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Introduction:

The irony of a recent report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is that it purports to “separate fact from fiction” about charter schools. Unfortunately, in addressing 21 “myths,” it embraces fiction whenever useful to push advocacy goals, thus perpetuating its own myths and fictions about charter schools. Since it relies overwhelmingly on other advocacy documents, it does not give a balanced or thorough examination of any of the 21 “myths.” But the exercise provides a useful opportunity for this review to walk through the various claims and succinctly address each. Among the areas addressed are the financial equality of charter schools, lower teacher qualifications, student selection demographics, academic outcomes, segregation, and innovation. While the NAPCS report itself may provide only sound-bite fodder for advocates, we hope that the two documents combined— report plus review—offer an overview of issues that does advance comprehensive understanding.

To read the report in full, go to NEPC.

DC Charter School Awarded Diplomas Despite Missing Requirements
Friendship Collegiate Charter HS Students Skipped US History But Still Graduated Inflated Course Credits and Skipped Requirements Went Unnoticed for 3 1/2 Years
 
Contact:                           Washington , D.C. , February 20, 2015
          Erich Martel
          202-258-4750
          ehmartel@starpower.net
 
Retired DCPS Teacher Asks DC Council To Order An Audit of All High Schools
In testimony before the Education Committee of the Council of the District of Columbia, chaired by Council Member David Grosso, retired DCPS history teacher Erich Martel (1969-2011: Cardozo HS, Wilson HS, Phelps HS) reported discovering transcripts of three 2011 graduates of Friendship Collegiate Charter High School showing missing graduation requirements and inflated course credit values. 
 
Unlike Martel’s discoveries of secretly changed grades at Wilson High School and many seniors certified for graduation despite missing requirements (2002 & 2006), these three transcripts had been submitted by the Executive Director of the Friendship Public Charter Schools to the DC State Board of Education in January 2013 as “actual transcripts of students who are now successful high school graduates and attending college.”  They were intended to bolster support for ending the Carnegie Unit as the definition of course credit that meets graduation requirements and replacing it with credits based on an ambiguous “competency-based education,” short-cut classes like “credit recovery” and “summer school.”  If these three transcripts represent the best student performance, what do the others show?
 
Martel told Chairman Grosso, “The most obvious question is: Who is responsible for oversight? 
We are told that each charter’s board of trustees is the first line of accountability.  Where was it?
The Public Charter School Board with its large staff has oversight authority.  Where was it?
The State Board of Education and State Superintendent with its huge bureaucracy? Where was it” 
 
Martel quoted from the letter of resignation from another Friendship school, Tech Charter, by 9th grade Algebra I teacher Caleb Rossiter , who resigned after repeated pressure to pass students who had failed first advisory.  He wrote, “There appear to be strong institutional pressures on administrators to achieve high enrollment figures, pass rates, and scores on grade-level standardized tests. These pressures flow down to the classroom, where they collide with the reality of severe academic and behavioral deficits….”
 
Martel requested that Chairman Grosso request that the Auditor of the Government of the District of Columbia conduct an audit of statistically valid samples of DCPS and DC charter high schools management of student records 1) to test them for consistency (transcripts and report cards agree); completeness (no missing grades); mathematically correct (credits entered and added up correctly; reliability (no evidence of tampering or grade changes); 2) to test whether the class of 2014 graduates had satisfied all graduation requirement mandated by the State Board of Education.

Suspensions at city charter schools far outpace those at district schools, data show

From Chalkbeat New York

February 23,2015

New York City charter schools suspended students at almost three times the rate of traditional public schools during the 2011-12 school year, according to a Chalkbeat analysis, though some charter schools have since begun to reduce the use of suspensions for minor infractions.

Overall, charter schools suspended at least 11 percent of their students that year, while district schools suspended 4.2 percent of their students. The charter-school suspension rate is likely an underestimate because charter schools don’t have to report suspensions that students serve in school.

Not all schools had high suspension rates. One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.

Chalkbeat’s analysis is based on data that charter schools report to the state education department and the more detailed reports of suspensions in district schools. It includes data from 130 city charter schools open in 2011-12, the last year for which data is publicly available. [More on our analysis here.]

The analysis offers a clearer picture of how out-of-school suspensions are used to deal with misbehavior in the city’s growing charter-school sector, which now serves more than 83,000 students, most of whom are black or Hispanic.

Meanwhile, some of the city’s charter-school networks that have long championed “sweat-the-small-stuff” discipline practices say they have been moved to change their policies.

“When you make the numbers visible, when you hold up a mirror, you’re able to see your actions,” said Ron Chaluisan, who oversees the charter schools run by New Visions for Public Schools network. “When you’re able to see your actions, you’re able to change your behaviors.”

An ongoing debate

Unlike traditional district schools, charter schools are free to craft their own discipline policies, and some have used that autonomy to establish strict behavior codes. Escalating consequences for misdeeds like chewing gum, tardiness, talking out of turn, and dress-code violations are standard, and students who break rules repeatedly can find themselves suspended quickly.

Schools say suspensions maintain order, keep children safe, and allow teachers to focus on instruction by removing the most distracting students. Strict discipline has long been a cornerstone of the charter-school movement, and supporters argue that those policies have led to better academic outcomes for a majority of their students.

                                                                    
 

 

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