Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Mailbag: The State Takeover & Charter Schools Edition

Leading off our roundup of the best of our comments this week, a simple response to StateImpact‘s coverage of state interventions in seven “failing” schools from commenter “inteach”:

Corporate education cannot be stopped.

But not all of our commenters took such a dire view of the takeovers.

From Barring38:

Mr. Robinson [CEO of EdPower, a turnaround school operator] will make a great positive difference at Arlington. Structures, discipline, solid academic implementation, and parental involvement are the keys to the success of a quality education in the public schools system. The Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School is an example of such.

We got a few comments on our story about funding charter schools, including this one from Hume:

Charter schools are not a solution to anything and they undermine the existing public education system. Parents need to support their local schools, meet their teachers, engage in school activities other than just football, and stay on top of what their kids are doing, and know the curriculum and homework assignments. And rather than attacking teachers and all things to do with government, the modus operandi of the anti-intellectual right, we need to put more resources into public education.

We also received a particularly thoughtful comment on our story from July about Christel House Academy, and whether or not charter schools are the best way to serve students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. The commenter was anonymous:

While I am a proponent of charter schools (and teach in one), I do not believe that charter schools are the “magic bullet” in transformational change for all students to receive a quality and equitable education.

Christel House Academy is hailed as a prime example of charters positively impacting student achievement. I don’t mean to belittle their achievements, but should a student’s race or socioeconomic status be the linchpin for whether or not their academic progress is considered “phenomenal?” Should we ignore the research that shows it’s fairly easy to boost test scores from grades 1-4 because instruction in grammar is still part of the required curriculum, but it rarely is from middle school forward?

It is true that students from low-income areas face stigmas and often circumstances that make obtaining a quality education much more difficult. Yet, being poor or Hispanic doesn’t make these students any less smart or capable.

What makes the difference are teachers who are willing to be experimental and go beyond the standards and curricula. What makes a difference is administrators who don’t overburden their staff with extraneous and multitudinous programs, but allow them to innovate, to teach, and to spend time thinking more about students than how to work software or write paperwork. What makes a difference is consistency in behavior management and not continuing to accept deprecating behavior from a student in order to keep up the numbers (and funding.)

What’s needed is more transparency, honesty, and purposeful simplicity. What’s needed is common sense strategies not educated egos, preparation for life not preparation for tests, and most importantly, a debate truly centered on students not numbers or methods.

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