Mike the Mad Biologist

It might come as a shock to some, but, temperamentally, I’m conservative, at least when it comes to things that are critical. One of those things is education. So when I read in The Boston Globe that various groups want to increase the number of students in charter schools and also the number of charter schools (currently, about four percent of students attend charter schools), I really fail to understand why. Massachusetts, year in and year out, does incredibly well, if not leading the nation, on the NAEP tests. Likewise, if MA were a country, it would beat, hands down, all of Europe and much of Asia.

Edukashun: UR DOING IT RITE! Are there things that could be done better? I’m sure there are, but massively expanding MA’s charter schools would be a solution in search of a problem. Why muck with something that’s working pretty well?

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    January 15, 2010

    Also:

    1. Some charter schools are elitist. This is not the way public education should work.

    2. Many charter schools do identical to the nearest (suburban) schools and some charter schools do worse that some public schools.

    3. Often the school committee and the school superintendent of the area have no control over the charter school curriculum. If the school wants do do basket weaving instead of geography then they do as they please.

  2. #2 chezjake
    January 15, 2010

    We seem to have a similar problem here in New York, and a major investigative report in today’s Albany Times Union reveals that there is huge financial backing for charter schools (and for the politicians who support them) from super-wealthy conservatives.
    http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=889188

  3. #3 Tony P
    January 15, 2010

    Yesterday I got to do a program review at the newly rebuilt Hanley Career and Technical Center in Providence, RI. The place is absolutely gorgeous. They really pulled out all the stops on this one.

    But here is something I didn’t know. Back in the day if you went to a vocational school the academics weren’t exactly pushed. Now you’re expect to meet the same academic standards as other schools in the system as well as do your vocational training. It’s quite the change.

    Another thing I noticed, their principal Ramon Torres is a Hanley grad himself. And some of the staff are also products of Hanley. They also have some autonomy as to who they take in as teachers, for example Chef Walter Potenza teaches in the culinary program there.

    I have confidence that Hanley will become a showcase of schools in this city.

    But why is it MA schools work and RI schools for the most part fail? Anyone care to hazard a guess?

  4. #4 lambert strether
    January 15, 2010

    I really fail to understand why…

    Money, of course. Why else?

  5. #5 Lyle
    January 15, 2010

    Why should the local school committee have any say. The state sets what should be taught, and IMHO a lot of problems could be solved if local school boards where abolished and statewide districts set up. Then set up state guidelines and essentially make all schools charter schools, meeting state guidelines. Schools would be ranked on the size of the waiting list, good schools would have one, bad schools would not. Then the leadership at the bad schools would be changed out.

  6. #6 Eli
    January 16, 2010

    Lyle, much of what often makes a school “good” or bad is who wants to go there. Notice that there aren’t generally schools in ghettos that suburban parents are clamoring to send their kids to.

    There are however, schools that parents in ghettos are clamoring to get their kids out of. Yet what this often means is that they will be removing their child from an environment in which there are many fewer structural problems outside of that school’s control.

    The biggest problem failing schools usually face is serving an at-risk student population. Much of the allure of charter schools is that they simply side-step this issue.

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