Do Charter Schools Dump Kids Prior to the State Tests? Are We Moving Toward “Public Schools for All” and “Schools for the Select?”

About a year ago Jim Tallon, a member of the Board of Regents from Newburgh, asked Commissioner King to investigate charter schools dumping kids into public schools before the state tests. Other Regent members nodded in agreement and asked for a report – were charter schools discharging kids, especially lower achieving kids, prior to the state tests? Ken Wagner, the State Ed data guy waffled, it’s possible, maybe by next fall. Fall has come and gone – and no report.

Every student has a unique ID number as does every school in the state, schools file monthly admit/discharge reports, and this is not an overly complex task.

Why is State Ed so reticent to answer the question?

Do charter schools discharge lower achieving students prior to the state tests, and, if so, how does it impact school test score data?

If the test scores of kids discharged after January 1 were attributed to the sending schools how would it impact test scores?

Charters must go through a renewal process every five years – the State Education Department has the responsibility to review the overall operation of the school, from leadership to financial operations to achievement. A detailed report is presented to the Regents with a recommendation. The Brooklyn Scholars Charter School came before the Regents with a recommendation for a two-year renewal.

Read full renewal report here: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/F89B7410-805B-45BD-A209-199BB5531649/0/BrooklynScholarsRenewalReportFinal.pdf

While the Progress Report grade moved from a “B” to a “C” to a “D,” compared to other schools in District 19 the school outperformed the District 19 schools, except the school only has half the number of students with disabilities as other district schools and no English language learners.

The law requires that charter schools must “…meet or exceed enrollment and retention targets for students with disabilities and English language learners … Repeated failure to comply is a cause for termination or revocation of the charter.”

In each of its years of operation the school failed to increase numbers of students with disabilities or English language learners. The school has laid out a detailed plan to address the issue going forward.

The report failed to address “retention,” do schools excessively discharge students and who are they?

What is disturbing is that in October, 2012 the State University (SUNY) issued a dense report establishing a process for establishing enrollment and retention targets. (See report here http://www.suny.edu/board_of_trustees/webcastdocs/eandrtargetspacket.pdf).

The public school sector looks upon charter schools with suspicion. A few days ago a principal complained that over the last few weeks she had received eight students from charter schools – all the students well below grade level in ELA and Math skills; of course, this might be an anomaly.

The barrage of TV commercials that have blanketed the area rave about the achievement of charter schools in comparison to public schools. If charter schools are achieving at a higher rate the question is: why?

What are they doing differently? Or, are the increased scores due to discharging lower achieving students?

Let’s not forget how the state legislature came to create charter schools. In December, 1998 Governor Pataki called the legislature into session – a lame duck session – with two items on the agenda: a salary increase for legislators coupled with creation of charter schools. Charter schools were the spawn of a crass political deal.

If you ask charter school parents, “Why do you like charter schools” you receive a discomforting answer, “They kick out the ‘bad’ kids and teachers don’t have to deal with students with disabilities or kids who can’t speak English.”

The “tale of two cities” is moving toward two school systems – private, parochial and charter schools on one side and public schools on the other, one system for the privileged and the parents with social capital and another for the remainder.

The governor, the mayor, the Regents and the legislature can either accept the divide or not, ultimately it will be up to the electorate.

Tossing a few electeds out of office over the Common Core, or high stakes testing or charter schools will catch the attention of the officeholders, or, perhaps we are on the way towards two categories of schools.

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8 responses to “Do Charter Schools Dump Kids Prior to the State Tests? Are We Moving Toward “Public Schools for All” and “Schools for the Select?”

  1. “Public Schools For All, and Schools for the Select.” Hasn’t this been here all the time? Bx HS of Science, Stuyvesant, Bklyn Tech, Music and Art…Schools for The Select, for sure, Public Schools as well, including those public schools who accepted students who were declined by the Select test/audition schools. We’ve had it all along. We even had Talented and Gifted Schools requiring auditions, Select Schools by definition if you will. And don’t you know, that those schools lived by their own standards, dumping out any of their students found to be non-compliant to those standards. Dumping is not new, its not some evil invented by Charter School Administrators. What I don’t understand is the take on Charter Schools by high profile minority leaders, who for years have clamored for their youth to be better educated, thus paving the way for Med and Law school and other high strata positions in life. From Charter School to Charter school, the majority of its pupil register is minority based. I find it reprehensible that that actuality is completely discounted by those leaders, whose constituents stand to benefit the most. I spent my entire life attending public schools. When I was rejected by The Select Specialized HSs, I attended DeWittClinton HS in the late 50’s. I grew up in City housing projects. I had to attend a small out of town college because I didnt score high enough on my boardsfor admittance into the “free public colleges in NYC. If it werent for those alternative school opportunities, I wouldn’t have had the career in Teaching, School Administration, College Adj, and Author. With that said, I cannot for the life of me understand the angst toward Charter Schools. Its an easy angst to be sure, doesnt require too much intellect, and has a band wagon appeal. My perspective however, is that there is absolutely no reason we cant continue to have both. After all, our Gov. reminds us that Charter Schools are public schools. So what is the real bone of contention? They are non union shops. Is it that impossible to modify that situation? Is it that impossible for staff in such schools to have an alternative union contract ? Imagine the benefits to all vested groups in education if Charters and non-Charters could be encouraged to co-exist and share in such matters as : staff development ,replication, resources. Resolving this issue and dissipating the angst can only benefit our children. I believe in unions, my father was a blue collar man, in our family we knew that w/o unions we had nothing. I believe that if if the UFT and Ms. Mskowitz, and a couple of security guards were locked in a room at some retreat site, for a 3/4 day summit that reasonableness would prevail, and that a way could be found to put this mess right.

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  2. It has been a long time since the specialized high schools can kick anyone out once accepted.

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  3. Eric Nadelstern

    This anti-charter feeding frenzy hurts kids, and ultimately, will hurt the administration and the union.

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  4. Asking that students who can not keep up to the standard is not DUMPING. What the charters are accused of is not holding students to a standard, and dismissing those who do not pass– but rather its cleaning house of students they think may fail the state tests. before they take the tests! As with providng appropriate support for ELL or CSE students; they just do as they wish to them and hope they can get away with it until the 5 year review. This sort of school should not be Chartered, and the state should be more careful about them.

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  5. Yeah Eric, and the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

    Its administrators like you at the Bloomberg/Klein DOE that allowed the favorable treatment of these charter schools who can select and exclude students as they pleased to game the test system.

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  6. The parents in my neighborhood have made it clear that they send their child to a charter school because school starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday [not a good plan for a teeny guy who should be outside joyously screaming his lungs out in the afternoon].
    They are also pleased that the charter schools will go to 8th grade saving the parents the chore of finding a middle school [not always a good choice; leads to coddling].
    But it does address the problem these parents have…what to do when you discover that children can be inconvenient? Put them in a charter!

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  7. Pingback: On Our Way to a Dual School System? | Diane Ravitch's blog

  8. Pingback: On Our Way to a Dual School System? | Educational Policy Information

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