Friday, November 12, 2010

Things you can do if you're a charter school

Make demands of parents:
Parent involvement has been a surprisingly central feature of many of the proposals for new and restructured charter schools in California. State legislation mandates that parents be involved in the governance of charter schools, but broader kinds of parental involvement seem to be contemplated by those who are designing these new schools. In many of these schools, parent involvement is much more than simply a requirement to volunteer assistance or to help with their children's homework. Parents are seen as central adults in a more inclusive school community--participants who share time and expertise with the school's students as a whole. For example, a majority of the first chartered schools were planning to have parents and other community members as instructors in the school building, and several expected to sponsor training in tutoring methods and parenting techniques for use at home. In fact, a survey of thirty-four of the first forty-four schools chartered by the state found that in more than 50 percent parents are required to sign contracts and to participate in certain activities (Dianda & Corwin, 1994). One recently approved charter school, for example, intends to require parents "to volunteer a minimum of three hours per month at the school." Another stated in its charter: "Parents, by signing their child's registration form, commit themselves to at least 2 hours of school service per month.... Any student accepted on an above mentioned agreement will meet a prescribed written contract and will understand, if the contract is broken, said agreement will be revoked and the student will be disenrolled."
In many ways this is a good thing and I'm not saying that charter schools should stop, but it does provide another example of the near impossibility of making meaningful comparisons between schools that have the option of easily 'disenrolling' students and those that don't.

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