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EDUCATION: Charter schools can raise standards

Letter by Donald J. Fritz, Tacoma on July 30, 2012 at 11:40 am with 16 Comments »
July 30, 2012 2:25 pm

A letter writer (TNT, 7-26) observes that charter schools have higher teacher turnover than do most public schools and concludes that this higher turnover makes charter schools undesirable since our children require “stability.”

The higher turnover at charter schools occurs for two reasons: Teachers who cannot teach to charter school standards can be, and generally are, released; and charter school teachers must adopt “whatever it takes” educational objective, normally requiring greater work commitment which many teachers are not up to over time.

Perhaps the best single book on the current status of educational reform in the United States is “Class Warfare” by Stephen Brill, who concludes that charter schools alone cannot complete nationwide reform effort, exactly because of the greater demands on individual teachers.

Brill believes a compromise solution between charters and teacher unions is essential for bringing entire school systems up to target national standards. Public schools can also opt for “whatever it takes” objective, as Evergreen Elementary School of Spanaway has done (TNT, 12-12-11).

“Whatever It Takes” by Paul Tough and “Push Has Come to Shove” by Stephen Perry describe other public schools that successfully aimed higher. “Stability” might indeed be desirable, but not at the cost of continued low educational standards.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. Fibonacci says:

    Where are the Charter schools for Special Ed?

  2. Any school can do exceptionally well when they cherry pick the students and leave the rest to public education. Yet ANOTHER letter writer who falsely believes that teachers not only ran education into the ditch by themselves, but teachers also crashed the economy due to their salaries and benefits.

  3. cclngthr says:

    I doubt there will be any.

    It is easier to segregate kids into categories than to include them.

  4. truthbusterguy says:

    What is so wrong with segregating special ed kids. The present system of dummying down all the kids so no ones feelings are hurt is causing a lost generation of kids.

    We have to put political correctness aside, we must end collective bargaining for teachers, outlaw their unions and we need to give parents choice on how their tax dollars are spent.

    Face it we are not all alike and putting all kids in the same classroom only hurts the smarter kids. Some kids will be brain surgeons and some ditch diggers, we need both.

    Let the name calling begin. I can handle the truth, can you?

  5. cclngthr says:

    Do you believe that I, who happens to have a disability, should be segregated from society? Why do you think I should be?

    As adults, EVERYONE is expected to be independent, and integrated. There are NO ADULT PROGRAMS whatsoever for people you call Mortimer Snerd.

  6. cclngthr says:

    When SPED kids were educated in the past, it was assumed they could not learn, and should be institutionalized. Now, institutions are closing and more disabled people are expected to get regular jobs and be on their own. There are zero programs I would qualify for as an adult.

  7. truthbusterguy says:

    I want the disabled to have every opportunity possible. I just don’t want the rest of the kids ignored while the teacher in the classroom spends all his/her time with one disabled student.

    Feel good, warm and fuzzy, politically correct education educates no one. It only causes the system to become a production line for dumbed down kids that can’t compete in the real world.

    I have seen this when a teacher has to spend so much time with a mentally disabled child as the rest of the kids go without. Separate can be equal in the long run.

    What is so wrong with letting parents spend their tax dollars to educate their children at the schools they wish. That is what obama and all his friends do. They would never send their kids to a government union run school. They send their kids to a private non union school. Why deny that to other Americans? I guess you think all kids should suffer so we can have the teachers unionized?

  8. cclngthr says:

    If IDEA was not put in place in 1975, I would not have had the opportunity to be in a regular classroom; let alone attend college and become a certified teacher. I know this because there are assumptions made by professionals who decide that it is in the best interest of the disabled child that he/she is incapable of learning and should not have the opportunity to overcome the disability.

    A friend of mine has a son with Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of autism. She often gets frustrated when people make judgements about her son not being able to interact with others as well as normal people do. He is very smart (most kids with Aspergers have high IQ’s) but he cannot interact with other that well. He also learns things very differently, which causes problems in some situations.

    In order for a disabled kid to actually learn how to do things a normal person would, they have to be in an environment WITH non-disabled people so they are exposed to the very same things everyone is exposed to.

    Educating a disabled person in a regular program is more expensive because the teacher has to be trained in individualized instruction (instead of assembly line instruction) and more in class support systems be readily used. This may include assistants in the classroom to having a smaller class (16 instead of 30).

  9. mahinaokeiki says:

    *What is so wrong with letting parents spend their tax dollars to educate their children at the schools they wish.
    -Well, have you ever heard of pay-it-forward? It is your responsibility to provide ALL children (not just yours)a quality education including those whose parents are unable to choose a ‘better’ education for their children.

    *That is what obama and all his friends do.
    -Obama and his friends choose to send their children to private schools which has nothing to do with taxpayers’ money.

    *They would never send their kids to a government union run school.
    -You can only assume that they would never do something, and you cannot accurately say why they make the choices they do (because they haven’t told us why).

    They send their kids to a private non union school. Why deny that to other Americans?

    Perhaps you need to look to yourself for answers. Here are more questions: Why would you create another layer of bureaucracy to improve the education of a small number of children at the expense of many other children? Why would you believe what millionaires and politicians tell you when they themselves haven’t experienced public education? Why is it okay for some people to have an advantage and others not? Giving choice to all people knowing that some people are unable to take advantage of the choice means you are creating a disadvantage. Why would you allow your neighborhood schools to lose students to charter schools knowing that it puts your neighborhood schools at risk of closure?

