I Spent a Year and a Half at a ‘No-Excuses’ Charter School – This Is What I Saw

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Yves here. While this article gives a valuable ground level assessment of the (apparently limited) benefits and serious limitations of “no excuses” charter schools, it bizarrely skips over the secret sauce that charter schools try to deploy to achieve better scores: weeding out students who are disruptive, need extra attention, or have very uneven profiles (say very strong at verbal skills, very weak in math and computational tasks). Mind you, even with trying to dump kids at the bottom end of the achievement/behavior curve, charter schools do not outperform public schools. From Public School Review:

In evaluating some of the statistical studies that seek to compare the performance of charter and public schools, recent investigations conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reveal that students’ test scores may prove that public schools are now outperforming charter schools. The Stanford analysts compared reading and math state-based standardized test scores between charter school and public school students in 15 states, as well as scores in the District of Columbia. Experts found that 37 percent of charter schools posted improvements in math scores; however, these improvement rates were significantly below the improvement rates of students in public school classrooms. Furthermore, 46 percent of charter schools experienced math improvements that were “statistically indistinguishable” from the average improvement rates shown by public school students.

Another study reported by the New York Daily News found that public schools and charter schools in New York City showed equally “dismal” performance on state assessments aligned to more rigorous standards. Just 25 percent of charter school students achieved proficiency in English, one percent less than public school students. In math, 35 percent of students at charter schools were proficient, as compared to 30 percent of public school students. These most recent scores represent a continuous five-year drop in math and English scores for all schools in New York City.

Mind you, I am a fan of elevating the status of teachers and that includes (gah) “empowering” them to enforce standards. But merely making them rigid implementors of protocols created higher up does not elevate their role.

By Joanne W. Golann, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University. Originally published at The Conversation

Charter schools are 30 years old as of 2021, and the contentious debate about their merits and place in American society continues.

To better understand what happens at charter schools – and as a sociologist who focuses on education – I spent a year and a halfat a particular type of urban charter school that takes a “no-excuses” approach toward education. My research was conducted from 2012 through 2013, but these practices are still prevalent in charter schools today.

The no-excuses model is one of the most celebrated and most controversial education reform models for raising student achievement among Black and Latino students. Charters, which are public schools of choice that are independently managed, show comparable achievement to traditional public schools, but no-excuses charters produce much stronger test-score gains. No-excuses schools have been heralded as examples of charter success and have received millions of dollars in foundation support. At the same time, no-excuses schools themselves have started to rethink their harsh disciplinary practices. Large charter networks like KIPP and Noble in recent years have acknowledged the wrongfulness of their disciplinary approaches and repudiated the no-excuses approach.

Here are 10 of the most striking things that I observed at the no-excuses charter school where I spent 18 months.

1. Teachers let nothing slide

Teachers at no-excuses schools “sweat the small stuff.” The long list of infractions at the school that I observed included: not following directions, making unnecessary noise, putting one’s head down on a desk, being off-task, rolling one’s eyes and not tracking the speaker.

Students on average received one infraction every three days. One fifth grader managed to accumulate 295 infractions over the school year. Infractions resulted in detention, loss of privileges like field trips and school socials, and “bench” – a punishment in which students had to wear a special yellow shirt and could not talk to their classmates or participate in gym class.

2. Teachers constantly explained the ‘why’

Teachers were encouraged to explain the “why” of infractions so students would understand the rationale behind the school’s unbending rules. Why did students receive detention for arriving one minute late to school? Because supposedly it helped them develop time-management skills. College applications would not be accepted if they were one minute late, they claimed. Why were there silent hallways? Because, the school argued, self-control would get kids to and through college.

3. Students developed distorted ideas about college

Students formed an impression of college as very strict. Upon visiting a college, one student noticed couches in the dorm hallways. This made her think that colleges must allow students to talk “a little bit” because students weren’t just going to sit on couches and read a book. She questioned whether some of the rules at her own school might be “a little extra.” An alumna of the school also was surprised at the freedom afforded to her in college. Accustomed to a system of rewards and consequences, she struggled with turning in her essays for class because the teacher did not grade them. When the term ended and she had to turn in a portfolio of all her work, she found herself playing catch-up. She received a C in the class.

