Charter schools, funding education discussed at policy summit

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  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 17, 2012 9:38 p.m.

    Carolyn, Mr. Jarvis:

    I thought somebody asked you a question. The crickets are chirping...

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Jan. 16, 2012 8:55 a.m.

    Demisana, 27% is small in comparison to our urban schools who actually deal with a majority 96% English Language Learners, 92% economically disadvantaged and on free or reduced lunch. The percentage of 504 or IEP students you referenced in your son's school is minimal.

    I agree that smaller class sizes make a difference. The question needs to be asked, "Why are smaller class sizes OK for children in charter schools but not for those in traditional public schools?" The changes in charters place them at an unfair advantage and those who advocate for charters need to think of ALL children and provide ALL children with these same conditions. Yet, when our traditional public educators talk about smaller class sizes we are accused of only caring about money. It is a bit of a double standard, don't you think?

    The federal and state mandates our traditional public schools face are daunting at best. I think we would be wise to remember these facts before we slam any school setting. Thank you.

  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    Jan. 16, 2012 12:46 a.m.

    hmmm, so charters are able to violate federal special ed guidelines which allow for only about 15% of a student body to qualify for special ed without sanctions? Or are the charters over-identifying so that they can receive even more federal $s?

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Jan. 15, 2012 7:48 p.m.

    Some of the reasons why I sent my children to public schools included the availibility of athletics, incredible musicals, a variety of foreign language possibilities, and an incredible array of varied classes.

    One expert said that an optimum high school would be around 1400 students because with that many students, they could offer almost every possible academic course in the state curriculum.

  • Demisana South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 15, 2012 7:23 p.m.

    Hm, select student bodies in charter schools. Yeah, I can see that. In my son's charter high school, 27% are on a 504 or IEP (according to the director of special ed services at the school). Having run carpool for years there - I can confidently say that at least half have issues of one sort or another. These kids are there because they would have fallen through the cracks at our local giant high school. And their parents know it. At the charter, they get smaller class sizes, teachers who know who they are, the special ed services that they need - even if they aren't in the bottom 10th percentile - which you have to be in at many public schools to get anything. Yes, you have parents who care. You also have teachers who aren't overworked and burned out. Administrators with more decision making power and ability to change as needed. My son is on an IEP. I've called the school about an issue, and had changes implemented THE SAME DAY. Years ago at a regular public school - they took 4 MONTHS to implement changes. No thanks.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    Jan. 15, 2012 8:05 a.m.


    You are right. Most of the blame is being put on money or the lack thereof. Lets call a spade a spade. The real problem is that parents, most not all, want nothing to do with their childs education other than to dictate how much money is alloted or spent on them. I have siblings who are educators and they tell me the kids who seem to excel or make great improvements have the best support at home. This is especially true for special ed students. So parents take some responsibility.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Jan. 15, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    Carolyn and Jarvis,
    What needs to be acknowledged here is that your arguments in favor of charter schools ignore those traditional public schools which outperform charters. Our traditional public schools do not have the luxury of limited class sizes and the ability to turn away children.
    So my question to both of you is this, when the original charter legislation was passed, it called for an audit of results and an accounting. Our traditional public schools must go through this scrutiny each year. Are you both willing to call for a financial and academic audit of our charter schools including class size and demographic data of the students they serve? If so, then I challenge you to call upon our legislators to make it happen. If not, then that speaks volumes.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Jan. 15, 2012 12:05 a.m.

    All the comments on this subject are worthless unless backed by some kind of statistical evidence. Most public schools do a great job in spite of non-English speaking students, lackadaisical parents and No Child Left Behind.

    The same child who will succeed in an expensive private school will exceed in a good public school. Charter schools have an edge in that those parents who care enough to go to the trouble to enroll their child in one will have a greater interest in their student's success.

    Any institution is only as good as its teachers and administrators. Better pay would attract better teachers (especially men who need to support a family). One can only live off idealism so long before reality sets in.

  • DBeck Eagle Mountain, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 11:34 p.m.

    If I follow the majority of posts, just the last 13 years of charters are to blame for our pathetic #43 ranking in Education Week. This is one of two things: sadly disingenuous or outright dishonest (and either way, it only partly gets to the real issues regarding public education). A fairly sizable majority of charter proponents statewide and nationally believe and work toward failing schools being closed when nothing else will work or transformed when that is doable. Reducing disruptions to meet students need is crucial. Close consistently failing charters schools and traditional schools as well; Restructure failing schools with models we have evidence work as smaller schools, as magnets, even as the much loathed charters, but they have to certify that they can run, consistently and accurately, the school in question. We seem to lack integrity, shoulders for the work, and political will to make it happen. Changing how we look at public ed funding is another place where we need to focus as we head into the 2012 legislative session. Instead of funding formulas, we need a long-term investment strategy instead. It just sounds more energetic and helps is step into the 21st century.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    Jan. 14, 2012 9:33 p.m.

