Monday, September 27, 2010

Charter schools and school reform

  Charter Schools.
 Charters  are  usually public schools using public money  but without the direct over sight of school districts, school administrations and  school boards.  They often do not allow teachers to have a union and they usually do not have a union contract.  Charters are established by state laws and promoted by federal legislation including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
In California, research shows  some charters do better than  some public schools, some do worse.  They are about average. The evidence is the  same in New York City.
 What are the clear effect of charters?   Charter school  teachers are paid about 20% less,  and usually  are expected to work much longer hours.  The average teacher works 69 hours per week for an average salary of  around $51,000 in California.
    In charters  teachers  are usually receive  less benefits and  little or no job security.  You can be dismissed by the director  of the charter for almost any reason.
  Charter advocates and other neo liberal reformers blamed the teachers unions for their own  failure to improve  public schools. Persons who claim to be reformers attempt to break the domination of the bureaucracy, such as in Washington D.C. under Chancellor Michelle Rhee, often focus on  bringing in superintendents with little background in administration and public schools, the firing of administrators and some teachers for failing to reform failing schools. It is the corporate world of individualism, competition, and consumption opposed to the public sphere of  learning civic cooperation and a pluralist democratic ethos. To date this strategy has produced a high teacher and administrator turn over, but it has not improved academic achievement.

In New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York, and elsewhere reconstitution has been achieved by establishing charter schools and bringing in an outside management company to radically alter the school culture.  In other places the school districts have worked with charters such as KIPP, or intervention systems such as Wested,  Accelerated Schools, the Comer Project  as the primary intervention system.
  KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program is one of several school restructuring programs that have emerged in the last two decades. KIPP schools are organized for academic achievement.  They insist upon a contract between the home  and the school.  They do not have unions for their teachers.   There are currently 57 KIPP public schools in 16 states and the District of Columbia enrolling more than 14,000 students. Across the KIPP network, 55 of the existing 57 schools are charter schools. The majority of KIPP schools, 48 of 57, are middle schools designed to serve fifth through eighth grade students.
KIPP schools are free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools where low income  students develop the knowledge, skills, and character traits needed to succeed in top quality high schools, colleges.   KIPP schools provide a structured, academic centered  learning environment, and more time  spent in classes. All of the students and the parents  sign a contract to complete their work and their homework.  If students and parents  do not agree to participate in this structured college prep environment, they are not accepted in a KIPP school.  By creating an on task academic environment for all students, KIPP has been successful in getting a significant number of its students to graduate and to enter college.  You can find out more about KIPP Charters at
See prior posts on Waiting for Superman.

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