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#1354889 --- 07/23/12 01:42 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Cuzi Sedso]
MeRightYouWrong Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mountain of Truth
Originally Posted By: Cuzi Sedso
I can't see any reason why kids today are any less intelligent than they were 50, 60, or even 100 years ago.

Can you see how kids today watch more television, have both parents working full-time jobs that makes for less time to do the chores at home, how autism and other conditions are more prevalent, how an alarming percentage of kids are on "medication"?

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#1354895 --- 07/23/12 02:48 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: MeRightYouWrong]
Cuzi Sedso Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 1428
Loc: NY
I don't think any of the things you describe make kids less intelligent. They may have an effect on education and the learning process, however. The reason kids watch more television now than they did 50-60 years ago is simple -- there are more TVs available in every household, and more selection (where I grew up we could only get one channel clearly). Both parents working detracts from kids development, but why do both parents work? I would submit it's to have more money so that more can be spent to gratify our materialistic impulses. Households have more stuff, more equipment, more cars, and therefore a family has to have more money to support it. Chores have become less labor intensive -- dishwashers, power mowers (heck, lawn services) have become more prevalent as household income rises. (I agree that it's at the expense of some important lessons.) The whole subject of what the effect technology (TV, computers, internet, smart phones, etc) has had on the family and kids development is worthy of another thread.

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#1354933 --- 07/23/12 05:47 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: MeRightYouWrong]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: MeRightYouWrong
Originally Posted By: Cuzi Sedso
I can't see any reason why kids today are any less intelligent than they were 50, 60, or even 100 years ago.

Can you see how kids today watch more television, have both parents working full-time jobs that makes for less time to do the chores at home, how autism and other conditions are more prevalent, how an alarming percentage of kids are on "medication"?

I would agree that more kids are probably on medication today. I have no idea if autism is more prevalent today though. However, I think kids watched as much TV in my day (some 40-45 years ago) as they do today. Also, from the seventh grade on, both of my parents were working full time jobs. I think that was probably towards the beginning of what became the two paycheck family.
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I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1354976 --- 07/24/12 01:17 AM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
There used to be minimum IQ requirements for public schools, and special education students attended different schools. Even so, I went to a private school, and I clearly recall students stumbling painfully while reading aloud in class.
"1970s
The U.S. Courts finally restricted the use of IQ testing in public schools. The IQ testing was dividing students and this was not allowing for an equal education. (Barnes)"


Anyway...yeahhh...vouchers....

Marcus Winters is one of those researchers who always advocates for vouchers. He often writes opinion pieces in places like the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, extolling the virtues of vouchers and private management.

In this article in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, Winters explains why New York should follow the example of Florida and give vouchers to special education students.

Winters extols Florida’s McKay Scholarship program but fails to mention that it became immersed in scandal after a Miami newspaper wrote an expose.

The schools receiving vouchers are unregulated; the state never inquires about their curriculum or their facilities.

A brief excerpt from the story in the Miami New Times:

While the state played the role of the blind sugar daddy, here is what went on at South Florida Prep, according to parents, students, teachers, and public records: Two hundred students were crammed into ever-changing school locations, including a dingy strip-mall space above a liquor store and down the hall from an Asian massage parlor. Eventually, fire marshals and sheriffs condemned the “campus” as unfit for habitation, pushing the student body into transience in church foyers and public parks.

The teachers were mostly in their early 20s. An afternoon for the high school students might consist of watching a VHS tape of a 1976Laurence Fishburne blaxploitation flick —Cornbread, Earl and Me — and then summarizing the plot. In one class session, a middle school teacher recommended putting “mother nature” — a woman’s period — into spaghetti sauce to keep a husband under thumb. “We had no materials,” says Nicolas Norris, who taught music despite the lack of a single instrument. “There were no teacher edition books. There was no curriculum.”

In May 2009, two vanloads of South Florida Prep kids were on the way back from a field trip to Orlando when one of the vehicles flipped along Florida’s Turnpike. A teacher and an 18-year-old senior were killed. Turns out another student, age 17 and possessing only a learner’s permit, was behind the wheel and had fallen asleep. The families of the deceased and an insurance company are suing Brown for negligence.

Meanwhile, Brown openly used a form of corporal punishment that has been banned in Miami-Dade and Broward schools for three decades. Four former students and the music teacher Norris recall that the principal frequently paddled students for misbehaving. In a complaint filed with the DOE in April 2009, one parent rushed to the school to stop Brown from taking a paddle to her son’s behind.

