Delaware charter schools crying the $$$$ blues

Attached is information sent out by the charter school network asking parents to contact state legislators for increase funding for charter schools.

It appears Delaware charter schools are heading into financial distress. Those who started charter schools knew the funding stream and now cry funding isn’t fair. I am for equal operational funding and even capital funding. However, we’re a long way off from achieving that. The charter school law needs to change ending discriminatory practices. The cherry picking and dumping undesirable charter students back on the traditional schools needs to end. Traditional public schools don’t require entrance test and review of students current academic performance. Perhaps charter schools need to stop feeding charter school management companies and hire competent school leaders.

At this point, Delaware taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to provide more funding to cover paying for charter school buildings. Charter schools are corporations where the state has no ownership in real-estate. If a charter school corporation decides to fold they take the property and use if for non-education commercial use. I’d like to see better funding for charter schools but until charter schools have admission practices equal to traditional public schools I can’t support the call for more funding. Cherry picking and building charter school solely for minority children needs to end. Let’s not use taxpayers money to segregate public schools via charters.


43 responses to “Delaware charter schools crying the $$$$ blues

  1. The state should oversee charter schools. If they were doing their job, Pencader might not have almost closed last summer, the problems would have been caught before they got out of hand. If they were doing their job, Newark Charter would have been giving lunches years ago, the problems there also would have been caught before they got out of hand. You say you are for operational and capital funding but then use a title like ‘crying the blues’. not fair!


  2. A school district can put a referendum to the people – a charter cannot. Allow capital funding with caveats that give the state an ownership stake that correlates as a percentage of the public monies used. Or something like that.

    Overall – If the state is going to allow charters then do it right – or cut bait and get out of the game, but be straight up about it.


  3. Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean. So the state would have ownership in how the money is used, meaning if the school has to run it by the state what they are using the money for before they use it?


  4. Take the money, take the strings attached.

    I’ve afforded Charters some slack mainly because they didn’t receive equal funding. If that changes then the rules charters run by must change. First, they must take and keep everyone. Second, I’d be uncomfortable with the current applicaton process – Draw an attendance zone, enter every child living in that zone into the lottery, and let the lottery winners opt out if they choose.

    You know, one of Charter’s mantras has always been that they get better results with less money. Is this no longer true?


  5. If all of DE charters were delivering exemplary results with diverse populations, who in their right mind would object? Capital funding should be granted in trade for no lotteries and/or special interest admissions, just like all other non-charter public schools.


  6. kilroysdelaware

    I agree Pandora, the rules must change! If the state aka taxpayers provides 60-80% of capital funding the state must have ownership based on that dollar amount. If the property appreciates over time so be it. But the state ownership should be equal to initial investment $. If the charter folds on its own or by order of the state the building should be offer for sale to another charter school whereas the state’s original $$ investment transfers to new charter. If building is to be sold or if X-charter organization wants to retain it for other commercial use then the must pay back the state initial investment. But again even for increasing operational contribution by the state or local school district’s share we need to align charter school admission with that of traditional schools. No more cherry picking, peeking at current academic records and the specific interest. Designing charter schools to serve at-risk students is noble. However, doing so obviously creates high pockets of minorities and poverty. All school charters and traditional school should be required to provide programming for students of all academic levels and special ed. Also, address their own disruptive students.


  7. “Capital funding should be granted in trade for no lotteries and/or special interest admissions, just like all other non-charter public schools”
    – How would Vo-Techs figure into this? They receive capital funding, yet do have selective (cherry picked?) and limited enrollment.


  8. That should stop at Vo-Tech, as well.


  9. Does Conrad get capital funding?


  10. I’ve said it before but I feel it’s worth repeating. Instead of complaining that charter schools get to ship their problem kids out (still have not seen hard evidence this is even happening, esp at NCS) maybe we should advocate for either a change in law with respect to removal of these kids or additional resources to better educate them. Advocating for charter schools to “have to deal with the same issue” doesn’t make sense to me. If I’m Meece or any other charter school administrator, I say keep the money if you’re telling me I can’t maintain a school environment free of disruptions and police officers. If you think the current status quo is okay at traditional public schools that’s fine too. That’s why more solid choices like NCS HS are a good thing.


  11. @pandora–there is an interesting assumption in your argument, that all public schools must take all comers, which seems to agree with kilroy’s argument against the special interest rule.

