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Suburbs too good for charters?

[This is my column for the Local Living section of Jan. 14, 2010]

Why are there so few public charter schools in the Washington suburbs? It seems obvious. Both Virginia and Maryland let local school boards decide if somebody, or anybody, is going to get a charter to compete with their own schools. It is a conflict of interest as bad as it would be to let the Post overrule any new newspapers in the region.

Amazingly, the local school board members I have asked about this, all of them caring and intelligent people, don’t see the problem. They have a blindspot about their blindspot, which reduces the chances of creative solutions to our educational problems.

Charter schools are public schools financed with tax dollars but free of most school district rules. The 57 charter schools in the District set their own hours and pay scales, and teach whatever way makes sense to them. D.C. charters are authorized by a board independent of the regular public school system. This has produced some bad schools, most of which the board has closed, but also some of the most effective public charter schools in the country.

There are no charters in Northern Virginia. There are only seven in suburban Maryland, three of which were rejected by local school boards but approved by the state school board. Incoming Virginia governor Robert McDonnell wants to an independent chartering board, while Maryland is likely to leave local boards in charge, forcing charters to appeal rejections.

Many suburban school board members think their districts are terrific (in many cases they are right) and can’t imagine that anyone would ever have a need that only a charter could fill. I asked Kathy L. Smith, chairman of the Fairfax County school board, about parents who are unhappy with services for some children with disabilities or special gifts and have considered starting charter schools. She said that wouldn’t be necessary. Local county school staff would always find a solution. “From our perspective we really do not see a need for parents of advanced learners or students with disabilities to seek alternatives to the public school, even if there were evidence that larger percentages of these parents were dissatisfied with our ability to support their students’s success,” she said.

The very idea of independent public schools puzzles some board members. “If charter schools are going to be funded by the tax payers, as are the rest of public schools, why should they be exempt from the restrictions, laws and regulations that regulate the authorizers of the rest of the schools?” asked William J. Phalen, president of the Calvert County school board.

That may explain why 88 percent of the charter authorizers in the country are local school boards, but only 10 percent of those school boards have granted charters to at least five schools, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Fifty seven percent of independent charter school boards, like the one in the District, have granted at least five charters, as have 81 percent of state agencies given that power.

Robert DuPree, a member of the Loudoun County school board, said the board would welcome applications that “are designed to improve educational opportunities, enhance student achievement, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of educational services and enhance the overall mission of our school division.”

So how do you think they would have voted on this application? A 30-year-old teacher with almost no administrative experience wants to start a charter with 80 fifth graders, almost all low-income, in a church basement. She says she is going to tell them they are all going to college. She is using a model developed in just two schools in distant cities, where she has only spent a few months.

Our suburban boards would almost certainly turn her down. But the District’s independent charter school board approved just such an application in 2001. The teacher, Susan Schaeffler, and her team produced the highest test scores in the city in that first school, the KIPP DC: KEY Academy, and have started six more, also doing well.

Maybe some (but not all) of our suburban districts are good enough that they don’t need charters. Still, I can’t understand why any district would be so in love with its own rules that it would keep creative teachers from showing what they can do.

Read Jay's blog every day at http://washingtonpost.com/class-struggle.

Follow all the Post's Education coverage on our "PostSchools" Twitter feed, Facebook and our Education web page, http://washingtonpost.com/education.

By Jay Mathews  | January 13, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags:  suburban charter schools; school board blindspots; Va. governor Robert McDonnell  
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Comments

Here's the explanation, Jay.

A school board is responsiveness to the concerns of parents is *generally* inversely proportional to the size of the district. Depending on the board some districts are run for the benefit of the staff without much effort made to hide the fact, but in general the bigger a district is the less responsive it's going to be to parental concerns overall.

"Overall" is the reason for the existence of magnet schools since some urban parents are wealthy enough and bothersome enough that a sop has to be thrown to them. Hence, magnets - private schools for the wealthy and powerful funded by the public education system.

For the bulk of urban parents though you take what you get which in many cases isn't much.

Hence the attraction of charters.

Just because the professionals may be indifferent to the quality of the education they dish out and the safety of the environment they oversee doesn't mean parents are happy with the situation. But previous to the advent of charters about the only fairly widely available alternative was the Catholic archdiocesan system which, even though it charged a fraction of the per student amount budgeted for urban students, did a better, safer job.

