Utah charter schools a story of success and promise

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  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Sept. 5, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    It is always amazing to me that the DN has such a biased view of charter schools. The title could easily read "Traditional Public Schools" instead. The facts are that charter schools do NOT do better than our traditional public schools but are given accolades for the successes they experience. My question is why is there not the same praise heaped upon our traditional public schools which are highly successful.
    When you talk about academic and instructional innovation, you must level the playing field and allow for the same parameters in all school settings. Our public schools in Utah are AMAZING! We have limited resources and are still successful.
    Those who comment about choice need to be honest-we have choice in Utah. Charter schools simply siphon money away from our school system in order to pave the way for accusations of failure. You cannot accuse a system of failing when you have never provided adequate resources for excellence and success.
    DN you should be ashamed of your continual bashing of our traditional public schools and our teachers.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Sept. 3, 2012 2:23 p.m.

    I still believe that the majority of students are best served in their neighborhood public schools. They are the schools that employ the most teachers with a variety of teaching skills and approaches to better reach the majority of students. They are the schools that provide the widest range of sports, academic, arts, and other extra-curricular educational opportunities to all students. Those programs enrich the educational experience. They are the schools that neighborhoods used to support and take pride in showcasing to others.

    We already had choice in the public schools our children were to attend. Choice begins when we research the neighborhood schools where we consider living. How many actually include that into considerations when purchasing a home? Districts also let students attend a school outside of their boundaries on special permits.

    I don't think building more schools is the answer. Allowing our existing public schools the same freedoms that charter schools enjoy is a better solution.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Sept. 2, 2012 1:40 p.m.

    Orem Parent - you do have something against charter schools according to your previous posts.

    All this talk about "better" or "worse" is ridiculous and meaningless.

    The ONLY meaningful measurement of student academic achievement is a growth measurement: "did a student experience one year's growth in one year's time? More than a year's growth? Less than a year's growth?"

    If a student comes to a charter school (or any school) and is 3 years behind, and the school accelerates the student's growth by 1.5 years in the first year they are at the school, but the student still doesn't pass the CRT - did the school do well? Yes, very well. Was that reflected in its CRT scores? No.

    We must devise growth measurements and track them annually and report them to parents and the public. Only then will any of this conversation about "better" or "worse" hold any meaning.

    Charters provide a choice to parents - a vital component of a free society is choice and schools should be no exception.

  • scarlet Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 1, 2012 11:19 p.m.

    It's interesting to see the rather narrow and negative opinions on charter schools here. You have an entire public education system that fawns over racial diversity, but turns its nose up at instructional diversity! More choices always works in favor of the consumer, which in education is the student.

    I've seen more than my fair share of teachers in the public school system who demand the extra mile from their students but fail to demand it of themselves. Why? Well, as one teacher told me more than once, "I don't get paid to do that." And this is the basic problem of not tying pay, perks, and even jobs to teacher performance. In the public sector, you rise or fall on your merits, and no one is guaranteed a job despite performance. Not so in public education. The good teachers earn the same as bad teachers, and the unions protect the bad at the expense of the good.

    We need more systems that exist to support the students. Instead, there are some very reactionary protectionists of the public schools who seem to think that students exist to support the system. Nothing could be further than the truth.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 1, 2012 9:40 a.m.

    This editorial only engages in demagoguery and not facts. As reported by the pro-charter Utah County Daily Herald two years ago, only 1 of 5 charter schools outperform traditional schools, 2 of 5 are on par, and 2 of 5 actually score worse than traditional schools. That hardly sounds like a success to me. Even more disturbing is that most charter schools tend to attract the students from families who care about the education of their child, have low rates of poverty, and small racial diversity. These are natural advantages for charters, yet still most can't outperform district schools.