    What bothers me here (and I am not maintaining I have the correct answer) is the artificiality of the argument by drawing it around a school, while not employing it inside the schools as well.

    Consider: kilroy would want to end testing/reference to grades at CSW or even auditions at Cab. Yet within the schools it is an everyday occurrence that students must compete, based on ability, for limited resources in special programs. to wit:

    –We don’t take all the students interested in playing varsity basketball and hold a lottery for the final roster.

    –We don’t take all kids via lottery into the IB or Cambridge programs and ignore their grades

    –We don’t allow any child who wants to take calculus to do so unless he or she can show passing grades in the pre-requisite courses (likewise, we don’t allow students to simply decide that they’d like to take Spanish and start with Spanish 3)

    –Schools use gateways to control which students are allowed to take AP and Honors courses

    In many, many Delaware schools (admittedly not as many as there used to be in the 1980s and 1990s) there is a strong internal segregation, wherein the upper income kids are all together in the same academic classes. Wait, people tell me, they are together with other kids in PE, and at lunch, and in elective classes. Actually, that’s far less true than most people think. Your academic schedule drives which PE class you will be in, kids have been self-segregating at lunch tables since the tables were made out of rocks, and if you examine enrollment in electives you will find that poor vs. non-poor vary wildly in those classes in very predictable ways.

    And if you look at the detailed breakdowns of achievement in those schools, you will find two completely different demographic populations. Poor kids still score less well on standardized tests; the better scores of the high achievers merely mask that fact for purposes of bureaucratic reporting.

    So we are apparently OK with that, but not with

    –A rigorous math/science high school that demands that students prove they have taken and done well in the pre-requisite courses and that they have the entering skills to handle the curriculum (Good for the IB program, not good for CSW)

    –A performing arts school that demands that students interested in intense coursework in their chosen field have demonstrated an aptitude to meet the school’s standards (good for tryouts in the school play, not good for Cab Calloway)

    This is not a new argument, and even goes back to the old WEB Dubois vs Booker T Washington argument over educating “the talented tenth” to a different level.

    I would argue that this argument itself merely masks the main issue, which is that education professionals really DO NOT KNOW how to educate poor children successfully, and mask this fact with hetergenously grouped classes that create the illusion that all kids do better in such classes. In reality, the research does not support the idea that better academic performance occurs across income lines in hetergenous or differentiated classrooms. What the research predominately tells us is that (a) there is better socialization in such classrooms; (b) that high-performing kids actually do not do as well academically in such classrooms (although there may be compensating gains in social skills); and (c) that the gains made by poorer children are not statistically significant on a sustainable basis across a district, city, or state.

    We DO KNOW that low income children need 2x, 3x, or even 4x the resource investment of high-performing kids to meet standards, because quantity (of resources) has a quality all its own. But it is not clear that even if Delaware eliminated charter, magnet, and vo-tech schools tomorrow (or forced them to operate based on your assumptions) that any significant gains would result for these children.


  12. Patriot, save yourself the carpal tunnel, Even though keeping ‘problem kids’ not only disrupts the other kids and teachers, but also does not help the disruptive kid him/herself and is a completely wrong way to ”educate” that kid. How does keeping this kid help him or her? Maybe they need a smaller group setting or specialized teacher. Your reply on here will most likely be the same as it always is, “it’s the law”… Yup, no one seems to have a problem with changing charter school laws but oh God forbid we think of changing the current law about public schools.


  13. Does Conrad get capital funding?

    Conrad is not a charter school. It’s a district magnet school, and therefore gets capital funding via Red Clay.


  14. dontdestroychristina


    no need to ship them out, so much easier to just not let them in, don’t you agree…..


  15. I thought they did. I wasn’t really sure what the difference was between a charter and magnet school. So Pandoras comment should have read charter and choice, not just charter.


  16. DDC you really should tell your therapist you want a refund


  17. dontdestroychristina

    @PM, why I’m a troll on a roll.

    Pretty much been right the whole time…..


