Wednesday, April 16, 2008

SB 2100

This oped piece shares some of our concerns regarding SB 2100 and Charter Schools. While proponents of the bill will tell you it's only a deregulation bill, it falls under Oklahoma's charter school law and is the next step down a slipperly slope.

Deregualtion already exists in Oklahoma law so why do we need a new deregualtion law. Supporters either don't know the law or are purposely misleading others in trying to get support for the bill.

The piece and reactions to it can be found in the Oklahoman.

Charter schools aren't panacea

A great deal has been made about SB 2100 and charter schools as being the panacea for “all that ails public schools” because so much is “going wrong”. It is always important to do what is in the best interest of the students. Before we pass this bill and turn our public schools into charter schools, it’s important to look at the success of charter schools.

Currently, charters have provided, at best, mixed results. Although there are some charter schools that appear to be achieving great results, research has consistently shown that, on average, traditional public schools outperform charter schools.

An analysis by the National Assessment Governing Board on 2003 NAEP data showed that traditional public schools outperform charter school students on almost every measure. Plus, there are no measurable differences between students in the same racial/ethnic background in charter schools compared to traditional public schools.

The data also showed that the scores of students taught by uncertified teachers in charter schools were significantly lower than those of charter school students with certified teachers, and charter school students with inexperienced teachers did significantly worse than students in traditional public schools with less experienced teachers. These points are significant because charter school students are more likely to be taught by inexperienced and uncertified teachers than students in traditional public schools.

Even the Charter School Leadership Council, now known as the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has their own commissioned research that shows that traditional public schools generally outperform charter school students on state tests.

When the Department of Education took a closer look at the data in a report released in August 2006, they found that after adjusting for multiple student characteristics like ethnicity, those on free and reduced lunch, and IEP’s for example, the average charter school score in reading was more than 4 points lower than the average traditional public school’s score. In math, after adjusting for student characteristics, the average traditional public school outscored the average charter school by 4.7 points.

Increasingly, states find that it becomes more and more difficult to monitor charter schools creating an additional bureaucracy the public doesn’t want and can’t afford. The accountability is neither cheap nor easy. Problems persist in a number of states including Arizona, California, Florida and Colorado. The expense is in the millions of dollars as fraud, low performance and violation of applicable state law are rampant.

Oklahomans support our traditional public schools and they know our leaders have consistently underfunded them. They’ve asked our elected officials to do what is right--- properly fund our schools. The problems associated with our schools are a lack of a long term commitment to our kids, schools and teachers. Unfortunately, it is easier come up with “new ideas” and “pilot projects” that waste taxpayer money than it is to be a leader and statesman and support our schools the way the public wants---by funding them properly.

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