Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unionizing charters

Charter schools have usually been seen as non-unionized, but a growing number of them have teacher organized by unions.

Note, also, the attack by the Secretary of Education on Rhode Island's cap on charters.

On Monday, Secretary Duncan addressed the National Charter School Conference (link to the speech):

What I like most about our best charters is that they think differently.

The Denver School of Science and Technology serves grades 6 to 12. They take the 6th graders on college visits. Those children spend years choosing a college – instead of months – and 100 percent of their graduates go on to four-year colleges and universities.

North Lawndale College Prep is in one of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods, yet they cut security staff and hired social workers instead. That extra personalization is one reason that more than 90% of their graduates are going to college.

I was just at the North Star Charter School in Newark, where they have reversed the achievement gap. Their kids are outperforming the state and every single graduate was accepted into a four-year college. These results speak for themselves.

So I'm a big supporter of these successful charter schools and so is the President. That's why one of our top priorities is a $52 million increase in charter school funding in the 2010 budget. We also want to change the law and allow federally-funded charters to replicate.

Do those schools have to accept every kid who walks in the door? If not, where are the kids they don't take going to school?

Okay, but here's something that's hopeful:
Charters are public schools, serving our kids with our money. Instead of standing apart – charters should be partnering with districts – sharing lessons – and sharing credit. Charters are supposed to be laboratories of innovation that we can all learn from.

Emphasis added. Ahhh, yes, they are! Under Ed Reform in Massachusetts, this is precisely what our charters were supposed to be! My question for the Secretary is just what is he going to do to make that happen, to recapture that vision? Creating thousands of new charter schools all over the country (and threatening the state of Rhode Island) isn't going to do it. That is going to take leadership. Is he actually prepared to spend time and energy on this, or is he just going to mention this once and let it lie?

You might also be interested in his four models of charter takeover, at the close of his speech.

1 comment:

Jim Gonyea said...

People like to say it's not about money, but it's about money. Charter schools get favorable funding. To put the charter school programs into regular public schools would require similar funding. So that's per pupil funding from the state using the same formula as is used for charter schools. The state and the Feds can't afford it. I have nothing against charter schools, I just wish we had their funding in Leicester.