The reporter described the McKay Scholarship program as: “…a perverse science experiment, using disabled school kids as lab rats and funded by nine figures in taxpayer cash: Dole out millions to anybody calling himself an educator. Don’t regulate curriculum or even visit campuses to see where the money is going. For optimal results, do this in Florida, America’s fraud capital.”

The program has doled out over $1 billion in public funds to more than 1,000 schools. What does deregulation mean? “There is no accreditation requirement for McKay schools. And without curriculum regulations, the DOE can’t yank back its money if students are discovered to be spending their days filling out workbooks, watching B-movies, or frolicking in the park. In one “business management” class, students shook cans for coins on street corners.”

Because the schools are private — although accepting publicly funded vouchers — the DOE is not allowed to monitor curriculum. For the same reason, the department claims it can’t bar corporal punishment, despite parents’ complaints that children are being paddled.

Marcus Winters’ colleague Jay Greene at the University of Arkansas defended the McKay Scholarship program by pointing to an anecdote about a child in a public school special-education program in Alabama who was maltreated. Greene disparaged the publication, implying that it is an untrustworthy source, not to be taken seriously. But the writer of the story, Gus Garcia-Roberts was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, which named him as first-place winner of its Sigma Delta Chi award for public service journalism for a reporter at a non-daily publication.

Unlike Greene’s defense of the McKay Scholarships, the story in the Miami New Times was not an anecdote about the mistreatment of one child. It was a story about a system in which many children are mistreated, the result of a two-month investigation into a state-funded program that has no standards for the schools that receive the state’s most vulnerable children.

Six months after the original story, the newspaper wrote a follow-up. Florida legislators, including sponsors of the vouchers for special education, have vowed to reform the program. “Sen. Stephen Wise, a Jacksonville Republican who originally co-sponsored the program, declared our findings “appalling… I’m amazed that there’s not more scrutiny about where the money is going.” The program’s progenitor, former Florida Senate President McKay, a Republican from Bradenton, concluded: “Somebody better get off their ass and fix those problems.“

Meanwhile, New York legislators need to do something to reform the state’s privatized program of special education for preschoolers. Just weeks ago, the New York Times published an expose about the fraud and corruption in that expensive, scandal-ridden boondoggle.


Edited by twocats (07/24/12 03:11 AM)
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1355044 --- 07/24/12 01:34 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Cuzi Sedso]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Cuzi Sedso
I can't say that there aren't some teachers like the ones you describe, but let's face it -- there are less than competent, poorly motivated people in just about any occupation.


the less competent ones are let go in other jobs but not the teachers
just hire more teachers and assistants

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#1355045 --- 07/24/12 01:38 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: BigRed]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: BigRed
The fact of the matter is that too many of the people who go into teaching do it for summers off and good benefits. And the free time it gives them to post here while sitting in class.


not good benefits
overly generous benefits without any job performance
job security

just think how much time could be devoted to the students if the teacher spent the time teaching the children and not posting here?

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#1355101 --- 07/24/12 06:32 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: bluezone

just think how much time could be devoted to the students if the teacher spent the time teaching the children and not posting here?

That was a fairly asinine comment. How do you know she isn't posting strictly off hours on her own time? I wonder how much more effective you might be at your job if you weren't posting here? \:o
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1355107 --- 07/24/12 06:45 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
LOL!!! Of course I post only on my own time--jeesh! Too funny!
It's summer, remember? That time of year when we get 5 months off.
(sarcasm intended)
\:D
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1355273 --- 07/25/12 02:10 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Josephus
How do you know she isn't posting strictly off hours on her own time?


she should be preparing for the next day/week

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#1355274 --- 07/25/12 02:13 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
It's summer, remember? That time of year when we get 5 months off.


you get far more than all others
and yet the student performance is still suffering

control board to step in and open up the contracts

12 months of 'work', cuts in salary, large cuts in healthcare, 401k conversion

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#1355278 --- 07/25/12 02:18 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Josephus
How do you know she isn't posting strictly off hours on her own time?


she should be preparing for the next day/week

Months? LOL!

