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DCPS schools absorb 561 charter transfers per year

561 students in public charter schools, or 1 in 56 charter students, transferred to traditional public schools during the 2011-2012 school year. That means that, in addition to the 277 students charters expelled during that year, another 284 transferred to DCPS schools.


Photo by Bludgeoner86 on Flickr.

The Washington Post profiled involuntary transfers, students who were offered the chance to withdraw under threat of expulsion. Expulsions become part of a student's record, while transfers do not.

Only 44 students transferred from DCPS schools to charter schools in the 2011-2012 school year, according to new data released by the State Superintendent of Education. DCPS schools expelled only 24 students in that year.

DCPS teachers have long complained of having to absorb mid-year transfers of disruptive students into their classrooms. The newly released data appears to validate their claims.

The 561 students transferred from charter to DCPS schools makes up 1 in 80 of the total DCPS enrollment. That means that each year 1 in 4 DCPS classrooms, on average, absorb a transferred charter school student mid-year.

Because students who were expelled, or involuntarily withdrew, from charter schools are unlikely to apply again, the cumulative affect of transfers over multiple years is notable. Over 4 years, every DCPS classroom on average would have a student who transferred or was expelled from a charter school at this rate.

Is this a problem?

The discrepancy between the expulsion and involuntary transfer rates of charters and traditional public schools creates several problems.

First, parents rely on test scores when comparing schools. Transparent, comparable test scores are thus critical to school choice.

However, neighborhood public schools are disproportionately burdened with disruptive students expelled or involuntarily transferred from charter schools. This casts doubt on the comparability of test scores between charter and non-charter schools.

Second, charters are not given the opportunity and the challenge to innovate ways to reach these students when they can expel and involuntary transfer them at rates far in excess of DCPS schools.

Charters are supposed to be test beds of innovation, and they must have autonomy in how they teach students in order to innovate.

However, granting charters autonomy from the students themselves who are disruptive and problematic undermines the very structural incentives to innovate that led to the granting of charters in the first place.

Are there any viable solutions?

Advocates have offered three solutions to the discrepancy between the expulsion and involuntary transfer rates of charters and traditional public schools. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be politically viable.

Harmonized disciplinary rules: OSSE proposed a harmonized set of expulsion policies last year that would apply to all public schools, both charter and traditional.

While youth advocates testified in strong support of the move, charter operators and advocates launched a coordinated opposition to the proposal. They argued that OSSE had no legal authority to dictate disciplinary policies of charter schools.

OSSE has not replied to questions asking for their response to the legal claims of charter operators.

Greater charter accountability: Charter advocates generally called for greater accountability and investigation of "problem" charter schools with particularly high expulsion and transfer rates.

However, charter advocates contend that no one has the authority to authorize investigations except for the Public Charter School Board. PCSB has been criticized recently for a lack of charter accountability.

StudentsFirst, the national school reform advocacy launched by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee, last month created report cards for each state including DC. The DC report card gave the PCSB a 0 out of 4 grade in charter accountability.

Allow DCPS to expel students at same rate as charters: Many advocates, particularly charter parents, have defended charter schools' expulsion policies. DCPS should be allowed to expel students at the same rate, they argue, into a school that is specialized to meet their needs.

However, if DCPS schools had the same rate of expulsions and of transfers, the total number of students expelled or involuntary transferred per year would be 1,364.

After 6 years, a school absorbing all of these students would have 8,184 rejected students, or 11% of all public school students. There appears to be little to no political will to segregate such a large portion of DC schoolchildren into a safety-net school system.

Drifting towards an outcome that no one wants

The fundamental problem with education reform in DC is that we are drifting towards an unattractive outcome with little discussion or debate.

It's now painfully clear that we are drifting towards a set of parallel, unequal school systems. First, we have thriving neighborhood schools west of Rock Creek Park and on Capitol Hill. Second, we have charter schools and magnet schools east of Rock Creek Park.

Third, and most distressingly, we have neighborhood schools east of Rock Creek Park that are becoming safety net schools. We can think of them as Medicaid for education.