    Much of the conservative Utah media has a bias in favor of charter schools and they are responsible for the parental "perception" that charters are superior. I'm not against having school choice, but I'm in favor of providing factual information to the public rather than unsupported opinions. Most of the public is catching on to this and most new charter schools tend to capture their students from other charter schools. The new charter school in American Fork did very little to reduce student numbers in area district schools and started the school year about 1/3 empty.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 1, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    Yes, traditional public schools both can and do fire under-performing teachers. But they also allow them due process.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 1, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    If you were graduating as a teacher and had such a sparkling resume that you could teach almost anywhere, would you choose a charter school or a traditional public school?

    Most choose traditional schools and the charters pick from the rest.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 6:49 p.m.

    Sorry Dnews but once again you are on your charter soap box.

    Your own paper wrote and article a while back stating that 37% of charter schools were performing "SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE" than the regular schools. Not a little bit worse but significantly worse.

    I've got nothing against charters but the rah, rah, rah from the dnews trying to sell us on this is getting old.

    The charter by me here in Orem performs quite a bit worse than the local elementary school yet I hear parent after parent exclaiming their joy when their child gets "accepted" to the charter school. I inform them that the school performs quite a bit worse on the CRT tests according to the state's website and they look at me like I am from another planet. When I show them the facts they are dumbfounded. It seems impossible to them but it is true.

    There are some areas where charters are probably needed but a majority of Utah doesn't need them. They should be instituted where a school is failing but otherwise they are just duplicating already provided services.

    Charter doesn't necessarily = better.

    Do your research. Especially check who is teaching.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    It's called choice and competition. If charter schools are inferior parents will not send their children. Government funded studies are like asking the fox to guard the hen house. Teacher unions are opposed to parental choice and merit based teacher pay. Tenure and guarantees are their currency, not excellence. There are outstanding teachers who cannot be rewarded and incompetent teachers who cannot be fired. An example is the NYC schools that have a holding pen for incompetent teachers they will not allow in the classroom. Those teachers do nothing but collect a salary at a huge cost to taxpayers. Parents must be involved in their children's educational choices.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 1:47 p.m.

    Of course teachers are the answer (but can also be the problem).

    We need good teachers and administrators who will work together to find the best solutions for giving each child a quality education for a fair price. They must be able to try new things, get rid of programs or individuals who inhibit progress, and constantly look for ways to improve. You know, just like every business in the private sector.

    They need to feel and act like all the non-government workers out there - "Either we get it right or we will be out of business soon".

    Many good teachers already do these things, but the system allows all the bad ones to be protected from the consequences.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Aug. 31, 2012 9:55 a.m.

    I'm a liberal, but I can recognize there are some problems in the public schools. Ask any teacher, they will tell you.

    Unlike conservatives, I think teachers are the answer not the problem.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 8:54 a.m.

    to liberal larry who wrote: "A federally commissioned study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, of Princeton, N.J., looked at 2330 students in 36 charter schools from 15 states and found charter schools offered no advantages to students in math and reading!"

    At first glance, it feels like you are cherry-picking your statistics. Why just "math and reading"? Does "no advantages" mean that they performed the same in these two subjects? If so, did they perform equally well with far less money spent toward their education?

    To me, if those 2330 students did just as well as regular public school students but it cost far less to educate them, then that would be measured as a tremendous success for charter schools. Failure is when you throw lots of money at a problem for little benefit.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Aug. 31, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    We used K12 for Jr high. It's an online charter school. We liked it.

    I think the bottom line with charter schools is if it works well for YOUR child then it's fine. They do offer some flexibility and creativity that a public school isn't allowed to use. I also fully support public schools as the backbone of our education system, but there can be a good fit for a lot of students in charter schools.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    Take it up with the legislature or not, it was a LOTTERY system, my son was DENIED, so henceforth it is EXCLUSIONARY.

