Thursday, May 21, 2015

Charter school expansion and spin machine in full gear

Senn Principal Susan Lofton
"We have all been working so hard with our community to bring our schools up, to serve the community, to offer the programs our families want and to really engage in this resurgence where the community has a true community school that is an asset and a partner." -- Senn Principal Susan Lofton 
Andrew Broy, Chicago's minister of charter propaganda, uses Catalyst to spin a WBEZ report on  “freshman retention rate”to support his claim of charter school superiority. He's doing so to try to grease the wheels as one of his clients, Noble Network, makes a move on five north-side high schools,while Rahm's appointed school board tries to walk back its promise that no charters would be allowed to open in any of the 50 schools they closed.

Broy claims that he's looking at data "that has never before been disclosed" -- the number of freshmen who actually went on to earn a diploma from the school they first enrolled in. The first question that should pop into anyone's mind is: why wasn't this "data" ever disclosed? Was it classified? Top secret? The answer of course, is that the data has always been there. It's the spin that changes, depending on who's doing the spinning.

For example, up until now, CPS has always credited high schools (including charters) for graduating students who had left their school as early as the 10th grade. Charters have always used these misleading figures as a way to claim miraculous college-going rates.

More from Broy:
Contrary to the claims of charter opponents [researchers from Stanford and other major research institutions --mk], the results reveal that charter schools are graduating their original cohort of ninth-graders at substantially higher rates than their district counterparts. The average freshman retention rate for charter schools is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average for district open enrollment schools.
But Broy lumps CPS schools into two convenient matched pairs, as if charters were one thing and district schools, something completely different. He excludes district selective enrollment schools on the pretext that charters aren't selective in their enrollment or in their retention policies. That's misleading at best. Charters enroll by lottery meaning, the students they enroll have engaged parents. They are well known for under-enrolling students with disabilities, special needs, homeless, formerly incarcerated students and English language learners.

More importantly, Broy never discusses the things that his charter clients are doing or not doing in different school settings to improve freshman retention rates. Or what's working and what isn't. For him, just being a charter is enough. And therein lies the problem with most charter school research.

But even if you accept WBEZ numbers, here's what you find:

Noble Rowe Clarke retains only 45% of their freshman. The highly touted Urban Prep charter retains only 35%. Other charters like Noble Muchin retain 63% (almost as high as neighborhood school North Grand at 64%). What does all this tell you about charters vs. public schools? Nothing. When you start averaging big groups of schools and comparing them as charters vs. regular, you get nothing but a mish-mash that can be spun any way you want.

When I asked Broy to clarify, he wouldn't respond and instead someone signing him/herself Confused About Charters and claiming to be a "northside parent" answered the bell.

Confused About Charters
When you instantly attack an article with inflammatory questions that are clearly answered in the article it comes across as extremely biased. It hurts your credibility and makes me much less likely to read through your longer post below where you might have some valid points. All of this bluster makes it harder for a northside parent to have an actual informed opinion.

Dear Confused (If that is indeed your real name). There's no such thing as "inflammatory questions." Read what you will. I will continue to ask and to "bluster" in response to Mr. Broy's silly propaganda.

Confused About Charters
There is pro-charter propaganda (Broy). There is anti-charter propaganda (you). When you knee jerk reply with an attack to what you believe to be pro-charter propaganda without reading the article it hurts your credibility and lowers the level of discourse. Paragraphs 3&4 directly answer your attack. Did you actually read the article before posting

Dear confused. Sounds like you're not as "confused" a northside parent as you pretended. "Knee jerk"? Not really. I've been debunking this stuff for 30 years. It's not "anti-charter". In fact, I helped start many of the early charters in Chicago when they were teacher-led and supportive of (not competing with) public education. The WBEZ article is NOT a real study. Its [Broy's] methodology is flawed. It compares apples and oranges and draws unsupported conclusions...But even using their numbers, it's easy to see that Noble has no claim to being better (more freshman retentive) that the five north side high schools near where they want to set up shop.

I couldn't help but add this:

If you look at the source, the U.S. Dept. of Ed (NCES) data base, you will see that Noble Charters reports officially as if they were one school.

Here's how they look as one school:

Enrollment by Grade:
9th-2,837 10th-1,889 11th-1,667 12th -1,306

Nothing to brag about, is there Mr. Broy.
Question is, where did those 1,531 kids lost between 9th and 12th grade go and why?
WBEZ never tells us. Neither does Broy.

When all is said and done, and all the numbers get crunched and re-crunched, the principals of the 5 north-side high schools under assault along with Ald. Cappleman and Ald. Pawar, probably make the best case for rejecting any new charters in their community.

They're not needed or wanted by the community itself. 

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