4. School was stressful

Because teachers constantly narrated expectations for behavior and scanned classrooms for compliance, students felt as if they were always under surveillance. Even the best-behaved students felt pressure. One mother told me that she kept her daughter home for two weeks because her daughter could not handle the pressure of being set up as a positive example for her classmates.

5. The school intentionally recruited novice teachers

No-excuses schools hire young, energetic, mission-aligned teachers. According to the human resources team, the school had two key criteria for recruiting teachers: coachability and mission fit. The school was less interested in hiring professionals with specialized skills and knowledge. Instead, the school sought teachers who they thought would be more open and responsive to the school’s direction and intensive coaching. This meant that a teacher with 10 years of experience was not favored over one with almost no experience.

6. Teacher turnover was high

The rallying cry at the school I observed was “Making the School a Better Place to Work.” Half the teachers had left the school the previous year. Teacher turnover in no-excuses charter schools can range from 20% to 35% nationally, about twice the annual turnover rates in traditional urban schools.

7. Maximizing instructional time had its drawbacks

Procedures as simple as handing back papers or entering the classroom were streamlined to save minutes and seconds for instruction. This left little informal time for teachers to slow down and get to know the students. As one teacher put it, “It’s like you have to move quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly. There’s no time to waste and it’s like, you know, sometimes I feel like, oh wait a second, I need a breather, like we’re moving too fast. Like, slow down. Or [students] even need to feel like they’re being heard; they’re not being ignored.”

8. School order was fragile

School staff members were reluctant to ease up on school discipline because they observed how a small change in procedure altered the school culture. The principal saw visible declines in student behavior when the school implemented special events like “crazy sock day.”

When the school invited an adventure-based learning group to lead a few activities, students were found to have difficulty adjusting back after being in a less structured environment.

9. One size does not fit all

No-excuses schools target a select group of students and familieswilling and able to comply with the school’s demanding expectations. In the initial summer visit made to the homes of all newly admitted students, school staff reviewed a five-page contract between families and the school detailing the school’s stringent expectations. They explicitly told families that the school “is not for everyone.”

10. Teachers and students creatively adapted

The strict procedures and rigid routines did not stop teachers and students from finding ways to bend rules. Teachers found ways to adjust school practices to better fit their own styles. They used humor and took time to build relationships with students outside of school. Students also engaged in minor acts of resistance. They erased names off the infraction board. They wore multicolored socks when the school required solid-colored socks. If a teacher put forth the expectation of no talking, students tapped on their desks or hummed to show defiance.

Looking Ahead

One of the original visions for charter schools was to create spaces for teachers to experiment with innovative practices and for communities to create schools that reflected local cultures and needs. Instead, no-excuses charters employ a carefully maintained structure that limits the autonomy of both teachers and students. The costs of these structures are becoming apparent to the schools themselves. Change in these schools is happening but may not be quick or easy. As no-excuses schools seek to modify their practices, they might do well to reflect on and revisit these founding charter principles.

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  1. Tom Hoffman

    The secret to the sauce is that weeding out students is not a trick that needs to be consciously deployed by charter schools. It is implicit in their structure and relationship to the public school district.

    1. Pelham

      Yes, that’s my impression. It sounds as if parents are told the mission is to turn their kids into robots. What’s odd is that any parents sign on.

      1. Carolinian

        Re hurry, hurry, hurry–sounds like they are being trained for future employment at the local Amazon warehouse. College may not be a good fit.

        You could blame all this on Republicans with their business above all orientation (my state), but the Dems seem to love them some Charters as well.

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    This is the least appealing education methodology I think I’ve ever heard of. You’ve successfully recreated a 1950’s era Catholic school and added in standardized testing…. yay?
    What parent, other than a complete control freak, would want this for their kids? This is just teaching them to be dutiful automatons.
    The principal saw visible declines in student behavior when the school implemented special events like “crazy sock day.”
    Look, if you have disciplinary problems because of a “Crazy Sock Day” that isn’t the kids at fault.
    This is school run be the Blue Meanies.
    IDK…. There’s just so much wrong with this sort of a school; from the parents who would willingly send their kids there to the teachers/administrators who are young, energetic, mission-aligned to basically crush any spirit in a kid.
    About the only positive I can think of is that maybe 1 out of 1000 might rebel and maybe we’ll get a future Joe Strummer.

