Opinion: Charter schools don’t belong in new recovery district. They are already bound by ‘perform or close’ mandate

Dr. Tony Roberts is president & CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. He wrote this essay in response to the governor’s proposed Opportunity School District, a state-run district that would take over low-performing schools.

His point: Charter schools should not be among the schools taken into the special state district because an effective mechanism already exists to monitor and close them.

By Tony Roberts

AJC_3In the AJC article this week, “New plan for failing schools,” a list of 141 “persistently failing schools” is described based on the College and Career Performance Index. The article mentioned:  “Two state-approved charter schools are on the list of low performers as well.”

As a follow-up, AJC reporter Greg Bluestein posted on the AJC political blog that some skeptics of the proposed Opportunity School District were using the argument that the two schools on the list of failing schools already under state oversight—“state charter schools”—were indicative of the kind of job the state would do if charged with taking over schools.

This argument falls apart miserably when the truth about these and other charter schools in Georgia is known.  (For clarification, I am speaking of “traditional, start-up charter schools” approved either by local school districts or the state Charter Schools Commission—not charter systems or college and career academies that are most always under the control of a local school board.)

First, “state charter” school is a misnomer as the state does not own or run charter schools. The state approves charter schools, as do local school districts, but they are operated independently with their own board of directors and their own staff, budget, curriculum, and their own higher goals of academic achievement to which they are contractually obligated in their charter. (The AJC stated it correctly by describing the schools as “state-approved.”) By “higher,” I mean at least higher either than the average of similar schools in their district or higher than the state average, in some cases.

Second, charter schools that do not live up to the “promises” made in their charter petition are closed after a reasonable period — or should be.  Sometimes this happens by the school’s charter not being renewed at the end of their five-year contract—or even prior to the end if no improvement is in sight. But the result is the same. Charter schools can only exist if they deliver the results they promise or better.

For example, two state-approved charter schools were closed in 2014: Heritage Preparatory Academy in Atlanta and Scholars Academy in Clayton County. The original charter (or contract) term for Heritage did not expire until June 30, 2018.

However, the state Charter Schools Commission found the school was not meeting its academic achievement goals. Additionally, the school was in poor financial shape due to lower than expected enrollment and higher than planned expenses.

The commission ended the charter four years early and the school was closed. Scholars Academy was authorized prior to the establishment of the new state commission. Since the school had a history, it was given a one-year charter by the new commission to demonstrate its ability to reach its stated charter goals. Only if those goals were met would it be granted a longer charter.

Having failed the one-year performance target, the commission voted in early 2014 to revoke Scholars Academy’s contract, and the school ceased operations at the end of that school year.

This is why charter schools should never be considered as candidates for an Opportunity School District; they already have built-in, rigorous “perform or close” provisions. If they are not demonstrating the results they promise in their charter, they are not proving their worth.

Remember, too, these state-approved charter schools are obligated to deliver higher results on significantly fewer total dollars, with no district-provided facilities. In Georgia, most state-approved charter schools deliver the “promises” and fulfill or exceed the terms of their charters—sometimes against great odds. We should encourage them, learn from them, and fund them more equitably.

 The fact two state-approved charter schools were listed in the “eligible” list of public schools for inclusion in a proposed OSD does not mean that they will end up there.

Because a charter is a “contract,” schools that don’t deliver on the terms of their charter and fail will “be closed.”

What if every public school had a five-year contract with a “deliver higher student achievement or close” clause?  That is basically what most charter schools have.

Reader Comments 0

205 comments
Antagonist
Antagonist

"President and CEO"? CEO? Our children are products? CEO?

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

MaryElizabethsings, I'm sorry.  I looked at your, and Bernie31's latest posts and thought you were talking to me.  I just scrolled down to Starik's statement about how bad Jim Crow schools were and the fact that substandard pay was all teachers deserved, and I went ballistic.  Sorry  A significant amount of our math is due to Arabs.  A significant amount of our scientific knowledge is due to our African American citizens.  And a significant amount of our art, language, indeed, some of the best things of humanity, have been due to our gay community.  I was sick to read that trash.

Starik
Starik

@OldPhysicsTeacher You're misstating my point...too many teachers are teaching because they can't do any other work.  They lack the skills. Raise the standards of the profession and you justify raising the salaries. 


How does a teacher teach effectively when they don't know the subject matter they're teaching?

popacorn
popacorn

@Bernie31 @Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher Trust me Bern, as long as there are people like you, there will be people who really really don't like people like you. No amount of people dying will ever change that. Only YOUR dying will end your misery, pal. 

