Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DSB alerts us to the presence of the National Charter Schools Conference in town this week.:

Let me be very clear about how I feel about the school systems in New Orleans: If we ever move away from New Orleans, it will likely be because of profound disgust with the schooling options.

I’m fine with charter schools as incubation chambers for new teaching practices, but such experiments should be limited in scope, not a system(s)-wide approach. From where I sit it looks like charters will lead to quasi-privatization of public schools (if we’re not already there). The charter schools in New Orleans that are deemed “good” schools (that’s relative, btw–the good schools here would be mediocre at best in many other communities) were “good” magnet schools before the fed flood. In other words, it’s change I can’t believe in.

In terms of that quasi-privatization he refers to, I can think of no better indication of this than one course offering in particular at the conference (page 25):

Regulating De-Regulated Charter Schools: Bureaucratic
Creep to Limit Charter School Development
Strand: Federal State and Local Policy Environment
Participants will learn the options for resisting state agency and
school district/city efforts to re-regulate charter schools. Rather than
attempting to alter the rules for the charter industry by legislation and
public debate, many opponents are working behind the scenes to
persuade bureaucrats to impose ‘’rules’’ by fiat. Where do bureaucrats
act unilaterally to restrict the funding, development and scope of charter
schools? What are the strategies being employed in the industry to
cope with this phenomenon?
Presenters: John Cairns, John Cairns Law, P.A.; Elizabeth Evans,
Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

I would think many local charter board members and administrators would be flocking to this one. And we do know why.

And then there's this one:

Teacher Unions and Charter Autonomy:
Are They Compatible?
Strand: Federal State and Local Policy Environment
Teacher unions have historically negotiated one-size-fits-all districtwide
contracts, leaving almost no autonomy at the school level.
Charter schools have emerged as a one building at a time innovation,
placing much autonomy at the site level. Are these different approaches
Presenters: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools;
Ana Ponce, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy; Peter Murphy, New York
Charter Schools Association.

Right now, the answer to this one is a resounding "no" in these parts.

I wish I'd known about this sooner.

That'll really teach me to go to south Florida....

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