Do you work for your company in your time off?
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1355281 --- 07/25/12 02:29 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Josephus
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Josephus
How do you know she isn't posting strictly off hours on her own time?


she should be preparing for the next day/week

Months? LOL!



thought during the school year she said she spends much time after 'work' preparing for the next day/week?

thought she said she spends all summer preparing for the upcoming year?

not reflected in the student performance


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#1355286 --- 07/25/12 03:04 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
I believe she is paid for a nine month school year, not twelve months (twocats can clarify that one, if she wished to). I don't think the teachers go back until late August, unless she is teaching summer school of course.

Again... do you work for your company in your time off?
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1355298 --- 07/25/12 03:45 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: twocats]
DeadDave Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/11
Posts: 593
Loc: 6 feet under
Originally Posted By: twocat

s
LOL!!! Of course I post only on my own time--jeesh! Roo funny!
It's summer, remember? That time of year when we get 5 months off.
(sarcasm intended)
\:D
you should be picking trash up along the highway in the summer.

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#1355323 --- 07/25/12 05:22 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: DeadDave]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: DeadDave
Originally Posted By: twocat

s
LOL!!! Of course I post only on my own time--jeesh! Roo funny!
It's summer, remember? That time of year when we get 5 months off.
(sarcasm intended)
\:D
you should be picking trash up along the highway in the summer.

I believe that's your job as part of the rent you pay to the county for room and board.
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1355338 --- 07/25/12 06:51 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: Josephus
I believe she is paid for a nine month school year, not twelve months (twocats can clarify that one, if she wished to). I don't think the teachers go back until late August, unless she is teaching summer school of course.

Again... do you work for your company in your time off?


I don't do summer school anymore. In our district, we are considered 10 month employees. I do committee and curriculum work in the summer. It's not every day, obviously.
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1355431 --- 07/26/12 02:42 AM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35891
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Josephus
I believe she is paid for a nine month school year, not twelve months


a full years pay that is well above average for only 9 months of work

whodathunk

she still has not posted those other jobs she says exist that offer pensions and healthcare overly generous as hers

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#1355444 --- 07/26/12 04:02 AM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: bluezone

a full years pay that is well above average for only 9 months of work

What part of 10 month employee aren't you grasping?
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#1355822 --- 07/27/12 08:55 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
The 2 best reasons to become a teacher re July and August. \:\)



"No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach. And don't kid yourself - when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA."


Do you REALLY think online charter schools are the answer?
byteacherkenFollow

Many of the so-called "reformers" and many of their allies among Republican governors and legislators seem to - after all, that is why they have been pushing this particular approach for a number years.

If you have any interest in this topic, I am going to strongly urge you to read a just-released policy brief from the National Education Policy Center. Titled Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools, and has a subtitle which reads "A Study of Student Characteristics, School Finance, and School Performance in Schools Operated by K12 Inc.: The authors are Gary Miron, a professor at Western Michigan University, and Jessica L. Urschel, a doctoral student at the University. K12 Inc. is the nation's largest operator of online charter schools, and is controversial enough that New Jersey, whose governor Chris Christie has been actively involved in undermining public education in that state, just postponed acting on a request from K12 to open a charter in that state.

I have not had time to thoroughly examine the report, as I was offline for most of yesterday. It is formally being present today at the annual meeting of the American Association of School Administrators, where Dr. Miron will debate Dr. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning.

Below the fold I am going to offer a few of the key points of the study, assisted in part by a press release from Kevin Welnar who is the Director of NEPC and whom some here heard when he was on an education panel at NN11 in Minneapolis.

According to Miron, K12 Inc. schools generally operate on less public revenue, but they have considerable cost savings. They devote minimal or no resources to facilities, operations, and transportation. These schools also have more students per teacher and pay less for teacher salaries and benefits than brick-and-mortar schools.

Thus the lower overhead costs allow an opportunity for a substantial profit margin. This is important, because K12 is a for-profit entity, founded by William Bennett, who was Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, and Michael Milken, who went to prison for his financial shenanigans at Drexel Burnham but somehow managed to keep a substantial portion of his ill-gotten gains.

