‘No-excuses’ charter schools could do more harm than good, analysis finds

“No-excuses” charter schools – which promote strict disciplinary policies, longer school days, and intensive academic tutoring at the expense of the arts and physical education – could do more harm than good, according to a new review by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

“While supporters of ‘no-excuses’ charter schools say these practices improve student achievement, they fail to acknowledge the potential negative effects these practices have on students, teachers, and families,” according to the report.

The Think Twice report disputes an earlier report by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute claiming that practices found in “no-excuses” charter schools could help close the achievement gap, especially in low-performing schools. Think Twice reviewers Joanne W. Golann, an assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, and Chris Torres, an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration at Michigan State University, conclude that the original report had several flaws and should not be used to inform education policy or as a tool to expand “no-excuses” charter schools and policies.

The Think Twice report noted that several studies have demonstrated the “no-excuses” practices can negatively impact a student’s socio-emotional development and later success. “Many ‘no-excuses’ charter schools have harsh, disparate discipline policies that can result in suspensions or expulsions for violations, no matter how small,” it says.

The Think Twice report says:

  • “No-excuses” schools aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach to turning around schools; and there is no solid evidence to back up claims that “no-excuses” disciplinary policies are the core reason for these schools’ success.
  • “No-excuses” schools have higher than average teacher turnover rates due to concerns about workload, long hours, and the “no-excuses” model itself.
  • Policymakers, education leaders, and other decision-makers should pause before expanding “no-excuses” schools and polices.
  • Policymakers, educators, and researchers need to work together to address and understand the impact of the “no-excuses” model before expanding it to other charters or even traditional public schools.
  • We need to embrace culturally relevant educational practices that support equitable and fair learning opportunities for all students and ensure students can learn in a safe environment.
  • Educators should focus on all aspects of student growth – including academic and emotional and personal growth – rather than only focusing on academic achievement to measure student success.

Find out more at the Great Lakes Center website.

Vouchers are far worse for student achievement than previously thought, analysis concludes

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress concludes that private school vouchers are more harmful to student achievement than previously thought and that students attending private voucher schools miss out on approximately one-third of a year of classroom learning.

“This analysis builds on a large body of voucher program evaluations in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., all of which show that students attending participating private schools perform significantly worse than their peers in public schools—especially in math,” according to the summary titled The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers. “A recent, rigorous evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program from the U.S. Department of Education reaffirms these findings, reporting that D.C. students attending voucher schools performed significantly worse than they would have in their original public school.”

The report concludes that voucher programs have a more negative impact on students than exposure to violent crime at school, feeling unsafe in school, high teacher turnover, and teacher absenteeism.

It cited the lack of instructional time in voucher schools as a main factor: “The researchers found that private schools offer less instructional time than public schools. On average, private schools offer 65.5 minutes less per week in reading instruction and 48.3 minutes less per week in math instruction. More quality instructional time is linked to higher student achievement. Therefore, with each additional year that students are enrolled in the voucher program, they lose even more instructional time.”

Read more about the study:

The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers – Center for American Progress

How bad are school vouchers for students? Far worse than most people imagine. Indeed, according to the analysis conducted by the authors of this report, the use of school vouchers-which provide families with public dollars to spend on private schools-is equivalent to missing out on more than one-third of a year of classroom learning.

Charter schools contribute to segregation, lack accountability and are failing students, new studies find

Charter schools contribute to segregation, lack accountability and are failing students, according to two new studies out this week.

In one study, the Network for Public Education calls charter schools a “fiscal and educational disaster.”

“Charter schools can and have closed at will, leaving families stranded. Profiteers with no educational expertise have seized the opportunity to open charter schools and use those schools for self-enrichment. States with weak charter laws encourage nepotism, profiteering by politicians, and worse,” according to the NPE report titled Charters and Consequences. (Read summary at EducationVotes.org.)

The 48-page report details the consequences of loosely regulated charter policy and the effects that charters are having on public schools. Whatever the benefits charter schools offers to the few, the overall negative consequences must be addressed, stated the report.

In the second study, the Associated Press says charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated — “an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools.”

AP says its analysis of charter schools in 42 states found that charters promote “extreme racial isolation.” As of school year 2014-2015, AP says, more than 1,000 of the nation’s 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

AP quotes Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney, as saying: “Desegregation works. Nothing else does. There is no amount of money you can put into a segregated school that is going to make it equal.”

Read the EducationVotes.org summary of the NPE study:

Charter school experiment has “failed,” concludes national investigation – Education Votes

The charter school industry’s unregulated, taxpayer-funded business model of education is a “fiscal and educational disaster,” concluded a report that is the result of investigations, visits and interviews over the course of a year. Get the latest information on the issues that matter to students, educators, and public schools.

 

Read the Associated Press analysis:

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds – an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools. National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation.

 

‘Public schools are our hope for democracy’

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“In Wisconsin, we care about our communities and share responsibility for each other’s future,” says Appleton resident Carol Lenz, a member of Fox Cities Advocates for Public Education. “This is why we value our public schools, where all children are empowered to achieve their dreams. Our nation’s economic prosperity and democracy depend on strong public schools.”

In a letter published by USA Today Network-Wisconsin and the Appleton Post-Crescent, Lenz says her two adopted children from India received strong support and a great education in public schools.

“Public schools empower students to learn in a diverse environment, better preparing them to live in a diverse country and world,” Lenz writes. “Learning with others, regardless of color, class or creed, fosters meaningful relationships that bridges differences, creating sorely needed empathy for our fellow human beings. My faith teaches me that empathy will help heal our brokenness. This is what public schools do.”

However, she noted, the movement toward privatization threatens the future of our public schools.

“Shortchanging our investment in public education by diverting funds to privatization ‘reforms’ turns a public good into a private profit scheme,” she writes. “Privatization of education undermines democratically-elected school boards. It curtails local control and public oversight of public dollars. More importantly, it creates winners and losers. It destroys community schools while promoting segregation, contributing to social disunity and inequality. The result is more division and polarization, quite the opposite of ‘E Pluribus Unum.’ This is the last thing our already fragile democracy needs.”

Read the Carol Lenz’s entire letter in the Post-Crescent:

Public schools are our hope for democracy

In Wisconsin, we care about our communities and share responsibility for each other’s future. This is why we value our public schools, where all children are empowered to achieve their dreams. Our nation’s economic prosperity and democracy depend on strong public schools. Community public schools continue to be the front line in unifying a polarized society.

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Education Savings Accounts being considered by Legislature are another ‘back-door scheme’ to rob money from public schools, Martin says

So-called Education Savings Accounts, reportedly under consideration by Republican legislators, are just another “back-door scheme” to take money away from neighborhood public schools, WEAC President Ron Martin said Thursday.

“Education savings accounts literally take money out of our neighborhood public schools and hand it over to subsidize private tuition, with zero accountability,” Martin said. “Wisconsin students don’t need any more back-door schemes to take funding from our public schools. Public school students already receive less funding than those in private schools. Politicians who turn their backs on the public schools that provide all children with opportunity in return for campaign contributions from voucher lobbyists had better be ready to look parents in their communities in the eye in the next election and explain why local public schools are cutting teachers and programs, while tax dollars go unaccounted for through private subsidies.”

Facts:

  • The state provides more money per-pupil to private school students than it provides per-pupil to public school students. (See table below: Per-pupil support in the table is based on state aid – what the legislature provides, not local taxes.)
  • A Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo shows an $800 million price tag for the statewide voucher program through time, funding that will deplete public school aid. In short, the legislature is eroding the foundation of support for public education in Wisconsin.
  • “Education Savings Accounts” are another scheme in a wide array of programs harmful to public schools that were enacted over the last five years. These schemes also include tax breaks for private school participants, a statewide voucher system, special education vouchers, takeover policies that allow unelected czars to control public schools, and an expansion of private charters.

Today, more state aid goes to support private students per-pupil than goes to support public school students per-pupil:

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WEAC: New style of vouchers ‘back-door scheme’ to defund public schools

The state’s largest teachers union came out swinging Thursday after the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Assembly Republicans are looking at bringing new style of school voucher to Wisconsin. Assembly Republicans are considering a program that would allow Wisconsin parents to pay for K-12 school expenses – including private school tuition, textbooks and tutoring — with a taxpayer-funded stream of money known in other states as Education Savings Accounts.

Assembly Republicans float exploring new school choice option

Wisconsin parents could pay for K-12 school expenses – including tuition at private schools – with a taxpayer-funded savings account under a program Assembly Republicans are considering.