There's a common misconception that DC is on the cutting edge of charter development because DC has the highest rate of charter enrollment except for New Orleans. New York City, Denver, Chicago and other cities have charters. New York City has more charters than any city.

Where DC lags, as the StudentsFirst report card made clear, is in the development of institutions and policies that align charter schools with the interests of all students across the public school system. The other cities with charters have a common lottery, neighborhood preference and greater charter accountability.

Without these policies aligning charters with the interests of all kids, not just their own, charters possess competitive advantages that have led to overwhelming demand from parents. It's this discrepancy with other cities that accounts for the high rate of charter enrollment in DC.

Are there viable solutions to this discrepancy between charter and traditional public schools in DC? Do you find the outcome towards which DC schools are headed to be acceptable?

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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"Are there viable solutions to this discrepancy between charter and traditional public schools"

Sigh, this useless debate about charters vs. traditional masks what's really happening. Aggressive school choice IS markedly revealing the fault lines in DCPS, but it's not charters. My in-bounds DCPS elementary is, shall we say, not good. And yet, the neighborhood is chock full of active, energetic parents who are almost desperate to help. Do they go to charters? A few do. Do they flee to the burbs? Some do. But overwhelmingly we go to OTHER DCPS traditional schools.

The discrepancy isn't between charters and traditional DCPS, it's between good and bad schools. Good schools (traditional and charter) are bursting at the seems, bad schools are shedding students. Funny how that works.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 12, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Mountain out of molehill. We are talking about 1.25% of DCPS enrollment. You are going to see transfers within any larger school system: people put their kids in different schools all the time, for reasons entirely about "fit" and nothing about the educational qualities of the schools or students. According to WashPost yesterday, charters are approaching the enrollment of DCPS, so a 1% transfer back to DCPS seems LOW, taken over the 12 years of education. How many people keep the same cell phone service for 12 years?

by SJE on Feb 12, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

I don't doubt that there are important issues to be discussed re Charters v DCPS, but a 1.25% transfer rate does not seem like relevant evidence of some problem and more like statistical noise.

by SJE on Feb 12, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

people put their kids in different schools all the time

So 284 families per year decide, after school begins, that they actually prefer their neighborhood school to the charter that their kid was accepted into, and pull their child out of the charter? I don't think so.

by Ken Archer on Feb 12, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

According to WashPost yesterday, charters are approaching the enrollment of DCPS, so a 1% transfer back to DCPS seems LOW, taken over the 12 years of education. How many people keep the same cell phone service for 12 years?

Except that number doesn't account for all transfers. Ken's only talking about mid-year transfers - 1,912 students switched during the summer. For comparison, 44 students transferred the other way during the school year.

by MLD on Feb 12, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

What happens to the per-pupil monies associated with these students? Is there a budget re-balance at the end of the year, or are the DCPS schools holding the bag while the corresponding charter has reaped the money bonus?

by Andrew on Feb 12, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

@Ken, it cuts both ways. We've had parents transfer into our school because the school they were in (both charter and traditional) wasn't working out for them. Likewise, I've had friends transfer, either during the year or between years, as slots became open in other schools. We've done it ourself, as the school we were in wasn't working out (DCPS -> DCPS).

Likewise, I consider my kids to be in an excellent school (which happens to be a traditional DCPS). But I've had friends where our school didn't work out for their kid, for reasons I understand. If the school isn't working out for YOUR kid, not matter how wonderful it is for everyone else, you'll try and find a better option.

There isn't A answer to education, and a lot of this churn is parents trying to find a better fit for their kids. Could it be better managed? Quite probably. Is it a sign of educational end times? Not at all.

And I have to reiterate, down here in the trenches, charter vs traditional isn't the line we draw.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 12, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

I think this is an important issue and am glad the Post and GGW are covering it.

It _is_ significant. Mid-year transferring is always a net negative, because a lot of education is connected to relationships and classroom (aka "community") norms, which take time to develop and internalize.