Bernie31
Bernie31

@popacorn @Bernie31 @Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher  - There are still some tickets available for an all expense paid trip to the Beautiful Beaches of Libya. Group Rates are still available. Let me know, if you are interested. It will be a Trip you will Never fergit.

uh..huh.

Starik
Starik

@sneakpeakintoeducation @Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher  It's no secret that the public school have large numbers of teachers who are graduates of the worst colleges, and the worst programs (education) with the worst grades. Apparently many, in DeKalb at least require many tries to pass a simple qualification test (Praxis II).  I have also seen written material brought home by DeKalb students that contains multiple errors; the classic was the page of sentences with instructions to "circle the 8 errors in these sentences."  The problem was that there were at least 12 errors...I forget the exact numbers. 


I would like to see a study on the qualifications of teachers in each Georgia school district,  What colleges? Class rank? Praxis II success? SAT scores? 


Do you deny that segregated schools were separate and very unequal? Do you deny that segregated schools are still unequal, and that nearly all schools in DeKalb, Atlanta and Clayton are in fact segregated? 


There's nothing wrong with speaking, or writing in so-called "Ebonics."  However, a teacher who is incapable of speaking or writing standard English is incapable of teaching them to the kids, to their detriment. 


Proof? Needs research and the disclosure of embarrassing facts. I have had personal experiences that support my statement, and seen plenty of examples during the Atlanta cheating trials, in the brief clips shown on TV. 




MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

The statement of inherent intellect seems to resurface from, time to time, on this blog relative to the success of schools and students.  Here is what I wrote to Old Physics Teacher regarding this:


I believe the humanities, not science and math, will ultimately foster more peace on this Earth because we will understand better, through studying the humanities, our commonalities as human beings more than our differences.


Genetics is real.  I have never denied that, and I don't fight against it.  I am simply stating that intellect is not the criteria for one's humanity nor for one's equality.  The soul has more to do with that spiritual understanding than does the intellect, and we both know that one cannot "prove" the existence of the soul.  One may not be able to expand one's intellect, but one can certainly expand one's soul, as we have seen in the case of Abraham Lincoln

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@MaryElizabethSings  Absolutely true, but totally off the subject.  You could just as easily said, "people just need to learn to get along."  It's perfectly true, but will not help students to learn what is going to be tested for these ridiculous and totally worthless tests  Once again, I repeat, nothing teachers, politicians, trolls from either party. or administrators will increase the ability to learn of the average student.  No one else in the developed world believes every students can learn enough to get a REAL high school degree - much less the college degree every "educational research" is now proposing.  And we keep making the same mistakes over and over again here because we never learn from history.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@MaryElizabethSings - My Dear as you well know the Old Thinkers always resort to the old Racist argument of "INHERENT INTELLECT". 

Which we all know is a False Flag to cover their INHERENT RACIST RACIST and BIGOTED THINKING! I saw it and ignored it. Not many responded as well for they too saw this another OLD THINKER spouting OLD THINKING VIEWS!


It is nothing but CRAP used to excuse the Inexcusable!

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@MaryElizabethSings That brought a tear to my eye.  You're absolutely right, and I "liked" your post and will defend it to my last breath.  BUT, this has nothing to do with what is going on in education.

The point that I have been laboring to make, and every I time I attempt, you "move the goalpost in another direction" is that we cannot get all students to be high school graduates as capable of the high school graduates of the 1970's.  It ain't gonna happen. You cannot do this.  There is not enough time or energy in the universe to accomplish it.  This is not hyperbole.  It is the 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics.


I'm firmly in your court.  I would be pleased, as an administrator or superintendent, to allow you to grade your students as you please and award any diploma to any of your students as you choose without ANY questions and defend your decisions to the hilt!  I am completely convinced any student you passed would make a great citizen.  Unfortunately there are idiots in charge of the schools at the local, board, state, and federal levels who demand that you, me, and every other teacher bring the average student to a higher level.  I KNOW we can't do this.  I KNOW this is stupid.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OldPhysicsTeacher


I have always stated that every student is unique and learns uniquely, especially regarding rate of learning.  We must address this factor and public schools could improve from within.


