Thursday night line: Charter school in a nutshell | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thursday night line: Charter school in a nutshell

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Here's your Thursday night line. Some final words:

* TRUTH IN WLR CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION: The state Board of Education next week will hear the application for the Quest Charter School, a middle school for an upscale white neighborhood where parents at the existing Roberts Elementary in the Little Rock district aren't happy with public school options as their kids move up — middle schools with heavy minority and poor populations and test scores to match those typically found in schools with 90 percent poverty rates. The Little Rock District has bought land to build a middle school to serve the area, but it is several years away, at best. Meanwhile, Walton money is underwriting the proposed school (in Chenal Valley in the Pulaski district) to skim these creamy students before then. The hearing is Jan. 10. I've been looking through the application. It provides no credible support for how the school can deliver a diverse student body with a significant percentage of poor kids, but after a monumental passage of education-speak, the drafters did inadvertently lay out the bare truth of Quest:

Though the atmosphere feels like a private school, there is no tuition to attend Quest.

Precisely. Free private school, or the functional equivalent. For people like you. In your neighborhood.

That education-speak? If it wasn't a Walton-backed charter school, you can only imagine what Paul Greenberg would have to say about this prose:

Quest is a distinct blend of effective teacher-directed instruction and emergent technology. The curricular scope and sequence follows standard content-based learning, the assessments and measurements are congruent with high expectation environments, yet the delivery of content is a blend that transitions adolescents from dependence to independent learning in a systemic and organized fashion. The methodology places the student in a contained classroom with focused monitoring by an educator while also providing opportunity for individualized instruction through aligned curriculum and technology. This blend initiates a process that can teach
students to become more responsible and make learning opportunity more accessible. Quest understands the need for the middle-school learner to move from childhood to the teenage years. Therefore, the delivery system uses a dual approach, keeping the learner anchored within a classroom setting that provides stability while simultaneously transitioning the learner into a prescribed individualized offering of some subjects centered on self-determination and decision-making. This system blends the best that the teacher can offer with the best that technology can offer and places the student at the core of the entire process. In addition, Quest provides curriculum designed to teach wisdom. Knowledge is crucial but wisdom is a vital part of a middle school student's growth and maturity. Character education is taught at all levels. Students are taught leadership skills through our “7 Habits of Effective Teens” environment. The campus is dedicated to the idea that education, home, and family are closely connected.

"Teacher-directed instruction"? They have teachers! "Content-based learning?"  They have subjects and students study them! "Focused monitoring?" Grades! "Contained classroom?" Walls! "Emergent technology?" Computers! "Simultaneously transitioning the learner into a prescribed individualized offering of some subjects centered on self-determination and decision making?" Your guess is as good as mine! "Knowledge is crucial but wisdom is a vital part of a middle school student's growth"? Didn't you ever pad an essay test answer with meaningless B.S.!

Quest will get a vigorous review. But I expect it's wired. Walton billlions don't talk, they shout.

* CALLING PHIL ROBERTSON: This looks like a job for the Duck Dynasty boys, who've felt the lash of discrimination for using their First Amendment rights to speak bluntly and bravely about issues on which they hold deep beliefs, however unpoopular some might find them to be. Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken advocate of equal treatment of LGBT people, has written a tough piece about the repercussions he believes he experienced, particularly from one  bigoted coach. He think his speech contributed to the loss of his job. Come on, Duck boys. Don't LGBT advocates enjoy the protection of the 1st Amendment, too?

* THE HILLARY CAMPAIGN: Hillary Clinton today sent out a message to her million twitter followers that she supported re-authorization of extended jobless benefits. Even some Senate Republicans support this. The hard-hearted Republican House, led by the likes of Ebenezer Tom Cotton, aren't supportive of spending federal money on the down and out.

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