Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Everything But the Truth

That's what I see in this article from the NY Post. It's so pointed I almost cut myself reading it. That mean old UFT is attacking charters, and holy crap, it's about time. Where the hell were we when Moskowitz imposed rent for charters upon NYC? Of course, we aren't fighting that (moderation in all things when you want that seat at the table), but rather the percentage of high-needs students in charter schools.

What the Post sees is that percentage is going up, but it doesn't focus on the clear fact that it still is not the same as that in public schools. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out, but you do have to be a critical reader. (Of course neither I nor anyone else reading this cuts the mustard because we haven't been Common Core trained in close reading.)

Anyway, no matter how good we may or may not read, there's some critical info sorely lacking in the Post piece. Let's make one utterly hypothetical example. Bill has 100 ELLs in his school, and Eva has 100 ELLs in hers. (I know, hard to believe, but humor me.) Bill's ELLs get miserable scores on the NYSESLAT, while Eva's are through the roof. The NY Post has orgasms and writes about it every day for a week, and harps back on it endlessly.

But if we take a closer look, there are things we hadn't noticed, and probably because no one saw fit to tell us. Most of Bill's students came here from, say, El Salvador recently, escaping particularly ugly times, and a whole lot of them have missed a lot of formal education. Most of Eva's students, while ELLs, are not newcomers. They already speak English and have been here for several years. Apples and naranjas?

Let's look at the special education students. Again, Bill has 100 and Eva has 100. Bill's students are alternate assessment. In fact, Bill knows the moment they enter his school that they will never graduate with Regents diplomas. Not only that, but they will be counted against his stats come graduation time. Eva's students just need a little extra time on tests, which is just dandy, because Eva is pretty much all testing all the time anyway. And who's to say that just because Eva starts with 100 ELLs or special ed. students she will end with them? In fact, who's to say she will even release those figures, or that they'll be valid when she does? 

The thing is, when you look at percentages, charters were behind, are behind, and will remain behind. But if you look at the actual students they've taken, you'll find that even those percentages don't show the whole picture, let alone an accurate one. 
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