Looking at Charter Schools

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beth Fertig, WNYC's education reporter and contributor to SchoolBook, talks about her series on the issues surrounding charter schools, including attrition rates and locations.




Beth Fertig

Comments [11]

Hi, I would have liked to hear more about something Beth mentioned about District schools not being able to compete with Charter schools because of Charters longer hours and how the Union prevents District schools from doing the same. To me, this is yet another good argument against the Union and against the Union claim that "its all about the kids". The Public School system would benefit greatly from some sort of Right To Work policy.

Dec. 17 2012 04:18 AM
BKBabyMama from Brooklyn

So confused as to why you're even talking about such a frivolous topic regarding a very serious and important issue. Why are you discussing attrition rates of students when you admit that all the data is ridiculously inconclusive? It's almost like you kind of want to talk about the issue without actually talking about it. Why don't you cover something serious like the attrition rates of the teachers? I'm not even a freaking reporter and I don't have enough digits to count the number of charter school teachers that have fled that system and have horrible war stories to tell. And they're from the really good ones too: Success and Kipp. NPR, I really do love you, my radio is always on but I cringe every time the topic of education comes up because you have failed miserably, again and again at covering real live stories of the thousands of folks that regularly and publicly speak against having these chain charter schools invading our neighborhoods. Where are you when this is going on???? If you don't know, then don't report about it at all. If want to know, then listen to the masses, we are screaming at the tops of our lungs!

Dec. 16 2012 12:53 AM

Guy, I think you are right. I have a background in epidemiology and it is amazing what I can find when I read beyond the abstracts of studies that are reported by the media as proving or disproving some particular point. Owen, good point about burdening parents. Really, I don't see how a single parent, or two parents that are working full time and don't have the luxury of taking time off, or even parents of more than one child can possibly have the time to navigate the crazy educational nonsystem that is in place in New York City. Its exhausting. All the parents I know are having a "survivor's party" to recuperate from applying to high schools.

Dec. 13 2012 11:07 AM
Owen Davis from Brooklyn

I think it's important to look closely at the demographics of charters. For instance, a report on vulnerable students in charters (from 2009) found a paltry 111 homeless students in NYC charters -- out of a population of 51,316.

"Although most city charter schools are located in low-income neighborhoods, 34 charter schools enroll no homeless students. In East New York, Brooklyn, a politically-forgotten neighborhood with decrepit buildings and the infamous Pink housing projects, nine homeless shelters are located near Achievement First East New York Charter School. The school does not enroll any homeless students."

Whether this is a result of screening or counseling out, it reflects a disparity between charters and public that advantages one to the detriment of the other.

It's also important to note that schools like Achievement First have disciplinary measures which burden not only the student. That school network has policies which require parents of "students they love the most" (ie, problem students) to attend classes and monitor their children. Failure to do so can result in the child's expulsion. For low-income families, homeless families, and other families with less resources, this can mean the difference between attending charters and public schools, which cannot expel students for such matters outside students' control.

Dec. 13 2012 10:56 AM
Guy from Brooklyn

Well Fertig is asking the right questions, but most of this report was undisciplined speculation. Talk to any scholars (on either side of the issue) to help understand exactly what you did not find? Nope! What this effort did show what the lengths to which charters will go to hide what is going on.

Many suspect that the move to charters is a policy being kept in place by wealthy contributors and a few well-placed politicians to privatize public schools, undermine and kill the teaching profession for once and for all, and bust unions.

To disabuse skeptics of these notions, you'd think education authorities, now in thrall to "big data" themselves, would make it easy to see that none of the criticisms are true. Instead, as this report shows, they have made it difficult or impossible to access key data about critical issues such as accessibility. How many different, systemic backdoor ways will charters find to counsel out students and game the system? They are counting that the media and public are too distracted and buffaloed by the "failed schools" rhetoric and high stakes testing regime to find out.

With so much extra time in school, you'd think charters' performance would blow the doors off of traditional, nondiscrimanatory public schools nationwide. But they aren't and this is a scandal.

Dec. 13 2012 10:56 AM
mick from n

Why don't we just make anyone who does not major in business, engineering or applied science in college an indentured servant who must work 12 hours a day for 6-7 days a week in elementary or high schools, depending on their GPA, sex and race? That way we will be able to have kids in school for 12 hours a day and not have to break the budget. After 4 to 8 years, the hapless English or theatre or sociology or whatever majors can have 1/2 their educational debt erased, unless their parents buy them out and agree to finance a graduate program in one of the socially useful fields.

Dec. 13 2012 10:48 AM

We'll have excellent schools in every neighborhood when ALL the money does NOT go to the bankers.

Dec. 13 2012 10:46 AM
dboy from nyc

Gee...a school with discipline???

Dec. 13 2012 10:43 AM

There is a difference between counseling out and screening them out to begin with. After surviving the horrible process of applying to public high schools, I have concluded that the whole process is a giant game of musical chairs of trying to screen out those kids who will not be able to test well. The game has become far more ridiculous this year for the high schools regardless of whether or not they are charters or the plethora of untested new schools. One of my friends -- mother of three -- just broke down over the process this year because it was so much worse than it had been for her previous two children. Why can't we just have plain old good schools in every neighborhood?

Seriously, the screened schools have become WORSE to apply for than the SPECIALIZED high schools this year. It is a sad state of affairs when you consider Bronx Science to be your safety school because the screened schools now have added a) additional assessment tests (one of which stole old test questions from the specialized high school tests), b) essays, c) portfolios, d) letters of recommendations, and e) interviews.

Dec. 13 2012 10:41 AM
BK from Hoboken

If kids are repeating grades that is not necessarily a bad thing. If a kid is not ready to move forward, even though lax state standards would let him/her move on, at least the charter is being realistic. Why push a kid who is already behind into the next grade where he can fall even further behind? We need more rigor in our schools.

Dec. 13 2012 10:40 AM

So the testing issue isn't behind kids leaving charters.

Is there any way to look at possible behavioral issues? Is the repeat-grade rate an indicator along these lines?

Dec. 13 2012 10:35 AM

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