  3. Michael Ismoe

    I went to Catholic school. It was all this plus a group of nuns who taught Muhammed Ali how to take a punch.

    BTW – Did you know the cure for ADD isn’t ritalin, it’s a 5 foot nun with a 4 foot pointer.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t know about that – the nuns whacked my uncle as a kid and he punched them back ;)

      Catholic friends of ours have triplets and two go to public school and one goes to the Catholic school. I don’t think it’s quite as strict as the Catholic schools of a few decades ago or the charters mentioned in the article. I asked the mother (who admittedly is probably biased toward the Catholic school, so take with a grain of salt) which kid she thought was getting a better education and she said it wasn’t even close – the kid in Catholic school was learning more and way ahead of their siblings in the same grade in public school.

  4. The Rev Kev

    This is painful to read. Those poor kids. Having to do a five-page contract to do school? I began to wonder what sort of kids that these schools would be turning out and you know what? This sort of discipline would be great if they wanted to work – for Amazon that is. I would not be surprised to learn that Amazon had a hand in designing the curriculum itself. But the future is going to need people ready to adapt to a wide ranging set of conditions and challenges. And I don’t think that kids from these schools may be up to it if that is all they are trained to do. I am not faulting those kids and I am encouraged to see that they show signs of rebellion but the school system is against them. But somebody is making bank.

    1. rhodium

      Employers will simultaneously complain about employees who do not perfectly follow all rules and regulations and keep their noses constantly aimed at their work, while also complaining about employees that can’t think outside the box to magically solve all of their problems. To me it seems these are opposed types of thinking. These charter schools are truly training the future box packers of America (unless robots take the jobs first). The parents are probably suspicious of public schools and think extreme regimentation and hard work is all you need to succeed (a hardline protestant work ethic concept that refuses to die, because that’s not all you need). Like many parents they probably fantasize that their children will find careers as lawyers, doctors, engineers, managers, or politicians. Whether they will achieve this by being mentally rigid as a metal pole is for everyone to wait and find out, but considering the number of people who do excellent metal pole impressions I’ll wager it might just work out for them.

  5. Anonymous

    This school knows nothing about how to educated gifted and talented learners, or how to facilitate dyscalculia, dyslexic and dysgraphia students. Publicly funded charter schools are required to service SPED and 504 students. There is no time for students to process complex concepts. Where is the joy of learning?

    1. Procopius

      The joy is when the CEO of the management company that owns the real estate, contracts for all services, and provides all material supplies (who might also be the school principal) collects his bonus. Aside from the damage done the students, some of the young teachers will be convinced that teaching is not something they ever want to do again. Some of them would, otherwise, have become good teachers, of which we don’t have enough (although we have a lot more than anti-union conservatives are willing to admit).

  6. Charger01

    Where is the joy of learning?

    Uh oh. Sounds like you have wrongthink from 40+ years ago. Learning isn’t about obtaining pleasure or satisfaction from study. Its a blind recitation of facts/figures until you complete the standardized test and move on to the next “task”. They’re building automatons in the next generation.

  7. Rod

    Education as an Industry has got its issues.
    My end was Vocational–a different environment with different Methods, but always low Student to Teacher Ratio (State DoE Mandated), with larger Instuctional Time Blocks mitigated not always having ‘Motivated Learners’ enrolled–the Shop Classes as Dumping Ground Stigma.
    T to S ratios about 1 / 10-15 allow truely effective and affective Instruction through more Personal Attention and Behavior Modeling.
    Good for the Student.
    Good for the Teacher.
    Bad for the Budget Optics

    Children, and what they know and how they think, are our Future.
    Our Society should own that fact.
    If we did, Education would be constructed much differently.
    Ask any Teacher, to start with.

    1. Mantid

      Hi Rod, You mention “ask a teacher” so I’ll tell you and confirm your observations. It’s all about motivation. Even hand washing dishes is all about motivation. If one lollygags it takes forever and is a pain the entire time. If you get it on and get it done it’s (almost) a joy – motivation = get them done.

