Thursday, March 30, 2006

Weekly Reader -- Charter Catch-Up Edition

Normally, I'd be tempted to blow off the education news that happened while I was laid up with the flu, content to just write up a Weekly Reader for the week I got better (more or less). But fact is a hell of a lot of ed. news hit the Ohio papers while I was out, particularly about charter schools. So you get this catchup post now and the normal week-in-review thing over the weekend.

To start off, the PD ran a three-day series on charter schoolsstarting a week ago Sunday. The first day includes a pretty good summary of how the charter school system is supposed to work in theory, plus some articles about the inherent conflicts of interest built into the system, i.e. how White Hat works. Elsewhere they look at Ohio charters that work, some that don't and contrast Ohio's system with that in Massachusettes.

The series is suffiicently powerful that the Fordham Foundation felt compelled to post a whiny nonresponse response. And yes, as Fordham notes, some reforms are on the way, no thanks to Brennan and company. But to overuse the play on words, charter proponents wanted charters in Ohio in the worst possible way and that's what we got. They emphasized propagation over quality, creating a population of schools that looks more like an intractable infestation than anything. Maybe we can get hold of it and reform the charter system, but if those with a vested interest in high profit and inferior education win the day, charter proponents will have only themselves to blame.

Who am I talking about. Well I can't resist this quote from the end of one story on Cleveland's Hope Academy:

"White Hat's objective," the company said in a statement, "is to maintain financial sustainability for all of its schools."
Gee, shouldn't the objective be to provide an excellent education? Oh, that's right. It's not. The CD also ran a story on The magnitude of White Hat profits.

Meanwhile, plenty of other charters are having problems. A Toledo charter's books show a broad pool of red ink. Another Toledo charter is under fire from local teachers for poor academic performance.

Virtual school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT)is closing three sites, and may have played fast and loose setting up a brick-and-mortar classroom in Newarkcontrary to state law. And ohbytheway, a high-ranking J. Ken Blackwell aide is in bed with ECOT.

One potential bit of good news, a Cleveland entrepreneur is opening an entrepreneurship-based charter school. One of the key ingredients for successful charters is a desire to actually teach kids as opposed to make a pile of jack.

There was another story here or there, but that should be enough to keep you all busy.


redhorse said...

from that dispatch story "publically funded, prrivately operated".

gee, hard to see the conflict of interest, no?