Commentary by Elsa Salazar Cade
January 24, 2005
According to the GAO report (The United States Accountability office) January 2005: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-5: Nearly all of the 39 states in our survey reported that they released charter schools from some traditional public school requirements. - All but 2 states offered release in one or more of 30 areas that states identified, from reporting requirements to staffing practices to student discipline. The greatest number of states released charter schools from teacher termination procedures and length of school day (21 states), teacher compensation and benefits (22 states), collective bargaining procedures (22 states), and requirements established for local school boards (23 states). Officials in 6 states reported that the state released charter schools from almost all traditional public school requirements, while a few requirements, such as the minimum number of teachers required, the use of district-approved text books, and graduation requirements, were released in only a few states. Most states released charter schools from some traditional school requirements.
The most that the report said was that we needed more data. According to the report a school may fail to meet the improvement targets for three years before our kids get extra help!
"If a school does not meet the target for a third year, students must be offered supplementary educational services, such as tutoring. " page 26 of the report GAO-05-5. Three years is a HUGE amount of time in a child's life. The tutoring would not start until the child's fourth year in school. Who would deliver the tutoring the same school that fell down in educational delivery?
On top of that, The study by the National Assessment Governing Board, which examined data for about 6,500 charter school students and 376,000 regular public school students—found that charter school children taught by teachers with four years of experience or less performed significantly worse in both reading and math than students in regular public schools with similarly inexperienced teachers. And students at charter schools were far more likely to have such teachers
It also found that far more teachers in charter schools lacked regular teaching credentials. Charter schools have poor infrastructure, and lack educators with credentials. This sounds a lot like failing neglected public schools.
If lack of credentials and release of traditional requirements look like a winning ticket for your child, go to it I guess. To me it looks like more of the same. Poor people of color are given the same choice they had before. The right wing ideologues propose withdrawing funding from already poorly funded schools and sending it to charter schools with a variety of mandates.
But, we need more data before we find out they don't work. This gives the appearance of reestablishing the separate but equal system. Charters schools with fundamentalist Christian mandates get federal funding and the have-nots get to go to "other" schools that don't have to meet the requirements of regular schools. Catholic schools and other private schools have to charge tuition in order to run their schools. Those folks know that if they want their children to get religious education or elitist education,
they have to pay for it.
The charter system sets up publicly funded private schools and at the same time off loads minority children on to schools that don't have to meet requirements. This sounds like "separate but equal" to me.
They won't "throw" money at public education, but they are willing to spend money on collecting data on charter schools to see if they work or not.
Frankly, common sense tells you that to release charter schools from having to meet the requirements of a public school doesn't really make sense. Yeah, in a time when public education is establishing standards of education for all Americans, we are sitting back and letting the Bushies tell you that less is more for Hispanic children.
Don't take it sitting down write your congressman! Demand equity in education for Hispanic American children. Racist educational policy remains entrenched regardless of what you call it!
For a view from the left go to......... Conservatives flip flop on research standards: http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8638