Thursday, January 27, 2011

Important Charter Schools Study

From NEPC:

Adding Up The Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy Among New York City Charter Schools 

by Bruce D. Baker, Richard Ferris

January 26, 2011

In prominent Hollywood movies and even in some research studies, New York City (NYC) charter schools have been held up as unusually successful. This research brief presents a new study that analyzes the resources available to those charter schools, and it also looks at their performance on state standardized tests. The study reaches some surprising conclusions, some of which include the following:

• Spending by NYC charter schools varies widely, and these differences in spending per pupil appear to be driven primarily by differences in access to private donors. The most well-endowed charters receive additional private funds exceeding $10,000 per pupil more than traditional public schools receive. Other charters receive almost no private donations. (The study’s analysis is based on data from 2006 to 2008 contained in audited annual financial reports, IRS tax filings of non-profit boards overseeing charter schools and charter management organizations.)

• Outcomes also vary widely. However, there is little or no relationship between spending and test score outcomes after including appropriate controls. Some high-spending and some low-spending charters perform well, while others perform quite poorly. The study also finds that charters are, on average, not outperforming non-charter publics in NYC.

• NYC charter schools serve, on average, far fewer students who are classified as English Learners or who are very poor. Both groups of students require more resources to teach than do other students, meaning that charters with lower enrollments of these more resource-intensive students can devote their funding to other purposes.

The findings with regard to New York City Charter Schools may or may not be transferable to other settings across the country. Certainly, the wealth and philanthropic culture of NYC is unique. Further, NYC is much larger than other cities and more racially and socioeconomically diverse as well, creating greater opportunities for cream-skimming, segregation, and neighborhood selection. But, many other cities—including Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco—are struggling with similar issues and adopting comparable policies for mediating within-district funding equities, while simultaneously the number of charter schools is increasing. Leaders in these cities would do well to consider carefully the information and questions raised in this new study.

Suggested Citation:
Baker, B.D. & Ferris, R. (2011). Adding Up the Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy among New York City Charter Schools. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from

Thursday, January 20, 2011

20 January 2011 Commentary @ OpEdNews

Speaking Expert to Celebrity in 2011--The Education Reform Debate

The importance of being a radical. . .

The editor at truthout has recently reminded me of this outstanding and apt passage from Zinn:

"From that moment on, I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. I was a radical, believing that something fundamental was wrong in this country - not just the existence of poverty amidst great wealth, not just the horrible treatment of black people, but something rotten at the root. The situation required not just a new president or new laws, but an uprooting of the old order, the introduction of a new kind of society - cooperative, peaceful, egalitarian."

-Howard Zinn, from his 1994 memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bomer @ Furman University/ SCCTE January 27-28, 2011

Randy Bomer

Randy Bomer, former NCTE President, holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is currently a language and literacy specialist at the University of Texas and director of the Heart of Texas Writing Project. For two decades Bomer has worked as a literacy consultant with K-12 teachers and administrators in districts around the country. He assists teachers of all levels launch writing and reading workshops in their classrooms and teach effectively within those environments. Bomer has conducted research on professional development as well as on teaching and learning interactions in classrooms. He is the author of Time for Meaning (1995) and For a Better World (2001), as well as recent journal articles analyzing the implications of the deficit perspective in discussions of educating children of poverty.

Follow Randy on Twitter @rbomer
Visit Randy’s page on the NCTE Ning
Check out the abstracts for Randy’s articles about the deficit perspective and teaching children of poverty from Teachers College Record and English Education

Furman University, January 27, 2011 (Thursday)

Sponsored by Issues in American Education (Education Department)

Moving Beyond Deficit Views of Poverty and Learning

7-8:30 pm/ McEachern (Furman Hall 214)

Dr. Randy Bomer will lecture on what the "deficit perspective" is in regards to teaching and learning and how this perspective relates to poverty. He will draw from recent events in politics and education to speak to what the discourse surrounding poverty and education should be, as opposed to what it currently is. Following his lecture, there will be a substantial amount of time allocated to questions, as the previous "poverty and education" CLPs have seen a great interest in asking questions of the speaker and have been a great asset to the event.

South Carolina Council of Teachers of English (SCCTE), January 28, 2011 (Friday)

General Session (GS.2)
Governor’s Hall C/D/E 2:00-2:50 p.m.
Appreciative Teaching vs. Deficit Thinking: Supporting All Students in Claiming Their Literate Lives
Randy Bomer, University of Texas
This address will help teachers think about what their students bring with them to school, the knowledge, competence, experience, and language upon which we can build more academic kinds of learning. It will also explore the ways deficit thinking—the belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with students’ minds, families, or communities–can actually get in the way of effective teaching. Randy will describe very practical, research-based ways of building on students’ strengths and passions as a foundation for a school year in reading and writing.
Randy Bomer, former NCTE President, is currently a language and literacy specialist at the University of Texas and director of the Heart of Texas Writing Project. For two decades Bomer has worked as a literacy consultant with K-12 teachers and administrators in districts around the country. He is the author of Time for Meaning (1995) and For a Better World (2001), as well as recent articles analyzing the implications of the deficit perspective in discussions of educating children of poverty.