By the way, there's a racial angle to the interest in charters. I don't have the stats right in front of me but I read more then once that black parents, especially poorer, urban, black parents have a very high interest in education alternatives like charters and vouchers. Perhaps that's why president Obama is at odds with the supporters of the education status quo. His state senate district was the South Side of Chicago.

He would have heard a lot about the education system from his constituents.

Posted by: allenm1 | January 14, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

I live in a small district with "high performing" schools (read : totally test driven). We are in Westchester Country, NY. One big problem is that districts like mine are very very small. We only have one tiny high school, one tiny middle school, etc. The district is simply too small to support any additional schools whether they are magnets, charters, or anything else. There is no tradition for regional schools in Westchester County. I could see a need for a magnet school in math and science, but it isn't going to happen.
I doubt that a KIPP style school would be very popular here. I wouldn't want to send my kids to a school like that. Our schools are overly test-driven as it is. I think KIPP schools succeed in low income areas mainly because they raise expectations among the kids and their parents - kids in low income areas have often never been told that they can do well. But out here in the 'burbs, our kids already have very high aspirations and standards that they are expected to live up to. It is hard to see how any charter could raise aspirations more than the parents already do.

Posted by: bkmny | January 14, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The answer is Arrogance.

Sadly, far too many educators believe that they know best what our children need. I've been told by administrators and principals that I need to "trust" them and that they are the professionals. I've heard it all.

Meanwhile, my smart, but not brilliant child cries about the tedium of school, the disruptiveness of the SPED kids that sit in her class due to radical inclusion policies, her brand-new-just-out-of-ed-school teacher that means well but doesn't yet know how to teach, etc.

I could go on and on with examples of how high-performing schools try, but fail, to meet the needs of all students. In the end, until the administrators admit they can't be everything to everyone, charters won't get approved.

It's just arrogance.

Posted by: EduCrazy | January 14, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Anyone reading Jay Mathews needs to be aware that his employer, the Washington Post, has a significant corporate interest in the charter school business model. The only profitable segment of the Washington Post Corporation is Kaplan Education. Kaplan's business model is the same as the charter schools -- loosely regulated educational services and dependence on low paid staff, with limited benefits and job security.
Mathews' contention that charter schools meet the needs of students with learning disabilities is utterly untrue. In June 2009, the Federal monitor for special education in the District singled charter schools out for their failure to service children with disabilities.

Posted by: Jphubba | January 14, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

*sigh*

Once again, Mr. Mathews and his cadre of Progressive readers simply don't get it.

"Why are there so few public charter schools in the Washington suburbs?" ~JM

The answer - is the teacher's UNION!

Never underestimate the control of a strong union, Jay. They have ways of influencing Board members who would dare to consider establishing an alternative to the general public school at which they are employed. Seeking to reduce enrollment at large public high schools by siphoning off students to "clique" charters leads to job losses for union employees. Remember, it's never about the children, it's about the money.

Jay is only pushing charter schools because they serve as an ideal repository for his precious IB and KIPP programs. Charter schools are not unionized. It is journalistic malpractice to suggest that charter schools better serve students with disabilities who are provided Federal protections and guaranteed services in the public school system.

If Jay really cared about underprivileged students having access to the "best" education available, he would support school vouchers to private schools, which the Dems recently revoked in DC.

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 14, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Jay says, "I can’t understand why any district would be so in love with its own rules that it would keep creative teachers from showing what they can do."

Here's another possibility: a district is so confident, based on concrete evidence, that it's providing superior educational opportunities that it's unwilling to let untested teachers experiment on its children with untested ideas.

Posted by: efavorite | January 14, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

lisamc31 said:
"Never underestimate the control of a strong union,"
Nearly 20 years ago, during contract negotiations, the Prince George's County Educators Association asked for a computer for every teacher.
That did not happen.

So much for the myth of a controlling union.

Posted by: edlharris | January 14, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

actually, lisamc, charter school teachers in Maryland ARE unionized. It's state law.

