kids to succeed and they don’t – too bad.

Anonymous said...

Sending scholastically motivated students from schools with 100% certified staff into a charter school environment with less than half certified staff (and no background checks!!) is not a good solution. Send the "bad" kids to these charter schools, modify the curriculum (hybrid of remediation, JROTC, and AVID) and help staff these schools with Teach for America candidates. That's a better solution.

Anonymous said...

Charter schools DO cherry pick students. That is the reality. Public schools cannot pick who comes through their doors. If you wanted that kind of experience, private schools are here to serve that purpose! The state and by extension, society as a whole has a vested interest in educating ALL students, not just those that live in certain zip codes. What is increasingly noxious about this debate is that we blame kids, we blame families, but very rarely does anyone discuss the importance of ensuring great schooling for all.

Private schools and charters school don't have to have certified teachers, public schools do. Private schools have the ability to hire whomever they want and can do run million dollar capital campaigns to fund whatever projects they deem neccessary. Charters can and do hire whomever comes in off the street that do (or don't) have a college degree and lack basic facilities in many cases that are necessary for schools to function and cannot pay a good certified teacher to work there. Yet people run to them like they are the greatest things since sliced bread! Wake up people, the lack of oversight, the cherry picking of students, and lack of credentialed staff will come back to bite the ENTIRE SYSTEM in the butt. You can run put your children in charter schools as a way to "escape" your neighborhood school, but if they are not teaching the children either or they lack access to facilities, equipment or good, sound, basic teaching practices, where shall you run to next?

Anonymous said...

Albert Shanker was one of the first advocates for charter schools. He envisioned charters as a place where they could work in "colaboration" with the regular schools, they were intended to work with struggling students. However, once he saw how private business was going to use this as a money making venture, he spent the remaining years of his life speaking against charters.

I agree 100% with a previous post, you summed up charter schools very well.

"Because charter schools don't solve the REAL problems in education: poor parenting and poverty."

"Charter schools don't solve problems, they merely participate in a for-profit model funded with public tax dollars, and little regulation and oversight. Hardly a solution, unless your solution is to segregate schools, and judging by the racial undertones, that may be what some of you want."

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how this differs from CMS's first push into magnet schools. Although CMS had the "quota" system for blacks versus non-blacks, you had a good chance only black successful families who were serious about thier child's education were in those seats. Blacks held a huge advantage when getting into these magnets because their application to seats ratio was so good. CMS messed themsleves up when they attempted to move these magnets to urban heavy schools.

Charters best serve the average students who get lost in CMS's social services for the urban kids and the few high academic programs left.

As for pulling Charter schools when their performance is not to an arbitrary level, why then can't the state force closure of failing regular public schools.

Anonymous said...

"As for pulling Charter schools when their performance is not to an arbitrary level, why then can't the state force closure of failing regular public schools."

Because public schools are a public service, and do not operate on a for-profit model. Nor should they. It's a slippery slope, folks. We should all be wary and skeptical at who funds, runs, or operates charters, more so now than ever before since NC removed the cap. Remember, it was Wall Street and hedge fund scumbags who bankrupted our country. Same guys who now see a cash cow in the charter school business. The writing on the wall should be quite clear when you have public legislators pushing Senate Bill 337. Not familiar with it? Get familiar with it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that people choose charters for various reasons. However I do believe elitism, class and racism are part of the equation.

I think it would be tough to argue against this point when you take a closer look at charter schools in this region.

and to Wiley Coyote, charter schools were intended as a colaborative effort between schools, they were not intended to be a money making proposition, which is what may of them have turned into. Google Baker Mitchell, Jonathon Hage for a start, making millions of charter schools.

Wiley Coyote said...

12:49

It's about choice. Simple as that and as long as parents have a choice that many of us didn't have in the past, I'm all for charters, just like magnets or neighborhood schools if you coose them.

Regarding for-profit charters? So what? Do you not believe companys aren't getting fat off of public schools?

Public education is dead. Has been for decades.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, of course companies are getting fat off of public education - Pearson being one of them. It's part of the "reform effort" being pushed by both sides of the political spectrum. Which is why teachers are protesting and demonstrating against this deform as part of the Moral Monday protests, in which you yourself despise.

Shamash said...

I still don't see how people who cannot teach the basics to certain kids are going to solve the LARGER problems of "parents" and "poverty".

That it something beyond the scope of our school system.

Also, I'd argue that the problem is NOT poverty in itself. Plenty of poor people learn.

But rather, it's the way the bulk of people in the US who are in poverty behave.

Or else Vietnam wouldn't be doing as well as it in comparison.

Let's put the ball in the court where it REALLY belongs, the PARENTS and the STUDENTS.

A LOT of them are slackers and do not even take advantage of what they have now.

Why does anyone think that giving them more will help?

Whether it's water from a creek, tap, filter, or Perrier, THAT horse still isn't drinking.

Anonymous said...

"CMS messed themsleves up when they attempted to move these magnets to urban heavy schools."

They sure messed up the bus service, and school start/end times up too due to the centrally located Magnet schools.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Larry, the good thing about your fake Charlotte Observer account is it makes it clear how many of these anonymous comments are coming from the same guy. But may I suggest you get rid of it? If I have to start spending big chunks of my work day looking for your bogus postings, I'm going to set this back to filter and your game is going to inconvenience everyone else who wants to have a real-time commentary.

Shamash said...

"I appreciate that people choose charters for various reasons. However I do believe elitism, class and racism are part of the equation. "

I'll agree with that if you'll agree that it's not just ONE race, class, or "elite" playing that game.

The idea that charters are for rich, white "elites" is pure garbage.

I can give you tons of examples of just the opposite out there.

And even a few foreign terrorist organizations (e.g.,Gulenists) who are cutting themselves a hefty piece of that pie, too.




Shamash said...

Well, you can worry about the Wall Street guys if you wish, but don't forget about the kooks of all other varieties, either.

Evil intent doesn't just come from the 1%-ers.

The 99%-ers have their nutjobs too.

And, by definition, there are a lot more 99%-ers out there.

We should be watching them ALL.

Anonymous said...

Remember folks, Harlem Achievement Zone is funded by these hedge fund guys. They are more charitable than the elitists and liberals who fight charter schools,

Wiley Coyote said...

1:09

It's about results. The Success Schools I've talked about or Pine Lake, public schools, all have corporate sponsors/investors/philanthropists.

My main problem is the misuse of tax dollars in public schools, which all stems from a bogus school lunch program.

If Bill Gates or the Levines want to give money to schools, so be it, as long as we're getting the results.

Right now, I would say LIFT is on the edge of a total waste of money.

Pine Lake Preparatory prepares individuals in a nurturing environment for leadership and academic success within the kaleidoscope of an engaging community.

Pine Lake Mission-specific Goals:

1. All Pine Lake Preparatory students will experience a literature-rich K – 12 curriculum and become life-long readers, observers and learners.

2. All Pine Lake Preparatory students will receive instruction in the arts beginning with Kindergarten and will self-select art discipline(s) for focused study in grades 9 – 12.

3. All Pine Lake Preparatory students will study Spanish. Spanish study will begin in Kindergarten and continue through grade 12. Pine Lake Preparatory students will achieve spoken and written fluency in Spanish by high school graduation.

4. All Pine Lake Preparatory students will experience a community-service learning education every year in grades K – 12. Students will accumulate a minimum of 40 hours per year of service-based learning.

5. All Pine Lake Preparatory students will take college preparatory coursework that opens opportunities in higher education.

...let's don't DARE implement something that bold in CMS...

Shamash said...

Here's what happen when you don't monitor Charter schools closely:

"Opened in 2009 in Clearwater, Life Force was slated to offer art-heavy classes to the predominately black and low-income children of that city's North Greenwood neighborhood..."

And then, somehow, the Nation of Islam and Scientologists end up running the place.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/controversy-over-scientology-influence-clouds-future-of-pinellas-charter/1217239

Yeah, there's a new "elite" in town and they're hoping to open a new charter school near you.

Anonymous said...

Ok we are bringing this back to a discusssion of the Pine Lake School, which if memory serves started out as a PRIVATE school and then became a CHARTER. One could argue that the business model supports the conversion that allowed them to keep relatively the same student population that they served as a PRIVATE school, under the guise (and financial support) of a public charter school.

I have NOT visited the school, but I would argue that this is the case and if it is, then the school is unique in it's make up, mission, and academic quality. Because most charters do not have the same sort of "support" this cannot be said of them and we are just looking at one outlier.

The entire system has to be examined.

Anonymous said...

I totally don't get the "anger" against charters. All I can speak about is my personal experience.

When my son was in CMS (K-2) he was one of the forgotten ones. He did not act up, so he didn't draw the teacher's attention for that. He also wasn't one of those deemed super smart. So he wasn't pulled out of class for "advanced" and more challenging work. At the end of his second grade year he brought his spiral "writing" notebook home almost totally empty. The pages were blank except for a few words. NOBODY had noticed.

We applied for the CMS magnet lottery and didn't get picked. We also put his name on several charter lottery lists at the same time. At most of the charter lotteries, he was in the 200's on the wait lists. At one charter school, he was number nine. He was two days from starting 3rd grade at CMS when the phone rang. A family moved out of town and he got into a charter school.

Two weeks after starting at the charter school, all third graders had to take the pre-EOG test to have a baseline to measure against at the end of the year. Keep in mind this was a STATE mandated test, and since he had only been at the charter school two weeks, his results measured what he had been taught at CMS (K-2). His score was not great.

All I can say is that at the end of his first year at the charter school, his EOG score reflected a giant jump. At the end of 4th grade, he tested in the 99 percentile in math.

Once he hit sixth grade, he was placed in advanced math... and now in eighth, he's taking high school level math (that means his 7th and 8th grade math grades will follow him on his transcript that colleges will see).

Our charter school is NOT perfect. There are little things about it that drive us insane. However, it is far better than the CMS schools we are zoned for.

In addition to academics, our son has been able to participate in middle school sports. That has had a huge impact on his self esteem. He has been on the middle school soccer, cross country, swimming and tennis teams. To be honest, our son is a good athlete, but he's not a "super star." There is NO way he would have been able to participate in those activities at CMS. First, CMS doesn't offer as many middle school sports. Second, CMS coaches have to pick the "best" players from the tryouts of their huge talent pools. There's no room for an average kid to even have the chance to learn the sport and "become" good. Oh, did I mention our son became an "All Star" on a couple of his sports teams? So the point is, he had talent, but needed help bringing it out.

Yes, state/local money is used to pay the teachers and for some basic operating expenses and even for some buses.

Anonymous said...

Shamash,
I did not say that charter schools are for white upper class children, most of those kids are attending the expensive private schools around Charlotte. What I am saying is the schools that are touted the most by charter school advocates are serving white kids who are not poor.Schools like Union Academy, Graystone Academy, Pine Lake Prep and lake Norman Charter. These schools have a significant advantage by setting themselves up in this way. Many of the "better" charter schools make it extremely difficult for the poor to access. Have you seen how many of them promote themselves by placing flyers in the mailboxes in affluent neighborhoods ro by word of mouth. I can assure you they don't advertise near or around poor communities.

Anonymous said...

so your child had an empty note book at the conclusion of the year. May I ask where were you during the year? Did you not have any parent/teacher conferences during the school year to address any concerns, did you not talk with your child during the school year on a daily basis to see how things were going? did you reach out to the administration at your child's school? Perhaps I am mistaken, but from what you posted, it does not sound like you were very involved with your child's education.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

so your child had an empty note book at the conclusion of the year. May I ask where were you during the year? Did you not have any parent/teacher conferences during the school year to address any concerns, did you not talk with your child during the school year on a daily basis to see how things were going? did you reach out to the administration at your child's school? Perhaps I am mistaken, but from what you posted, it does not sound like you were very involved with your child's education.

February 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

How would you draw those conclusions? Both parents volunteered WEEKLY at the school, served on the pta AND the grandmother went to the school to help some other children learn to read. Very involved parents. That's why it was a total shock that we didn't know about the writing book until our son brought it home at the end of the school year. Apparently they were supposed to be making "journal entries." Obviously, the teacher didn't say anything to us because she didn't know. As I said in the original posting, our child was one of those falling through the cracks.

BTW, it is the "involved" parents who seek out opportunities. We knew enough about principal reassignments and CMS inner workings that we saw larger issues coming with our school. Because of our "involvement," CMS personnel suggested on the side that we seek out the magnet choices and charters and prepare to leave our zoned school.

Anonymous said...

Not that it matters much what I think, but I am struggling to accept that a teacher would not say a word the entire school year about a student, if that be teh case then I would have been very upset. How was this not mentioned in teacher/parent conferences? I am even more surprised that the school administrator actually advised you to take your child elsewhere instead of correcting the situation, that's pitiful. Was your principle Michelle Rhee?

Anonymous said...

Not that it matters much what I think, but I am struggling to accept that a teacher would not say a word the entire school year about a student, if that be teh case then I would have been very upset.

----
Not to harp on it, but I'm afraid you're missing the point.

The teachers spend so much time on the students on the low end ... trying to bring those kids up (which I agree somebody needs to). Teachers also notice the high achievers. That's reality. It's the ones in the middle who get lost. I've had teachers admit as much to me.

Again, the teacher in this case didn't raise the issue with us because she didn't realize he had not done his work. This was a good teacher. But she had her hands full.

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

Anon 3:11pm.