    As I have said in these posts, I have actually had children at private, public and charter schools so I think I know all the systems reasonably well, their strengths and weaknesses. My daughter attended the charter school. I am hoping that my son didn't win the lottery because he is a special needs student. I am going to hope it was just the luck of the draw. The charter school my daughter attended I have no problems with the school at all. Her experience was good. It did fit right into the stereotype of what was said up there in ethnic profile, more than 90% of the students were White or Caucasian and it did not reflect the ethnic make-up of the surrounding neighborhoods or district generally. However, I will concede many charter schools are different in this regard.

    But again to say charter schools in Utah are not exclusionary is not honest...my son's only recourse for education was a public school as he was denied entry into both charter/private schools.

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 8:14 a.m.

    re: Salty Dog - I cannot let your inaccuracies go unchallenged. Charter school students take all of the same tests required in other public schools. Charter schools are required to take students with disabilities and all of them have special education programs. As for former legislators makiing money off of charter schools, that number is very small. Most who tried found that it was difficult to do since there isn't really a whole lot of money to be made. But it begs the question - do construction companies build our public schools for free? Do text book companies sell books to schools for no profit? Companies who provide services to education don't do it for free. If there is a legislator who is providing a service to a charter school they are having to compete with a number of other private vendors who provide those same services. I have to believe that the charter schools are shopping hard for competitive pricing to manage their budget. But, you are the perfect illustration as to why we can never have an honest dialogue about improving education in our state because people buy into outlandish comments with no shred of fact.

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 8:02 a.m.

    re: Salty Dog and Howard Beal: The lottery was imposed to limit growth in charter schools and to protect local district schools. Talk to the legislature about that problem. As for the ethic mix in charter schools, Salty Dog has apparently never been to the Guadalupe School, the School for New Americans, Monticello Academy, Beehive Academy, Endeavor Hall, Dual Immersion Academy and a host of other charter schools. The 95% white statistic is false and typical race baiting that occurs in an effort to dilute/explain the success of the charter schools. With a few exceptions, most charter schools share a very similar ethnic mix as the local districts schools in the same areas. I am personally offended when people use race as a reason Utah's charter schools are more successful, which seems to imply that people of color can't achieve. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 7:52 a.m.

    re: Liberal Larry - This editorial was citing performance of Utah charter schools, which do a much better job than the charter schools in the 15 other states cited in the study you quote. Instead of denounicng the success of our charter schools we ought to be looking at what is making them successful and replicate it in other schools. The whole idea of the charter experiment was to create laboratories of innovation to see what would produce better results. Instead of fearing success, we need to embrace it. Traditional schools districts could see the same results if they were willing to devolve power from the central office and empower parents to govern their local schools, and to critically evaluate the successs, or lack thereof, of some programs and be willing to sacrifice those that aren't working and reduce the bureaucracy in the system. But alas, decisions are often made based on fear of change, protection of out-dated programs and misplaced loyalty to tradition - all enemies of progress. All while the USOE continues to ratchet up the constraints on charter schools - reducing their ability to innovate new ideas.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 7:51 a.m.

    All the previous posters have pretty well covered any comments I could make.

  • salty dog BOUNTIFUL, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    I have four problems with charter schools:
    1)Unfortunately, look at the statistics of the racial makeup of charter schools - they are over 95% white.
    2)charter schools except for the specialized autistic school take no children with physical or learning disabilities
    3) do charter schools perform better --- how do we know when they do not have to take the same tests as the public schools?
    4) how many current and former Utah legislators make a living off of running and building schools?

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Aug. 31, 2012 7:24 a.m.

    A federally commissioned study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, of Princeton, N.J., looked at 2330 students in 36 charter schools from 15 states and found charter schools offered no advantages to students in math and reading! If the writers of this editorial are going to be convincing they should at least cite studies which apply to charter schools, and not use one aspect of a voucher study to make their point.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 31, 2012 12:29 a.m.

    How can you say charter schools accept all when my son was denied entrance because of a lottery. Only traditional public schools accept all. Let's get that fact straight right now!