Archive for the ‘Center for Education Reform’ Tag

Georgia's Charter School Law: A Tale of Two (conflicting) Reports   2 comments

There is a saying invoked when a person is obviously in over his or her head in their professional role: It’s not what you know, but who you know. I thought about this when I read that Georgia was ranked #4 for its charter school law, by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. This is especially interesting when you consider that the Center for Education Reform’s recent Charter School Report Card assigned a grade of ‘C’ to Georgia. One of the explanations cited for Georgia’s ‘average’ grade was the fact that the newly-formed Charter School Commission is still, in large part, controlled by the Georgia Department of Education. For further explanation on Georgia’s grade, see ‘Georgia’s Charter School Law receives a ‘C.’

Out of curiosity, I visited the alliance’s site to see how Indiana ranked. According to this report, Indiana ranked 29th. I find that laughable considering the fact that the state has had two independent authorizers: The Mayor of Indianapolis and Ball State University. In fact, Indiana was one of the first states to use the mayor of a major city as an authorizer. Furthermore, all charter schools must be non-profits and oeprate as such. This practice has been called into question here in Georgia, as EMOs/CMOs are making up to $1 million per charter school in management fees, facility leasing fees, and professional development costs. The CER report assigned a grade of ‘B’ to Indiana; again, Georgia received a ‘C.’ How can the results from these two reports be so different?

So what’s really going on? Sometimes, peoples actions and motives are transparent; other times, a little digging and connecting the dots is required. I checked the bios on the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools board of directors. Interesting to say the least. One of the directors has ties to KIPP; another is the CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. Believe it or not, former Mayor of Indianapolis Bart Peterson is also a member. Yes, that is the same mayor responsible for supporting and growing the charter school community in Indianapolis. Damn. That almost makes me want to retract the nice things I said about him earlier. I wonder if he actually read the report and noticed that Indiana received such a horrible ranking? Probably not. Oh yeah, Joel Klein is also a member of the board of directors. One thing positive that I can say about the board’s membership is that it accurately reflects the population of students being served by charter schools across the country; that is certainly more than I can say for the Georgia Charter School Commission, Charter Schools Association, and State Board of Education. Minorities are truly a minority in those arenas.

I guess Indiana should (and probably doesn’t) feel too slighted. Afterall, the CER report is likely more reliable and least likely to be influenced by board members and donation sizes. Besides, it could be worse: They could have received an ‘F’ like Virginia. I guess that explains why Charter School Commission member Gerard Robinson jumped ship and accepted the Secretary of Education position in Virginia. I guess that also explains why he has not extended me the professional courtesy of responding to a letter sent December 12, 2009. Oh well. Upon seeing him interact with the ol’ boys, I knew exactly how to categorize his intentions and motives.

I still don’t know how these two reports could have such disparities in grading charter school laws. But I do know that those who travel in the TFA, KIPP, New Leaders New Schools cults elitist circles certainly look out for each other. Afterall, Andrew Broy is a TFA alumnus. At this rate, I think the charter school movement could put the old-school mafia out of business for good. I guess those who believe that politics make for strange ‘bedfellows’ have never delved into the underworld of public education.

Georgia’s Charter School Law: A Tale of Two (conflicting) Reports   2 comments

There is a saying invoked when a person is obviously in over his or her head in their professional role: It’s not what you know, but who you know. I thought about this when I read that Georgia was ranked #4 for its charter school law, by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. This is especially interesting when you consider that the Center for Education Reform’s recent Charter School Report Card assigned a grade of ‘C’ to Georgia. One of the explanations cited for Georgia’s ‘average’ grade was the fact that the newly-formed Charter School Commission is still, in large part, controlled by the Georgia Department of Education. For further explanation on Georgia’s grade, see ‘Georgia’s Charter School Law receives a ‘C.’