Friday Workshops 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Session FW.1
Vanderhorst 1/2/3
Topic: EL, CC, M
Audience: G
Literacy, Schooling, and Children from Economically Disadvantaged Communities: Countering the Effects of Deficit Thinkers Like Ruby Payne
Randy Bomer, University of Texas
In this workshop, participants will compare perspectives on students from communities that experience financial poverty. Randy will lead participants in comparing a deficit perspective, especially that of Ruby K. Payne, with an asset-based perspective. He will also discuss the differences these perspectives make for teachers in leading students to higher levels of academic achievement. Teachers will learn to detect deficit language and to reframe such thinking toward a more democratic valuing of the capacities diverse students bring to school.

Suggested Reading

Bomer, R., Dworin, J. E., May, L., & Semingson, P. (2008). Miseducating teachers about the poor: A critical analysis of Ruby Payne's claims about poverty. Teachers College Record, 110(11).
Bomer, R., Dworin, J. E., May, L., & Semingson, P. (2009, June 3). What’s wrong with a deficit perspective? Teachers College Record. Retrieved 12 June 2009 from
Dworin, J. E., & Bomer, R. (2008). What we all (supposedly) know about the poor: A critical discourse analysis of Ruby Payne's "framework." English Education, 40(2), 101-121.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Considering MLK and our commitment to corporate charter schools

21st Century Segregation: Inverting King’s Dream

Charter Schools: The NEW Segregation. . .


Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation
Erica Frankenberg, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Jia Wang


The political popularity of charter schools is unmistakable. This article explores the relationship between charter schools and segregation across the country, in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and several dozen metropolitan areas with large enrollments of charter school students in 2007-08. The descriptive analysis of the charter school enrollment is aimed at understanding the enrollment and characteristics of charter school students and the extent to which charter school students are segregated, including how charter school segregation compare to students in traditional public schools. This article examines these questions at different levels, aggregating school-level enrollment to explore patterns among metropolitan areas, states, and the nation using three national datasets. Our findings suggest that charters currently isolate students by race and class. This analysis of recent data finds that charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation. In some regions, white students are over-represented in charter schools while in other charter schools, minority students have little exposure to white students. Data about the extent to which charter schools serve low-income and English learner students is incomplete, but suggest that a substantial share of charter schools may not enroll such students. As charters represent an increasing share of our public schools, they influence the level of segregation experienced by all of our nation’s school children. After two decades, the promise of charter schools to use choice to foster integration and equality in American education has not yet been realized. [bold added]

Monday, January 10, 2011

King's message from 1967 (UPDATE)

Unlike the misguided Utopian claims for education coming from Secretary Duncan and the new reformers, we should heed this charge from Martin Luther King (1967):

"We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished."

"I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about 'Where do we go from here,' that we honestly face the fact that the Movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this,

These are questions that must be asked."

And I recommend this excellent blog from The Huffington Post:

Dr. King and the Achievement Gap

King and Orwell would certainly have something to say about Republicans RENAMING committees. . .

10 January 2011 The Daily Censored Commentary

Thomas, P. L. (2011, January 10). Supermen or kryptonite?—Legend of the fall, pt. V. The Daily Censored.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Education, access, and advantage

When any organization or the government seeks ways to support access to education for people coming from poverty, the public cries "foul"—because we have a crippling commitment to cultural myths of rugged individualism and pulling ourselves up by the boot straps. . .But as those efforts toward equity are stalled and even squelched, the rich get richer. . .See this report on legacy influence for college admission:

At Elite Colleges, Legacy Status May Count More Than Was Previously Thought

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ill Fares the Land, Judt (NYRB)

Ill Fares the Land
April 29, 2010
Tony Judt

"Inequality is corrosive. It rots societies from within. The impact of material differences takes a while to show up: but in due course competition for status and goods increases; people feel a growing sense of superiority (or inferiority) based on their possessions; prejudice toward those on the lower rungs of the social ladder hardens; crime spikes and the pathologies of social disadvantage become ever more marked. The legacy of unregulated wealth creation is bitter indeed."

Excellent and chilling piece by Giroux at truthout

In the Twilight of the Social State: Rethinking Walter Benjamin's Angel of History

by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed