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    “All Kids Can Learn,” and Charter Schools are Raising the Bar

    “All Kids Can Learn,” and Charter Schools are Raising the Bar

    It’s time to abolish the tyranny of low expectations.

    The latest series of polling data suggests that support for school choice in America is on the rise. A 2013 Luntz Global Public Opinion Survey (via National School Choice Week) showed that a majority of Americans fully support having more flexibility and more choice in their child’s education:

    • Public support for school choice is growing. 73 percent of Americans support school choice, compared with 67 percent in 2010.
    • Parents want more education options for their children. 64 percent of parents said that, “if given the financial opportunity” they would send one or all of their children to a different school.
    • Parents don’t feel they have enough options. 64 percent of parents agreed with the statement: “when it comes to the options to educate my children the way I want them educated, I have wanted more options for my children’s education.”

    The Franklin Center recently released a new video touting their support of school choice and charter schools. Check it out here:

    If we want to address the problem with public schools in America, we need to get over the idea that there’s a one-size fits-all solution to improving our education system.

    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) left students (and teachers) foundering in the wake of increased testing requirements and focus on scores, and now, the new Common Core standards have parents in even the most stereotypically liberal state in the union questioning whether or not the new policies help students succeed:

    A new poll finds that 44 percent of registered voters in California have a negative impression of the Common Core standards compared to 38 percent who say their impression of the nationalized standards is positive.

    The 2014 PACE/USC Rossier Poll also showed that nearly half of the voters polled – 47 percent – said they were familiar with the Common Core standards, a substantial increase from the 2013 poll when just 29 percent of voters were familiar with the standards.

    Both findings suggest that, as more people become knowledgeable about the Common Core standards, their view of them is increasingly unfavorable.

    Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska have not yet adopted the standards, which makes sense considering the new standards appear to be a Pandora’s Box of terrible policies:

    “The schools are telling parents they will no longer offer ‘math acceleration’ classes, in order to align with Common Core, and that grade skipping (for high achieving students) will no longer be the ‘best practice,’” she explained. “This will do nothing other than discourage the high-achieving students, frustrate the lower achieving students and force the teacher to ‘teach to the middle.’”

    “Both parents and teachers are seeing their students being overly tested, with assessments being mandated on a continuous basis to monitor progress,” Brandon added. “Every time a teacher has to test his or her students, time is taken away from actual teaching.”

    School choice works because it allows parents to send their children to schools that will offer a challenging and flexible curriculum. Putting students into classrooms where teachers are forced to gear their lessons toward the middle of the pack puts slower learners at a disadvantage, and forces high-performing students to conform their creativity to a one-size-fits-all standard that doesn’t allow teachers to work with statistical outliers.

    If even parents in California have lost faith in federal curriculum programs, it would seem that the powers that be in Washington are going to have a tough time convincing parents in more conservative states to not send these new standards packing.


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    Amy-be very careful about blindly endorsing school choice and charters. Most charters I have read legally mandated that the school shift away from academics to a Whole Child, social and emotional learning, activity learning focus. Parents need to always read that charter.

    I have listened to School Choice presentations that were factually false and when I called attention to what was specifically wrong in the presentation, the lies just started snowballing. As long as the accreditation agencies like AdvancED, WASC in California, or New England, for example, have oversight over charter schools, they will impose the same vision on them that exists for public schools under the Orwellian Quality Standards.

    Also many charters are heavily pushing digital learning. It’s visual instead of symbolic and mental, which is problemmatic. Secondly, digital learning necessarily circumscribes what it means to know any area. It’s whatever is written into the program, but it has to be a closed system even if it is adaptive. That’s how it works in developing software. That’s not how learning from a textbook or lecture work.

    The program on School Choice I attended last winter in Georgia did not want any standardized testing, which would have given objective data on how schools were doing. It wanted to make accreditation the seal of approval. Yet accreditation is the ultimate standardizer and poison delivery operating in education today.

    I could write a charter that could work as most parents want. I could write regs that would constrain accreditors from the invisible power they now hold. Right now though that’s not how charters work and it is an area to be wary of. Public money with no recourse to elected officials is a terrible position.

    Estragon | July 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    About 15 years ago, a survey showed the average HS senior’s SAT score was 1017. The average SAT of those earning degrees in Education was 973. So the pool of teachers starts off behind the average student.

    Teacher unions protect the incompetent, but even in right to work states it is not so easy to find and fire the incompetent as long as they don’t abuse the children or get caught stealing or cheating.

    And the same plague that has ruined universities is doing the same to public schools: an explosion of well-paid administrators. Now if these newly added managers showed any improvements in the schools, they could perhaps be justified, but they apparently have no effect at all – beyond creating a new cushy position for an educrat.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Estragon. | July 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      There’s an age gap where the scoring of the test and the difficulty has been adjusted. I agree with you about union protection of incompetence, but I don’t believe that stat for a second.

    One more point on charters. There are some good ones out there, but most of those have language lurking that will be used against the unsuspecting parents when the time is right. I live in a suburb where that is happening now. Too many parents misleadingly believe a nice neighborhood, high rel estate taxes to fund schools, and well educated parents are the protection. No, that’s the reason for the bullseye on those children as benefitting from their parents success.

    I started on this with a recognition of the consistent troubling language, but I am a tenacious researcher. I was able to locate the federally funded plan from 1988 written by one of the regional ed labs on how to use school charters to bind parents and communities to education as a means for psychologically changing the student instead of the transmission of knowledge. Instead of the outcry and retreat, the idea was that the charter would bind even over objection. explains all that.

    JOHN B | July 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I recently was at a public hearing for proposed charter schools in a city where most students are several years behind their peers in the suburbs. While almost every supporting parent was black or Hispanic, the NAACP was at the door urging the board members to oppose the schools. Thanks for caring about your constituency.

    While not perfect (no school is) charters are about the children, while the traditional urban schools have become all about power hungry adults who care only about political jobs and assisting union leaders.

    Hold traditional urban schools to the same standards the states (and the anti-charter media) force upon the charters and most of them would be closed down within a few months.

    healthguyfsu | July 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’ll just say it. I don’t think America as a whole is ready for “financially-independent” parent choice in school selection.

    I support more freedom and the idea of letting it work itself out but there will be HUGE growing pains. I also think that this will lead to even more pandering by administration and even more lawsuits from parents who feel their child’s progress, safety, or whatever else they want to conjure up is being threatened.

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