  18. Kilroy, what you suggest re: state stake in ownership is exactly what I had in mind. Great way of explaining it!

    Feel like I need to say this too – many charters don’t have a selective or complicated admissions policy. And I know my daughter’s school actively seeks demographic diversity in its student population. There is not a one size fits all” mold that charters fit into. Just sayin’


  19. @DDC – I’m not fluent in troll language, but I think what you’re implying is NCS excludes certain groups. As Dr. Lowery clearly stated in the letter you’re so happy about, there was no evidence of any groups being excluded. Not surprised you continue to not allow facts to get in the way of a good accusation.


  20. dontdestroychristina

    @Patriot, please sharpen your reading skills. She indicatd that since the area is significantly more diverse, the 5 mile radius is =not the impediment. She very much so, in a clearly intentional way, declined to opine as to why is is so striklingly not diverse…..

    She did not, in any way say NCS did not discriminate in its process, she just said she can’t say they did….

    Please re-read her letter. Really.


  21. kilroysdelaware

    “Consider: kilroy would want to end testing/reference to grades at CSW or even auditions at Cab. Yet within the schools it is an everyday occurrence that students must compete, based on ability, for limited resources in special programs. to wit:”

    Thank you Steve, you just pointed out why we don’t need charter schools! Way before the concept of charter schools traditional schools did just that! Required students to complete for seats in band, choir, sports and even honor classes. But correct me if I’am wrong, back in the 50’s and 60’s there were no honor classes just honor students.

    The real game is to provide learning environments for those students focused on learning without distraction by those who don’t want to learn and those who struggle. The added bonus is school where students are focused on learning are far less violent and more safe.
    Can’t a CSW teacher be just as effective if they were teaching at Dickinson? The charter brain drain will have an impact on achievement at traditional schools. Reducing the pool of top performing students drives down the school overall achievement data. You know all of this and certainly you are way more qualified in all your analogies.

    If we took every traditional schools and made them a charter what would we have?

    “I would argue that this argument itself merely masks the main issue, which is that education professionals really DO NOT KNOW how to educate poor children successfully, and mask this fact with hetergenously grouped classes that create the illusion that all kids do better in such classes.”

    Good stuff !!!!!! Kindergarten was there answer and now Pre-k and if that fails it looks like we’ll need to have reading teaching in the birthing rooms. Many parents see schools as daycare centers where they aren’t required to do anything. However, behind ever successful student is an engaged parent. $$ for data coaches would have been better served in providing parent coaches and better community outreach.


  22. snewton929:

    Do you mind posting some references for the statements about student achievement. I do not doubt what you said, it makes sense and I thought that this could be the case but would like to see what the data tells us.


  23. kilroysdelaware

    “Feel like I need to say this too – many charters don’t have a selective or complicated admissions policy”

    Jodi you are correct and changes in the charter school law in regards to admission preference won’t impact most of the charters. Also, look at Reach Academy who takes all students with open arms. In doing so you put Reach at risk of not meeting the standards because of the challenges. Whereas schools like CSW and NCS that use preferences in efforts to attract higher performing students and ones not at-risk are pretty much a shoe-in for Superior rating.

    I support charter schools as part of Choice but in unfair those charter who have open doors for all students are more prone to failure.


  24. @ DDC – pg #3 par. #2. NO EVIDENCE THAT NCS INTENTIONALLY SOUGHT TO DISCRIMINATE. It would be far to easy to make a crack about CSD and academics here so I won’t. Keep reading words in the letter that aren’t there while the grown-ups focus on the substance of her letter: NCS is a great school that can do a better job in recruiting low income and minority students.


  25. @Newark–yes but not tonight. What I reported was conclusions of my own reading of research over the past 15 years or so. It would take me awhile to go find what is available on the net and not gated, but I will try to do so in the next several days as time allows.


  26. @kilroy–Thank you Steve, you just pointed out why we don’t need charter schools!

    Not really. There is a synergy of scale in a themed school that cannot be successfully replicated as a program within a traditional school.

    Think about it this way (I will use CSW as an example, but the same case could be made for Cab or DMA or others):

    An IB program within a school may have 4 math teachers handling the students in the program. They get more advanced material than the general run of the school population, but what about the kid who is ready for calculus in the 9th grade and tensors/vectors by senior year?

    Because it is an entire school, with the entire math faculty dedicated toward teaching at those levels, CSW claims (and I have seen them do it) that they will create a class to meet students needs even if they have to set up one-on-one tutoring. That 9th grader CAN take calculus and the move on to vectors and tensor calculus before college. Likewise with Physics or Chemistry. Or offering four years of Latin, which you cannot find at other schools. Size has a quality all it’s own.