      As a music teacher I taught/teach classes as large as 80 students in one room, same period, high demographic diversity. Very little misbehaving with lots of smiles, camaraderie and of course good music. The reason was motivation. Within 1 – 2 weeks I knew all the student’s names (personal attention and behavior modeling) and the students understood that we were all together in this, rich/poor, gifted, average or even children that struggle. The kids wanted to be there. I won’t go into all the pedagogy that makes this work, just suffice it to say I learned early on that motivation was the key. If a teacher, staff, administration, or entire school district focus on motivation – and all the tricks to enhance it – problem behavior drops like a rock in a pond and intellectual rigor is enhanced. And it’s not about tossing out candy as a motivator. Someday I’ll write about how a student could earn the “Ceremonial Paper Clip”.

      1. Rod

        Mantid–Thanks for your comment and connection.

        My mentor Floyd (Walgren– Phd. Educ.) said often ” you got to get your first things first, first”
        And Connecting was first for Floyd

        Like you, suffice it to say I learned early on that motivation was the key.
        for them and me:

        YES this—- I knew all the student’s names (personal attention and behavior modeling) and the students understood that we were all together in this
        Very deliberatly, They knew why I was there, I knew who they were and why they were there.
        Setting the baseline. Once connected in commonality initially, we would then begin our journey (of surprise and enlightenment ;-} )

        I won’t go into all the pedagogy–Yea, it’s a big, multi-layered package to unwrap in this context–though I am sure some would appreciate the simple to complex intentionality of Methods overtly and covertly engaged. .
        And you know the thrill when it goes well.

  8. PHLDenizen

    Clearly, none of these charter school zealots have read Grant Allen — he’s a bit off the beaten path of literature and I was exposed to him only once I reached college. To quote from from an academic assessment of his career:

    In another essay Allen maintained the attack on formal education: ‘one year in Italy with their eyes open would be worth more than three at Oxford; and six months in the fields with a platyscopic lens would teach them strange things about the world about them then all the long terms at Harrow and Winchester.’ ‘What a misfortune,’ he lamented, ‘that we should … let our boys’ schooling interfere with their education.’

    It’s a sentiment that keenly reminds me of my formative years at a progressive school (School in Rose Valley) before heading off to a single-sex prep school in 7th grade. After exhibiting “behavioral issues” in a public school, I’d somehow pissed a 3rd grade teacher off with some inconsequential mouthiness, soliciting his dragging me out of the classroom and throwing me against lockers in a fit of apoplexy. My parents said fsck that and got me out of there, thank god.

    SRV was the antithesis of everything enumerated in the above article. Science class was heading down to the creek in the woods to just explore. Classes were “circles” of roughly similarly aged students in small groups. No formal instruction. Everything at your own pace. Ultimate freedom to find yourself. No coercion to behave in only one sanctioned manner. Instead of grades, teachers would write short reports about who your kid was, how he or she was finding themselves, and how they were learning, as well as suggestions on how to catch up to peers in other schools. What they were interested in. How to nurture it. The problem wasn’t my “lack of discipline” or whatever the teacher who bullied me claimed. It’s that I refused violently the notion that learning to be a human being is something that only comes from obedience and rigidity in a factory. I have an allergy to being a cog in the machine. Public school was a lonely place for dreamers and misfits.

    Had I not gone to SRV, I’d have never found the confidence to be who I am. I’m revolted by the charter school idea that your future is pre-decided, that your weltanschauung is not yours to discover, that you need to choose conformity or exile. I pity those poor students. It’s the flipping burgers equivalent of schooling and there’s no way those kids come out with an education of any sort. They come out broken, insecure, and unable to function when confronted by circumstances that deviate from their myopic understanding of the world.

    “Education” in this country has become a hybrid model of imprisonment and indoctrination. Even places like Harvard. They’re trade schools for the PMC. Your early years you’re taught the system demands obedience or you will suffer. You’re taught that the only things of value are credentials and making bank. Being cultured, being well-read, being skeptical about institutions and systems are dismissed as silly and quixotic. Empathy is exterminated. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    By design, these charter schools are built to acquaint future employees with “rank and yank” management styles a la Jack Welch. And other such sociopathic nonsense. Darwinism is only important in the context of being successful, success measured by the fatness of your wallet. It fosters defeat and inevitability: the world is the world and you are wholly responsible for how well you navigate it. The system is never culpable for things like unexpected lay-offs. All you have is your agency. If you fail through not fault of your own, you’re defective. If you triumph, it’s entirely of your own doing.