The ideas I shared go so much deeper than "people just need to learn to get along."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OldPhysicsTeacher 


We can all bring each student to as high a level as he or she has the potential to go.  This period of history has no bearing on that fact and never has had.  Blacks were suppressed in Jim Crow, which did not end until the 1970s, and schools were not fully integrated until that time.  Perhaps you are remembering simply your own experiences in school in the 1970s and earlier. However, society-at-large, and schools, were different then. Some were still segregated.  Human potential, however, has not changed, and we can still teach each student to his or her maximum ability to learn, just as we could then.  You say you KNOW we can't do this.  I simply do not agree with that pessimism. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Bernie31


Bernie, I wanted to respond, though, not so much as a rebuttal to the sad use of the words "inherent intellect" to disparage black people, but mainly because I believe that many people - of all races - have unfortunately come to consider one's degree of intellect to be what determines one's "degree" of humanity and equality.  I do not believe those perceptions to have merit, however, and I further believe that those who are consumed with impressing others with their own intellectual capacity, may find that they are limiting themselves in reaching a higher soul consciousness, which transcends the the consciousness of the intellect, alone.  

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@MaryElizabethSings @OldPhysicsTeacher  I'll have to respond tomorrow.  My laptop is having trouble interfacing with the software on this site.  I've spent the past hour writing up an impassioned plea for understanding from the scientific side of the profession to the Liberal Arts side of the profession.  It went into 5 paragraphs... with pictures :-) and between the AJC site and my software it disappeared.  I'm tired and it's late.  I write it over tomorrow in Word and copy and paste. 


Just let me say, read it in its entirety before you respond.  I apparently haven't worded my position well before and I want to make sure I translate science speak into  "artist speak."  

class80olddog
class80olddog

You know, it would be very nice if the state BOE would post data that would allow us to actually SEE what is going on in schools.  But, no, that would make it too easy to judge them as failures.  Things like:


Absenteeism compared to graduation rate and scores on Georgia Milestones.


# of discipline cases at each school and how they were handled


# of social promotion hearings and % passed to next level though failing


% of school budget going to administration


% of school budget spent on SPED


Cost per student for SPED students vs. cost per student for rest of students


Inquiring minds want to know!

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@class80olddog


classdog,


You often raise good issues, but unfortunately, the solutions to many of these problems all require this thing called "money" - and as you know, no one want to funnel anymore money into public schools.


How do they require money, you ask?


1. Absenteeism: In order to combat absenteeism, you need some ability to counter it through interventions like home visits, holding parents accountable with fines or court appearances, etc. which means having to pay for lawyers or social workers or counselors.


2. Social promotion:  If you hold back all the students who should not pass on to the next grade, that means many students who will cost schools another year of schooling... people already complain about cost per student.  Holding back those who are not prepared adds to that cost.  Furthermore, holding them back is often not enough.  Many of those who are not prepared are failing because of underlying learning difficulties that need to be addressed through small groups instruction, support services, language services etc.  which again, cost money.


3, Special ed costs:  Yes, special ed services come with a big price tag, which is one reason it is hard to get a student classified as Special Ed.  If they are classified as such, they have to receive special services, which include smaller class sizes and more individual attention and learning services, which means more costs to districts.  Thus, districts try to limit those placed in special ed, and use "inclusion" services for them as much as possible - which leads to more students in classrooms who are not ready to go to the next grade, but will be socially promoted anyway (refer back to number 2).  However, I am not sure what the solution is... should we just abandon those who need additional services?  Should we just place them all back in regular ed for the teachers to try and deal with on top of all their regular ed students?  I am open to ideas.


4. Discipline:  Just suspending students does little good, because most of them then sit around home playing video games and enjoying themselves, which means they are more likely to act up to get out of school again.  No problem, you might think. Let them.  It will allow others to learn ...Yes.  In the short term, but those kids will grow up and then they become an even bigger problem.  So... 

We need to address their problems as soon as we can - preferabley in elementary school - though counselors and interventions, family counseling, alternate schooling etc.  But, you guess it, all that costs money.  


The truth is, many people really do not want to actively solve the problems public schools face.  They want a magic pill - a solution that won't cost them anything, but will make everything all better.  It isn't realistic, and in their heart of hearts they know this, so they push for the next best thing - to pull all the good students out of public schools and turn the public system into holding pens for the "failures" - those they would prefer to sweep under a rug and ignore in hopes they will just quietly go away.


But they won't, and we ignore that fact to the detriment of our entire society.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Quidocetdiscit @class80olddog Guys, The problem is the administrators of an earlier time told the politicians and voters that we could do exactly all of those things if they gave us money.  They pocketed that money and/or distributed it out to their friends and colleagues.  Many of them believed they could.  Now that made them idiots (Beverly Hall, doncha know) because they learned in their MBA classes that all you had to do was direct people to do what you wanted, and fire them and hire new people if they don't.