    In addition, I’d suggest that your historical example is incorrect, and that there is little data to suggest that there was EVER a “golden age” in which the public schools generally met the needs of high-performing students the way that CSW does. Partly because that also has to do with the synergy of requiring them to compete not just with the very best students in the district, not just the very best students in their school. It raises the bar.

    This is all aside from socialization or social justice arguments.

    Moreover, here’s the other interesting conundrum: at the university level, public education does exactly what you say that charters should not be able to do: admit selectively based on performance, and get rid of students who do not perform up to standard, or who are disruptive. The only distinction you can really make here is that a college education is not compulsory, whereas K-12 (K-10, really) is.

    My overarching point is this: in revising the charter school law, you would seek to make charter schools do what already is not working in the public schools.


  27. I have a problem with the way Choice has been used, as well. Anyone who has read anything of mine would be well aware that I consider Charter, Choice and Neighborhood Schools the perfect storm.

    I am not against ability based programs (sports, arts, academics, etc.). My concern lies when these programs break off from the existing public schools, thereby forming isolated, specialized schools.

    What happens with Charters, Magnets and Choice is this: They pull out certain students and leave behind other, generally high needs, students. These “left behind” students are not only losing valuable programs, but the odds that a child at a high poverty school ever gaining admittance into CSW or NCSHS are unbelievably high. The classes that would prepare them don’t even exist at their schools.

    Several weeks ago, I suggested housing Charter programs in traditional public schools. The reason I suggested this was that the programs would then exist for a child stuck in a high poverty school to access – at every grade level. Yeah, there are some bugs in this idea to be worked out.

    The data I’d be interested in seeing is this: which elementary and middle schools are feeding into high performing charter high schools. Bet I could guess. And if my suspicion is correct, then there are a lot of children whose academic path is decided in kindergarten – simply by the school they attend.


  28. @ Snewton – great posts. We accept the current selective status quo within public schools as a given without even questioning it but rail against the same principal in charter school admission. Definitely seems inconsistent. Apart from the “synergy of scale” there’s also the absence of distractions to learning available to charters via charter law. Both appear to be keys to the success of the better charter schools. I at be in the minority here, but the “brain drain on traditional public school” argument doesn’t move me. Many posters (myself included) are products of the Delaware public school system, so we’re preconditioned to want it for our kids (I did), but not in it’s current state. Give families a reason to stay and this issue becomes a lot smaller.


  29. @pandora The data I’d be interested in seeing is this: which elementary and middle schools are feeding into high performing charter high schools.

    I’m trying to get this exact data. But it will take a few days.

    What happens with Charters, Magnets and Choice is this: They pull out certain students and leave behind other, generally high needs, students. These “left behind” students are not only losing valuable programs, but the odds that a child at a high poverty school ever gaining admittance into CSW or NCSHS are unbelievably high. The classes that would prepare them don’t even exist at their schools.

    It is the last sentence where you are losing me (not that I completely agree with the rest, but the last bit is key).

    I don’t think that it is the lack of the classes or even the lack of programs that has these students condemned (I won’t use “left behind” because the Evangelical SF series made me want to vomit) not to make it into CSW or even Brandywine’s IB program.

    I think the key component here is that education professionals absolutely DO NOT KNOW what to do to be predictably successful with poor students. If there were programs that worked reliably we would be seeing them work somewhere in the country. We aren’t. Yes, occasionally in a school or a district, but not in any way that can be replicated on a large scale.

    I think that this is because of the fact that high-performing populations (however you want to describe them, upper income, etc.) have enough common characteristics across large groups that curricula and pedagogy can be designed to work for them at large scales. What works with overachieving kids in Atlanta will work in Duluth will work in Wilmington with minimal tinkering.

    However, as I have argued before, poverty is far more variable that affluence, and is becoming moreso all the time. Low income in Los Angeles is not the same environment as low income in Dubuque, or Appalachia, or central Florida. Poverty makes demographic groups LESS homogenous and not MORE homogenous.

    What that means in a school is that if you had two “tracks” divided based on prior performance or just income level, the variability of learning styles, past experiences, parent support, and etc etc would be somewhere on the order of five or six times as high in the low-income group as the high income group. Wealth purchases that level of homogeneity, if you will.

