Charter School Opposition
The rapid growth of charter schools in the United States has sparked controversy. Critics claim that charter schools drain funds from meager public school budgets because local school districts must often reduce their own budgets to fund the new schools. Some charter schools have faced criticism for using unreliable assessment tools to evaluate school performance. Critics also charge that charter schools often use dilapidated or otherwise inferior buildings because they lack sufficient funds.
Charter school advocates claim that providing competition among schools improves public education. They also cite the burgeoning numbers of charter schools as proof of widespread public support. Advocates claim that increased attendance and graduation rates at a number of charter schools demonstrate that charter schools bring increased educational opportunity to students who have not succeeded within public schools. Parents, students, and teachers have expressed relatively high degrees of satisfaction with charter schools. Most charter schools have waiting lists for admission.
1 : THE "CHARTER SCHOOLS SEGREGATE" ARGUMENT
Creates Balkanization in Education
More than 22 studies demonstrate that charters are overserving those traditionally underserved by failing schools, such as low socio-economic populations and students at risk of dropping out. Three studies suggest that the charters examined serve essentially the same population as the surrounding area.
It's never too early to learn the fundamentals of business—at least that's the philosophy of a new charter school outside of Salt Lake City, where those lessons begin in elementary grades.
Highmark Charter School's goal is to provide its 550 K-8 students with practical business lessons, integrated within the core curriculum, in an effort to encourage critical-thinking skills. Students at the school, which is located in the city of South Weber and is independent of any school district, offers the usual lineup of language arts, math, science, and history classes, but lessons on business practices and entrepreneurship are woven throughout those courses. Students are introduced to four specific areas of business: sales and marketing; management and leadership; finance and economy; and entrepreneurship.
The school also exposes students to the business world through non-academic means. They are expected to wear "business casual" dress to school. They participate in school fairs focused on entrepreneurship. Last week, students took part in a Lemonade Day where they not only made and sold their own beverages but were expected to follow health department guidelines while offering customers presentations of their business plans, describing their business goals, startup costs, and expected sales and profits.
Kent Fuller, Highmark's principal, said the school is trying to cultivate an understanding of business that goes beyond the basics of sales, marketing, and finance.
"We aren't just about making money," Fuller said. The purpose of Highmark, he said, is for kids to learn subjects that they can apply in many contexts, and show them "how to change the world."
At the earliest grade levels, students are introduced to business ideas in ways that are meant to be easy for them to grasp. For instance, some second-graders have been reading the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper," which sets the stage for a discussion of hard work and planning, and the application of basic business principles.
Ted Tucker, vice president for program affairs and administration at the Foundation for Teaching Economics said that he believes schools like Highmark are grounding students in important skills.
"We believe people who have an understanding of economic reasoning are better at making decisions and life choices, such as public policy choices," Tucker said. "They can better analyze situations."
The organization offers a program for schools that share some aspects of Highmark's educational model. It promotes efforts to weave economic literacy into academic subjects such as history. Tucker believes economic concepts can be introduced to students at all grade levels, as long as they're offered in ways that are age-appropriate.
Malhaz Jibladze, a Foundation for Teaching Economics mentor and online instructor, has been teaching economics for nine years. He believes the topic deserves a strong place in the curriculum.
"When you look at economics, it's prevalent in decisionmaking" throughout government and society, he said. "When you look at politics and political debates, most of the issues are based on economics."
But Jibladze also questioned how much value studies of business and economics have for young students.
"The earliest I taught economics was middle school," he said. "When you look at business and personal economic concepts, you have to have practical knowledge of it" to understand those issues.
Highmark officials will soon learn whether parents approve of the school's academic philosophy. Earlier this week, the school sent out a survey to families asking for feedback on Highmark's first year in operation. Although faculty and staff are still waiting for the results, Highmark has already reached its capacity next year with a projected enrollment of 690 students, who will include the school's first class on 9th graders.
By Morgan Miller
Source: EducationWeek, May 24, 2013
[ Fethullah Gulen, Gulen charter schools, Gulen Schools, Gulen inspired schools ]
El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton is not an expert on the Turkish educator, author and imam Fethullah Gulen. She'll admit it. But that didn't stop her from lecturing at a recent right-wing education conference on the dangers of Gulen's influence on American charter schools.
These "Gulen charter schools," as she refers to them, are a creeping threat posed by jihadists bent on teaching our children core Muslim principles, such as hating Americans, but are they real?
There are certainly Gulen-inspired schools throughout the world — even in this country — as he is one of the most important contemporary Muslim thinkers when it comes to the issue of education and Islamic modernization. The movement that he has inspired is vast.
Yet there is no concrete evidence anywhere that I could find that proves that Gulen or his adherents are secretly starting and funding charter schools. And Littleton, despite her public comments on the subject, couldn't point me to a specific concrete example of Gulen's untoward influence over, or profit from, a charter school.
Just like, as we reported today, Littleton suspects, without any facts or data to back it up, that this Muslim encroachment is being assisted by the president.
In our interview, I asked if she could explain to me what makes a school a Gulen charter school. My exact words were: "I don't understand exactly what a Gulen charter school is."
"If you do some research you can come up with a really good definition on the web," she says. "But a Gulen school is, they are schools that are actually are being applied for by a gentleman, and I forget his first name, Mr. Gulen; he's a gentleman who lives in Turkey."
"They are schools, at least oversees, and I don't know for any fact, and I want to make sure we are clear on this, that I am not saying that they do this in the United States, that oversees in Turkey, from the research that I have done, that they are very open about inculcating Muslim principles in their schools."
In a country that is 99.8 percent Muslim. Shocking.
Later in the interview, she admits that she has no evidence — at all, none — that directly links Gulen to any of the more than 100 charter schools in the United States that she believes are Gulen schools.
She says that most of these Gulen charter schools have a high number of foreign employees, here on work visas. In fact, of the only school in Colorado that Littleton points to as a Gulen charter, Lotus School for Excellence in Aurora, she says: "All of their entire board is foreign ... [and] to my understanding, are here on work visas."
We asked the principal of Lotus, Adnan Doyuran, about Littleton's claim regarding the makeup of its board. Doyuran is from Turkey, but came to the states in 1996 to study and earn his Ph.D. in physics. He says that Littleton's claim about his board is not true: "All of our board members are either US citizens or permanent residents."
But, as Littleton says, she isn't an expert on Gulen.
by Chet Hardin