Posted by: subrosa77 | January 14, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I always enjoy lisamc31's posts, but her theory that teacher's unions stand in the way of charters falls apart when you consider the case of Va., particularly northern Va. The state, like many in the south, has laws that are hostile to strong unions, and the teachers unions in Va. are relatively weak, yet so are charters. She has a better case in Maryland, where the unions are strong and its charter law has a provision, rarely found in other charter states, of requiring that charter school teachers be unionized. I have written in the past of the effect unions have in Maryland, particularly the success the union in Baltimore has had in weakening the state's most successful charter school, KIPP Ujima Village.
As for Jphubba's view that the Post ownership of Kaplan explains my support of charters, that is a new one, and I find it very hard to see the argument. If I was a big supporter of the SAT (which I am not) you could say that was influenced by Kaplan, which gets a ton of money from prepping kids for that test. Some have argued that my support of the AP is influenced by Kaplan's test prep activities, but very little of what they do has anything to do with AP. There just isn't much of a market for help on those tests. The charter school--Kaplan connection is almost completely absent. They don't own any charters. They don't get any significant money from charters. I imagine some charter school kids that Kaplan SAT prep courses, but that is a pretty slim reed on which to rest your argument, since the vast majority of Kaplan users are regular public school students. As for charter special ed services, if you reread the column you will see I was talking about parents who think they could design charters specifically for special ed kids. There are some schools like that in DC, and many of the parents who have kids there say the services are significantly better than in the regular schools.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | January 14, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I would go farther and say that ALL government-run schools ought to be charter schools. Schools could form purchasing co-ops in order to allow for volume discounts. But individual schools ought to have the freedom & flexibility to operate without bureaucrats at the city/county level micromanaging them.

We also need to do away with restricted zoning. Schools ought to be open to any student within commuting distance regardless of exactly where they live. Schools ought to fill their rosters by holding a lottery of all applicants who meet the entrance criteria.

The district where we lived until last month had one decent elementary school out of around a dozen. And homes in that neighborhood sold for a whopping $1M+. I'm confident that had the school done enrollment via an entrance exam, my oldest would've scored among the top in the district. But because we are middle-class & couldn't afford the pricey housing costs, we were shut out of that school completely. And that's just plain wrong...

Posted by: CrimsonWife | January 14, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm with the "all charters" thing. Why should some public schools get to be autonomous, but others have a cadre of regulations that they must submit to?

Posted by: someguy100 | January 14, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of good reasons for opposing charter schools.

Charter schools have to "reflect the district", but they are allowed to expel any students who don't follow their rules. So they get to keep all the high performining minority students in the district, but boot all the troublesome kids back to the public schools--who are forced to take them.

While their early classes usually "reflect the district" in terms of racial balance, the later classes are usually far less diverse and skewed towards whites and Asians.

The suburban schools have perfectly good reasons for opposing charters that will take the best performing minority students and brag about their test scores, while kicking out all minority students who don't fit the bill. This leaves suburban schools without the high performing minority students and disproportionately low performing schools.

Meanwhile, white and Asian parents know that the low performing minority students will be kept out of the charter schools. Those parents who have less than stellar students know that their kids will be the stars of a charter school, and so sign up eagerly with money and support--it's cheaper than a private school and less "riff raff" than in a normal public school.

That's why the opposition exists in the suburbs. Charter schools that are specifically geared towards majority minority districts would have no problem getting a charter.

Research the conflicts between Sequoia and Summit in Redwood City.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | January 14, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Jay, you're ignoring the obvious. Charter schools are all about lowering teacher pay and benefits and depriving teachers of any job security -- exactly the strategy that companies like Kaplan use to create their profits and the strategy that the Washington Post would apply to workers everywhere. Charter schools are the party line at the Post because the Post wants their business model to become the norm.
As for special education students, read the Federal monitor's report of last June. It says that DC charter schools discourage special education students from attending and neglect the ones they do -- exactly what you would expect from a low budget approach to education.

Posted by: Jphubba | January 14, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

We don't restrict college admittance to only students who live in a particular neighborhood, even though much of higher education is subsidized by the taxpayers (at both the state and Federal level). The smart kids are allowed to go to UC Berkeley or UVA or U of M-Ann Arbor, etc. if they want even if they live closer to no-name state college.

Why should my kid be barred from attending a school primarily funded by state income taxes (of which our family pays quite a bit) just because we aren't rich enough to afford to live within the zone? Intellectual potential is a much more fair way of allotting school spaces than parental wealth...