    But virtually all the researchers we have seen dominate the education scene for the past FIVE decades insist that impoverished children are a single demographic group with common characteristics that are (in a statistical sense) both reliable and variable. They aren’t, as any classroom teacher can tell you.

    I will give you my example from DSU freshmen, who are predominantly drawn from lower income families (70% of our incoming freshmen are first generation college students coming from multi-child households with total annual incomes averaging below $45K).

    In a typical American History survey class of 40 students, I will have 20% who walk in the door writing on an 8th grade level, 30% writing on a 10th grade level, 30% writing on about an 11th grade level, 10% actually on a college freshman level, and 10% who are well above that level. I have them for three hours per week for fourteen weeks, and I am expected to come up with course materials that challenge the top 20% without losing the other 80%. It is almost impossible, because the 20% reading on an 8th grade level are doing so for at least half a dozen different reasons (social promotion, undiagnosed learning disabilities, etc.) and no one strategy is going to work reliably with all or even most of them.

    (Here’s a wild thought: what would happen if we attacked just one variable with low-income kids, and grouped them not basis on “ability” or “preparation” but on learning style. Put all the auditory learners in one classroom, all the visual learners in one classroom, and all the kinesthetic learners in another classroom at the key elementary level, and then let each group have a teacher specifically trained in THAT learning style. Wonder what might happen then …?)


  30. I LOVE your ideas. I read a long article about two years ago on different learning styles and then gave my son (always a struggling learner) a ‘test’ to see what style he was (although I already predicted the outcome). He was kinesthetic. I had a meeting with his ELA teacher and she agreed. We came up with ideas on how he could do homework (by sitting on a yoga ball so he could ‘move slightly’ with his books and papers on a low table or couch) and how I needed to let him do things like wiggle his foot while working. Things like that. I remember telling the teacher how I felt like kinesthetic learners could be one of the hardest types of learners because they have to sit in a classroom where you have to sit still all day. She agreed but we had no solution. I would love to see your ideas happen. – My son still doesn’t have much luck in school in this area as it would be disruptive but I still keep in mind at home that this is how he learns best. It drives me out of my head sometimes but when I am helping him study for a test I let him wiggle his feet, toss a ball up in the air, or whatever his body ‘needs’ to do at the time.


  31. dontdestroychristina

    The “Learning Styles” Fallacy:

    As I have taught my graduate students over the past few semesters, it is surprising how many bring up learning styles as a valid frame of reference for a trainer or an instructional designer. A learning styles approach assumes that different people learn more effectively in different ways; for example, people view themselves as “visual learners” or as “kinesthetic learners.”

    The Fallacy
    While this theory seems to make some sense, there is actually little or no empirical evidence that learning styles are a legitimate way to view learners when designing instruction. This has been reported on in some news sources, (for example here or here), which are based on this research study. The researchers in this study conclude that there is currently no evidence supporting the use of learning styles when creating training and designing instruction.

    What to do?
    So, if learning styles don’t give a good foundation for creating instruction or training, what should we consider? This is an important question and there is an answer: To have the greatest chance of designing and delivering effective instruction, trainers and instructional designers need to base their instruction on research-based principles and instructional theories. (I’ve described how good instructional designers use these and other “tools” in a previous post entitled What is Instructional Design? part 2).

    Here is a very short list of instructional theories and principles that a trainer or instructional designer can refer to when considering how to design and develop high quality training and instruction:
    Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction. These best practices are based on decades of research. They provide specific steps to take when delivering instruction to a learner.
    Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction. A more current theory of instruction, these principles prescribe effective, research-based methods for teaching complex skills and knowledge. I describe these principles in more detail in a previous post entitled Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction.
    Principles of e-learning. Clark and Mayer (2011) summarize these principles extremely well. The share how to create online training and instruction that adheres to best practices based on the evidence.
    There are many, many more resources out there, but these provide a basic foundation for implementing instruction that is based on evidence instead of on unfounded ideas.

    What Would You Add?
    What else would you add to this list? What other research-based practices are available to help budding trainers and instructional designers create effective learning experiences for their learners? Do you agree that learning styles should be eliminated from our vocabulary as professionals and scholars?