But it's even more problematic when the transfer is a result of a student being disruptive or having other negative effects on their classroom. Under the current system, charter schools have the ability to kick out or coerce out the students that they perceive as least desirable. Neighborhood schools do not have this ability... plus, they must take the mid-year transfers from the charters. I would think that this is obviously, clearly unfair, and needs to be addressed.

(Adding insult to injury, they charter schools get to keep the per-student financial allotment of the kids they kick out, and the neighborhood schools don't get any extra funds for taking them on, as long as the transfer occurs after October. Of course, moving the kids would still be unfair if the money moved with them, but this just underscores the perverse incentives for charter schools to abuse their extra privileges.)

by Tim H on Feb 12, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

@Tim Krepp

I wonder if you live in an area like mine? I am in Petworth, and my in-boundary school would be Truesdell, which I understand is not very good. With how quickly my neighborhood is gentrifying, the million dollar question is, how do we get these active and engaged parents/students to attend their in-boundary schools, and do it in large enough numbers to reach a tipping point, making those same schools good?

How do you reach that tipping point? 10 years from now, you are going to have 10 years of home sales whever everything has gone for north of $300,000, and presumably a very solid upper middle-class neighborhood. When does Truesdell get to the tipping point, whee it becomes another good neighborhood school?

by Anon in Petworth on Feb 12, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

Ken: OK, thanks for the clarification. Still, I don't see mid-year transfers as evidence of some systemic problem.

In elementary school, I transfered mid year from one that wasn't working for me, to another in which I thrived. I am eternally grateful for that move. I know quite a few parents who moved their kids between schools mid year for reasons to do with fit, opportunity, or community. For example, I know one kid who transferred to a special school for its academic program, but then transferred back to his local school mid year because he missed his friends.

by SJE on Feb 12, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

@Ken Archer, who wrote
So 284 families per year decide, after school begins, that they actually prefer their neighborhood school to the charter that their kid was accepted into, and pull their child out of the charter? I don't think so.
First of all, the new mobility report only tracks PCS-->DCPS transfers overall, with no specification that the student is going to his or her neighborhood school. Some of those could well be to out-of-boundary DCPS schools or to other special DCPS programs.

Aside from that, In my neighborhood, I know perhaps a dozen children who have started a school year at a sought-after charter school, and I know of two who decided to pull out of the charter school after the school year started, and in their cases, returned to the private schools they had been at previously. Granted, not exactly the same as returning to a neighborhood school, but there will always be families whose expectations about a school turn out not to be a good fit to reality, and in a system where there are options about where to go to school, some will act on it.

There is of course the educational "fit," but some families might decide that the cross-town commute is not going as well as they hoped it would. And some might have a spot open in a more-sought-after DCPS school. So I can believe that 284 families did decide to leave their charter schools for something they felt would be better.

by thm on Feb 12, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

You say "if DCPS schools had the same rate of expulsions and of transfers, the total number of students expelled or involuntary transferred per year would be 1,364.After 6 years, a school absorbing all of these students would have 8,184 rejected students, or 11% of all public school students."

This is a terrible argument that misuses statistics. The number of kids expelled won't stay the same every year; eventually most the kids who should be expelled would be and the rate will taper off. Would you say "in 12 years 22% of kids will be in special schools and in 60 years over 100% will be"?

Plus, more kids who now go to charters or privates would try DCPS if the misbehaving kids could be kicked out, so the % of kids in the expulsion schools as compared to the total DCPS population would be even smaller over time.

Finally, what if 11% of kids are in special schools for kids who disrupt regular classes? Why is that inherently a bad thing? Is there some other % that would be ok?

by sbc on Feb 12, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

In an ideal world no kids would be left in a safety-net school system as you say. I'm still not sure not having one wouldn't make sense in a place like DC. Some kids are just not going to do well in a traditional or charter environment and it seems like we should accept that an alternative system is most equitable for everyone. Whether or not you have charters, there is going to always be school choice -- it's called moving to another town. Allowing kids a way to opt out of the traditional school model without having to label them as a failure seems like the gentlest way to do it and preserve a healthy environment for all the other students.

by Alan B. on Feb 12, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

Hmm that was one two many double negatives.