"What I am saying is the schools that are touted the most by charter school advocates are serving white kids who are not poor."

I disagree. The charter movement is rather large and diverse. You can find all kinds of people supporting all kinds of charter schools.

So my first question would be:

Touted by whom?

Yeah, maybe non-poor white people ARE touting schools for non-poor white people.

But that's not the whole picture.

There are poor black people touting poor black schools for poor black students (as I mentioned earlier).

And there is La Raza supporting Latino-based Charters for Latino students.

http://stage.nclr.org/index.php/issues_and_programs/education/se/charter_school_development/

And various other ethnicities supporting "their" schools for "their" people.

Including Latinos, Asians, Jews, Native Americans, etc., etc.

http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-37-spring-2010/feature/immigrant-charter-schools-better-choice

So as long as everyone else is doing it, I don't see a problem.

Besides no one complains much when the minorities do this do they?

And it may even help (from link above):

"In 2009, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a report on the effectiveness of charter schools. The study looked at all charters — not just charters with an ethnic focus.

The study indicated that charter school students were not faring as well as students in traditional public schools.

However, there were some notable exceptions.

According to the CREDO report, English language learners performed significantly better in charter schools. "

Shamash said...

Frankly, I can't blame any parent for seeking better schools for their kids, no matter what their "affiliation".

The one-size-fits-all humongous public school in a humongous school district is probably not for everyone.

Maybe your football team gets to be state champion due to the size of the school, but what about everyone else?

Anonymous said...


Goodness Ann what you have to put up with and for such little pay.

Try to do what you do with your email and set it up just to delete anything you don't care about, you know like Charter Schools sending you stuff as you mentioned in a previous article.

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way Ann, no other comment section has a problem in the observer with my being a CharlotteObserver.

Sorry you are such a control, uh a person who lives in a very constrained world with the few people you use on here over and over for comments you write about in your stories.

I can see why you would enjoy their company so. I hope one day you read the book Bias. It is how media elite only live in a small circle of friends and think that is the real world.

Anonymous said...

Since I had a child at CMS and chose to move her to a charter school after a lottery produced a spot for her, I am qualified to tell you the difference. Many of you have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. You have no experience with a charter school. Therefore, you shouldn't be making ANY comments. My child doesn't attend PLP but many of my daughter's friends do. It a a very good school, but like most charter schools those who don't attend pretend they know what happens at a charter school. GOOD charter schools hire teachers with certification and experience. Readers shouldn't automatically assume teachers are not certified. That just shows how ignorant the readers are. Is my child getting a better education experience than her previous CMS......YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! She was a child falling between the cracks. She didn't need special services but she was not a gifted child either. She is an above average student who learned NOTHING the entire time she was in Kindergarten. Prior to K, she could count to 20 in Spanish. K was a repeat of the same things she learned in a 4 year old class. All my child did was draw circles in K and learn to use a glue stick. I have over 150 worksheets where she learned to glue pictures. Thank you CMS. She was ignored by her teacher and bullied in Kindergarten. I was a volunteer and ate lunch with my child at least once a week. I couldn't have been more involved. My daughter was so traumatized, we had to walk her in to class every day FOR 3 YEARS. At our charter school, the K students are counting to 100 by 2s. Children are doing work a year ahead and they are prepared for every stupid test the state or feds can throw at them. The most important thing none of these comments address is parent involvement. What makes a charter school special? It's the teachers, staff, the students AND the parents. If you're a parent with a child at a charter school, you know it's almost like having a part time job. You can't just dump your kid off at the front door and call it a day while someone else raises your child. You have to be the responsible party. While I will admit not having buses at all charter schools, is not an ideal situation. The parent is more committed to the child when we have to provide the transportation. Our school has students from 36 different countries. Our school does offer free and reduced lunch too. My daughter is seeing plenty of diversity and we are extremely proud of her and her new school. We are receiving the experience our child needs to be successful in life. CMS doesn't stand a chance.

Anonymous said...

8:54 Ann and her cohorts will do everything they can to make sure that CMS is the only game in town.

So enjoy being in charge of your kids education and future, strange how folks are upset with disparity in race but not in the the fact suburban schools get 4000 per student and many urban students get three or more times that.

Just how many futures in the suburban schools have we quashed to just be average students and the like due to underfunding?

Anonymous said...

The more things change the more they stay the same...

Larry "Thin Skin" Bumgarner, still desperately seeking attention having to resort to end-around tactics to make his comments. He must be gearing up for his next school board campaign.

And Wiley pushing the whole socialist angle with hyperbole that would make Rush proud.