  32. Good, you can use a search engine.

    Unfortunately, your search engine has returned a blog written by a man whose primary expertise is corporate training, who has no credentials in the field he is discussing, who has not even begun to examine the academic literature, and who is primarily concerned with selling a product.

    Thanks for playing.


  33. @Steve What I’m trying to say is that there is a poverty tipping point in schools – a point where a poverty makes the school unusable for non-poverty families and a prison (wrong word, but go with me) for those in poverty.

    I doubt that an “A” in a high poverty elementary school would be the same as an “A” in a low poverty elementary school. That’s a problem, and that’s were the problem starts. In my workings with high poverty families many are shocked when their straight A student can’t pass the standardized test. All As are not created equal.

    And some of the administration/teachers in these high poverty schools aren’t helping. Instead of mobilizing parents to rally for improvements/programs they simply cheerlead and play the “we’re awesome” card. If a parent is constantly told that their school rocks and not to believe the snobby naysayers then that has an affect. Most people (including practically everyone who joined this blog over the NCS debate) had no idea of the data available and the big educational picture. Even informed parents aren’t very informed, most rely on what they’re told by their school’s leadership. And that’s powerful stuff.

    When a school loses TAG, Technology, etc. and the people in charge of that school tell the parents that those programs don’t really matter and that instead of these programs they’ll be getting amazing behavioral programs they are spinning and selling. Most children in these high poverty schools are not a discipline problem, yet they’ll lose valuable programs that could make them competitive when it comes to high school (and college) acceptance.

    That’s my concern. And I’m not saying we can save everyone (and we’ll even lose kids whose parents “did everything right”) but I look at your figures above and see 20% of your students at, or above, college level and wonder if part of the solution doesn’t lie with studying them. After all, it seems to me that many of them beat overwhelming odds.

    Off topic…. part of the problem (and my pet peeve) with subject focused (math, science, art) high schools is that we’re basically asking 14 year olds to declare their college major – which might explain all the major switching in college and 5 – 6 year undergrad degrees. I really do miss the days of a Liberal Arts degree.


  34. I’m trying to understand the letter on behalf of Charter schools that Kilroy posted to start this thread. Is the assumption that additional funding would come from the existing tax base, i.e. at the expense of traditional public school students? Or is the charter schools’ hope that more tax revenue can be raised on their behalf?

    A tough political sell either way, certainly while lotteries exist. Remind me why my family should pony up additional funds to support a school that we have been denied admission to 8 times? That’s the majority situation, at least in relation to NCS (and there are similar dynamics for CSW). I’m afraid some charter schools’ impolitic treatment of their taxpaying supporters will come home to roost on this one. If schools like NCS wanted more taxpayer support, they should have proposed a lateral rather than vertical expansion, to meet demand before extending added benefits to a minority of area residents.


  35. There are many charter schools, not just NCS and CSW. Not sure the ages of your children but Pencader is still accepting incoming freshman for the upcoming fall.


  36. I think the point that Citizen is making is important.
    I am fortunate to be able to afford sending my children to private school but I think it is extremely important to provide a quality education to those that cannot afford to pay for it.
    If the public education system is using tax dollars to give a private level education to those that could afford to pay for it, instead of taking care of those that cannot afford to pay for a quality education, I am much less willing to support it.
    A poorly devised system will possibly decrease resources available to support public education by either reducing the tax base, people move out of the community, or the willingness to raise taxes to fund education, people will support politicians with agendas that involve cuts to public education.


  37. @pandora: I think all your comments have validity, and I think they are compatible with mine, in the sense that

    1. The “no defects” attitude (which I am familiar with from the military) is driven by both high-stakes testing and by Federal funding. You cannot acknowledge that you have problems and receive additional help without having your school (and therefore yourself and your staff) be labeled a “failure.” So you cheerlead no matter what is happening, and . . . .

    2. Mask the fact that you are not achieving anything by constantly changing the yardstick by which you measure success so as to show “success” [DOE actually manipulates cut-offs and models on a regular basis to show such “success” but founders whenever we take nationally normed tests like NAEP that show it is mostly an illusion.