Posted by: CrimsonWife | January 14, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I've found the comments re. the pros and cons of charter schools informative. What I also find informative is the F'Fax Co. School Board Chair's comments quoted in Jay's column: “From our perspective we really do not see a need for parents of advanced learners or students with disabilities to seek alternatives to the public school, EVEN IF THERE WERE EVIDENCE THAT LARGER PERCENTAGES OF THESE PARENTS WERE DISSATISFIED WITH OUR ABILITY TO SUPPORT STUDENTS" SUCCESS,” she said. (Emphasis mine)

I follow FCPS SB business closely and with all due respect I find this typical of Ms. Smith's dismissive attitude toward the public whom she is elected to represent.

Posted by: FairfaxStation2489 | January 14, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Jphubba---I appreciate yr view, shared by many, but that is only because you haven't spent much time in the best charters, as I have. Their teachers are paid at least the same, and often more, than regular school teachers, particularly if they work longer days. They are happy to give up the job security in favor of a chance to teach the way they want with like-minded teachers who have the time and encouragement to share their methods, and can focus on raising student achievement and not following district rules. I know it is hard to make time to visit some of these places, but it will inform your view. Talk to some of them before you make up your mind.
And for Cal, if you have any data on charters tossing out kids, please share it. It is clear from my close look at the KIPP schools that they are far less likely to expel or suspend a kid than the regular schools in their neighborhoods. It is a point of pride for those teachers to find a way for troublesome students to learn. I too have heard of some charters tossing out lots of kids, but i crave real info and not rumors. And i think you should mention when you make this point that regular public schools also have lots of ways to get rid of kids they don't want--send them to the special program for bad kids, tell the parents of a great program at another school, suspension, even expulsion. Or just don't try very hard to get them to come to school when they stop showing up.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | January 14, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"Still, I can’t understand why any district would be so in love with its own rules that it would keep creative teachers from showing what they can do." I teach in one of these suburban districts and I see creative teachers showing what they can do everyday. Charter school or traditional public school good teachers are going good work.

There are good and bad charter schools just as there are good and bad traditional public schools. You're creating a false dichotomy here. Charters won't solve our problems.

Posted by: Jenny04 | January 14, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

edlharris,

I fail to see how Prince George teachers not getting their own personal laptop/computer out of contract negotiations 20 years ago has anything to do with the overall power and control the union has in the running of a school district. Twenty years ago computers were a lot more expensive and the technology was obsolete in a month. Do they have them now? Are there computer labs in the buildings for the students?

subrosa77,

Thank you for pointing that out. I was unfamiliar with the Maryland law.

Jay,

The school system in Northern Virginia, particularly Fairfax County, is a mess, in large part to a bloated Board of Education that is forced to oversee a HUGE district which is determined to equitably balance its schools based on Free & Reduced Lunch rates. Fairfax has PC'd itself into a tizzy and the result is more and more homeschoolers and unsatisfied parents. You really should take a good look at FairfaxCaps for an understanding of why they are having such problems with boundary disputes, IB, magnets and charters.

http://www.fairfaxcaps.org/

P.S. - Be sure to check out their fabulous comparison of AP & IB!

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 14, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it Jay, have you ever read my section on Fairfax County schools? Oh, you simply must! You're mentioned!

http://truthaboutib.com/ibbuyersbeware/ibinfairfaxva.html

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 14, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Thinking about some of the issues you raised...

Contrary to the "competitor newspapers" analogy, charters are public schools funded with the same public funds. The proper analogy regarding local school boards approving a charter would be The Washington Post Co. seeing a market for a new type of media (say, online news) and deciding to offer that as another option to its readers (aka constituents). School board members who see the need for another public ed option (or feel the demand from the citizens they answer to) are more inclined to do the hard work it takes to start a new charter school that can thrive in the long-term.

So if a community wants a charter school and finds that it's better, in part, because it has fewer regulations, why don't we reduce the regulations traditional public schools must undergo? My school system has to meet 1600 different criteria--just to have a Head Start program. If loosening regulations is the answer for charters, why isn't it the answer for all public schools?

The KIPP program is a successful, replicable business and education model, so much so that it is now a school system with close to 20,000 students in sites across the nation. Doesn't a large "virtual" school system end up having administrative costs, policies and practices just like the local school system?

And you noted that some DC charters have been bad, and others have been good. That sounds a lot like the public school system to me. Each school is as good as its leadership, family involvement, and teachers. There's no such thing as perfection in either type of public school, but there is a growing realization that effective charter school authorization is the key to producing successful charter schools. The key is having the resources and capacity for making the authorizing decisions. The DC authorizing board has that capacity, because it's been staffed anf funded to make those decisions and provide ongoing oversight-- local school boards who are open to innovation and new education models (or pressured by the ballot to be open to such things) can have that same capacity, given the same resources.

