ACLU: Illegal California Charter Practices
The ACLU recently issued a report outlining a variety of widespread illegal practices among California charter schools. The report is worth reading in detail because it gives an impression of just how widespread these practices of restricting student enrollment are, creating one more situation in which "school choice" means that schools get to choose students.
California law is pretty clear that charters may not "enact admissions requirements or other barriers to enrollment and must admit all students who apply, just as traditional public schools cannot turn away students." How do California charters violate those rules? Let's count the ways.
Deny admission to academically struggling students.
Charters are not allowed to bar students because of academic requirements, but at least twenty-two do, with everything from requiring particular coursework to a cut-off grade at their previous public school.
Deny extra chances to struggling students.
Charters should give struggling students more chances to succeed, but some penalize students for failing to keep up academically.
Barriers to English Language Learners.
While some charters work hard to assist ELL students, others have policies in place to make it harder for such students, some as transparent as requiring a minimum score on a language arts assessment (one school requires the applicant to be no more than one year behind grade level). Others use more subtle techniques, like including no Spanish on applications and school materials. But charters may CURMUDGUCATION: ACLU: Illegal California Charter Practices:
Refresh the Resolve
Of course, we're all on different schedules across the country, but here in NW PA, it's a little under three weeks till school gets started. (Boy, shouldn't we do something about that? I mean, a student moving from PA to TN would find themselves suddenly several days behind, or one moving the other way would have to do the first day all over again, so we probably need a Common Core School Calendar so that we are all always on the same page on the same day. But I digress.)
In the weeks before school starts, I try to focus on my personal big picture to get myself cranked back up for school.
You know how it is. In the back of your head, you have ideas about big important concepts and respecting and building on the humanity of every student and over-arching themes that you want to thread through the whole year's instruction. And then before you know it, it's October and your thoughts about the many important domains of student learning and growth are being pushed aside by concerns like if Chris laughs that annoying laugh at some inappropriate moment one more time, you are going to bust a gut.
There is a dailiness to teaching that can get in the way of our highest, best intentions. I want to stay focused on global objectives about language use, but right now I have to make sure I have enough scissors that work safely. I want to make sure each class starts with a warm welcome, but I just found out that the copy room didn't send down all my copies. I want to have a full and open discussion of the readings, but today the period was cut short and interrupted three times.
So it's an important part of my work to try to keep my focus, remember what I'm doing and why. It has become even more important for me since I've spent so much time staring into the maw of education reform and the many forces intent on breaking down public education in this country (and others).
When you first learn to drive, you have to learn where to look. If you get so scared of the telephone Refresh the Resolve