Out of curiosity, I visited the alliance’s site to see how Indiana ranked. According to this report, Indiana ranked 29th. I find that laughable considering the fact that the state has had two independent authorizers: The Mayor of Indianapolis and Ball State University. In fact, Indiana was one of the first states to use the mayor of a major city as an authorizer. Furthermore, all charter schools must be non-profits and oeprate as such. This practice has been called into question here in Georgia, as EMOs/CMOs are making up to $1 million per charter school in management fees, facility leasing fees, and professional development costs. The CER report assigned a grade of ‘B’ to Indiana; again, Georgia received a ‘C.’ How can the results from these two reports be so different?

So what’s really going on? Sometimes, peoples actions and motives are transparent; other times, a little digging and connecting the dots is required. I checked the bios on the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools board of directors. Interesting to say the least. One of the directors has ties to KIPP; another is the CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. Believe it or not, former Mayor of Indianapolis Bart Peterson is also a member. Yes, that is the same mayor responsible for supporting and growing the charter school community in Indianapolis. Damn. That almost makes me want to retract the nice things I said about him earlier. I wonder if he actually read the report and noticed that Indiana received such a horrible ranking? Probably not. Oh yeah, Joel Klein is also a member of the board of directors. One thing positive that I can say about the board’s membership is that it accurately reflects the population of students being served by charter schools across the country; that is certainly more than I can say for the Georgia Charter School Commission, Charter Schools Association, and State Board of Education. Minorities are truly a minority in those arenas.

I guess Indiana should (and probably doesn’t) feel too slighted. Afterall, the CER report is likely more reliable and least likely to be influenced by board members and donation sizes. Besides, it could be worse: They could have received an ‘F’ like Virginia. I guess that explains why Charter School Commission member Gerard Robinson jumped ship and accepted the Secretary of Education position in Virginia. I guess that also explains why he has not extended me the professional courtesy of responding to a letter sent December 12, 2009. Oh well. Upon seeing him interact with the ol’ boys, I knew exactly how to categorize his intentions and motives.

I still don’t know how these two reports could have such disparities in grading charter school laws. But I do know that those who travel in the TFA, KIPP, New Leaders New Schools cults elitist circles certainly look out for each other. Afterall, Andrew Broy is a TFA alumnus. At this rate, I think the charter school movement could put the old-school mafia out of business for good. I guess those who believe that politics make for strange ‘bedfellows’ have never delved into the underworld of public education.

Georgia's Charter Commission: Same story, different day   Leave a comment

In 2008, legislation was passed to the create the Charter School Commission in Georgia. Formally known as House Bill 881, the Commission was created in response to the high number of charter denials by local boards of education (LEAs) throughout the state, particularly in the metro-Atlanta districts. This past summer, the Commission approved its first charter schools: Ivy Preparatory Academy, an all-girls’ school in Norcross, GA; and Charter Conservatory of Liberal Arts & Technology in Statesboro, GA. Since both schools are now Commission-approved, they will receive full state and partial local funding. Despite the intent of House Bill 881, charter schools still receive less per-pupil funding than traditional schools. This is one reasons Georgia’s charter school law received a ‘C’ on the Center for Education Reform’s annual charter school report card.

Although it appears (to outsiders) that Georgia has made some strides with its charter school policy and authorization, I can’t help but wonder: Is the process really any better with the newly-formed Commission? During the most recent charter cycle, the Commission approved five (out of 35) new charter petitions: 2 CMO-based schools; 2 community-based schools; and 1 petition that was resubmitted to receive Commission approval, after being approved as a State Special Charter School earlier this year.

One of the CMO-based school raises concerns. In the budget submitted with the charter petition, National Heritage Academies proposes fees totaling more than $1 million dollars the first year of operation. The school plans to enroll 500 students during the first year. Basically, National Heritage Academies will receive their guaranteed fees off the top of the school’s revenues, including grant funds and Title I allocations. Hmmmm. Interesting. None of the grassroots groups that submitted charter petitions included management, licensing, or facilities fees in their budgets; only one community-based group was approved. This particular group is comprised of affluent parents in an established DeKalb County neighborhood.

I must admit that I am completely dismayed and utterly disgusted at the blatant profiteering occurring within the charter school community. The state’s quest for Race to the Top funds puts traditional grassroots groups (Read: minorities without access to large sums of capital, whose children will likely attend said schools) at a clear disadvantage. The charter school culture continues to cater to for-profit companies masked as non-profits. I posed the question: Have Charter Management Organizations run amok? in another blog post. I stand corrected: There is no need to frame that statement in the form of a question. It is painstakingly obvious that they have had a considerable amount of help and for all intents and purposes, it’s perfectly legal. Well, at least for now it is. The most damning affect, in my opinion, is the perpetuation of this implied ‘Great White Hope’ theory or attitude much like the ones we have seen in D.C. and New York. despite media hype or lore, Blacks are qualified and competent enough to educate kids, and not just our kids. As long as there are implied barriers (e.g., if you don’t have $1 million dollars – don’t apply) are in place and supported by politicians, the governor, the State Superintendent of Schools, and the Charter Schools Commission, minorities may as well sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else ‘race’ to the top.

Georgia’s Charter Commission: Same story, different day   Leave a comment

In 2008, legislation was passed to the create the Charter School Commission in Georgia. Formally known as House Bill 881, the Commission was created in response to the high number of charter denials by local boards of education (LEAs) throughout the state, particularly in the metro-Atlanta districts. This past summer, the Commission approved its first charter schools: Ivy Preparatory Academy, an all-girls’ school in Norcross, GA; and Charter Conservatory of Liberal Arts & Technology in Statesboro, GA. Since both schools are now Commission-approved, they will receive full state and partial local funding. Despite the intent of House Bill 881, charter schools still receive less per-pupil funding than traditional schools. This is one reasons Georgia’s charter school law received a ‘C’ on the Center for Education Reform’s annual charter school report card.

Although it appears (to outsiders) that Georgia has made some strides with its charter school policy and authorization, I can’t help but wonder: Is the process really any better with the newly-formed Commission? During the most recent charter cycle, the Commission approved five (out of 35) new charter petitions: 2 CMO-based schools; 2 community-based schools; and 1 petition that was resubmitted to receive Commission approval, after being approved as a State Special Charter School earlier this year.

One of the CMO-based school raises concerns. In the budget submitted with the charter petition, National Heritage Academies proposes fees totaling more than $1 million dollars the first year of operation. The school plans to enroll 500 students during the first year. Basically, National Heritage Academies will receive their guaranteed fees off the top of the school’s revenues, including grant funds and Title I allocations. Hmmmm. Interesting. None of the grassroots groups that submitted charter petitions included management, licensing, or facilities fees in their budgets; only one community-based group was approved. This particular group is comprised of affluent parents in an established DeKalb County neighborhood.

I must admit that I am completely dismayed and utterly disgusted at the blatant profiteering occurring within the charter school community. The state’s quest for Race to the Top funds puts traditional grassroots groups (Read: minorities without access to large sums of capital, whose children will likely attend said schools) at a clear disadvantage. The charter school culture continues to cater to for-profit companies masked as non-profits. I posed the question: Have Charter Management Organizations run amok? in another blog post. I stand corrected: There is no need to frame that statement in the form of a question. It is painstakingly obvious that they have had a considerable amount of help and for all intents and purposes, it’s perfectly legal. Well, at least for now it is. The most damning affect, in my opinion, is the perpetuation of this implied ‘Great White Hope’ theory or attitude much like the ones we have seen in D.C. and New York. despite media hype or lore, Blacks are qualified and competent enough to educate kids, and not just our kids. As long as there are implied barriers (e.g., if you don’t have $1 million dollars – don’t apply) are in place and supported by politicians, the governor, the State Superintendent of Schools, and the Charter Schools Commission, minorities may as well sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else ‘race’ to the top.

Georgia’s charter law receives a C: Can we strive to be better than average?   Leave a comment

The Center for Education Reform recently released its annual report card grading states’ charter school laws. Georgia’s charter school law, passed in 1993, received a grade of ‘C’ for the past two years. In 2008, Georgia received a  ‘B’ because of the newly formed Charter School Commission. Interesting, we expect our students to improve each year, yet our charter school law received a lower grade this year. I will come back to that later.

