Sunday, May 15, 2016

Panel of Experts Say Charter Schools Adversely Impact Public Education - News - TAPinto

Panel of Experts Say Charter Schools Adversely Impact Public Education - News - TAPinto:

Panel of Experts Say Charter Schools Adversely Impact Public Education

Mark Weber


MONTCLAIR, NJ - What impact does charter school education have on public school districts? A panel of experts gathered in Montclair on Saturday to discuss.
Moderated by Michelle Fine, co-author of “Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education,” the panel of experts included Darcie Cimarusti, President, Highland Park BOE; Liz Mulholland, also known as blogger “Mother Crusader “; Sharon Smith, former Special Education teacher and advocate, Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE); and Mark Weber, Teacher, Researcher, blogger known as “Jersey Jazzman,” joined to discuss the impact charter schools have on public education.
Among the large number of attendees were Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, Councilman Sean Spiller, Gayle Shepard, president of the Montclair Education Association, Anne Mernin who is VP of the Montclair Board of Education, former Montclair school board member David Cummings, Al Pelham of the Montclair NAACP, Newark native actor John Amos, and education activist and Paterson teacher Stan Karp.
Citizens representing Roxbury, Montclair, Bloomfield, Newark, Clifton, Maplewood, South Orange, Morristown, and more, joined on a beautiful May afternoon to sit indoors and attend the presentation.
In a nutshell, most of the viewpoints expressed pointed toward charter schools being not only detrimental to the public school system, but also not serving of the children in most need, as well as a resource drain and a promoter of segregation. Many of the allegations were backed by research presented in a slide presentation by Mark Weber.
Some background was given on how charters began with the intent to promote education for families whose needs were not being served, and initially involved parents and teachers. However, what may have started as a social justice issue eventually got taken over by what panelists coined as 'corporate mandates', making this a for-profit endeavor that they felt does not necessarily serve the public needs.
Cimarusti started by pointing out how Arne Duncan, who was U.S. Secretary of Education from 2009-2016, provided grants and how Chris Christie has played a significant role in moving his charter agenda forward, as evidenced in his State of the State speech. One of Cimarusti’s strong suggestions was to persist in demanding transparency.
She said, “Go back to Senator Nia Gill” referring to Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) who filed therequest under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Cimarusti said often times the state department is deciding approval or denial of charter applications without community involvement. She also warned that neighboring districts can be impacted and should be included in conversations since many times a charter will reach out to families form neighboring towns, further drawing on resources without offering a reciprocal benefit.
Weber provided slides that painted a not so favorable accountability picture of the charter scenario. His research depicted how special needs students can fall into 12 categories that correspond to needed levels of care. Charters tend to take students with a lower cost special need, and leave ones with higher cost needs to the district. However, they receive the same amount of money for a special need student.
He demonstrated through numbers that certain charters “take more white students…fewer special education students…” and when he showed a linear regression adjusting for student characteristics, the data suggested that the charter schools, on many occasions were still not providing higher educational outcomes.
He suggested the communities ask themselves, “What are you getting for the price?” In many examples presented, it seemed there was actually no justification for having a charter school. One such example was Red Bank, NJ.
In recent weeks in Montclair, after NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe approved an application for a charter school last month, the decision was met with rebuke from Interim Schools Superintendent Ronald Bolandi and the Montclair Board of Education. In addition, parents who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision for a charter school to open in Montclair have been encouraged to write letters the Hespe.
Liz Mulholland likewise painted a very grim picture of how the charters affected schools in Panel of Experts Say Charter Schools Adversely Impact Public Education - News - TAPinto:


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