Now the public wants an accounting and the politicians and the current administrators AND EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHERS are looking for people to blame (BTW, that's called scapegoating), and they are in no mood to give the schools more money.  I believe if you calculate the funding based on inflation to 1980 - and the requirements for graduation at that time (nod to MaryElizabethSings), we still couldn't do what they did then, but no one wants to hear reality.  They're looking for blood and teachers are an easy target. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Quidocetdiscit @class80olddog  Thank you for your answer.  But my response to your "we need more money" argument?  We addressed these issues in the sixties for one-fourth what we spend per student now.  What is the difference? POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.  Discipline - we used to: paddle, write "I will not..." on the blackboard, stay after school - I don't think we do ANY of that any more.  All we do is ISS and OSS - and you are exactly correct about the effectiveness of that.  SPED - we could separate into their own classrooms and deal with them a lot more cheaply, but NO CAN DO.  Same with social promotion - separate those who are behind into their own classrooms (slow class?) - but , sorry, that is NOT ALLOWED. Absenteeism - how many parents have been put in Jail?  if there were more, you MIGHT see absenteeism go down drastically.  Or keep the students after school or require Saturday make-up (led by ADMINISTRATORS).

Bernie31
Bernie31

Following the lead of Pretend Democract in Name Only Stacey Abrams is the VERY WORST thing we can and should DO.  Ms. Abrams, Husband's Education Corporate connections would allow for a very possible,as well as  a Very Potential Conflict, that would allow the Abrams to personally  Profit on this very iINSANE Process she is advocating FOR OUR Children. 


May I remind  All of YOU Stacy Adams (D)  FAILED in her bid to become the Democracts Choice for STate School Superintendent this past election Cycle. There is a VERY REAL REASON why that Failure occurred.


One of those primary reasons was her Husbands Connections to the many Corporate Educational Entities who would stand to profit from the advancement of the Charter School Process we are currntly on the Path currently. 


But our poorly informed commenter EDUKTR is either not aware or does not care about this concern or connection to this Politicians advocacy and Backing of this issue. 


A issue we all should be mindful of and concerned about, no matter the Political Leanings.


This is just a NUDDER Bad idea from One of the OLD THINKERS (un-eduktr) and Believers of this State.


We need to let them ALL GO....for Our Children's sake.

EdUktr
EdUktr

By keeping an open mind, it's brave of House Democrat Stacey Abrams to consider putting the needs of our state's children—especially black children attending perennially failing public schools—before the needs of the teachers' union bosses. 

Those bosses regard education reform of any sort as a potential threat to union revenues. By Googling "NEA" and "contributions" you'll see just how much of a cash-cow the union is for the Democratic Party and ultra-liberal causes.

Georgia Association of Educators members are automatically dues-paying NEA members.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@class80olddog @OldPhysicsTeacher @EdUktr  "The bad part about it is that politicians TRY to solve some specific education issues..."  and that's where I'm coming from.  The legislators can't solve their own problems, so they're sticking their corrupt noses into education, knowing they can't do anything positive, trying to distract the public from their failures!  I haven't seen any law put on society in general to change that society to the way "they" want it to go that has had a positive effect.  DOM, Prohibition, teacher tenure (EDUktr - pay attention here), War on Drugs.  and then when they get the "unintended consequences," which could be easily predicted, they "double down" on their stupidity.   


A writer I read (strongly conservative) says that a single person can be relatively smart, but put them in a group and the group becomes "stupider" than the stupidest individual.  He was talking about the "bleeding-heart liberals" but the conservatives are just the same.  Both parties grass-roots groups are stupider than a bag of rocks. Individually, they're great people, but as a group, no one is safe while they're meeting. 

EdUktr
EdUktr

@OldPhysicsTeacher @EdUktr

Top Democrat politicians, along with teachers' union bosses, mostly have their own kids schooled privately. 

But they do employ shills like you to keep up pretenses.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OldPhysicsTeacher @EdUktr  The bad part about it is that politicians TRY to solve some specific education issues - only to be thwarted by the school administrators.  Take social promotion, for example.  The politicians saw that there was a serious problem of ninth-graders reading on a second-grade level.  So they made a LAW that NO student could be socially promoted to the next grade unless it was with the consent of the: 1)Parent, 2) Teacher, and 3)principal.  The trouble is that the Principal can threaten the teacher and sway the parent and so it is really up to him (her).  According to the law, a lot of other thing have to happen when you socially promote, but of course they never do.