    Mr. Jarvis-

    No you are wrong. I have correct information that will be going for the legislature to evaluate. I have a very very good conection that knows all of the results for the state of Utah. Charter schools get more money per pupil than other public school children. They have a higher failure rate. Money is allocated to the public schools at the first of the year per student. There have been such an influx of students back in the public schools because of poor performance, the public schools loose out on all of that money. Therefore higher class sizes and no money for teachers. This has left many a public school in a bind.

    I also know several "teachers" who teach at charter schools who are not even credentialed. They have no teaching certificate at all. What say you on this?

    I stand by my original argument. Charter schools are bigger government and a HUGE waste of money.

    Jan. 14, 2012 8:26 p.m.

    "Howard Headlee, founder of American Preparatory Academy charter schools, said he'd like to see the Legislature take some of the valuable lessons that have been learned from charter schools applied to traditional public schools."

    Last year, my traditional public school outperformed the four closest charters in all categories except one. Two of those charters have never reached enrollment capacity since the day they opened. The other two have space available in select grades according to their websites.

    I strongly recommend that the legislature look at the valuable lessons that have been learned at ALL exceptional schools and see if they don't have an application at BOTH traditional public schools and charters.

    At my traditional public school, our students have made amazing academic progress because we have sought out the most effective academic programs from a variety of sources. We could care less if that source is a private, home, charter, or traditional public school.

    From what I have read, Howard Headlee is absolutely right--amazing academic results are happening at APA. However, to put charters up as the ONLY place to look for academic excellence is misleading at best and downright offensive to myself and many other traditional public schools.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 8:12 p.m.

    Thank you Steve J for trying to answer the questions and clarifying all the false information that some posters put out, day after day, whenever there is a charter school story. Fortunately, charter objectors don't even come close to the number and passion of the charter lovers (we currently have over 11,000 on our schools' waitlists, and have had over 3700 applicants in the past year alone) - so that is comforting.

    Your answer to the question was wonderful - a school structure that allows for achievement leveled groups makes students more successful and teachers very happy (parents too, obviously). At the meeting that this article was about, this grouping structure was presented as one of the "solutions" charters have developed that bring incredible success and much parental satisfaction.

    Your answer was not acknowledged, instead the same worn-out objections just keep coming from those who oppose charters, regardless of the evidence of our success.

    Fortunately, the market is driving the development of charter schools, which means they will continue to flourish. Success is what students and parents want and deserve. I encourage them to demand it and charters will continue to expand and flourish.

  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 5:47 p.m.

    Thank you, Mr. Jarvis. I still don't see anything special except lower class sizes - which teachers have been recommending for years -- that the schools in my district are not already doing. I don't see charters as laboratories. I do see them as contract schools, businesses that make a contract with the government, just as ATK, Boing, or any other business that is paid by the government for a product or service. I don't have a huge problem with that, either, except that it is dishonest for the charter management companies, real estate developers, etc to claim they are actually saving money. More dollars just go to private firms than to the educators who actually do the work. Honesty would be appreciated.

    And while your school may have many students receiving special ed services, most charters in Utah tend to be ethnically and socio-economically segregated. Not good policy, I think.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 4:19 p.m.

    Mr. Jarvis that isn't what I said.

    I said 37% of charters were performing "significantly worse" than regular schools. There is also a large portion that are performing worse just not significantly worse.

    I'm not against charters but I am against wasting our money by experimenting on our kids. Our public schools know what works. They just need the money to do it. Instead we are now investing (wasting) money by reinventing the wheel and doing the same experimenting that was done 50 years ago. It is complete craziness.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 2:40 p.m.


    Because we diversify instruction based on student needs, our charter hired more faculty per student than Districts do. This probably means less compensation to the employees, but no one goes into education expecting to get rich. The school board chose adaptable curriculum with Saxon Math and Reading Mastery.

    Our group sizes for math and reading are between 1-30 students with 1-2 adults assigned to each of those classes. In the cases of groupings of very few students or with two staff members, the class grouping was done to give that child or children as extensive of an intervention as possible to give them a chance at academic success. We have some kids that had they not won the lottery would not be allowed mainstreaming till High School. On the other side of the spectrum, students with higher academic levels in reading tend to be grouped in larger classes.