I'm still not sure having one wouldn't make sense in a place like DC.

by Alan B. on Feb 12, 2013 1:27 pm • linkreport

@Anon in Petworth

I live in Hill East, which for the purposes of this discussion may (very, very broadly) probably be comparable to the situation you describe.

We're not going to our in-bounds public school, which is finally showing signs of life but isn't anywhere near "there" yet.

Big picture, rising house prices does correlate to improving schools, but the map is choppy. To use the Hill, there are schools in higher price area not developing as fast as somewhat lower (but still pricy) areas. I think the biggest single factor is the principal, and whether they welcome parental input and help, or view it as a hinderance.

It's a lengthy topic, and one I'll write more about in due time, but being 6 years into this process now, the trend lines are good. It's worth building networks now with the school and fellow parents. It's a long, often discouraging process, but there is real, solid improvement.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 12, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

@Tim

That was the example I was thinking of. Whatever the middle school was in Capital Hill, it was almost entirely out of boundary students going there, with local students at private schools and charter schools. The impression I got was that parents decided to send their kids to the local middle school, and now virtually zero out of boundary schools get in, and it is one of the two or three good middle schools in DC. The question is how to get there.

Regarding me personally, we are still a couple of years from having kids, and my only experience is that we keep getting report cards and such mailed to my address for a student who clearly doesn't live here. I have contacted Truesdell, and they have yet to fix it, for what its worth.

by Anon in Petworth on Feb 12, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

A safety-net school to absorb the worst-behaved 10% of the school system sounds like a good idea, actually.

by JustMe on Feb 12, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

Thanks Ken for yet another article covering this.

Whether some might think it's useless or not ...hats off to you for investment!

by HogWash on Feb 12, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

@Anon I don't want to hijack the thread, but the middle school OOB process is quite the hot topic on Capitol Hill right now. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it!

by Tim Krepp on Feb 12, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

I used to teach in DC and in PG, and want to emphasize that mid-year transfer students are disruptive to classrooms, especially when they're coming from expulsions elsewhere. Even if the number is something small like a single percent, that means middle and high-school teachers with 100 students will get a charter-expelled transfer each year, on average.

by Schools Watch on Feb 12, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

Mountain out of molehill. We are talking about 1.25% of DCPS enrollment.

This is one time when the raw numbers tell more than the percentages. In the 2011-2012 school year DCPS expelled four kids. In the same year the charters expelled 227. And the charters have about 3/5 the students.

The key point here is that the charters' "charter" is to use new approaches to get better outcomes with the same kids as DCPS. If they show performance gains by changing their student population, that's a system failure.

by oboe on Feb 12, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

Oboe, if the charters get better outcomes by selecting their student population, why is that a system failure? The system was failing before, which is why we had charters.U nder the old system, we forced everyone to go their the same school, good or bad. A few bad students disrupted it for everyone, and forced good kids to misbehave just to survive. Its the same in poor neighborhoods: a few families are responsible for most problems.

Selection forces certain behavioral expectations (onto kids and parents), with consequences. This encourages students and parents to participate in positive ways.

If some kids get a good education, its better than everyone getting the same bad education.

by SJE on Feb 12, 2013 5:31 pm • linkreport

Charters should lose the $ for students expelled, at least a pro-rated share. They would argue the seat is not easily filled, but that money is intended to educate that child. The new school has enough problems serving that child. It should at least get a cut of that allocation. if there was a real cost involved, the charters would exercise the expulsion option as judiciously as possible.

by anon_1 on Feb 12, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

Anon_1: I completely agree. Charters should not be given money for education they do not provide. In fact, I think we should consider asking a charter to reimburse the system a little further back. If the kid was expelled or forced out, it suggests that the school was not doing enough before hand to prevent such a dire solution.

by SJE on Feb 12, 2013 9:40 pm • linkreport

I really don't understand why you object to an alternative school for children who are not thriving in a standard environment. It seems like such a no brainer to me to give these children a better opportunity and to allow the schools to teach the children who can be tight in a good environment.