Turning to the report itself, some key information from the Executive Summary:

Analysis of K12 Student Characteristics
K12 Inc. virtual schools enroll approximately the same percentages of black students but substantially more white students and fewer Hispanic students relative to public schools in the states in which the company operates. Because K12 schools generally enroll students without regard to school district boundaries, such same-state comparisons are the most useful.
On average, 39.9% of K12 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with 47.2% for the same-state comparison group.
K12 virtual schools enroll a slightly smaller proportion of students with disabilities than schools in their states and in the nation as a whole (9.4% for K12 schools, 11.5% for same-state comparisons, and 13.1% in the nation).
Students classified as English language learners are significantly under-represented in K12 schools; on average the K12 schools enroll 0.3% ELL students compared with 13.8% in the same-state comparison group and 9.6% in the nation.
Most K12 schools serve students from grades Kindergarten to 12; however, K12’s enrollment is greatest in the middle school grades. Enrollment decreases sharply for the high school grades.
The Executive Summary also provides a great deal of information about the operational costs and expenditure of K12 and the performance of its students, which usually falls behind that of the parallel public schools from which it draws. While it is true that K12 receives less per student than the parallel public school, this is mor than offset by the much higher student-teacher ration: in this New York Times piece from last year provides some information from some other parallel on-line charter organizations, with teacher-student ratios of 35-1 and up, depending upon the amount of money received per students from public funding. High school teachers at some of these "schools" handled as many as 250 students - here I note that I taught 6 rather than the usual 5 sections at a high school, and in my worst year I had only 192 students. The Times article, which used some information from this report before it was released, is also well worth reading. I quote the following from there:
Some teachers at K12 schools said they felt pressured to pass students who did little work. Teachers have also questioned why some students who did no class work were allowed to remain on school rosters, potentially allowing the company to continue receiving public money for them. State auditors found that the K12-run Colorado Virtual Academy counted about 120 students for state reimbursement whose enrollment could not be verified or who did not meet Colorado residency requirements. Some had never logged in.
“What we’re talking about here is the financialization of public education,” said Alex Molnar, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education who is affiliated with the education policy center. “These folks are fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home mortgages.”

Read that last sentence again, carefully.
What is happening with this move to for-profit online charters will be as destructive of public education and real learning as what happened to our economy as a result of the securitization and related activities of the mortgage market that came close to collapse the economy of much of the developed world, and whose impact is still having horrendous effects around the world on the ability of governments from national to local levels to continue to provide the public services that undergirded the very wealth of those economies.

The report can be freely downloaded. I was asked to help draw attention to it.

The material in the brief has been through a rigorous peer-review process. It relies on publicly available information, including some from the Federal government and other studies that have been done on this material.

Let me end with the three paragraphs of the conclusion, after which I will offer a few remarks of my own.

With the rapid expansion of full-time virtual schools, and with the outsized political involvement of key companies that aim to extend market share, the world of online learning is becoming increasingly controversial. Aside from proclamations of politicians and advocates, claims that full-time virtual school are working are not substantiated by empirical evidence. This report reviewed an array of publicly available performance indicators for schools operated by K12 Inc. and all of these indicators indicate weak performance.
While we share the excitement of new technologies and the potential these have to improve communication, teacher effectiveness, and learning, we remain convinced that policymakers should embrace these schools only after piloting and thoroughly vetting this new model for schooling.

Although this report is modest in scope, we hope that the findings will encourage policymakers to act more cautiously in the political arena, where companies such as K12 Inc. apparently exert considerable influence. Also, we hope this study will cause researchers, educators, and others to look more closely at full-time virtual schools. To truly understand productivity, one needs sound evidence of outcomes and an accurate understanding of inputs such as characteristics of students entering the school, and public monies received and spent by the school.83 Though this report focuses only on a single provider of virtual schools, it is our hope that its description of evidence from diverse public sources on inputs and outcomes has helped to further our understanding of the potential and limits of full-time virtual schools. We also hope this report can inform policies that will improve this new model of schooling and help to ensure that full-time virtual schools better serve students and the public school system as a whole.

I have no trouble with exploring alternative ways of doing education. I believe these can be achieved without the profit motive that seems to be behind so much of what is unfortunately given the label of "reform." It is change - we are moving from seeing education as a public good that should be provided to benefit society as a whole, keeping the relationship between costs and benefits independent of a profit motive, to a model in which the main drivers are ideology (including the suppose magic of the free market system) and greed. Increasingly the various aspects of "reform" involve spending money on things not always essential to real learning but which carry potential windfall profits to outside groups whose interest is primarily financial - these include testing companies, hardware and software manufactures, curriculum and training providers, consultants, as well as those whose involvement comes from an interest in making money and is often not accompanied by any real experience in public school educational settings. Because certain students cost more to teach - those with disabilities, those from impoverished backgrounds, those still learning English - operators of for-profit schools often do their best not to accept such students into their schools. There is little oversight of many of the institutions, and even some that are supposedly non-profit pay ridiculous high salaries to their administrators and operators when one considers the numbers of students they serve and compare those salaries to administrators in public school systems. Thus even though officially non-profit those involved with many charters are effectively transferring public funds to their own pockets without incurring the operational costs imposed upon public schools.
No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach. And don't kid yourself - when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA.

