Yesterday the New York Times ran an editorial entitled “Shuttering Bad Charter Schools”
In which they said “state governments and local districts need to do a much better job overseeing these schools, which now educate more than two million students. When weak charters stay open, students are deprived and public money is wasted.”
A few hours later Governor Malloy was calling for a record investment in Connecticut’s Charter Schools and funding to open more.
If you read his testimony you won’t see the following expert from a highly critical State Department of Education report.
“The Connecticut State Board Department of Education wrote “The pattern of employing non-certified teachers at Amistad Academy [and Elm City Prep – both AF schools] is a significant cause of concern. The Connecticut State Department of Education has worked with [Achievement First] for a considerable period of time to resolve its teacher certification violations. Despite ongoing discussions with the school on the vital importance of upholding the state law on teacher certification, the issues had not been completely corrected. The Connecticut charter school accountability process is designed to ensure compliance with state and federal law and administrative regulations. Amistad Academy’s [and AF’s Elm City Prep] chronic noncompliance on teacher certification compromises the principles of charter school accountability.” June 2009
Why didn’t Governor Malloy raise the issue of Achievement First’s unwillingness to meet Connecticut law.
Because the following year Achievement First got the law changed. Connecticut law required that every school ensure that every teacher be certified to teach within one year of joining the state. It was – and is – a law that applies to every public school in Connecticut – except for Charter Schools who had an amendment adopted that said they – and they alone – can have 30% of the staff non-certified.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Under Connecticut law, Charter schools must serve anyone and yet.
- Achievement First – the Charter School Management Company that runs the plurality of charter schools in Connecticut – (as well as some of the state’s independent charter schools) serve less Latino students then they are supposed to if they are truly there to provide equal opportunity for all children.
- Achievement First (as well as some of the independent charter schools) serves far less ELL or English Language Learners.
- Achievement First (as well as some of the independent charter schools) serve far less students (Latino or otherwise) who go home to households where English is not the spoken language.
- Achievement First (as well as some of the independent charter schools) serve fewer students who are poor as measured by the number who receive free or reduced lunch.
- Achievement First (as well as some of the independent charter schools) serve students that have far fewer special education needs.
Malloy says the charter schools should do more to attract and retain under-represented “at risk” students – but the change should begin with the NEW charter schools that he plans to fund – with no required change for the existing ones.
The strategy, tactics and messages remain the same. Charter schools are not standard public schools. They do not have elected boards of education, they are not held to the same basic standards, they are allowed to unofficially cherry pick the students they want and “out migrate” those they don’t.
The fact is charter schools are not being held accountable in the same way district public schools are and we can be pretty sure that now that one of Achievement First’s founders is the Commissioner of Education — we won’t be seeing a lot more criticism of Achievement First.
Now take a look at yesterday’s New York Times editorial
February 22, 2012
Shuttering Bad Charter Schools
“The charter school movement has expanded over the last 20 years largely on this promise: If exempted from some state regulations, charters could outperform traditional public schools because they have flexibility and can be more readily tailored to the needs of students. Another selling point is that these schools are supposed to be periodically reviewed when they renew their operating permits — and easily shut down if they fail.”
“The study raises troubling questions about the management practices of the oversight groups. Nearly a third of charter authorizers have not established clear revocation criteria; fewer than half have the kinds of strong, independent review panels the association recommends; and about only half issue annual reports that show the schools how they are doing.
State governments and local districts need to do a much better job overseeing these schools, which now educate more than two million students. When weak charters stay open, students are deprived and public money is wasted.”
For the full Editorial go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/opinion/shuttering-bad-charter-schools.html?_r=1&emc=eta1