Also, how many of these mid-year transfers are actually the result of expulsions and how many are parents deciding that they don't like the charter school that they have selected? Moreover, when it is the result of expulsion, how is that different than if a child is expelled from a private school mid-year? (I do agree that there should be an end of the year count day to account for funding discrepancies, but otherwise, I see no difference.)

by Danielle on Feb 13, 2013 1:15 am • linkreport

I am happy charters can expel students to DCPS and students transfer out of charters to DCPS. Can I volunteer the bottom 1-2% of charter students each year to be required to be transferred to DCPS?

As someone said above, I'd rather have a good education for many than a crappy education for all.

And Ken, your constant assault on charters seems rather luxurious, since you live in Gtown where the public schools are good. Come live east of the park. Over here the discussion is much simpler: charter or move to MC.

by Wayan on Feb 13, 2013 5:47 am • linkreport

Oh, do we have any idea which school those kids are transferring into? If its charter to good DCPS school, then it cold be wait lists moving.

by Wayan on Feb 13, 2013 5:50 am • linkreport

Seems like DCPS complaints about absorbing hordes of charter school rejects are unfounded. The numbers are just too small.

The question is whether the money is following the kids. ALl the money should go to the school that finishes the year with the kids, not the one who starts, unless the transfer happened after say, March.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 13, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

"Harmonize disciplinary rules" is a terrible idea. That's the reason we have charters, is that they think they can do things like discipline better.

Accountability for charters with high expulsion rates is very easy. That I can get behind.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 13, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

Ken Archer: The WP published an article on this subject.

Interesting quote from this, that puts your numbers into perspective:

"More than 6,200 students left traditional and charter schools between October 2011 and June 2012 and didn’t re-enroll in any D.C. public school, according to the report. Officials said they don’t know where those children went: They might have dropped out, moved to another jurisdiction, entered a private school or started home schooling."

by goldfish on Feb 13, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

I've been blogging about school quality and other issues at www.dcpcsb.org/blog. Here are additional thoughts.

First, some corrections on the numbers:
- Some expelled students may move out of state, drop out, or move to home or private school, so aren't all necessarily included in the 586 who moved from charters to DCPS. This is a larger conversation than just DCPS-charter.
- Second, we know that 3,286 students move from DCPS to charter schools over the summer. Surely some of these are drawn from the 586 who moved from charter to DCPS mid-year the year before, including expelled students. A charter may not prevent a student expelled from another charter school from applying or enrolling.

Contrary to the Students First report, with which PCSB strenuously disagreed (http://tinyurl.com/apnnob7), DC charter school accountability is among the highest in the nation. Indeed the National Association of Charter School Authorizers cited PCSB's high accountability just last year. (http://tinyurl.com/bm3zzxj). Even Students First, when pressed, admitted that their rating was on the legal framework in DC, and that the actual practices of PCSB were stronger. (http://tinyurl.com/bp85sfv).

Here are the facts: Of 82 charter school districts that have opened their doors in DC, 25, or 30%, have closed. Many more schools have closed grades or campuses for low performance. Most closures occurred under authorizer pressure.

This accountability is only growing stronger since the release of PCSB's Performance Management Framework two years ago. PCSB policy is that any school that is "Tier 3" for 3 out of five years is subject to closure. Next year marks the third year of this policy, which is when the closure provisions take effect.

Since I arrived at PCSB a year ago I have been focused on the issue of high rates of charter expulsions and mid-year withdrawals. We have published data and I have seen early evidence that this transparency is having an effect. Schools have said that they are taking a deeper look at their numbers and trends and looking at new policies based on the figures. We will publish SY12-13 data this summer.