In a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution article Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, notes two reasons why Georgia’s grade remains at ‘C’: (1) its independent authorizer is still largely controlled by the Department of Education; and (2) inequitable funding of charter schools. In Georgia, the funds do not follow the child. Although the new authorizer has alleviated part of the funding issue, charter schools are still underfunded when compared to traditional schools. Allen points to districts for doing a ‘…bad job of approving and funding schools.’ She’s is absolutely correct. The creation of the commission was due largely in part to the high number of charter denials by local boards of education, especially in the metro-Atlanta districts such as Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County. Allen also cites the pending lawsuits challenging the commission’s authority to allocate funds as having a negative affect on Georgia’s grade. Andrew Broy, Associate Superintendent, thinks that some categories are more weighted this year. He contends that consideration should be given for the state’s new initiative to provide charter schools with vacant buildings. Allen directly asserts, “That’s not enough.”

Now back to my question: How can we place improvement standards on students and teachers, when the legal ‘experts’ cannot identify weaknesses in our state’s charter school law and make the necessary changes? Better yet, are we really in a position to push for national standards, more teacher scrutiny, and enter the ‘Race to the Top’ when charter laws receive grades that are average or failing? Based on the Center for Education Reform’s report, it appears that very few states are actually prepared to receive those funds and use them wisely. I said it before and I will say it again: This whole ‘racing’ concept makes me very uncomfortable. How will the U.S. Department of Education determine which states are truly competent enough to use the funds for the intended purposes? Other writers have asserted that this is not really a competition for the most qualified, but instead a popularity contest. If that is in fact true, I expect D.C. to receive a windfall. But again, I am no expert. I don’t claim to be one, but I do have enough common sense to know this could potentially be a monumental waste of money.

In case you haven’t already heard, California, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia are the only states to receive a grade of ‘A’;  nine states received a grade of ‘B.’ Those with average or less-than-average scores can be found by clicking here.

Georgia's charter law receives a C: Can we strive to be better than average?   Leave a comment

The Center for Education Reform recently released its annual report card grading states’ charter school laws. Georgia’s charter school law, passed in 1993, received a grade of ‘C’ for the past two years. In 2008, Georgia received a  ‘B’ because of the newly formed Charter School Commission. Interesting, we expect our students to improve each year, yet our charter school law received a lower grade this year. I will come back to that later.

In a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution article Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, notes two reasons why Georgia’s grade remains at ‘C’: (1) its independent authorizer is still largely controlled by the Department of Education; and (2) inequitable funding of charter schools. In Georgia, the funds do not follow the child. Although the new authorizer has alleviated part of the funding issue, charter schools are still underfunded when compared to traditional schools. Allen points to districts for doing a ‘…bad job of approving and funding schools.’ She’s is absolutely correct. The creation of the commission was due largely in part to the high number of charter denials by local boards of education, especially in the metro-Atlanta districts such as Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County. Allen also cites the pending lawsuits challenging the commission’s authority to allocate funds as having a negative affect on Georgia’s grade. Andrew Broy, Associate Superintendent, thinks that some categories are more weighted this year. He contends that consideration should be given for the state’s new initiative to provide charter schools with vacant buildings. Allen directly asserts, “That’s not enough.”

Now back to my question: How can we place improvement standards on students and teachers, when the legal ‘experts’ cannot identify weaknesses in our state’s charter school law and make the necessary changes? Better yet, are we really in a position to push for national standards, more teacher scrutiny, and enter the ‘Race to the Top’ when charter laws receive grades that are average or failing? Based on the Center for Education Reform’s report, it appears that very few states are actually prepared to receive those funds and use them wisely. I said it before and I will say it again: This whole ‘racing’ concept makes me very uncomfortable. How will the U.S. Department of Education determine which states are truly competent enough to use the funds for the intended purposes? Other writers have asserted that this is not really a competition for the most qualified, but instead a popularity contest. If that is in fact true, I expect D.C. to receive a windfall. But again, I am no expert. I don’t claim to be one, but I do have enough common sense to know this could potentially be a monumental waste of money.

In case you haven’t already heard, California, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia are the only states to receive a grade of ‘A’;  nine states received a grade of ‘B.’ Those with average or less-than-average scores can be found by clicking here.