    Most importantly: Why would you tell people it is okay for us to move our own kids to a charter school and leave behind in the public schools the disabled,hard-to-teach kids, and kids living in poverty with uninvolved parents?

    I guess you think all kids should suffer so we can have the teachers unionized?
    I guess you are stuck on the union piece. I believe the children who need more, who require more from their teachers and schools, need stability — and that is something we should continue to provide our kids. Get over the union issue. That’s a grownup problem, and we need to focus on the kids.

  10. truthbusterguy says:


    Is the sacrifice of the many for the sake of one make it right? NO

    Some may say so but it can’t be disputed that the IDEA has done more harm than it has done good, especially in the classroom. Smaller class size won’t happen because we are broke and the people are taxed to death and won’t stand for wasting more money in the government union run schools. They want their kids out of there so they can learn without distractions from the disruptive sides of society that don’t care or want to learn and those in the class that can’t learn. If that means a form of segregation then it’s time. It’s what they do in other countries.

    Parents want their kids to have a chance, a child with autism will be cared for but has limited chance for a future on their on. We no longer have the funds to fund the fluff any longer. Distractions must be removed from the class.

    What we need is compassionate change in how we educate so we don’t have to incarcerate so many. This change will not be easy and some say it is not fair but we can no longer lose ground with the rest of the world like we are doing now.

    We already have a system of private schools that teach the cream of the crop kids. What’s wrong with different tiers of government schools. One for the good kids that want to learn and can learn and a second level of school for those that don’t want to or can’t learn. Cruel, No. Realistic, Yes.

  11. cclngthr says:


    IDEA has improved the chances of education of disabled kids more than it has degraded regular education. A disabled child being taught in a regular class will have a higher opportunity to succeed because they are seeing other kids do the work, and is encouraged by them to succeed.

    Before IDEA was enacted, which I remember, kids were not allowed to interact with disabled kids because it was assumed they were institutionalized.

    People with autism now are expected to get jobs just like anyone else. There are absolutely zero programs for the majority of disabled adults. The only programs that are available are only for those with severe developmental disabilities, with IQ’s under 50. Those with IQ’s 51 and above are expected to get jobs in mainstream society. A friend of mine operates Tahoma Associates and he tells me that he is required to limit his in house sheltered workshop clients to specific people, and the remainder are sent to regular jobs.

    My friends son will be required to get a job because he is not severe enough intellectually to require that type of service.

  12. mahinaokeiki says:

    truthbusterguy, are you volunteering your child to be in the bottom tier of education? because I know of no one who wants their child to be the one stuck in the bottom. I won’t tell you where your child belongs as long as you don’t tell me where my child belongs. they belong in the same classroom getting the same educational opportunities. And if you don’t like what’s going on in the classroom, then you can work to improve the education for all or you can move your child to a private school.

  13. truthbuster and cclngthr are both giving a good argument for more teachers and smaller class sizes.

  14. alindasue says:

    truthbusterguy said, “I can handle the truth, can you?”

    Some days I wonder if you’d actually recognize “the truth” even if it shook your hand and introduced itself…

    For instance: ” I just don’t want the rest of the kids ignored while the teacher in the classroom spends all his/her time with one disabled student.”

    You know very little about the public school special ed programs, do you?

    When a special ed student or students are integrated into a regular classroom, there is usually an aid or tutor there to help with the special aid students. Aside from the individual assistance this offers to the special ed student or students, this also effectively decreases the student/teacher ratio for that class.

    The only times I have not seen this done is in cases where the student is functioning at a high enough level that such an aid is not needed – which also means that the teacher doesn’t need to “ignore” the rest of the kids to tend to the special ed student’s needs either.

  15. cclngthr says:

    Truthbusterguy’s proposals invite bigotry into the arena by stating a hand picked few students should be in this program, and that program, all because of a preconcieved idea that they can, or cannot achieve.

    Assistants in a inclusion/mainstreamed classroom are not always available; however they are supposed to be always present, even IF the kid is functioning at a level that is low enough to may cause issues; due to the districts viewpoint, and budget. Skyline has a large multi-ortho program, which a lot of physically disabled kids are placed in regular rooms, however sometimes the physical impairment also includes cognitive deficits enough to make it appear that they should be elsewhere. Assistants are not always there all day long to help them. At Crecent Heights, there are kids with more severe cognitive issues but due to the parental income, and influence that comes with that, demands for assistants are always present, therefore the assistants are always provided for by the district.

  16. In the original letter you are referring to, Ms. Feeney specifies “The fact is more teachers leave charter schools in search of higher salaries and better working conditions than are ever fired.” and
    “recent studies have found charter schools have an extremely high turnover rate compared to traditional public schools, due in part to dissatisfaction with working conditions and job security.”

    More teachers leave charter schools because of the salaries and working conditions than because they are bad teachers.
    On the other hand, if Mr. Fritz is correct, then do we really want charter schools that keep hiring, then firing bad teachers?
    Either way, high teacher turnover is a losing situation for the students.

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