One way of discouraging mid-year withdrawals is to pay schools based on student counts taken several times a year, rather than just one count in early October. We strongly support this reform. (See http://tinyurl.com/d9luckz)

We can and should ask whether charters expel too many students, or if too many charter students leave during the year. But we need to ask other questions as well: what kind of learning environment does a DC student need to succeed? And what should a high-quality school do, from curriculum to culture to leadership to staff training, to create that kind of environment?

Scott Pearson
Executive Director
DC Public Charter School Board
Twitter: @SDPearson

by Scott Pearson on Feb 13, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

Fine, the PCSB shut down 30% of charters, but doesn't that mean that the PCSB is pretty bad at vetting new schools in the first place? That's a pretty awful failure rate and not one I'd exactly want to brag about.

by TM on Feb 13, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

Based on Scott Pearson's numbers, it is entirely possible that the charter to DCPS transfer rate could reflect good features
1. Increased accountability for charters means that more will be closed, leading to forced transfers. If the writing is on the wall, parents might prefer to transfer early instead of staying in a failing school.
2. Transfers can also be caused by improvements in DCPS.

As for TM's comments: the charter system is supposed to be experimental, so you are going to see a higher rate of failure. That said, 30% DOES seem like there is a problem vetting.

by SJE on Feb 13, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

TM - I agree that charter authorizers haven't always done a great job approving new schools. Most of the schools that have closed were approved in the first five years of the charter school law (1996-2000). And most of those were approved by the Board of Education, which was widely recognized to have done a poor job authorizing schools. The Board of Ed was shuttered in 2007 and its schools transferred to PCSB.

I would argue that PCSB has gotten smarter and tougher when authorizing new schools.

by Scott Pearson on Feb 13, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

Scott: I'd add that 30% over 18 years is not evidence of some systemic failure. The problem with the DCPS system was that we tolerated failure too much. Does anyone say that firing teachers and closing schools is evidence of DCPS failure?

by SJE on Feb 13, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

Contrary to the Students First report, with which PCSB strenuously disagreed (http://tinyurl.com/apnnob7), DC charter school accountability is among the highest in the nation.

Scott Pearson is absolutely right to correct me, as StudentsFirst did as well, that the StudentsFirst grade of DC as 0 out of 4 in charter accountability was a grade of our charter law, not the PCSB, which operates within the charter law.

That just reinforces the central point, however, that what we are lacking is not good people working in charters and the PCSB. What we are lacking are policies that align charter schools with the interests of all students across the public school system, not just their own.

Policies like neighborhood preference and common lotteries, which other districts with charters have. Policies like the ones StudentsFirst called for: performance-based charter contracts with clear academic triggers that lead to closure, annual reviews (instead of every 5 years) and 5-year contracts (instead of 15). And policies that harmonize expulsion policies (not necessarily to the letter between all schools, but within guidelines).

But these policies (except for common lottery) all require changes to the charter law, and are all opposed (again, except for the common lottery) by the PCSB. Nothing would be more helpful to changing the federal charter law than for the PCSB to support the change, and if the PCSB opposes it it's unlikely that Congress will trust it.

by Ken Archer on Feb 13, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

With our PMF policy calling for a school being a closure candidate in *any year* that the school has been Tier 3 for three out of five years, we now effectively review all schools every year. That was a big change (improvement) for PCSB.

by Scott Pearson on Feb 13, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

Ken: if you insist on aligning the interests of the charters and DCPS too far, why have a charter in the first place. The assumption seems to be that everyone must get the same education, but that policy lead to the lowest common denominator. It also leads to a continuing cycle of poverty: where you live determines your school, which determines your educational outcome, which determines where your kids live....I've live in places poorer and more violent than current Ward 8. A charter gives kids an alternative. It explicitly will not work if the charter cannot be different from the public schools.

About a year ago I read an excellent article about how a lot of the suffering of the poor in a bad neighborhood is because they cannot escape the worst elements that would have been kicked out of the better neighborhoods. There are plenty of good people, who just happen to be poor, but are forced to live among bad people. Give the children of the good people some options to escape from their enviroment.

by SJE on Feb 13, 2013 8:12 pm • linkreport

The assumption seems to be that everyone must get the same education, but that policy lead to the lowest common denominator.