This examination of the nation's largest on-line charter operator is important because it demonstrates the lack of evidence that the move to online charters improves the educational outcomes of the students who participate in them, even by the very flawed approach of relying upon scores on standardized tests.

If you have any interest in education, I urge you to examine this report.

If you are in a state considering expansion of online charters, try to get those involved in making the decisions, including state legislatures, and those who will be affected, including parent groups, and those whose responsibility it is to inform and help interpret for the rest of us (the media which far too often does a horrible job), to read and understand this report.

Thanks for reading this post.

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO TEACHERKEN ON WED JUL 18, 2012 AT 04:14 AM PDT.
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1355823 --- 07/27/12 08:55 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Josephus]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
The 2 best reasons to become a teacher are July and August. ;\)



"No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach. And don't kid yourself - when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA."


Do you REALLY think online charter schools are the answer?
byteacherkenFollow

Many of the so-called "reformers" and many of their allies among Republican governors and legislators seem to - after all, that is why they have been pushing this particular approach for a number years.

If you have any interest in this topic, I am going to strongly urge you to read a just-released policy brief from the National Education Policy Center. Titled Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools, and has a subtitle which reads "A Study of Student Characteristics, School Finance, and School Performance in Schools Operated by K12 Inc.: The authors are Gary Miron, a professor at Western Michigan University, and Jessica L. Urschel, a doctoral student at the University. K12 Inc. is the nation's largest operator of online charter schools, and is controversial enough that New Jersey, whose governor Chris Christie has been actively involved in undermining public education in that state, just postponed acting on a request from K12 to open a charter in that state.

I have not had time to thoroughly examine the report, as I was offline for most of yesterday. It is formally being present today at the annual meeting of the American Association of School Administrators, where Dr. Miron will debate Dr. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning.

Below the fold I am going to offer a few of the key points of the study, assisted in part by a press release from Kevin Welnar who is the Director of NEPC and whom some here heard when he was on an education panel at NN11 in Minneapolis.

According to Miron, K12 Inc. schools generally operate on less public revenue, but they have considerable cost savings. They devote minimal or no resources to facilities, operations, and transportation. These schools also have more students per teacher and pay less for teacher salaries and benefits than brick-and-mortar schools.

Thus the lower overhead costs allow an opportunity for a substantial profit margin. This is important, because K12 is a for-profit entity, founded by William Bennett, who was Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, and Michael Milken, who went to prison for his financial shenanigans at Drexel Burnham but somehow managed to keep a substantial portion of his ill-gotten gains.

Turning to the report itself, some key information from the Executive Summary:

Analysis of K12 Student Characteristics
K12 Inc. virtual schools enroll approximately the same percentages of black students but substantially more white students and fewer Hispanic students relative to public schools in the states in which the company operates. Because K12 schools generally enroll students without regard to school district boundaries, such same-state comparisons are the most useful.
On average, 39.9% of K12 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with 47.2% for the same-state comparison group.
K12 virtual schools enroll a slightly smaller proportion of students with disabilities than schools in their states and in the nation as a whole (9.4% for K12 schools, 11.5% for same-state comparisons, and 13.1% in the nation).
Students classified as English language learners are significantly under-represented in K12 schools; on average the K12 schools enroll 0.3% ELL students compared with 13.8% in the same-state comparison group and 9.6% in the nation.
Most K12 schools serve students from grades Kindergarten to 12; however, K12’s enrollment is greatest in the middle school grades. Enrollment decreases sharply for the high school grades.
The Executive Summary also provides a great deal of information about the operational costs and expenditure of K12 and the performance of its students, which usually falls behind that of the parallel public schools from which it draws. While it is true that K12 receives less per student than the parallel public school, this is mor than offset by the much higher student-teacher ration: in this New York Times piece from last year provides some information from some other parallel on-line charter organizations, with teacher-student ratios of 35-1 and up, depending upon the amount of money received per students from public funding. High school teachers at some of these "schools" handled as many as 250 students - here I note that I taught 6 rather than the usual 5 sections at a high school, and in my worst year I had only 192 students. The Times article, which used some information from this report before it was released, is also well worth reading. I quote the following from there:
Some teachers at K12 schools said they felt pressured to pass students who did little work. Teachers have also questioned why some students who did no class work were allowed to remain on school rosters, potentially allowing the company to continue receiving public money for them. State auditors found that the K12-run Colorado Virtual Academy counted about 120 students for state reimbursement whose enrollment could not be verified or who did not meet Colorado residency requirements. Some had never logged in.
“What we’re talking about here is the financialization of public education,” said Alex Molnar, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education who is affiliated with the education policy center. “These folks are fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home mortgages.”

Read that last sentence again, carefully.
What is happening with this move to for-profit online charters will be as destructive of public education and real learning as what happened to our economy as a result of the securitization and related activities of the mortgage market that came close to collapse the economy of much of the developed world, and whose impact is still having horrendous effects around the world on the ability of governments from national to local levels to continue to provide the public services that undergirded the very wealth of those economies.

The report can be freely downloaded. I was asked to help draw attention to it.

The material in the brief has been through a rigorous peer-review process. It relies on publicly available information, including some from the Federal government and other studies that have been done on this material.

Let me end with the three paragraphs of the conclusion, after which I will offer a few remarks of my own.

With the rapid expansion of full-time virtual schools, and with the outsized political involvement of key companies that aim to extend market share, the world of online learning is becoming increasingly controversial. Aside from proclamations of politicians and advocates, claims that full-time virtual school are working are not substantiated by empirical evidence. This report reviewed an array of publicly available performance indicators for schools operated by K12 Inc. and all of these indicators indicate weak performance.
While we share the excitement of new technologies and the potential these have to improve communication, teacher effectiveness, and learning, we remain convinced that policymakers should embrace these schools only after piloting and thoroughly vetting this new model for schooling.

Although this report is modest in scope, we hope that the findings will encourage policymakers to act more cautiously in the political arena, where companies such as K12 Inc. apparently exert considerable influence. Also, we hope this study will cause researchers, educators, and others to look more closely at full-time virtual schools. To truly understand productivity, one needs sound evidence of outcomes and an accurate understanding of inputs such as characteristics of students entering the school, and public monies received and spent by the school.83 Though this report focuses only on a single provider of virtual schools, it is our hope that its description of evidence from diverse public sources on inputs and outcomes has helped to further our understanding of the potential and limits of full-time virtual schools. We also hope this report can inform policies that will improve this new model of schooling and help to ensure that full-time virtual schools better serve students and the public school system as a whole.

I have no trouble with exploring alternative ways of doing education. I believe these can be achieved without the profit motive that seems to be behind so much of what is unfortunately given the label of "reform." It is change - we are moving from seeing education as a public good that should be provided to benefit society as a whole, keeping the relationship between costs and benefits independent of a profit motive, to a model in which the main drivers are ideology (including the suppose magic of the free market system) and greed. Increasingly the various aspects of "reform" involve spending money on things not always essential to real learning but which carry potential windfall profits to outside groups whose interest is primarily financial - these include testing companies, hardware and software manufactures, curriculum and training providers, consultants, as well as those whose involvement comes from an interest in making money and is often not accompanied by any real experience in public school educational settings. Because certain students cost more to teach - those with disabilities, those from impoverished backgrounds, those still learning English - operators of for-profit schools often do their best not to accept such students into their schools. There is little oversight of many of the institutions, and even some that are supposedly non-profit pay ridiculous high salaries to their administrators and operators when one considers the numbers of students they serve and compare those salaries to administrators in public school systems. Thus even though officially non-profit those involved with many charters are effectively transferring public funds to their own pockets without incurring the operational costs imposed upon public schools.
No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach. And don't kid yourself - when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA.

This examination of the nation's largest on-line charter operator is important because it demonstrates the lack of evidence that the move to online charters improves the educational outcomes of the students who participate in them, even by the very flawed approach of relying upon scores on standardized tests.

If you have any interest in education, I urge you to examine this report.

If you are in a state considering expansion of online charters, try to get those involved in making the decisions, including state legislatures, and those who will be affected, including parent groups, and those whose responsibility it is to inform and help interpret for the rest of us (the media which far too often does a horrible job), to read and understand this report.

Thanks for reading this post.

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO TEACHERKEN ON WED JUL 18, 2012 AT 04:14 AM PDT.


Edited by twocats (07/27/12 08:55 PM)
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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