Favorite

Charter 'choice': creationism 

One of the maddening aspects of the push to destroy conventional school districts with charter schools is the underlying theme that all conventional public schools are failing and if you slap the word "charter" on a school it must be good.

One of the Walton-financed professors up at the University of Arkansas's charter school marketing department even wrote the other day that it was fair to judge public schools by standardized test scores, but not what he calls "choice" schools.

I guess not. Because on study after study, charter schools don't outperform.

A national study by a Stanford University-based group found that one charter school management company, Responsive Education Solutions of Lewisville, Texas, did a particularly poor job with at-risk students.

Responsive Ed operates Premier High School in Little Rock, Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy in Bentonville and Quest middle school in Pine Bluff. It just won approval for a Quest middle and high school in Chenal Valley, where it will skim upper income, predominantly white families anxious to avoid Little Rock public schools. It also has won state Education Department approval to consult and provide curriculum for three school districts converting conventional schools to charters — in Pea Ridge, Fountain Lake and West Memphis, where the whole high school will be shaped by Responsive Ed.

Responsive Ed's growth in Arkansas came just as Slate was about to publish explosive reporting by Zack Kopplin, a young political activist.

Kopplin detailed the influence of creationism (religion) in the science courses taught in Responsive Ed's Texas schools. Though the schools run on public money and have a secular "veneer," the organization has many ties to the creationist movement and figures who have pushed for more religion in public life, the article reported. Kopplin also quoted dubious material in history courses, from roots of war to jabs at feminism and John Kerry's war record.

Neither Responsive Ed nor Gary Newton, the Walton-financed Arkansas charter school lobbyist who's led the Quest school establishment in Chenal Valley, wanted to talk about the Slate article with me. But Chuck Cook, CEO of Responsive Ed, did post a prepared statement on the Arkansas Blog.

He said Responsive Ed complies with the law in Texas on science teaching and, as for historical challenges, said the school complies with all regulations. He addressed no specific citations of error.

His response was telling about his beliefs:

"In recent years, these two schools of thought — creationism and evolution — have been at conflict in schools, universities, and scientific circles," he wrote. "Some scientists and educators have attempted to bridge them through ideas such as intelligent design and theistic evolution. However, none of these theories is accepted by every scientist, natural philosopher, or educator. In this Unit, you will be able to review the evidence for the theory of evolution and decide on your own position. You will want to analyze and evaluate the evidence and every statement made in the discussion."

Cook accused Kopplin of guilt by association. He portrayed himself as being persecuted because he's " a professed Christian, attend church each week, have a degree in religion, have worked at a Christian rescue mission, and have worked at Accelerated Christian Education."

Religious dog whistle aside, I'd already decided, based on its jargon-filled application, that Responsive Ed offered little more for West Little Rock than, as state Board of Education member Sam Ledbetter observed, its existence. It will be a haven for a certain type of student from another type of student.

I'd be inclined to take my chances at one of those "failing" Little Rock schools, such as Central High, which produced the state's only Intel Science Talent Search semi-finalist this year. I know they teach science.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Circuit court charge filed against Ten Commandments monument destroyer

    The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office filed a direct charge in circuit court today against Michael Tate Reed, who's been held in the county jail since he was arrested June 28 after driving over and demolishing the day-old Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Whatever secret bill Senate considers, winners and losers are the same

    The U.S. Senate seems likely to vote Tuesday on a secret health bill. Whatever version is rolled out — and if Sen. John McCain's doctor approves a fly-in so he may vote — the outcome is the same. Bad for working poor and previously sick; good for rich people.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Two shot in home on W. 19th

    KARK reports that a 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were found with gunshot wounds when police responded to a house in the 4200 block of W. 19th.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation