Favorite

Charter schools struggle, too 

The state Education Department last week released the final 2011 count on how schools in Arkansas are doing in meeting the No Child Left Behind Standards, which require that all students be testing at grade level in math and reading by 2014.

With each passing year, the pass rate required for a "sufficient" rating rises. Consequently, the school failure rate has risen because of the unrealistic expectation that all children can be lifted above average.

Of the 1,091 public schools in Arkansas, only 335, or 31 percent, were classified as achieving in 2011. By this, I mean not only were total populations of those schools hitting the required pass rate on state benchmark tests, but the pass rates were also met among subgroups – poor kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, special education kids. It only takes missing the mark in one category for one year for a school to be placed on "alert."

These numbers have limited value, unless you are a slave to standardized tests. Some schools don't have enough of a target population – black, special ed, poor – to be rated in subcategories. Some schools barely miss in a single category. Some schools are almost entirely populated by impoverished students, sometimes speaking English as a second language.

The state wants a federal waiver from this unforgiving required annual progress. As it stands, a spokesman noted, schools could improve but still drop in the rankings. "This unfairly labels schools which may in fact be very good places to learn," said the department's Seth Blomeley.

Agreed. I also want to highlight a point that was obscured in the Democrat-Gazette front-page report, which focused first on non-achieving schools in the Little Rock School District, the reformers' favorite whipping boy.

Charter schools, touted as the option of choice for children in poor schools, didn't do so hot either. Sixteen of the state's 20 charter schools, or 75 percent of them, failed to earn achieving status.

These included such highly touted charters as the KIPP Delta Public School in Helena-West Helena, two of the three eStem charter schools in Little Rock, the LISA Academy Middle School in Little Rock, the Academics Plus Charter School in Maumelle and the Arkansas Virtual Academy for home schoolers. The third eStem school also fell short in several categories, but wasn't put on alert. It was "held harmless," the department told me, on account of unusual enrollment growth.

I don't criticize these schools. But when you live by arbitrary "reform" standards (actually owe your existence to them), you should die by them a little bit, too.

The charter schools fell short in serving the very students for whom they were nominally created. eStem, extolled as a haven from what one leading Walton-paid education reform lobbyist has called the utter waste of the Little Rock School District, failed to meet cumulative progress standards with black and poor students at every level. Academics Plus in Maumelle, nominally established to reach underprivileged kids, also fell short in serving the relatively few black and poor kids it enrolls.

None of this is surprising. There's no magic in standardized tests or in charter schools. Great teachers and principals are the foundation of any good school, but they can add only so much value to the raw material that walks into class every day and the commitment of their parents to their success. Poverty, health and family issues aren't overridden by gimmicks, not even at segregated charter havens that are allowed to get rid of the hard-case students the conventional public schools must enroll.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Charter Schools

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

  • 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.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.

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 Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

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