Finally, why do we elect school boards (as most VA localities do) if we think a group of people who aren't accountable to the electorate are better able to assess the capacity and potential effectiveness of a start-up school? Do we really want LESS democracy in our public school decisions?

Posted by: SouthofNoVa | January 14, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

If freeing schools from rules is the way to improve achievement, the answer is MUCH simpler than approving more charter schools.

Just stop making schools follow all the stupid rules! Let each school do as it sees fit, and hold administrators truly accountable (through job action) for the results. Let parents have a choice of several schools - say 5 or 6 - within their local area. If one is oversubscribed, do a lottery. Given the flexibility, most administrators would jump at the chance to compete like this, and to copy the best ideas from their peers.

If this sounds overly simplistic- it is! So are charters. They work SOMETIMES, and fail SOMETIMES. Don't act like the combination of freedom and choice - with ZERO accountability to the taxpayers funding them - is some sort of magic formula for everything wrong in education today. The fact is, charters with poor academic performance are almost never punished the way Title 1 schools are. You'll say, "Parents can vote with their feet." But if the choice is failing school vs. failing school, it won't matter. Charters must be held accountable for final results on the same level as everyone else. Until they are, they are a farce and a sham.

Posted by: mdennis74 | January 14, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31 wrote:
"edlharris,

I fail to see how Prince George teachers not getting their own personal laptop/computer out of contract negotiations 20 years ago has anything to do with the overall power and control the union has in the running of a school district."

If the unions control the school district as you wrote, then why didn't the teachers get a computer.
If you want a more recent example, go speak to the teachers in Calvert County Maryland. They have been trying to get a raise, but the CCBOE refuses. The CCBOE has said they don't have the money. Yet a year or so ago, the CCBOE had a surplus of over a million dollars, and they gave it back to the Calvert County council.

YEAH, there's some CONTROL for you.

As Jay pointed out you are wrong on the Virginia Education Association.
But even still, I'd wager that if anyone asked a Fairfax County public school teacher, that teacher would laugh at the notion that the FCEA controls the FC Gov't and the FCBOE.

("Twenty years ago computers were a lot more expensive and the technology was obsolete in a month. "
20 years ago, computers did not become obsolete after a month.
Look at the history of Intel's 386 chip:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80386

"Do they have them now?"
No, every single teachers in PGCPS does not have a computer due to their "control".

"Are there computer labs in the buildings for the students?"
No. PGCPS has not put a computer lab in every school.)

Posted by: edlharris | January 14, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Many if not most schools in PGC have computer labs for students. Do they ALL have them, no, which seems to be the status of school systems the size of PGC (130,000 students).

You're very wrong edlharris, yes every teacher does have a computer in classrooms to include administrative staff as well.

20 years ago, computer software DID become obsolete after 1.5-3 years. Computer hardward evolved just as quickly.

PGCPS has improved during an unprecedented financial climate and a Superintendant chasing $$ instead progression of student achievement, that Matthews wholeheartedly aplauded and gushed over when Deasy's tenure began.

PGCPS will continue to achieve productively and produce great students. We have a few of the best Science & Tech programs both state and nationally.

So for those, like Matthews "I'm not use to seeing good ideas coming from PGC" as the lead statement in his 12/09 "opinion" needs to let go of the negative past and allow the most recent postive work and progress of our students and community take precedent.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | January 14, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

"And i think you should mention when you make this point that regular public schools also have lots of ways to get rid of kids they don't want--send them to the special program for bad kids, tell the parents of a great program at another school, suspension, even expulsion. Or just don't try very hard to get them to come to school when they stop showing up."

You are joking, right? It's incredibly difficult for public schools to get rid of kids. Expulsion from a public school is a legal action that has strict requirements. And if a school is on ADA, they don't get paid when kids don't show up, so they are certainly not lax about attendance. In California, at least, every school I've worked at has an aggressive truancy program.

Look, the idea that public schools can cherry pick more than charter schools is simply ludicrous.

There's plenty of evidence that charter schools see tons of attrition. It's in your KIPP data itself. Look at any suburban charter school that seeks to have a "diverse" (as opposed to majority minority) population, and you can see the attrition by year--close to 40-50% in freshman year, and declining every year afterwards. Some flunk out, some quit, and some are expelled for breaking much stricter rules--something that public schools can't do.