    I’m glad I chose to never have children. The world is already a far cry from the one I thought I’d inherit. My girlfriend’s kids are 15, 19, and 21 year old girls abandoned by their father who makes 400k as a pharma VP. I do my best as a steward to help them be happy and construct a future that’s happy and free from precarity. But it’s hard and I frequently get demoralized.

    1. albrt

      I’m also glad I chose never to have children. I expected Ronald Ray-gun to blow up the world before I reached 21, so I guess we did better than that? But I still wouldn’t want to have kids facing extinction from all the other probable causes.

  9. Kurtismayfield

    Charter schools control who take the state exams.They do not have to make everyone take the tests.

    Charter schools grade their own state exams.

    This is all you need to know about their state exam performance. Gary Rubenstein has been keeping an eye on charters (especially Success Academy) for years.

  10. meadows

    Ouch…. where to begin? My parents were teachers, my grandparents were teachers and my great grandfather (who I knew) was also a teacher. I went to a large suburban public school, a tiny rural school, a Catholic high school and a small alternative Quaker school. As a teen in the 60’s I helped build a “Summerhill” alternative school in Maine.

    I’ve also taught some, myself. One of my sons (now in their 30’s) was in a special ed program in public school, then a small alternative school, the other in public. Both finished college and are highly competent adults.

    The bottom line? Very small class size, decently paid teachers dedicated to their expertise, minimal bureaucratic “direction”, dedicated parents helpful and respectful of teacher autonomy, no grades and minimal testing.

    Between the principal, superintendent, parents, ideological divides about rearing children, religion, sexuality, discipline and curriculums, teachers are between a rock and a hard place, besides being overworked and underpaid.
    It’s a mess!

    The best teaching is where the student is encouraged, guided toward self-education, which requires self-awareness. To become an autodidact.

  11. Jeff N

    I remember during my first year of (commuter) college, just before Thanksgiving holiday I tagged along with a still-in-HS friend and visited my old high school during a school day. Visits weren’t allowed the day before a holiday, so it was up to the discretion of her teachers whether I could sit in her classes or not.

    Her teachers had been my teachers too, so I went about 50/50 whether they allowed me to stay. For one who didn’t, I went to the HS library. Sat there about 15 minutes, thought “this is boring”, and got up to leave… Only to realize, one can’t just “leave” the library during a class period, you need a “hall pass” or you will be in trouble with security, even bigger trouble if you aren’t a student at the school.

    I had no idea how much more freedom I had come to take for granted after eleven weeks in college.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    Sweat shops for the kids, sweat shops for the teachers.

    For the kids, it’s a foretaste of what they can expect in their work lives (at least, as envisioned by the billionaires and hedge fund vultures who keep these places funded), and it’s a labor relations model for teachers – non-union, highly transient and under absolute management control – they dream about.

  13. Eric Anderson

    The Golan report seems to beg for authenticity in lacking recognition of the merit for some of the techniques. The mere existence of Catholic or charter schools provides additional choice to parents looking for a match to their children’s needs and ambitions. Good discipline, like truth, is a fine line separating error into two pieces. We followed a miss short with a deliberate over shot to establish a range bracket in naval gunfire. Perhaps Charter schools may do the same with dicipline.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The military analogy is a fitting one in this context. Why don’t we just put six year-olds in Marine boot camp and really get them ready to be a follow-orders wage slave?

      It should be noted that the PMCs do not educate their children this way. While upscale private schools and wealthy suburban districts are not Summerhill, they’re not trying to squeeze the humanity out of children in such an obvious way.

