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“All Kids Can Learn,” and Charter Schools are Raising the Bar

“All Kids Can Learn,” and Charter Schools are Raising the Bar

It’s time to abolish the tyranny of low expectations.

The latest series of polling data suggests that support for school choice in America is on the rise. A 2013 Luntz Global Public Opinion Survey (via National School Choice Week) showed that a majority of Americans fully support having more flexibility and more choice in their child’s education:

  • Public support for school choice is growing. 73 percent of Americans support school choice, compared with 67 percent in 2010.
  • Parents want more education options for their children. 64 percent of parents said that, “if given the financial opportunity” they would send one or all of their children to a different school.
  • Parents don’t feel they have enough options. 64 percent of parents agreed with the statement: “when it comes to the options to educate my children the way I want them educated, I have wanted more options for my children’s education.”

The Franklin Center recently released a new video touting their support of school choice and charter schools. Check it out here:

If we want to address the problem with public schools in America, we need to get over the idea that there’s a one-size fits-all solution to improving our education system.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) left students (and teachers) foundering in the wake of increased testing requirements and focus on scores, and now, the new Common Core standards have parents in even the most stereotypically liberal state in the union questioning whether or not the new policies help students succeed:

A new poll finds that 44 percent of registered voters in California have a negative impression of the Common Core standards compared to 38 percent who say their impression of the nationalized standards is positive.

The 2014 PACE/USC Rossier Poll also showed that nearly half of the voters polled – 47 percent – said they were familiar with the Common Core standards, a substantial increase from the 2013 poll when just 29 percent of voters were familiar with the standards.

Both findings suggest that, as more people become knowledgeable about the Common Core standards, their view of them is increasingly unfavorable.

Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska have not yet adopted the standards, which makes sense considering the new standards appear to be a Pandora’s Box of terrible policies:

“The schools are telling parents they will no longer offer ‘math acceleration’ classes, in order to align with Common Core, and that grade skipping (for high achieving students) will no longer be the ‘best practice,’” she explained. “This will do nothing other than discourage the high-achieving students, frustrate the lower achieving students and force the teacher to ‘teach to the middle.’”

“Both parents and teachers are seeing their students being overly tested, with assessments being mandated on a continuous basis to monitor progress,” Brandon added. “Every time a teacher has to test his or her students, time is taken away from actual teaching.”

School choice works because it allows parents to send their children to schools that will offer a challenging and flexible curriculum. Putting students into classrooms where teachers are forced to gear their lessons toward the middle of the pack puts slower learners at a disadvantage, and forces high-performing students to conform their creativity to a one-size-fits-all standard that doesn’t allow teachers to work with statistical outliers.

If even parents in California have lost faith in federal curriculum programs, it would seem that the powers that be in Washington are going to have a tough time convincing parents in more conservative states to not send these new standards packing.


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The final test is the type of material the children are bringing home. When the math homework for elementary students showed up, bewildered, upset — and mathematically trained– parents hit the ceiling.

This was not a function of political orientation. The responses at The Gateway Pundit and the Jawa Report, for example, were mirrored at Reddit.

The math curriculum was written without the input of mathematicians, and the standards, also written by anonymous non-mathematicians, were disapproved by the mathematics advisors connected with the project.

People do not disagree with the notion of national standards for schooling: they do want expertise in the subject matter to be taught.

Making every student equal is the goal. All will be equally ill-informed, bored out of their minds and prepared to be on the gov dole!

(Self) promoted from the tip line…

Up until the last few months, the College Board has provided high school teachers with only a brief topical outline for the AP U.S. History test. The brevity of this outline has permitted states, school districts, and teachers across the country to approach American history in their own way. Now, however, the College Board has created a lengthy and detailed “framework” for their AP U.S. History test. That framework effectively forces teachers to adopt an ideologically left-leaning approach to American history, heavily emphasizing our country’s failings while giving short shrift to our founding principles.

So, the College Board has been captured by Conquest’s First Law.

And, according to design, the teaching of American history will now be more narrow and homogenized…and Collectivist.

They are not interested in letting you out of the coral.