Attending a charter school is a privelege. Attending a public school is a right that can only be revoked with strict scrutiny.

Anyway, I'm not against charters. I just don't think they are a good idea. All they do is siphon off good teachers for a couple of years (until the teachers get fed up) and they don't scale at all.


Charter schools take money from the district and hurt the existing schools. That's why suburban schools resist charters. It's not because of unions. It's because charters that market to white and Asian students as well as URMs siphon off the best URMs and some whites/asians and hurt test scores--thus costing money. Why put up with that?

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | January 15, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Cal -

"Charter schools take money from the district and hurt the existing schools. That's why suburban schools resist charters. It's not because of unions. It's because charters that market to white and Asian students as well as URMs siphon off the best URMs and some whites/asians and hurt test scores--thus costing money. Why put up with that?"

I agree with your scenario. But what is the #1 reason unions exist? To protect the jobs. When a larger public high school loses its best students AND a large number of students to charter or magnet high schools, what happens back at the general HS? Jobs get cut due to attrition and in many cases, the entire school gets shut down! Just look at Chicago!

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 15, 2010 5:51 AM | Report abuse

PG Resident1,
PGCEA asked for a computer for every single teacher years ago during contract negotiations.
That did not happen (so much for the theory of unions controlling school districts).

And every teacher does not have a computer.
They have access to one, as they are needed to enter grades.
But the laptops that are distributed to teachers at the start of each school year (beginning back in 2006) are now 3 1/2 years old and out of warranty. When they die, whether it be the case cracking, the screen breaking, the hard drive failing, the hinges breaking, etc. it is each school's responsibility to pay for repairs or replacement. The school system does not have it in their budget to repair or replace the computers, nor are they planning to budget for it in next year's budget.

"20 years ago, computer software DID become obsolete after 1.5-3 years. Computer hardward evolved just as quickly."
lisamc31 typed that computers were obsolete in a month. I'm glad you know better.
As for software being obsolete in 1.5- 3 years, read this:
http://www.lowendmac.com/misc/09mr/mb1207-pismo.html
where the author describes how he still finds his 10 year Apple PowerBook useful.

Posted by: edlharris | January 15, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

edlharris,

"But the laptops that are distributed to teachers at the start of each school year (beginning back in 2006) are now 3 1/2 years old and out of warranty"

Excuse me? It would seem only the computers distributed in 2006 are now out of warranty. If they are distributed at the "start of each year", it only makes sense that newer models are purchased each subsequent year. So in other words, you LIED about teachers never getting the computers they requested (demanded) as part of their union contracts.

Tsk, tsk.

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 15, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Redistributed, lisamc31
The laptops are handed out at the start of each school year and collected at the end. They are stored over the summer.


As for tsk, tsk
what about the all powerful teachers' union, Calvert County, and their pay raises.

If I was as condescending as you,
tsk tsk back.

But I'm not.

Posted by: edlharris | January 15, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, I'm not pro-union at all. I think the union issue is irrelevant to the charter issue here.

If charter schools were unionized, there'd be no point to charter schools, since charters require several extra hours a day commitment. As the dean of ed at Stanford ed says, it's not a job, it's a calling.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | January 15, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

"Let parents have a choice of several schools - say 5 or 6 - within their local area."

Why set an arbitrary limit on the number of schools from which a parent can choose? If there are say ~100 schools within the area I consider to be a reasonable daily commute, why should I not be free to choose from among ALL of them?

Posted by: CrimsonWife | January 16, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

"Why set an arbitrary limit on the number of schools from which a parent can choose?"

What? And give up the wonderful results attained when the highly-educated professionals make those determinations?

Let's take DCPS as an example....

OK, bad example.

How about New York public schools? OK, another bad example.

Detroit? No.
Dallas? No.
Miami? No.
LA? No.
Chicago? No.

Anyone see a pattern here?

Posted by: allenm1 | January 16, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31 and her truthaboutib website are not grounded in any truth. Read Tony Wagner's Global Achievement Gap to get some perspective on AP - a for-profit business.

Posted by: jwpetey | January 17, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

jwpetey,

Thanks for showing the world your ignorance. The College Board which produces AP is as much as a not-for-profit as IBO is:

http://www.collegeboard.com/about/index.html

Posted by: lisamc31 | January 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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