Charters & Choice

OhioFlypaper

Check out this special edition of the Ohio Education Gadfly, a look back at the decade's most significant education events in Ohio. 2010 bring new opportunities for K-12 education in Ohio, but let's not forget the impact of things like DeRolph, the Zelman voucher case, Strickland's "evidence-based" funding model, charter legislation, value-added measures, and more, and their potential to shape (for better or for worse) education reform in the Buckeye State in years to come.

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The now famous (or infamous) CREDO charter study from last June generated a ton of hype. (See our analysis here.) The results were largely mixed, seemly putting numbers behind the assertion that putting "charter" in front of (or after) a school name does not guarantee success. Then Caroline Hoxby released another charter report, which showed very encouraging results from charters in NYC.

We learn now that CREDO has issued ANOTHER charter study (pdf), this time looking at NYC specifically, and largely agreeing with Hoxby's conclusions. The first CREDO study and Hoxby's study have been compared, contrasted, and debated up the wazoo, despite the fact that CREDO did not look at NYC schools at all and Hoxby focused on them. Now we have a better comparison. But CREDO study director Macke Raymond doesn't see CREDO study 1 in conflict with CREDO study 2. As she??explained to Ed Week, "What New York City provides us with is an opportunity to step back and say, how is it possible that one market can have as robust a quality sector, where in other markets they're not able to get that kind of performance?"

What a great question. Here's a theory you may have heard before (probably here on Flypaper, in fact): New York state's tight charter cap forced that state's authorizing bodies to be more selective when granting charters. Far be it from me to advocate making the charter movement's life harder, but you have...

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The annual U.S. News and World Report high school rankings have been released. Thomas Jefferson HS in Alexandria, VA takes number 1 (again). But more interesting is a break down of top charter schools and top schools serving significant portions of socioeconomically-disadvantaged children (based on free and reduced-price lunch stats). Two charter schools made it into the top 10 of all public schools: Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, CA (ranked 7) and BASIS Tucson in Tucson, AZ (ranked 9). Connecticut had the most high-performing high schools out of all fifty states. Check out the entire list here.

--Stafford Palmieri

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Like other states, half of Ohio's $200 to $400 million in potential Race to the Top (RttT) winnings will be distributed to participating LEAs via the Title I formula. That $100 to $200 million pot may seem like a lot of money at first blush, but in reality it represents no more than about one percent of what the state will spend on education this biennium and roughly $55 to $110 per public school student. If not targeted toward spurring real reform, the risk is great that the money will do little more than provide a small, temporary boost to district bank accounts. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that's exactly what will happen here.

Ohio LEAs have until January 8 to sign on to the state's RttT application. At this point (and I must note that nothing is final and that the state still has a full month to work on its application), because of the political capital spent on his school reform plan in the last state budget, Ohio's RttT approach revolves around Governor Strickland's education vision and the changes he signed into law in July. While that bill contained reform-minded provisions in areas like teacher tenure and preparation, its hallmark was mandating a statewide, prescriptive, one-size-fits-all, inputs-based method for funding education--one that is far removed from student or school-based performance.???? Far from the type of reforms we hear Secretary Duncan pushing.

If Ohio's plan is built largely on already-mandated reforms and doesn't require heavy lifting...

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Anybody who thinks charter schools are plateauing or reaching some sort of natural limit had better think again.??The Texas Public Policy Foundation has just released the number of young Texans who were on waiting lists for charter schools in that state during the last school year (2008-9)--and it's north of 40,000, more than twice as many as the year before. This in a state with about 130,000 youngsters currently enrolled in charters. In other words, current demand in Texas would fill eighty more schools of 500 students each.??The state should make that happen--provided, of course, that they're all great schools!??If the??Texas pattern holds nationally, it would also mean that about half a million boys and girls wanted to attend charters last year but could not do so due to enrollment constraints.

-Chester E. Finn, Jr.

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One of the great canards in public education is that no one should profit from the public schools. For example, cries of "corporate takeover of public schools" and "profits come before the needs of children" have been part of the anti-charter school rhetoric in Ohio and elsewhere since the first for-profit charters opened in the early 1990s.

In 2007, for example, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Federation of Teachers called Ohio's charter schools a "franchise system of corporate-run schools." Ohio Governor Ted Strickland sought to outlaw all forms of "for-profit" charter operators in the Buckeye State in his budget proposals in both 2007 and 2009. In 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Strickland got great applause from the teacher unions and allies when he called charters "a rip-off." He even threw out the applause line that "There are people operating these schools getting rich and they're doing so on the backs of our children."

