Sunday, December 9, 2012

For Laura Waters, Newark Charters Have A Certain... Special... Something...

Once again, Laura Waters demonstrates that facts, or even common sense, mean very little in the world of reform.

I've written a couple of posts already about the CREDO study.  I've written about the questionable conclusions drawn by the authors of the study, and how their ties to the reform world may explain how they came to such conclusions.  Bruce Baker has dissected the Newark Effect demonstrated in the study not once, but twice.  Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools New Jersey has asked some very pertinent questions of the authors of the study.

But leave it to Ms. Waters to just come to her own conclusions, based on... well, based on nothing but her own reformy fantasies.

In her essay for NewsWorks New Jersey, she pontificates about "why" Newark charters demonstrated greater gains, and what we can learn from them.
One possibility is that Newark is home to five KIPP schools, the highly-regarded national network of charters.. There are no other KIPP schools in the state. What is KIPP doing that other charters – indeed, other traditional public schools – aren't doing? 
Another high-achieving charter in Newark is North Star Academy, part of the Uncommon Schools network, which has schools in New York City, Boston, Rochester, and Troy. Is there something special about large charter management organizations?
Ms. Waters then goes on to conclude that perhaps the KIPP coup in Camden will lead to better outcomes for kids there, too. 

Guess Ms Waters doesn't read Jersey Jazzman, or she'd know that KIPP has already come and gone in Camden.  But looks like KIPP will get to try again, thanks to George Norcross's influence over the Camden School Board.

And North Star Academy?  Bruce Baker has demonstrated that charters like North Star very likely owe their success to high attrition rates and "shedding" low performing students.  

If high attrition leads to high achievement, do we consider that a good thing?

And let's not forget, the authors of the study did not release their data, so we have NO IDEA which charters' data were or were not used in the CREDO study.  There is no way to know if KIPP or North Star have anything at all to do with the results. 

Unless CREDO releases their data. (more on that later...)

And Ms. Waters asks if there is "something special" about large charter management organizations?  Maybe she should ask the students and parents in St. Louis where Imagine Schools, which operates 70 schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia, was forced to close all six campuses it operated in that city. 

As many as 3,800 children — or about 11 percent of those attending public schools in the city — must find new schools. Their records must be properly preserved and transferred. The school buildings they attended have to be scoured for equipment and materials paid for with federal funds. The 288 teachers and staff who work at the schools must have a better idea of their remaining pay and benefits. And that's not counting the thousands of questions by parents who demand answers.
Charter schools in Missouri have closed in the past. But never on this scale.
In fact, the decision this week by Missouri's Board of Education to shutter six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis will likely result in the largest charter school closure of its kind nationwide, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "This is definitely one of the biggest that I'm aware of," said Todd Ziebarth, of the alliance. "It's complicated enough when it's a single school of, lets say, 300 kids 
The St. Louis Imagine schools were not only some of the lowest performing schools in the district, an Imagine VP had no explanation for the fact that he had received $32,000 in payments from a contractor renovating Imagine buildings. 

Oh, and look!  Cerf's old buddies at EdisonLearning may be getting ready to turn tail and flee from St. Louis, too!
The exit of Imagine comes as another for-profit company, EdisonLearning, appears to be leaving St. Louis. Like Imagine Schools, EdisonLearning also operates a cluster of mostly low-performing schools called Confluence Academy. The governing board is negotiating an end to the relationship with the hope of improving academics.
Yeah, there is something special about large charter management companies all right!

But this gem from Waters really takes the cake.
Newark also has a reform-minded superintendent, Cami Anderson, who doesn't seem to view charter schools as a threat to her market share. Is the relationship between a district's leadership and charters a factor in student success?
"Reform-minded" Cami Anderson is responsible for the "student success" in Newark as demonstrated in the CREDO study?  That's quite a feat since Anderson was hired in May of 2011, and the study used data from 2006-2011.  The NJASK is generally taken in March, April and May - so all of the data generated for the study was collected just before Anderson started in Newark.

She really is somethin' that Cami, isn't she?  She brought results to Newark before she was even hired!

At the State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday the authors of the CREDO study were asked why the gains in Newark were so much higher than the rest of the state.  Their answer was simple.  

They don't know.  

They said they were investigating the "what" and not the "why."

Please, Ms. Waters, I beg you.  Have the decency to stop pretending you know why when you have absolutely nothing to back up your spurious claims.

Newark charters have a certain... special... something...


  1. It must be very freeing not to be bothered by facts or data. The Fantasy World of reform according to Waters....

    By the way, amazing that Cami can be given credit for success when she was not there, but the lowered QSAC scores dished up last summer - a year into her term (lowered to prevent their petition to be released from state control) are not a reflection of her poor performance.....

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