Monday, November 17, 2008

KSTP "Investigative Report"

If you cannot view the video, you can go to the story online by clicking here.

Some comments on ideas or premonitions from this "Investigative Report" from my perspective:

  • "20% of Minnesota's Charter Schools should be shut down or restructured." - I don't tend to disagree, but would venture to guess that the same percentage, if not higher in traditional public schools are in the same boat.
  • There isn't enough over sight on many things, including teacher licenses at individual schools. - I think that there are people that get into the charter world for a wide variety of reasons. Running an effective charter school can be equated to running a successful business. It is a lot of work and isn't somthing that should be taken lightly. Charter Schools should follow the standards and laws regarding teacher licensing that the MN Department of Education sets forth.
  • If a few schools have problems, they must all have issues. - This is just simply not the case. The variety of charter schools differ by almost all of the 143 (or so) schools. This would be as logical as if you met one teacher who was lazy and then applied that label to every teacher (which certain people do). If you look around the country, the charter schools vary from state to state. Taking the "if you seen one, you've seen them all" viewpoint is short sited.
  • Lastly, I feel the the term charter school is almost pejorative. It seems like if anything bad happens within a charter school anywhere around the country, the term charter school is inserted. The headline will then say something like "Charter School Director Guilty of Fraud." Thus, whenever the general public discuss charters, they have negative thoughts. Again, I go back to the fact that there are many bad things happening in our traditional schools today (although there are many good things, but those aren't talked about unless it has to do with sports), and we don't blame the traditional model systematically for these events, do we?
Many of these issues are sure to come during this legislative session. While I am not an charter ideologue, I do think that the large, traditional, warehouse-like schools need to be changed. I am a fan of small schools (traditional or charter), were student are treated as individuals. Good public schools need to serve the community (students, parents and the locale) they are in, whether they are charters or traditional schools.

With shrinking government budgets and quickening pace of technology assisted learning (including online learning), it is time to start talking about what works for kids. If we are going to invest so much public money into educating the future of our country, we'd better spend wisely. Measuring progress by snapshot tests isn't going to give us good insight into what is working. I personally feel relying solely on academic testing data alone is a disservice to our kids. We need assessment tools that measure student growth over the long term.

I felt myself going into a diatribe. I am cutting this short at the risk of getting too political, but as always, if you wish to discuss, drop me line.

All the best,


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