That's not the assumption at all. The important distinction is between charter autonomy in how to teach kids, on the hand, and charter autonomy from harder-to-teach kids, on the other. It's precisely because charter autonomy in how to teach kids can unleash innovations that charters should not have autonomy from kids that are harder to teach.

by Ken Archer on Feb 13, 2013 8:15 pm • linkreport

It's precisely because charter autonomy in how to teach kids can unleash innovations that charters should not have autonomy from kids that are harder to teach.

Only if you believe it is the obligation of an individual school to teach all students, including the ones that are "harder to teach." That's not the case at all. The school system is supposed to teach all students. Of course, if someone wants to open the "charter school for hard to teach students", bully for them.

by Tyro on Feb 13, 2013 9:41 pm • linkreport

Only if you believe it is the obligation of an individual school to teach all students, including the ones that are "harder to teach." That's not the case at all. The school system is supposed to teach all students. Of course, if someone wants to open the "charter school for hard to teach students", bully for them.

Then what is the point of charter schools?

If it's just to give parents choices, DCPS already provides lots of choices through out-of-boundary system. There has to be some point to charters, some purpose they serve, other than adding to parents' choices.

by Ken Archer on Feb 13, 2013 10:00 pm • linkreport

@KA: There has to be some point to charters, some purpose they serve, other than adding to parents' choices.

No, there does not.

by goldfish on Feb 14, 2013 12:25 am • linkreport

Before the creation of charters: "We should create a shadow public school system which allows independence and innovation, so that the best ideas win, and eventually those ideas can be reapplied to schools for all children. Let the market decide!"

A decade into the charter experiment: "It's okay that charters cherry-pick the best students, because some parents *want* to send their kids to schools where the student body is comprised of cherry-picked students. And now parents (or at least the very few who win the lottery) have that choice!"

Once upon a time, the point of charters was as an incubator of innovative ideas for school improvement. Sorry, but foisting your lemons off on someone else isn't much of an innovation.

by oboe on Feb 14, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

Not so long ago, there was a comprehensive neighborhood school system in DC and it was awful. Charters offered small scale experiments on alternative education models; many of these have been successful. However, Charters are now a large part of the school system, and DCPS is struggling to provide comprehensive neighborhood schools given the decrease in funding due to the lower numbers of students.

While charters are small, it seems useful to give them as much freedom as possible. When they're half the school system, there needs to be a better comprehensive plan to ensure that there are appropriate schools for every student. Small steps that integrate administrative policies of the charter schools and DCPS schools seem necessary for the good of all students in DC. At a minimum, there should be one set of policies for expelling students and one lottery for all choice schools.

by SE on Feb 14, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

Mountain out of a mole hill? I doubt the author of that statement has stood at the entry of any DCPS school after October 6th when charters have received the annual per student funding. That's when the flood gates open and they start selectively kicking out behaviors and with them generally low test scores they dont want calculated!

by DCPS battling to save lives! on Feb 14, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

DCPS: The mountain out of a molehill comment is because I do not think the numbers (the molehill) support the conclusion (the mountain).

Ken: choice is, by itself, a good thing. Its what middle class and wealthy parents have done for decades. Why not the poor? Most importantly, choice is usually a necessary precondition for innovation. Of course, choice does not guarantee innovation.

Many nations with better educational outcomes than the USA have "parallel" school systems, including state funding for the non-religious components of parochial schools.

Now, you may point out that Finland goes against this: they have a monopoly. Well, you CAN great innovation and outcomes in any monopoly (Bell Labs did really good work, eg). The problem is that monopolies also sometime give bad outcomes and you are stuck with it.

by SJE on Feb 14, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

Andrew - I think that charter schools don't refund DCPS any monies for those mid year transfers. That is one of the issues people talk about when it comes to charters. Some feel charters may be real/too quick to expel AND they keep all the money, i.e. keeping the money is ends up being a bit of an incentive (or at least is perceived that way).

by ET on Feb 15, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

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