Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Juking the Stats

Charter schools have an ever-increasing arsenal of tools at the ready to enhance their results. One of the most useful, apparently, is dumping kids into public schools late in the year. It's a win-win, really. They get to keep all the money for the kids, but the public schools get stuck with either the test scores, the expenses, or whatever undesirable behaviors that make the charters want the kids out in the first place.

In Tweedie world, that's called "accountability." The charters take the kids, the charters take the money, and the public schools are stuck with the results. Over at the Moskowitz charter school, they aren't always successful in getting rid of kids who may prove inconvenient:

Kevin Riley, a parent at Harlem Success Academy II, said a charter school official tried to encourage him to pull his son Miles, 5, out of the school after they learned he needed a paraprofessional.

"[An official] told me, 'You're going to have to come in and see us. You might have to look for another school,'" he said.

Riley said he wouldn't remove his son, but felt "other parents would have been pushed out."

Harlem Success spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis called Miles "a sweet, wonderful child. He's enrolled in one of our schools, and his father said he is returning," she said.

Faced with not only a special needs child, but also the unwanted expense of a paraprofessional, they threaten the parents they might have to find new schools. If the parents decline and speak to the press, they instantly sing another song altogether. And, as the father points out, who knows how many inconvenient kids they're able to dump on the public schools?

In Bloomberg World, where those who oppose his absolute power are Nazis, it's exclusively the fault of teachers and public schools if kids don't all get 90% or above on standardized tests. And charters operate under an entirely different set of rules than those that apply to public schools.

Charters represent about 2% of city-funded schools, but fortunately for this mayor, they suck up about half the news coverage. Perhaps the mayor opposes parent education so vehemently because he knows that informed parents will demand decent conditions for kids in neighborhood schools.

Now that will cost real money.
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