  14. Susan the other

    It’s obsessive. Think how many facts have proven to be virtually false in the course of 200 years of “education”. Not that kids shouldn’t be given lots of information. Some of it memorized. Call it building blocks. But to run education like an efficient business is laughable. There’s no way to impart perfect information or receive it so “no excuses” makes absolutely no sense at all. First of all, to be really educated, a kid has to be interested. Too bad we can’t teach curiosity. That would solve lotsa problems. Especially for teachers who are striving for efficiency – the killer of curiosity. If the whole idea behind “no excuses” is simply a functioning mastery of the basics that might make sense. But that shouldn’t take 12 years, should it? That would just be mind-numbing torture wouldn’t it?

  15. Telee

    Doesn’t this illustrate a basic problem which is displayed in so many other facets of our society. The main function of these charter schools is to make money. Actually educating is somewhere down the list of priorities. Same thing with health care. Bottom line is to make money. The examples abound in our society.

  16. Arizona Slim

    Quoth the article:

    [S]elf-control would get kids to and through college.

    To which I say:

    Oh, really? The creators of this “why” have obviously never spent any time in a college town. I’ve spent most of my adult life in them, and let’s just say that I haven’t seen an excess of self-control.

  17. R

    I seem to be out of step with the mood here. Nearly everything portrayed as unreasonable (in an eyerolling teenage way), is what I would consider the norm in a well run school or University.

    You do not talk in class. You do not lie on your desk. You do not run in the corridors. You pay attention to the teacher at the blackboard or take notes or get on with your work. Apart from some occasional whispering in lectures, it was the same at Cambridge.

    Perhaps I am too much of a front row kid. I went to a boys’ fee paying school, with uniforms and prefects and a cadet force and houses etc. but it was not a disciplinarian environment. These are all just basic courtesies of seeking instruction from another human.

    There were some teachers incapable of keeping order. They needed a class of gentle swots if they were to have any hope. Some of the pupils were bent on disruption – the one that, if he attended at all, would sit in a cupboard at the back of English taking acid springs to mind. But these were the exceptions and, as ever, the teachers with most authority (an interesting word, showing the conjunction of scholarship and leadership) were the ones with a passion and a belief that you would respect their subject for its intrinsic value rather than its mere utility.

    Famously the head of French thought the public exam too easy so taught the two year syllabus in one year and taught the class Japanese for the next year. They all passed French well and failed Japanese. :-)

    1. FriarTuck

      I don’t think your description matches that of the schools the article describes. The schools the articles describe would be described as “disciplinarian”.

      Schools of the nature the article describes are designed to indoctrinate, not to educate. I think the main problem with this mindset is that it is at odds with the developmental needs of children at appropriate ages.

      The kind of “no excuses” education system described in the article is built to treat children like miniature fully-formed adults who need to be disciplined into becoming cogs in an industrial machine. Or in the modern sense, widgets in a managerial machine.

      Unfortunately, this kind of educational system ends up with stunted, maleducated adults with such a myriad of problems we don’t even know where to begin.

      1. R

        There was no corporal punishment but misbehaviour in class or out of it got you:
        – sent out, to stand in the corridor (shame as a deterrent)
        – confiscation, of whatever possession was causing a distraction
        – detention (work after school and at lunchtime, in silence)
        – sent to the deputy head, an imposing man….
        – suspended (very rare)
        – expelled (even rarer)

        The good teachers had very clear boundaries about when enough was enough. We would wait in line outside their class rooms or, if we had entered first, we would stand up when they came in and wait to be seated. This was the 1990’s, not the 1890’s.

        I don’t see the charter schools as described being very different in ethos. What sort of snowflake feels oppressed because they cannot sprawl on their desk? Or finds internalising courtesy and decorum in a shared environment stressful?

        I would sympathise on one point. I think the whole “no excuses” stance is self-defeating. Good behaviour should be the default expectation but in a way that is natural, rather than a defying children preemptively to complain about expectations.

        1. Eric Anderson

          I don’t think these minds are open to your experiences. Public education is sacrosanct to most of this community.

          1. R

            If I understand correctly, the ideological origin of charter schools is so abhorrent, their teaching methods are unacceptable as an article of faith? That seems a funny way to improve schooling.

            I did not grow up in the US so I don’t have any prejudices about charter schools. I am just reacting to the article, which seemed to be overwrought in its criticism of basic (self-)discipline and courtesy in a communal environment.

