August 25, 2013

Flush with a new and flawed study in hand, Governor Bobby Jindal took a few moments to sing the praises of charter schools on Meet The Press Sunday morning, claiming charter schools were responsible for an increase of 50 percent of children moving to proficient level on reading and math tests.

In Louisiana, schools are given an A-F grade each year, and charter schools' grade is supposed to be given weight as to whether they're actually allowed to remain as a charter school. In his little talk on MTP today, Jindal claimed public schools received failing grades and charters were the shining island in the muck.

Or they're saving their dollars to send you to a good private school. There are too many kids in this country today trapped in poor neighborhoods with poor, failing public schools. In Louisiana, we're doing something about it. Ninety percent of our kids in New Orleans are in charter schools. In five years, we've doubled the percentage of kids doing reading and math on grade level.

We've now taken our program statewide so the dollars can follow the child. Too many people are still standing in the way. The teacher unions fight against that just on Friday. Department of Justice said they were going to go to court. Now listen to this. We've got a scholarship program. Hundred percent of the kids are low income. Hundred percent of the kids are in failing schools, C, D, or F schools. Ninety percent of the kids are minorities.

This is Louisiana's own charter school report with grades for 2013. The majority of the charter schools listed in that report are receiving C, D or F grades. Even more amazing, those schools receiving "F" grades are marked as "No Action" by the Louisiana DOE because they're not in fiscal jeopardy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, because the schools balance their budget they don't warrant further scrutiny even though their performance is abysmal.

To Bobby Jindal, charter schools are the saviors of Louisiana. He will cite the study released this month as evidence that charters perform far better than public schools, except that the study itself begins with some flaws in its methods.

Diane Ravitch:

“The study’s methods raise concerns that the findings could easily be misinterpreted to inflate pro-charter conclusions. In context, there’s little to crow about: the results from Louisiana and New Orleans are not much different from the uninspiring national results; the results for the state’s suburban charter schools showed negative gain scores (somewhat less growth in charters than in the comparison schools); and the small positive results reported for New Orleans are confounded by the devastating aftermath of a unique disaster.”

An even more serious challenge to the study was posed by New Orleans-based “Research on Reforms,” which complained that the Louisiana Department of Education will not release student data to independent research organizations.

It wrote: “As long as the Louisiana Department of Education can determine to whom to release student records for research purposes, the reports produced thereof, such as the CREDO report, are nothing more than biased evaluations.”

CREDO is part of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and is funded by the Walton Foundation fueled by WalMart profiteers. The flaws and false comparisons in how they measure student performance are pretty clear. It becomes clearer when one discovers that the data used for the study was given to CREDO by the Louisiana BOE but denied to other researchers seeking to duplicate the results.

To me, the charter school debate, particularly as it relates to areas with high minority populations and poverty rates, is simply another way to segregate minorities and relieve society of actually dealing with the issues endemic in these areas. Where there is poverty, there are also high rates of academic underperformance. There is a correlation between the two.

It's not accidental that minority populations are targeted by the charter school movement. Just as with mortgage scams, this is yet another way to rob Black, Hispanic and other minority populations of the kind of education that will actually lift them out of poverty and into a better place. The "reformers" can all sleep at night knowing they've done something to help those poor people while lifting the dollars out of the taxpayers' pockets to do it.

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