Why vote for Measure 1240 to create charter schools? Charter improvements in student performance are modest. Alternatives exist. The measure is a gamble.
Washington is one of the most progressive states offering options to public education according to Emile Fogle, chair of the Washington Homeschool Organization.
Fogle said, “Public schools may contract with [charter] companies …or operate Alternative Learning Experience Programs. Charters would be redundant now.”
Alternatives include the Skills Center, Westside High School, Eastmont technical programs and college preparation classes such as Bridgeport’s. Parent Partnership Programs create individualized contracts with reimbursements for materials.
Resources abound through social media and video education, such as the Khan Academy, having provided viewers 198,670,298 brief videos towards its “goal of providing a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
I couldn’t find a Kahn video about the math arrays my 4th grade lunch buddy is studying, but quickly found five on YouTube. These resources link to Facebook.
Last week in my Wenatchee Learns committee, a teacher said students are talking about classes on Facebook. Some teachers link their classes with students on Facebook.
Revolutionary progress is rapidly providing resources for anyone, anywhere at any time.
In contrast, Measure 1240, “would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools.” Students would be chosen by lottery.
Charter schools would be, “operated through approved … nonprofit organizations.”
Governmental oversight would be under a new state charter commission or a school district approved by the state to offer a charter school.
Charters could “modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.” The measure lists many un-modifiable laws and says, “the bargaining unit for collective bargaining would be limited to employees of the charter school.”
The fiscal impact statement says, “Impacts on state expenditures are … indeterminate, but non-zero. Known state agency implementation costs are estimated at $3,090,700 over five fiscal years.”
Burdened with time-consuming, costly overhead, would charters be worth the costs?” I read the voters’ pamphlet asking, ‘Do charter schools improve student performance?’ These are advocate answers.
“Our current public school system isn’t meeting the needs of all students.”
But, do charters improve student performance?
“Forty-one other states have public charter schools.”
But, do charters improve student performance?
“Charter schools have more flexibility in curriculum, budgets and staffing, and in offering more customized learning experiences for students.”
I found answers from reputable sources, ignoring glowing self-reports from individual charters. Student improvements are variable and modest.
“From the available research, it seems that the attention paid to charter schools outweighs the effect they have had on public education, either good or bad,” says the Center for Public Education, which describes itself as a “national resource for accurate, timely and credible information about public education.”
In 2011 the National Charter School Research Project at the U. of Washington contracted for a new study, “The Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature.” It said, “past charter research tells us little.”
However, the study said, “There is reason for optimism that, despite great variation in results, charter schools can be effective policy tools.”
Using psychometric skills from my PhD, I scanned the published study and studied the researchers’ summary brief. Optimism stems from statistically significant results in reading and math.
Average reading scores improve in elementary schools. A failing student ranking 50th out of 100 would be expected to rise to 50.4th after one year. No significant improvement would be expected in middle school or high school.
Average math scores improve in elementary and middle schools. A failing student ranking 50th out of 100 would be expected to rise to 52nd after one year. No significant improvement would be expected in high school.
Researchers do not know why charters get these modest results. The report says, “Although the results cannot tell why some charter schools perform better than others, it is likely that state laws and implementation influence outcome.”
What? Their best guess is state laws and implementation might influence modest, variable outcomes?
Spending taxpayer money on charter schools is like buying a lottery ticket. Vote no.
And demand better alternatives.