Same with the legislators and the GHSGT - they put it into place because kids were getting diplomas that they could not even read.  Of course, now that has gone by the wayside and they want to retroactively give diplomas to the idiots who could not pass the test.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@EdUktr  Have you heard of the term, "one-trick pony?" Teachers have never been the problem.  Politicians have you in their pocket. "Unions, are bad; unions are bad; unions are bad... don't look at the man behind the curtain (politician), unions are bad" 


Keep it up!  You're doing a great job of shilling for the lying politicians.  Have you considered calling them up and working for them after they destroy public education? They pay pretty well.  Bill Clinton and Gary Hart come to mind, first.  Or if you don't like them,  Chris Christy? You could help close down a bridge or two for him.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OldPhysicsTeacher @EdUktr  By the way, Oldphysicsteacher, if you read my entries, you know that I don't put much blame on the TEACHERS, but mostly on ADMINISTRATORS.  And most of what you write I totally agree with.  You seem to understand what the issues are with failing schools.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@EdUktr @OldPhysicsTeacher  You respond with a "you too?"  Really?  How about this - approximately 15 years ago Georgia, along with many states, agreed with you about tenure and unions.  They KNEW the problem was controlled by school administrators, and they removed tenure from administrators.  Here's your question, and don't avoid the issue, please by throwing out Tu quoque comments. 


How has dropping tenure for administrators improved education?

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@EdUktr  crickets..... crickets....crickets.  You can keep looking and googling all you want.  It's not going to help you.  It's had no effect - nope, none, nada.  Tenure is a red herring used by lying legislators trying to scapegoat education for their nefarious actions and to increase their power by deluding the "common" man (they got you, didn't they?) into believing teachers are the cause of all of their ills.  It's teachers and their unions keeping us down!!!!!!!!!  They tried to legislate morality, and failed miserably while creating major criminal cartels and getting our people DEAD!  I wonder if these mental midgets blindly following their parties will ever wake up and see how they have been stooges for the Political Class.  Probably not.  People are bound to keep making the same mistakes over and over and over.

Starik
Starik

@OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog @EdUktr A part of the problem is race; a generation of black teachers graduated from substandard Jim Crow schools, followed by education degrees from the lowest tier of colleges... we have a new generation of black and poor white kids taught by incompetent teachers.  In the Sunday article on New Orleans it was noted that school reform caused a lot of incompetent teachers to get fired, and that this was a blow to the black middle class.


Teacher pay may be inadequate, but it's the best available job for a lot of people.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@EdUktr @OldPhysicsTeacher


"Top Democrat politicians, along with teachers' union bosses, mostly have their own kids schooled privately. "


Um..So do top Republican politicians... 


Your point?

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog @EdUktr


And as a result of this mindset (and I am not saying you are wrong - I have seen several incompetent teachers, but not nearly as many as the "reformers" would have you believe - and they are not defined by any particular race) we have implemented a bunch of asinine reforms that have done NOTHING to get rid of the bad teachers (who are generally entrenched in totally dysfunctional systems run by bad administrators) and instead have demoralized and run off many of our BEST teachers!

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog @EdUktr I know the generation of black teachers who graduated from Jim Crow schools.  Many of them are much smarter and better teachers than I will EVER be!  One of them was a mentor to me.  I continued to use his material he developed for over 20 years until my brightest students could barely follow the math.  That was a totally bogus statement and darned near to fighting words.

Don't disparage that which you know nothing about.  

"... best available job for a lot of people."  I've heard the same thing said about our warriors.  That's... that's... I'm sorry. I have lost the power of language.  MaryElizabethSings, can you take over here and school him?

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Starik @Bernie31 @OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog @EdUktr  - Your Pride of self righteousness will not delay your upcoming trip to the Pit.  Your rate of descent will surpass everything, you have ever known to be TRUE!


The sound of The Eternal Screams of Terror will be Shocking and Frightening.


Your Screams of Terror will be met with Silence and Indifference.


A Deserving end of one so full of Pride and Arrogance. uh..huh.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog @EdUktr  - Its So easy to stand By and criticize so callously. Far much Harder to be a part of the Solution. You remind me of the Crows who squawk out of hunger. While watching the Doves care for their Young. There is a parable there, you will never Understand.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Starik @Bernie31 @OldPhysicsTeacher @class80olddog - well yer mom only had 2nd grade education and yer Dad could not read.  So I could not go to them. YOu were in Special Ed, so that Door was closed. Yer little sister was all dat was left......and she didn't talk much....just a lot of rockin back forwards and gruntin every now and then.

So as yer kin see it wuz slim pickins...uh..huh.