The simple fact remains: when controlled for poverty US public schools perform as well or better than almost every other country on the planet.

Long live public education.

Anonymous said...

9:27, there is no poverty in the US compared to the world. Our poverty kids have 10 to 12 times to family income of "real" poverty around the world. Their incomes exceed the rich ones many places in the world.

Don't fall for the lies and deceit of these elitists.

Anonymous said...

Charter school and diversity? Surely there is punchline to this joke, right?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous 10:07:

Do you know what economies of scale is? Our poor actually match up and in some cases are actually even more poor than other people's poor.

gwalkerruns said...

Larry, people read comments to get a consensus of different opinions from the public. At last count, Meck. County has a million people but about 1/3rd of the comments on virtually any education/govt story comes from you. Way out of proportion. You are predictable and we don't need to read the same angle over and over. It is like being in a classroom and the same annoying kid making comments without giving anyone else a chance. Perhaps, for lent, you should give up comments as your sacrifice and maybe even get a hobby.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in a third world country, our poor have more but have less family love and support, and do not respect education or others. That is the difference in my opinion.

Fake Name said...

Yes roll over, I beleive that is how we got to be socialist under the obamacare.

Oh which comments are mine, I post under the CharlotteObserver on all other writers but Ann will not let folks have fake names, well not those she does not want, on her discussion.

And if you believe Ann saying the anonymous ones were all from me then we really do need everyone to state their name on here. Someone is using someone for a scapegoat and Ann is leading the group doing it.

Fake Name said...

Ann you mentioned you would need to stop Anonymous comments, after reading the ones posted attacking other folks, that is exactly what needs to be done on your site.

I am sure you would hate to have the folks come on here and not keep on the subject and try to keep ALL voices from being heard.

So go ahead with the making us all post our names. That is the best and most honest way.

Shamash said...

Anon 9:27.

"The simple fact remains: when controlled for poverty US public schools perform as well or better than almost every other country on the planet."

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are the more complex facts from the OECD:


http://www.ncee.org/2013/12/statistic-of-the-month-resilient-students-in-pisa-2012/

Pay particular attention to the bottom set of graphs, since that shows how our "poor" perform relative to the "poor" of other countries.

Our "poor" just can't hack it.

Our "poor" are much worse than the "poor" of some VERY POOR countries such as Vietnam.

As I've said so many times...

Poverty is not the problem.

Except for our "poor", of course.

And if you want to know why I put "poor" in quotes, it's because our "poor" don't have it nearly as bad as the "poor" elsewhere.

Like Vietnam. Remember them?

Anonymous said...

You know, Larry, the problem with your posts is that they are almost always personal and usually off-topic.

Shamash said...

Anon 11:10.

There goes the "poverty" myth again.

Do any of you promoting the poverty excuse have any facts to back up those claims?

I've posted my facts to show how the "poor" REALLY perform and where they REALLY are.

The US doesn't even have a majority of poor being tested, unlike countries like Vietnam.

In fact we aren't even close to the percentages of "poor" being tested as some of the highest scoring countries in Asia.

Our "disadvantaged" are around 15% of our population by world standards (OECD).

WHICH IS BELOW THE OECD AVERAGE.

And even below some of the more prosperous Asian countries such as Singapore which trounce us in the international tests.

So, if you take away their poor from the scores and our poor from the scores, they still beat us.

We are a rich country compared to the rest of the world. Even our poor are rich in comparison.

Again, I agree with those who have lived elsewhere in third world countries because I have, too.

And I also agree that our FAMILIES have a lot to do with the differences.

It is our political correct crowds who refuse to see our "education" problem for what it truly is.

A family (and culture) problem.



Fake Name said...

Prove it? Where have any of my comments been personal and off off topic?

This is beginning to sound like I will need to take these attacks from folks like you and Ann to Caulkins.

In fact Ann give Caulkins a call and see how it worked the last time folks did that to me from the observer.

So please go ahead with no more anonymous comments to keep the integrity you only apply to my screen name charlotteobserver from appearing on your website.

Shamash said...


"Do you know what economies of scale is? Our poor actually match up and in some cases are actually even more poor than other people's poor."

Have you seen real poverty before?

Say in a place like Nepal or Indonesia or even China?

Do you know that in the Philippines, for example, there are generations of people who live in garbage dumps and have for decades?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s9o_kb-gZg

And that doesn't even include people in Africa or Haiti or any such other places.

Seriously, how can you say a thing like this?

And, yes, I do know what "economies of scale" is.

And I don't think you have a clue what you're talking about with that, either.