    Rags-it’s even worse than it appears. Frameworks also guide the Common Core. A framework does not specify what facts are to be taught. It specifies the conceptual understandings that are to be taught as an ideological ‘lens’ affecting how everything is to be perceived. Examples given are oppression, inequality, the evils of capitalism. Common Core has a related concept usually called the Enduring Understandings. Instead of building up a conceptual understanding from facts, students are to use the provided understanding to interpret their own experiences plus described situations.

    The so-called C3 Social Studies Framework is hugely ideological and even specifies the desired dispositions students will supposedly need to be active in a participatory democracy. John Dewey’s vision that is.

“Every time a teacher has to test his or her students, time is taken away from actual teaching.”

Just how many hours per year does a typical HS student spend on these tests?

Fifty years ago I seemed to be taking one sort of Standardized Test or another almost constantly. That was the subjective view. But in reality probably no more than three or four days a year were actual “test” days.

SoCA Conservative Mom | July 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

We just finished kindergarten in a regular public school with my younger son and 2nd grade with my older son in a homeschool/public charter school setting. I homeschool my older son three days a week and he goes to a traditional school setting at a public charter school two days a week. The differences in the two schools are astounding and heartbreaking. I place most of the blame on the administration of the public schools, but some is reserved for the teachers.

How can teachers, especially in the lower grades, be expected to teach thirty or more students at a time? My son’s kindergarten class had 32 students. My 2nd grader started the school year at the same school with 34 students in his class, at the charter school there were 13 children in his 2nd grade class. Reducing class size, at least in the lower grades would be the first step. Class sizes should start out small and increase as grade levels increase. There is no reason why the lower grades can’t have 20 students and the upper grades (junior or seniors in high school) can’t have 40 or more.

The next step is looking at what is being taught in each grade and how it is taught. My main problem with common core is that much of what is being taught is not at the developmentally appropriate age. For instance, reading is being pushed beginning in kindergarten when most children have not developed the eye movement and teaming necessary to be proficient readers. Most children don’t develope the ability to track left to right, or right to left, teaming both eyes without eye jumps until age 7. Imagine how difficult it would be to read and keep your place from line to line if your eyes were jumping all over the page. Most of the reading work I did in the past year with my older son was to develope eye tracking and teaming so that learning to read would be less of a struggle. He would never have gotten what he needed in a traditional classroom, because the teacher would not have had the time to spend with him. His teacher recommended seeing the reading specialist, but 30 minutes once a week with 3 other children in the group would have been pointless. Add to the lack of time, the lack of knowledge. My son’s original 2nd grade teacher couldn’t tell me his reading level after 6 weeks into the school year. When I asked what I could do with him at home, her only recommendation was to read with him. I was appalled that a woman who had been teaching for over a decade could give no guidance on how to teach reading.

Math is also being taught at developmentally inappropriate times. My 2nd grader is already doing algebra. The concepts being taught in 1st and 2nd grade are too abstract for them to grasp. Also a problem is that before they have a sense of numbers, that 1,000,000 is a lot larger than 100, they are being taught to multiply, divide, and solve algebraic equations. The motivation is a belief that we, as a country, are being left behind in STEM. The developers of common core want to cram as much “learning” into each year so that more students are ready for STEM programs at the college level, but they ignored developmental readiness. Essentially there is more to know today than there was 50 years ago, so more has to be taught at a younger age…. Not sure I buy this.

My critique of teachers… Most think they are doing fine, but the truth is, most are overwhelmed and many are burnt out. They spend a lot of time addressing behavioral problems and little time teaching. Because so much time is diverted to addressing behavioral issues, more and more teaching is being sent home, but with little guidance or rhyme and reason for the parents. The behavioral issues need to be addressed at home, but for many children there is no support system at home. Another issue is tenure and the contract with the school district. Teachers at the public school are loathed to do anything not specified in the contract. Not even addressing accountability, I experienced an almost complete lack of feedback, reporting, and information from the school unless there was a “problem,” and even then it was like pulling teeth to get any information. At the charter school, everyone bent over backwards to provide everything I needed for my son. The answer was always yes. I asked to have my son MAP tested to see where he was at academically, the answer was yes. I asked for a reading specialist, the answer was yes. I asked for different social studies and language arts curricula, the answer was yes. There was never any shoulder shrugging when I asked how my son was doing. The 2 minutes my son’s teacher took to talk with me each day after school was more helpful than the hour long parent teacher conference at the public school.

