Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One more of these and I'm back to writing about old TV shows...

It's late, I hadn't planned to do another on this and I've got a logjam forming upstream, so I'm going to rush through this one.

Take a look at the following from the the Hartford Courant:
Rates Of Suspension Vary

The difference in rates of suspension between suburban and urban districts is substantial, with West Hartford and Farmington having five or fewer incidents of suspensions in this age group in 2012, while Bridgeport had 293 and Hartford had 238.

In some cases, the rates of suspension are quite different even between somewhat similar districts and schools.

For instance, Hartford has only about 240 more children enrolled in kindergarten and first grade than New Haven, but had 238 instances of suspension compared to 89 incidents in New Haven.

Amistad Academy in New Haven and Achievement First Hartford Academy are both public charter schools run by Achievement First, with very similar enrollment numbers in the early grades. But while Amistad had 38 instances of suspension during the last school year among children age 6 and younger, Achievement First Hartford Academy had 114 in the same age group.*

An even more dramatic comparison: The incidence of suspension of kindergartners and first graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy last year was an estimated nine times the rate in Hartford public schools.
Marc Michaelson, regional superintendent for Achievement First, said the school, where students annually out-perform their Hartford peers by significant margins on state standardized tests, has "a very high bar for the conduct of our students and that's because we've made a promise to our scholars and our families that we are going to prepare them for college."
And from another Courant article:
For the 2012-13 year, the state is spending about $67.7 million on 17 charters with 6,451 students, including Achievement First's network of schools in New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford, said Jim Polites, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. Last fall, the state budget was $52.8 million for nearly 6,100 charter school students.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor is a former board member and co-founder of Amistad Academy, Achievement First's flagship school in New Haven.
A few points:

1. There is a great deal of money changing hands, often with little scrutiny...

2. And despite decidedly mixed results, the money seems to be increasing.

3. Selection effects matter.

4. These effects can be amplified by social dynamics.

5. Add to that the natural extremes of childhood and you get certain kids who are 80/20 for experienced teachers and 95/5 for the newbies.

6. Thus even a small change in class roster can cause a big change in class behavior and performance.

7. Under movement reforms, one of the best ways to get ahead financially and politically, is to find a way to dump certain students.

8. If you repeated suspend five-year-olds, their parents will take them elsewhere.

9. The hardest-to-reach kids should be the ones you care about the most.

10. If you don't feel that way, you shouldn't be working with kids.

* In case I haven't mentioned it lately, there is a huge range in quality and professional ethics among different charters.

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