Yet, despite such political rhetoric every penny spent on education profits someone - teachers, administrators, text book publishers, computer companies, food service providers, bus drivers, school consultants, et al. Some, however, profit far more than others.

According to????a recent article in Education Week one of the organizations currently profiting nicely from public education is e-Luminate, a marketing and communications-consulting firm that was set up by Ken Kay. Ken Kay is the prophet of 21st Century Skills and according to Education Week his private consulting firm e-Luminate made...

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OhioFlypaper

Fordham's annual charter school accountability report, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is now out! As many of you know, Fordham authorizes (called "sponsoring" in Ohio) six charter schools in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Springfield. Each year we release a report outlining how Fordham-sponsored schools are doing, and contrasting them with charter schools statewide and schools within their home districts. The report also weighs in on timely political and legislative developments impacting charter schools in the Buckeye State. Highlights include:

  • - A recap on why Ohio charters faced such a tough year in 2008-09 (politically, legislatively, financially, you name it)
  • - A look at charter school growth since caps were placed on sponsors (unsurprisingly, fewer charter schools opened during 2007-09 than during 2005-07 period, and the sector as a whole is growing at a slower rate)
  • - A summary of the financial predicaments faced by charters in Ohio, including dwindling state and federal start-up dollars, and funding inequities between districts and charter schools that amount to charters receiving roughly $2000 less per pupil (see graph below)
  • - A brief narrative on Fordham's youngest charter schools, KIPP: Journey Academy and Columbus Collegiate Academy (a Building Excellent Schools affiliate)
  • - An academic snapshot of Fordham-sponsored schools, including the good (almost 70 percent of students in Fordham-sponsored schools achieved "above expected growth" on Ohio's value-added measure) and the bad (students in Fordham-sponsored schools still don't make the state proficiency goal of 75 percent in reading and math, similar to their district
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As a charter school sponsor (authorizer), Fordham submits an accountability report to the Ohio Department of Education at the end of November each year. The report includes profiles of each Fordham-sponsored school, as well as graphics comparing the achievement data of our schools, their home districts, and statewide averages. You’ll also find pertinent information on Ohio charter school spending over the last decade, and in the introduction, a timely analysis of the political and legislative environment impacting Ohio charters in 2008-09 that explains why the title, “Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity,” is befitting.

One week from today shoppers across the nation will prepare for the madness known as Black Friday. Consumers will ready themselves for a labyrinth of lines, often queuing up at odd hours of the night to be among the first to stampede toward special bargains and giveaways. Such is the American way.

This week the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted another unique American phenomenon involving long lines and midnight campers - parents lining up as far as two and a half days in advance in order to win their child a spot in one of the city's elite public magnet schools. The Enquirer writes:

"Despite attempts from Cincinnati Public Schools to discourage camping, parents once again formed a long queue outside Fairview Clifton German Language School - the earliest will wait for more than 2.5 days before submitting their applications.

The first parents arrived by about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, and the crowd quickly grew. By 5 p.m. Monday, about six dozen people stood in line and some were erecting tents on school property."

And

"In Clifton, Winton Hills parent Carmen Pitts had the No. 1 spot in line and on a list parents hope will be enforced Tuesday night. Her daughter is currently in preschool at Winton Hills Academy, a school in Academic Watch. Fairview is rated Excellent, one of just a few CPS schools to earn that rating.

??"To make sure that my...

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OhioFlypaper

By guest blogger and Fordham's Director of Charter School Sponsorship Kathryn Mullen Upton

The Columbus Dispatch writes today that "the truth about Columbus middle schools is brutal." More than 70 percent of the district's middle schools are rated "D" or "F" by the state and none of them met federal Adequate Yearly Progress targets.

A bright spot in this urban education landscape is the new Columbus Collegiate Academy (which the Fordham Foundation authorizes ). In 2008-09 (the school's first year), CCA was the highest performing middle school in Columbus. Of its inaugural class of sixth graders, most of who were performing well below grade level when school started in August 2008, 74 percent met reading proficiency and 82 percent met math proficiency on the state achievement tests. These are amazing results, especially for a first year start-up, ??and are not an aberration: NWEA MAP data (a nationally-norm referenced assessment) corroborate CCA's stellar state test results. (You can watch a video about Columbus Collegiate Academy's first official day of school in 2009.)

But it's been a brutal ride for CCA and other start-up charter schools in Ohio, including the Buckeye State's first KIPP school, KIPP Journey Academy (which is also authorized by Fordham). On top of the usual charter school start-up challenges, both CCA and KIPP have faced serious external challenges.

Ohio's charter schools only receive about 70 percent of the funding of district schools, yet the governor and House Democrats...

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