    With math, we have testing every 6-7 days, and reading every 10-11 school days. Each grouped subject teacher generates a report weekly on student progress. I usually know how each elementary aged student is performing and who needs help based on this.


  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 1:56 p.m.


    Best practices at Charter schools do not always translate well to other schools. This is due to problems like year-round schooling, lack of professionalism, or unwillingness by administration or faculty to incorporate changes. I have seen some of our practices in use at District schools, but usually not across all grade levels and extremely rare throughout an entire school.

    As a reference point, I work at a K-9 Charter in the Salt Lake Valley that has been in operation for more than five years, has received high marks for academics, runs school tours for the curious and has held a very rigid and consistent structure throughout its existence. Our school has a very strong special education department, owns the building, has a wait list over 1200 and does its best to keep a low profile. I don't include the name because of this.

    We believe that children learn best when given more individualized education based on their needs. This means we do a great deal of small group instruction based on ability. We have many kids with learning disabilities. We also have kids with abilities that excel.


  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    Mr. Jarvis, since you work at a charter school, perhaps you can answer my first question: Just what "valuable lessons" can be learned from the charter school "laboratory" that should be implemented in district schools to improve student outcomes? And it needs to be advice that teachers have not been suggesting and not getting for years... like smaller class sizes.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    "Two hundred elected officials, lobbyists, nonprofit leaders and business officials met Friday to weigh in on issues ranging from charter schools to eliminating the state's caucus system."

    Did they invite any educators to their "policy summit?"

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 11:44 a.m.


    Please refrain from making things up. Only thing in your comments that was true was that many Charter schools require uniforms.

    Charters obey state law.

    The state runs the lottery for admission when there are more students who want to attend a school than there are seats available.

    The Charter I work in has 6 special education teachers and three aides for 520 students. We have a higher percentage of special needs students than surrounding schools.

    We don't kick kids out--we help the student with problems. The process for a Charter is outlined in state law. It requires 45 days of school suspension and a hearing.

    Charters DO it for cheaper. Most get better results than neighboring schools.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 11:23 a.m.

    Superintendent Doty,

    Charter schools are public schools just like the schools you oversee. We take the CRTs and Iowas required by state law and results are reported publicly. Charters also give kids the Dibbles reading test. That was the test every public school not in Canyons school district took last year because it too is required by state law.


    Your information is erroneous. Charter schools have approximately 10% less money to work with per student than district schools have. The gap keeps increasing whenever the Districts raise property taxes. Charters make up that shortfall well by eliminating the excessive cost of paper pushers that make up the administrative level and being more efficient with resources.

    As far as results go, Charters have been reported in most cases as having educational results equal to the schools governed by districts. Even Orem Parent uses a statistic of 37% under performance that backs this up (63% are either equal to or outperforming at a significant cost savings to the state). If we increase Charter funding to equal that of Districts, we would get better results.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    Jan. 14, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    Listen Utah "conservatives!" Charter schools are bigger government. They are actually getting more funding per student with worse results. They are bleeding money on buildings, administrators and upkeep costs.

    They are still public schools. If you want all the benefits of a private school, then pony up the cash and send your kids to a private school.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 7:21 a.m.

    I know of a few:

    Selective entrance. Selective UN-entrance when a kid goes bad--just eject them back to that evil public school where they belong!
    Mandatory volunteer hours from parents. Uniforms. Taking only kids with supportive parents helps, too. Not having services for many of the areas that regular public schools are required to provide, like resource or special ed. Not having to spend any money on facilities or programs like sports (because you can just use the local public school FOR FREE).

    Oh, and saying you'll do it for cheaper and then complaining you can't do it for less.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 14, 2012 2:09 a.m.

    I just keep remembering the mantra of the charter schools. We can do more with less money. Apparently that isn't true since charters continue to achieve lower results than real schools.

    Why are we wasting money on them?

    Duplication of already existing services makes no sense. Especially when they are getting worse results.

    The Dnews did an article a while back stating that 37% of charters were performing "significantly worse" than regular schools.

    We don't need more charters. We just need to start weeding out the bad ones now.

  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    Jan. 13, 2012 8:33 p.m.

    Any charter school people out there want to explain the wonderful things that charters do that public schools need to learn about? (Especially anything that public ed teachers haven't been trying to say for years?)