Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Charter School in Peoria

Ten states have strong enough unions to ban charter schools. They are Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia. 26 other states cap charter enrollment. (Illinois has a cap on charter schools which leaders like Peoria's Glen Barton are attempting to lift). Yet success stories abound like the Harlem Children's Zone that I first blogged on 11/05/05. I later blogged on this school on 5/24/09. View Park Preparatory High School in L.A., where the public school graduation rate is under 50%, graduated every senior in the last three years and every one of them were accepted to college.

Stanford Economist, Caroline Hosby found out that in New York City students selected by lottery were significantly out pacing of peers who lost the lottery and were forced to return to district schools.

In L.A., the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a charter school network announced plans to expand the number of public charter schools from 13 to 35. The waiting list (10/14/08, WSJ, was over 6000, Like KIPP, (I blogged on Kipp Schools, also on 5/24/09) Teach For America, D.C. having a tough road to hoe through the bureaucracies including the union, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida was quoted on 7/29/08, "charter schools are a great part of our success. Florida now ranks third nationally in the number of charter schools and fourth in the number of charter-school students. I am committed to championing school choice for Florida".

For all that is being done in Peoria, "School choice can only succeed where schools are free to run and staff themselves, attended by choice expected to meet high standards and accountable for their results." (Chester E. Finn, Jr., a senior fellow at Stanford University and author of "Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik".

Twenty-five years ago a blue-ribbon panel alerted America in a report titled "A Nation at Risk", to a rising tide of mediocracy that threatened our very future as a nation. Yet we are still not made achievements we need to turn back this tide of mediocracy in the United States of America.

I could list dozens of success stories from Philadelphia to San Francisco. The question is whether Obama and his education czar will continue to buckle to the powerful education unions. Unions who helped elect Obama Yet through their actions often contradictory to their public posture, show that they often times do not have the kids best interests at heart. As long as administrations are bureaucracies and unions are militant toward change, this nation will be hampered to see a rise from mediocrity in most of our public schools systems.

At a rising cost to property tax payers, most who feel they are not getting what they are paying for.

How did the union gain their tremendous power over education? Unfortunately, due to apathy, bureaucratic administrations and weak school boards. After all, who wants a five year, non-paying school board job subject to constant criticism? Why serve on a 7 person board trying to work with an administration who has difficult time in making decisions.

The entire system has made little change from the 1940's and much of that change has been to the worse.

We'll see whether the local planned charter school can break away from our existing local bureaucracies.


Jon said...

On CJ's blog, you asked about the funding of the charter school. I attended a school board committee of the whole meeting and here was the rough plan:

By law, a charter school can be funded between 75 - 125% of the per pupil cost for the district. In 2007/8 the per pupil cost for D150 was $11,383. The plan is to fund the charter school with 80%. Part of the thinking is that the charter school will attract students who would NOT otherwise go to D150, thus increasing students without an increase in property taxes. (There would be some financial benefit from these same students as some of the state aid is based on the number of students enrolled on average each day - I don't believe this amount to be insignificant as property taxes represent 44% of D150 revenue sources - the difference being state and federal aid). I would also think that the charter school isn't likely to attract and thus pick up the presumably much higher cost of students with severe disabilities.

This amount (80% of the current cost for each enrolled student at the charter) is expected to be used for all the charter school's costs, which would likely include a charter school operator, like an Edison. As you well know, most charter schools are created as completely separate schools that don't rely on the central administration of mentors, curriculum developers, etc. Further, an example was made that the charter would pay for its own busing, and if it chose to use the current P150 bus system, it would be charged for that. Granted, there could be a lot of leeway in these kinds of things, but ultimately it is P150 who decides.

Hope this helps.

Merle Widmer said...

Thanks, Jon