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I-1240: Charter schools are working elsewhere

Letter by Donald J. Fritz, Tacoma on Sep. 7, 2012 at 11:14 am with 14 Comments »
September 7, 2012 11:14 am

The New York Times published a Sept. 3 article with headline, “New Charter Schools Thrive in Harlem, but Some Parents Are Feeling Left Out.”

The only real problem with charter schools is that there are not enough of them to serve everybody. There are now 130 in Harlem. These left 7,700 applicants for seats without one in 2012, down from more than 10,000 disappointed applicants in 2011.

The Times article states that “Harlem was a natural choice to be the epicenter of school reform,” in part because of an “epidemic of poor student performance.” One parent of a charter school student is quoted as saying that “some of these schools have brought the community to a new level academically.”

Two letter writers (TNT, 9-6) argue against Initiative 1240, which would finally permit establishment of several charter schools in Washington.

One writer argues that poverty, not poor quality of schools, is the reason for student failure. But good schools are able to counteract the effects of poverty and broken homes. (One student identified in the Times article attended a charter school with 91 percent of student body reading and writing at or above grade level.)

The other writer worried about “drain” of resources, but now Washingtonians are paying for many schools, to use a baseball analogy, that are hitting under “the Mendoza line.”

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. My question is by adding charter schools are we actually increasing the test results of the entire system or are we simply removing the best from the rest. This is an important issue and I can’t find the answer. If in fact we are simply separating out the high achiever from the others then we should consider doing so within the existing system.I sure that would be more cost effective.

  2. sandblower says:

    The author states, “But good schools are able to counteract the effects of poverty and broken homes.”
    There is no proof for that statement beyond an occasional school performing in that manner and to my knowledge, nobody has figured out why or been able to apply it universally.
    The poverty issue is statistically overwhelming according to experts whose commentaries I have read. There are too many people who are not willing to address poverty, because it just might require some sacrifice on their part.
    Driving down the highway is generally a safe endeavor because we are all in it together. Better schools can be had if we are all in it together too.

  3. sandblower says:

    And Mr. Fritz, the actual headline is, “School Choice Is No Cure-All, Harlem Finds.”
    Next time you write something look up the word disingenuous first.

  4. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Sandblower.

    For those who which to read the mostly positive article on Harlem charter schools, follow the link below.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/education/new-charter-schools-thrive-in-harlem-but-some-parents-are-feeling-left-out.html?_r=1&ref=charterschools

  5. itwasntmethistime says:

    oldman — The current programs that separate the high-achievers from the rest of the kids are on the chopping block because they are not racially diverse enough.

  6. Charter schools are the wave of the future. The WEA and NEA are on the way to the trash bin of history, finanlly!

  7. sandblower says:

    pawl, the headline is the same as what I wrote. Try reading for comprehension instead of providing knee-jerk, wingnut responses.
    I read the article the day it came out.

  8. mahinaokeiki says:

    Charter schools are not in business to achieve what’s best for children. They will serve their investors first. Washington State PTA opposes Initiative 1240. I believe that they carefully evaluated the initiative, and they determined that no matter what the pros and cons are of charter schools, the initiative as written is deeply flawed and not one people in our state should vote for.

  9. MyBandito says:

    frosty- Need I remind you that Charter Schools are all about union busting?

  10. Let’s try meeting our constitutional obligation to fully fund our schools, reinforced by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCleary, before we build a bunch of new schools and new bureaucracy that we don’t have any more money to pay for.

  11. pumpkinbread says:

    I do not understand the argument for charter schools. They are innovative, right? But there are many examples of innovative public schools. Charter schools will operate under fewer restrictions and yet they are somehow more accountable? That has always seemed like a serious contradiction to me. Charter schools will provide competition for public schools, making all schools better? But competition means there will be winners and losers. Another serious contradiction. It doesn’t add up until you consider who is pushing charter schools…people who stand to make a lot of money if public education is privatized.

  12. I do not understand the argument against charter schools. Aren’t we a nation the is for diversity? Don’t we celebrate the differences? Then why opposition to allowing for more diversity in the way our children are educated?

  13. alindasue says:

    arter57,

    From what I am seeing, the issue is not a question of diversity in the way our children are educated – there are many different types of public and private school choices – but who is paying for it. The idea of the charter schools initiative is to use public funds to pay for privately run schools. I’m still deciding if I think we should do that or not…

  14. itwasntmethistime says:

    alindasue — The idea is that a privately run school has the freedom to step outside the red tape that binds public school districts so more focus and resources can go directly toward the kids instead of running the bureaucracy. Theoretically, students, parents, and teachers can be held more accountable for diligence and behavior because they are there by choice. The school won’t have to pander to those who won’t toe the line.

    The problem is, I’m not sure if it will work. Whenever corporate America gets their hands in the pie the focus becomes profit, not quality of product. When this discussion started a few months ago I guess I didn’t really realize that someone would stand to profit financially. I was thinking a charter school could make better use of an equivalent number of dollars, but now I don’t think the money is going to stay in the schools.

    This discussion forum has been very enlightening on this subject.

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