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The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

opened had closed, for

opened had closed, for reasons ranging from district consolidation to failure to attract students. The study found that "41 percent of the nation's charter closures resulted from financial deficiencies caused by either low student enrollment or inequitable funding," while 14% had closed due to poor academic performance. The report also found that the absence of achievement data "correlates directly with the weakness of a state's charter school law. For example, states like Iowa, Mississippi, Virginia and Wyoming have laws ranked either "D" or "F". Progress among these schools has not been tracked objectively or clearly." A 2005 paper found that in Connecticut, which it characterized as having been highly selective in approving charter applications, a relatively large proportion of poorly performing charter schools have closed. Under Connecticut's relatively weak charter law, only 21 charter schools have opened in all, and of those, five have closed. Of those, 3 closed for financial reasons. Charter school students in Connecticut are funded on average $4,278 less than regular public school students. In a September 2007 public policy report, education experts Andrew Rotherham and Sara Mead of Education Sector offered a series of recommendations to improve charter school quality through increased accountability. Some of their recommendations urged policymakers to: (i) provide more public oversight of charter school authorizers, including the removal of poorquality authorizers, (ii) improve the quality of student performance data with more longitudinal student-linked data and multiple measures of school performance, and (iii) clarify state laws related to charter school closure, especially the treatment of displaced students. All but 17% of charter school students show no improvement when compared to a heuristically modeled virtual twin traditional public school. Educational gains from switching to charter schools from public schools have on average been shown to be “small or insignificant” (Zimmer, et al.) and tend to decline over a span of time (Byrnes). Charter schools provided no substantial improvement in students’ educational outcomes that could not be accounted for in a public school setting (Gleason, Clark and Clark Tuttle). Attrition rates for teachers in charter schools have shown annual rates as high as 40%. Students also tend to move from charter schools prior to graduation more often than do students in public schools (Finch, Lapsley and Baker- Boudissa). Charter schools are often regarded as an outgrowth of the Powell Manifesto advocating corporate domination of the American democratic process and are considered to represent vested interests’ attempts to mold public opinion via public school education and to claim a share of this $500–600 billion-dollar industry. Scalability Whether the charter school model can be scaled up to the size of a public noncharter school system has been questioned, when teaching demands more from teachers and many noncharter teachers are apparently unable to teach in the way charters seek, as Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, education historian and former assistant U.S. education secretary, Mark Roosevelt, former schools chief for Pittsburgh, Penn., U.S., and Dave Levin, of the KIPP charters, have suggested. However, some, such as Eva Moskowitz of Success Academy Charter Schools, believe that the work is hard but performable and compensable and that the model can be scaled up. Page 26 of 43

Exploitation by For-Profits Critics have accused for-profit entities (Educational Management Organizations or EMOs) and private foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation of funding Charter school initiatives to undermine public education and turn education into a "Business Model" which can make a profit. According to activist Jonathan Kozol, education is seen as one of the biggest market opportunities in America or "the big enchilada". Shift from Progressive to Conservative Movement Charters were originally a progressive movement (called the "small schools" movement) started by University of Massachusetts professor Ray Budde and American Federation of Teachers leader, Al Shanker to explore best practices for education without bureaucracy. However, some critics argue that the Charter movement has shifted into an effort to privatize education and attack teachers' unions. For example, education historian Diane Ravitch has estimated, as a "safe guess," that 95% of charters in the United States are non-union and has said that charters follow an unsustainable practice of requiring teachers to work unusually long hours. Lower Student Test Scores and Teacher Issues According to a study done by Vanderbilt University, teachers in charter schools are 1.32 times more likely to leave teaching than a public school teacher. Another 2004 study done by the Department of Education found that charter schools "are less likely than traditional public schools to employ teachers meeting state certification standards." A national evaluation by Stanford University found that 83% of charter schools perform the same or worse than public schools (see earlier in this article). If the goal is increased competition, parents can examine the data and avoid the failing charters, while favoring the successful charters, and chartering institutions can decline to continue to support charters with mediocre performance. It is as yet unclear whether charters' lackluster test results will affect the enacting of future legislation. A Pennsylvania legislator who voted to create charter schools, State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said that "Charter schools offer increased flexibility to parents and administrators, but at a cost of reduced job security to school personnel. The evidence to date shows that the higher turnover of staff undermines school performance more than it enhances

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