    3. Mask the fact that, as I said, nobody actually knows what will work with these schools and these populations because nobody (beyond Ruby Payne and one or two others) is seriously researching the nature of poverty and how it affects education. Believe it or not that serious gap in the research goes back all the way to the early implementation of the Brown decision, because it was assumed that “white” education was the standard, and was completely functional, and that all integration had to do was guarantee equal access for minority children and all would be well. It wasn’t, because in the 1940s and 1950s and even the 1960s the so-called “white” education was only working well in comparison to resource-starved segregated schools.

    4. Pouring in new classes like TAG or new behavioral programs will not produce predictable results until we have some idea as a general paradigm what actually works for these kids. I’m not suggesting we stop pouring in those resources, but I am suggesting that the proper role of universities and foundations is to start doing the serious work about looking (to use Red Clay as an example) at the school populations of Warner and Richardson Park and Mote and examining their shared and differentiated characteristics, and to begin to make long-term (10 years at least) strategic plans for how to move those populations. We don’t give up on the kids there now, but we have to acknowledge that the problem has to be addressed both strategically and tactically at the same time.

    Finally, about those “A’s”. I run into this phenomenon all the time: kids with an A/B+ average who come to university and can’t hack it above a C while working their asses off, and their parents want to know what the university is doing wrong. I had a William Penn grad (3.4 honor roll) come to DSU two years ago. She was making only Cs and Ds when her mom came in to complain. Turned out she could get all As at Penn by doing less than half an hour of homework a night, and her mom was upset when I told her that for 15 hours of classes she should be doing a minimum of 15-20 hours of homework per week to make it in college. She told me in a huff that “DSU is not Harvard” and where did we get off demanding her daughter do three times as much work when she had already proven what a good student she was?


  38. reality check

    Excellent points and absolutely appropo


  39. @ Snewton – don’t be surprised when this same phenomenon you described for some DSU students plays out at NCS. My 6th grader spends on average 3 hrs a day on homework, and he’s in the highest phase at NCS. Parents and kids are in for a rude awakening if they assume the standard they are used to in some traditional public schools will fly at NCS. Not saying it will be a problem for all new kids to adjust, but it will be a problem for some. The school will do everything in their power to give struggling kids additional help like inside recess study time, but the kid and parents have to be on-board with putting in the additional effort or it won’t work.


  40. @snewton929 If I am understanding right, above you critiqued my blog past here by writing that I am “a man whose primary expertise is corporate training, who has no credentials in the field he is discussing, who has not even begun to examine the academic literature, and who is primarily concerned with selling a product.” Actually, I hold two graduate degrees in instructional technology and learning sciences. I have worked in higher education for several years and am currently program chair of a master’s degree in instructional design and performance technology. I have had a great deal of exposure to the literature, and I have to say that your idea of separating students into different groups based on their learning styles does not reflect literature related to learning styles. I am not promoting any product, as you mention in your critique.

    I promote an “evidence-based practice” which means that teachings and designers should base instructional decisions on what research and evaluation tells us works. If we spend our time and energy utilizing fallacies like learning styles, we will see poor results indeed. All the best to you.


  41. dontdestroychristina

    He blasted you because he hates me and thinks I briong no value to the local debate on charters schools. It’s not his fault, he just had a teachable moment. Wonder if his style is visual, mine’s aural.


  42. never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. Mark Twain


  43. DDC

    I don’t hate you, but you do annoy me. You do occasionally bring some value to the debate, but frankly if the NCS supporters did not have you around to make them look better they would have had to invent you.

    I was in error with respect to Dr. Goldstein’s credentials, although he is primarily a corporate trainer, and he is selling something–his consultation practice.

    With respect to learning styles, there is controversy. Yes, the quality of many studies of them was called into question two years ago, as the linked article at Science Daily shows

    What is absurd is the use of the term “debunked” as the verdict of the single meta-study was effectively “not proven.”

    Researchers in learning styles have been working diligently to refine their experimental designs, and despite the Google results one might find for “learning styles debunked” there is a burgeoning academic literature on research in that area which continues to this day at reputable institutions. See, for example,

    Actually my comment was something of a throwaway–I mentioned learning styles only to suggest to people that “thinking outside the box” would require us to challenge a lot of assumptions about the way in which we teach our highest-need students. I could just as easily have used Ruby Payne’s work on class distinctions as the example.

    Nonetheless, in this particular incident my annoyance and response to you was inappropriate. I apologize. I do believe that you want the best for children. I still believe that your methods–even if effective–are odious.