We are busy planning the upcoming school year. Both of my sons will be homeschooled 3 days a week and at the charter school 2 days a week. After seeing the progress my older son made this year (advancing 2 full grades in reading in 6 months,) it would be a crime to put him back in the regular public school. Equally criminal would be to deny my younger son the same opportunity.

    Where do you live that they have 30 or more students in any class? Here they pitch a fit over 15 and they have TAs.
    I went through schools with 30+ students and no TAs and the teachers didn’t seem to have a problem.

      SoCA Conservative Mom in reply to genes. | July 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Carlsbad, California. There used to be a state law that limited class size, but it was either repealed or sunsetted out of existence. My sons’ charter school limits class size to 20 students… In their charter.

Amy-be very careful about blindly endorsing school choice and charters. Most charters I have read legally mandated that the school shift away from academics to a Whole Child, social and emotional learning, activity learning focus. Parents need to always read that charter.

I have listened to School Choice presentations that were factually false and when I called attention to what was specifically wrong in the presentation, the lies just started snowballing. As long as the accreditation agencies like AdvancED, WASC in California, or New England, for example, have oversight over charter schools, they will impose the same vision on them that exists for public schools under the Orwellian Quality Standards.

Also many charters are heavily pushing digital learning. It’s visual instead of symbolic and mental, which is problemmatic. Secondly, digital learning necessarily circumscribes what it means to know any area. It’s whatever is written into the program, but it has to be a closed system even if it is adaptive. That’s how it works in developing software. That’s not how learning from a textbook or lecture work.

The program on School Choice I attended last winter in Georgia did not want any standardized testing, which would have given objective data on how schools were doing. It wanted to make accreditation the seal of approval. Yet accreditation is the ultimate standardizer and poison delivery operating in education today.

I could write a charter that could work as most parents want. I could write regs that would constrain accreditors from the invisible power they now hold. Right now though that’s not how charters work and it is an area to be wary of. Public money with no recourse to elected officials is a terrible position.

About 15 years ago, a survey showed the average HS senior’s SAT score was 1017. The average SAT of those earning degrees in Education was 973. So the pool of teachers starts off behind the average student.

Teacher unions protect the incompetent, but even in right to work states it is not so easy to find and fire the incompetent as long as they don’t abuse the children or get caught stealing or cheating.

And the same plague that has ruined universities is doing the same to public schools: an explosion of well-paid administrators. Now if these newly added managers showed any improvements in the schools, they could perhaps be justified, but they apparently have no effect at all – beyond creating a new cushy position for an educrat.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Estragon. | July 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    There’s an age gap where the scoring of the test and the difficulty has been adjusted. I agree with you about union protection of incompetence, but I don’t believe that stat for a second.

One more point on charters. There are some good ones out there, but most of those have language lurking that will be used against the unsuspecting parents when the time is right. I live in a suburb where that is happening now. Too many parents misleadingly believe a nice neighborhood, high rel estate taxes to fund schools, and well educated parents are the protection. No, that’s the reason for the bullseye on those children as benefitting from their parents success.

I started on this with a recognition of the consistent troubling language, but I am a tenacious researcher. I was able to locate the federally funded plan from 1988 written by one of the regional ed labs on how to use school charters to bind parents and communities to education as a means for psychologically changing the student instead of the transmission of knowledge. Instead of the outcry and retreat, the idea was that the charter would bind even over objection. explains all that.

I recently was at a public hearing for proposed charter schools in a city where most students are several years behind their peers in the suburbs. While almost every supporting parent was black or Hispanic, the NAACP was at the door urging the board members to oppose the schools. Thanks for caring about your constituency.

While not perfect (no school is) charters are about the children, while the traditional urban schools have become all about power hungry adults who care only about political jobs and assisting union leaders.

Hold traditional urban schools to the same standards the states (and the anti-charter media) force upon the charters and most of them would be closed down within a few months.

healthguyfsu | July 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I’ll just say it. I don’t think America as a whole is ready for “financially-independent” parent choice in school selection.

I support more freedom and the idea of letting it work itself out but there will be HUGE growing pains. I also think that this will lead to even more pandering by administration and even more lawsuits from parents who feel their child’s progress, safety, or whatever else they want to conjure up is being threatened.