            I cannot imagine that the one-room schools in rural America with the big children teaching the little ones (Little House on the Prarie style) tolerated sprawling and talking and inattention. It seems strange that it should be a child’s right to do these things.

            It also seems strange any school would give out hundreds of black marks for misbehaviour, as whatever they are doing with that child clearly isn’t working after the first dozen! So perhaps it is a scam dressed up as common sense after all….

  18. Matthew G. Saroff

    You cannot ignore the role of racism in “No Excuses” education.

    It’s all for THEM because THEY are undisciplined, but their own kids, they go to Montessori or something like that, because they are gifted and special snowflakes.

  19. lobelia

    On the subject of charter schools in general, anyone paying attention should have known, over the last three decades – when such horrid; publically subsidized; privacy, oxygen, and land sucking; megalomaniacal billionaires, such as: Ellison; Gates, Bezos; Zuckerberg; Laurine Powell Jobs; et al, have invested so much in them – that they are a horrid infestation, versus an ideal education system. Worse, charter school systems have been infesting Public Schools:

    083117 By Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy Parents rebel against Summit/Facebook/Chan-Zuckerberg online learning platform

    Last October, the Washington Post published an article on its front page about the “personalized” online learning platform that Summit charter schools and Facebook developed in collaboration. This platform, called Summit Basecamp, is a learning management system complete with a curriculum, including projects, online resources and tests.

    Currently, Summit claims that the program has been adopted in about 140 schools across the country, both public and charter schools. The list is here. 48 are charter schools and the rest are district public schools. 38 percent are middle schools, 24 percent high schools, 13 percent elementary schools, and the rest K–12 or K–8 schools. Summit also recently was awarded a $10 million grant from the Emerson Collective, run by Laurine Powell Jobs, to “reinvent” the high school by starting a new school in Oakland that will run an expanded version of its online learning platform.

    Last October, the Washington Post published an article on its front page about the “personalized” online learning platform that Summit charter schools and Facebook developed in collaboration. This platform, called Summit Basecamp, is a learning management system complete with a curriculum, including projects, online resources and tests.

    Currently, Summit claims that the program has been adopted in about 140 schools across the country, both public and charter schools. The list is here. 48 are charter schools and the rest are district public schools. 38 percent are middle schools, 24 percent high schools, 13 percent elementary schools, and the rest K–12 or K–8 schools. Summit also recently was awarded a $10 million grant from the Emerson Collective, run by Laurine Powell Jobs, to “reinvent” the high school by starting a new school in Oakland that will run an expanded version of its online learning platform.

    In March, it was announced that the operation and further development of the Summit online platform would be transferred from Facebook to the Chan/Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the for-profit LLC owned by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, with billions of dollars at its disposal. At about the same time, Summit decided it would no longer ask for parent consent before collecting and re-disclosing their children’s personal data.

    Further down

    Finally, Summit also claims the right that it can change the Terms of Service at any time without prior notification, simply by posting the changes online, to be effective ten days after posting.

    The head of Summit Charter Schools, Diane Taverner, is also the President of the California Charter School Association, posing a risk that student and parent data could be sold for political ends, and that the work of public school teachers could be used in her charter schools without recompense.


    For any parents of students reading, it seems worthwhile to read the whole, meaty piece.

    My comment is not to say that non charter Public Schools (e.g. Summit Public Schools™ , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summit_Public_Schools_%28Charter_school_operator%29 , are deceptively named, they are actually charter schools), much like Medicare, and the United States Postal Service, could not use a ton of defenestrating, it’s to say ideally, they were meant to serve the Public – and not the societal manipulation agendas, and obscene profits, of sociopathic robber barons.

    gotta run

  20. Rodney Nightingale

    Charter Schools originally started in Virginia, the 1950s, to stay segregated.

  21. Rudolf

    First off: school testing as it is is a complete waste of time and money. I have a friend in upper management at the testing company McGraw-Hill who told me that the school testing program is worthless, but very profitable for the company. It’s a Neoliberal Tool to extract as much money as possible from the public school system.
    The one thing that they don’t teach are critical thinking skills, perhaps the most important skill for competency in whatever one does.

    1. eg

      The most reliable indicators of “success” in standardized testing are household income and postal code — and the latter is a proxy for the former.

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